April 19, 2006
Residents Rally For Safe Roads
"This is the critical moment. It's now or never — either save it or lose it."
|Independent / Jacqueline M. Dubé
Freddie Wachsberger, president of Southold Citizens for Safe Roads, points out a slide show that she said reflects the impacts of increased parking at the Cross Sound Ferry site. (click for larger version)|
The urgent words of Freddie Wachsberger, president of Southold Citizens for Safe Roads, were uttered in stark contrast to the sunny mood at a fundraiser held last weekend to sound a warning cry against what the group considers will be detrimental impacts of increased Cross Sound Ferry traffic on area roads.
Guests strolled along in the spring sunshine last Saturday, listening to live music and watching their children frolic in the grass at Founder's Landing in Southold.
The event, a rally and fundraiser organized by Take Back Our Roads, was well attended but a far cry from the crowds of protestors who packed Route 25 in Orient last Labor Day weekend to speak out about against what they consider the impacts of increased Cross Sound Ferry traffic on area roads.
Wachsberger emphasized that the organization's goal was not to shut down the ferry. In fact, Wachsberger hurried to remove anti-CSF signs from the dining area she said were "misleading." She did, however, point out a slide show running in a corner, demonstrating what the group considers the detriments of a new application filed by CSF with the Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals for a parking plan that would bring 450 additional cars to the site.
Wachsberger, who also appeared at last week's town board work session with fellow Safe Roads members Justin Ockenden and Keri Christ, said the town board needs to establish limits on ferry service, including the number of cars on boats, hours of operation, and the number of ferry runs, much like the stand recently taken against ferry service in East Hampton.
"We don't want to stop the ferry," she said. "If they're going to expand, they should expand at additional sites."
Back in 1984, said Wachsberger, the need for a state environmental quality review process was emphasized, but "the town refused" to comply. "It's time to fix that," she said. "It's time to say 'enough is enough.'"
Stan Mickus, director of marketing of CSF, said of the Southold Citizens for Safe Roads, "their objective is to control the ferry. Who are they to try and control not only traffic flow on State Road 25, but also the flow of commerce within Southold Town? Essentially, it seems they want to control the Southold economy, too."
CSF filed an application to the ZBA on February 23, 2006, requesting a special permit to park cars on the two parcels of land that "Cross Sound has owned for over a decade or more," said Mickus. The land is directly adjacent to the existing snack bar parking lot, "used for ferry parking for over 50 years, long before Cross Sound owned the Orient Ferry," he added.
The number of spaces per the Southold town code would be 250 on one parcel, said Mickus, and 201 on the other; the CSF has not received a response from the town regarding the application.
"This measure would remove all vehicles presently parking along State Route 25 at Orient Point, something that everyone, including the Safe Roads people, are in agreement with, and is the most practical solution to this issue," said Mickus. "If they are so concerned with alternative ferry sites, why don't they do something constructive like stage a rally and protest in front of East Hampton Town Hall demanding a ferry in East Hampton? That would have more of an impact than a cocktail party on Easter weekend in Southold."
Troy Gustavson, publisher of the Times Review publications in Mattituck, who recently stepped back from his duties as columnist in order to devote more time to causes such as Safe Roads, had nothing to say to this publication on the issue. When asked if he had any
comments, he said: "None for you."