Gurney's Inn
January 03, 2007

Goodbye, 2006

It's been a rather quiet year locally all and all, but with an election year coming up, sparks are sure to start flying shortly.

Probably the most positive development was the devastating traffic that has ruined County Road 39 is finally being addressed after decades of inertia.

Credit gets passed around — Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Southampton Town Supervisor Skip Heaney, County Executive Steve levy, and many others.

Again, however, a history lesson is in order: Assemblyman Perry Duryea of Montauk warned 40 years ago that a single lane highway stretching from Montauk to western Southampton Village was a disaster waiting to happen, and that eventually it would prove to have a stranglehold on all of us. He was right. Had a bypass been constructed then, none of these horrific traffic jams would have occurred.

Instead "environmentalists" warned that Duryea wanted to speed development and lobbied against the bypass, citing the fragility of the Northwest Woods and Bridgehampton farmlands the road would have meandered through. Secretly, these same opponents were buying up huge swaths of the land, warning they would soon be adjacent to a super-highway.

After they squashed the bypass, they developed and sold the same lands they claimed to be protecting and made millions. And that's why we have the traffic problem that exists today.

The issue of day laborers was in the forefront most of last year. East Hampton Village acted boldly and for a while eliminated the problem of vagrants hanging about the streets in search of work (though some are beginning to appear again around the corner from the train station).

In Southampton Village, inertia created a scene almost surreal, with hundreds of laborers squaring off against angry protesters while police looked on — from parked cars. The situation has eased with the colder weather, but next Spring it will once again rear its ugly head. Village residents should demand the situation be rectified permanently, or elect village officials with the gumption to do the job.

In Sag Harbor, a potentially disastrous reassessment left many residents afraid they would be unable to pay their tax bills. Credit the town for listening and taking action in time to avert a tragedy. Nevertheless, the feeling persists that someone was asleep at the switch, and in fact the incumbent town assessor conveniently "resigned."

Throughout the East End, a long anticipated thaw finally set on the real estate industry, temporarily freezing prices and causing a slowdown in real estate sales. Alas, the correction wasn't nearly steep enough to enable our young working class families to purchase houses, though there are still some bargains in Riverhead Town. On the flip side, the multi-million dollar market proves how desirable it is to live here, and thus all of us who do are blessed.

Here's hoping for good health and peace to all of you.

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