Hardy Plumbing
May 10, 2006

In Southampton Town: Beach Road To Get Parking Regs

A popular beach access road in Bridgehampton is slated for a renovation project that will create a formalized parking area and additional amenities. Construction will not begin until the fall.

The Southampton Town Board agreed to pursue a design plan for Ocean Road at its morning work session last Friday. Tim Rumph, of Araiys Design, hired to produce designs for landscaping and reconstruction of the road, presented two plans to the board. One included the construction of restrooms, outdoor showers, a lifeguard station and a storage facility. Board members preferred the extra conveniences.

Starting from Surfside Drive, the plan includes an entrance booth to check parking permits, and a pedestrian walkway that would also serve as a median between the two lanes of traffic. The end of the road would round off, allowing the driver to either make a U-turn or enter the parking lot.

The lot will have 34 parking spaces, about the same that are currently available. Most of the parking is on the side of the road, however, with only a few designated spaces.

Located close to the beach, the parking lot would put an end to long walks down the road by visitors who parked far away. Following current regulations, a full season parking pass will be permitted.

The board debated about whether the lot should be gravel or pavement. Councilman Steve Kenny said that while costs might increase by using gravel, it would be a more aesthetically attractive option. Councilwomen Nancy Graboski and Linda Kabot favored pavement instead, noting that it would be more cost-efficient and allow the town to better manage drainage issues.

The two-phased plan would first involve building the infrastructure for the bathrooms, lifeguard station and storage facility, at an estimated cost of $198,000. Using $100,000 in surplus funds, the town has already spent $25,000 on the project. The first phase requires an additional $125,000 that will likely be drawn from parks department funds for the Bridgehampton district.

The second phase of the project entails actual building of the structures at a cost of about $100,000.

There are still details to sort out, not the least of which is the town's legal action against a property owner on Ocean Road who planted trees encroaching on town property, which it argues will disrupt the renovation project.

Also, Allyn Jackson, the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, suggested the board check with the Suffolk County Health Department "so that whatever design we may use is acceptable." Additionally, Jackson warned against creating more lifeguard beaches because recruitment of certified guards has been difficult for the town.

"Lifeguard recruiting has been problematic. In the past, it's been more of a problem because our pay scale was out of line with many of the villages and private clubs," Kenny said on Monday. "We've gotten more competitive in recent years. To me that's something we can continue to work on."

The area stretching from Surfside Drive to the beach will transfer from the town's highway department to its parks and recreation department within the next few months.

In conjunction with the reconstruction project, Bill Masterson, Superintendent of Highways, will soon be widening Ocean Road to create definitive bike lanes.

In other news, the board discussed plans to improve general operations of the Southampton Town Animal Shelter by creating four new committees to handle different aspects of the facility.

Four committees will be created, including an advisory board to oversee the euthanasia of animals, in addition to a behavior evaluation committee already in place to evaluate the animals and determine their levels of adoptability. A new assessment committee will streamline protocols for the shelter's staff and volunteers. A volunteer committee will help organize the helpers and their responsibilities. Last, a labor management committee will oversee the operations of the shelter and the animal control officers.

The shelter "continues to be a hot spot for passions," said Councilman Kenny, alluding to the heated debate in previous years over the town's euthanasia policy.

Kenny, a liaison to the shelter, and Richard Blowes, the town's management services administrator who has been working with the shelter on this project, suggested the board approve a resolution to invite the Humane Society, an animal rights organization, to evaluate the shelter's policies and procedures. The organization would subsequently make suggestions about how to improve operations. The outside agency will help the shelter employ the "very best medical practices" and "the very best animal care," Kenny contended.

To the board's approval, Deputy Supervisor Robert Ross suggested changing the name of the shelter to the Southampton Town Animal Shelter and Adoption Center to encourage more adoptions.

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