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September 12, 2012

They're Not "Thru" Yet


It's either a nightmare or no big deal, depending on the point of view. Speakers of divergent opinion addressed the East Hampton Town Board last Thursday night on the concept of closing the Miller Lane neighborhood to through traffic.

For George Cafiso, it's a nightmare. He has lived on Indian Hill Road for 40 years, and traffic has become so intense, he said, "We can't get out of our own driveway in the morning."

Motorists looking to bypass the Cedar/North Main Street intersection in East Hampton, he said, enter his subdivision and drive like it's a "speedway." He said neighbors are afraid to let their children play outside and the drivers coming through are rude. He wants the town board to make his road a one-way street so drivers can't access it from North Main Street.

Louise and David Cheney feel differently. They live on the first house on Miller Lane, and, according to Louise, their driveway is often used as a turnaround. "David and I are okay with that," she said. The roads belong to the public, and by Tuesday morning after Labor Day she reported, "There was no traffic."

Louise Cheney said she would hate to see the roads restricted for such a seasonal problem. "If we could just be patient," she said, adding, "It is difficult and it is inconvenient and it is short term." Extra summer traffic is part of living in the community, she pointed out. She opposes the closure of the lanes to non-residents, because, "They're everybody's roads."

David Cheney explained that he and his wife decided to come to town hall that night because a neighbor had come to their door with a petition looking to close off the roads to through traffic. "These streets are for everybody," he emphasized. Cheney characterized the summer congestion as "not a big problem." If drivers are prohibited from turning off Cedar Street onto Miller Lane, traffic will back up all the way to Cooper Lane, he predicted.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said he'd observed traffic at the bottom of Indian Hill Road and was sympathetic. Although Highway Superintendent Steve Lynch has said it's illegal to close off public roads, Wilkinson said he'd spoken with Police Chief Ed Ecker and such an action would, indeed, be enforceable. Several times, the supervisor noted drivers are using the Miller Lanes as a shortcut. He didn't expand to explain why a shortcut is such an onerous thing.

Councilman Dominick Stanzione offered that his concern is safety. David Cheney countered that piling up traffic on the main roads would be "disastrous," and ultimately impact safety as drivers become frustrated with the gridlock.

Board members agreed to discuss the issue further at their next work session, slated to be held as The Independent went to press yesterday. Still, they passed a resolution to hold a public hearing on the proposed restrictions later this month.

Stanzione noted the "larger issue" is traffic on North Main Street and how to improve movement there. In a conversation with The Independent following the meeting, he said crafting a longer right turn lane by eliminating a handful of parking spaces on North Main Street might be worth considering.

During the meeting, there was no testimony or discussion of closing off the Miller Lanes and Indian Hill Road to heavy truck traffic, though it is part of the proposed legislation.

A while back East Hampton Village closed lanes that feed into Cedar Street to truck traffic. With those roads also used to bypass the village, area residents asked village officials to close them to through traffic as well. They didn't support the notion, deeming the closure of public roads to the public unenforceable.

kmerrill@indyeastend.com

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