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Jun 23, 2010 11:41 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Mold could close Poxabogue for extended period

Jun 23, 2010 11:41 AM

Extensive mold growth has been found in the recesses of the town-owned Poxabogue Golf Center building, and Southampton Town Board members and the facility’s manager are preparing for the possibility of having to completely close the building during the height of the summer season while extensive renovation work is done.

An environmental analyst told the Southampton Town Board on Thursday, June 17, that the building’s entire basement needs to be stripped down to the foundation and that a portion of the restaurant will also have to be completely torn up. A section of roofing, which is leaking and is the likely cause of the mold behind the walls and beneath the floor at the rear of the restaurant, will also have to be repaired, said George Maul, an analyst with Insight Environmental of Patchogue.

The work could take as little as a week to complete, Mr. Maul said, if the mold problem is not more extensive than already identified. But if it has infiltrated into other parts of the building where it has not been discovered yet, it could take much longer, he said. The work will have to be done by crews certified to remove hazardous materials, like mold and asbestos.

“The basement is a very significant problem,” Mr. Maul said. “Each area needs to be isolated from each other. The basement needs to be gutted. Time is of the essence, especially if that pro shop needs to remain operating.”

In the short term, Mr. Maul said the building’s air conditioning units should be shut off and the vents sealed, and that portable units with air filters should be installed.

Town Management Services Administrator Richard Blowes said that he would order air quality samples to be taken in the pro shop to make sure that the mold does not pose an immediate health hazard to employees or customers. Town Board member Bridget Fleming said she thinks the town should post a sign outside the shop for the time being warning customers who may have respiratory problems of the presence of the mold.

The Poxabogue golf course and driving range was purchased in 2004 by Southampton and East Hampton towns to save it from being razed for residential development. It is operated by Long Island Golf Management, under contract with the two towns.

Mr. Maul said that mold was found in three primary areas of the approximately 2,500-square-foot building: behind the walls and beneath the floor at the rear of the restaurant, in a closet in the pro shop and throughout the building’s basement.

The mold was discovered after the closing of the Fairway Cafe in March, which had occupied the small restaurant space that shares the building with the golf center’s pro shop for nearly 20 years. The Fairway closed after its owner, Dan Murray, could not agree on a new contract with Ed Wankel, the owner of Long Island Golf Management. Mr. Wankel has inked a contract with a new restaurateur to occupy the space: Michael Avella, owner of the Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck, who had planned to have completed minor renovations and moved into the space by Memorial Day. The discovery of the mold has put the re-opening of the restaurant off indefinitely.

“We’ll be ready to jump as soon as we’re told it’s OK,” said Mr. Wankel, who said he and Mr. Avella had agreed to sink about $200,000 into renovations and re-outfitting the restaurant space. He said that losing the restaurant’s summer weekend revenues is a substantial loss. “It’s a lot of revenue to be losing, yes, but we have a 100-percent commitment from [Mr. Avella] and whatever we have to deal with we’ll do.”

The town had already been in discussions with Mr. Wankel about upgrades at the building, and had agreed to do about $150,000 in improvements to the building’s electrical systems and repairs to the exterior of the building, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said on Thursday. The cost of dealing with the mold and fixing the roof would be in addition to those planned costs.

Mr. Blowes said that if the Town Board determines the mold problem to be an immediate danger it could bid out the work on an emergency basis, avoiding the usual municipal bidding process, which would require more than a month before the work could begin.

Councilman Jim Malone suggested that the town begin looking into the possibility of placing a portable trailer on the property to house the pro shop if the mold forced the entire building to be closed, so that the course could continue operating for however long the renovations take. Mr. Blowes said he would approach the Village of Sagaponack about the permits that would be required for such a temporary structure.

Mr. Wankel said the pro shop does more than $750,000 worth of business a year at the Poxabogue property, between golf course tee-times, driving range balls and lessons booked with PGA professionals.

The importance of the busy summer season, was not lost on the Town Board.

“This is a revenue generating facility,” Councilwoman Nancy Graboski said. “Time is of the essence.”

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They kicked a good man out and now the town is getting kicked. And life rolls on.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Jun 23, 10 5:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
Your "good man" is the reason for the current problems.
By JBBOB (7), Hampton Bays on Jun 24, 10 1:25 PM
Wrong, the town and the current tenant are responsible, as they didn't move on the vacated premises soon enough to avert such problems.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 24, 10 6:05 PM
Why would a "golf course" be closed because of "building renovation?" If need be a couple of rented trailers could be brought in temporarily until work is finished to keep the golf course and driving range open. Why spoil an entire summer when the building is not really integral to the business. What's there now isn't much bigger than a trailer anyway.
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Jun 23, 10 7:52 PM
KARMA!!!! LOL, Sometimes bad news is good news depending on where you are sitting!
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 24, 10 12:32 PM
The "good man" is the one who should be worried about KARMA!!! How many years has he been exposing his workers and customers to these hazardous conditions?
By JBBOB (7), Hampton Bays on Jun 24, 10 1:27 PM
You make little sense considering if these conditions existed while he was operating his business, they would have been cited by the Suffolk County Board of Health upon routine inspections. You must not have been following the story too closely, as it had been stated in a previous article that the mold became a problem after the removal of a sink when he vacated the premises.
It is hardly his fault that the new tenants didn't inspect or allow ample time to fix any issues they may have found.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jun 24, 10 6:03 PM
The town really screwed up they had revenue coming in now they got nothing, this town is so screwed up you really don't like talking about,and it will lay there until next year because they do not have brains enough to get off there duffs and do something to get this going, withering a week it can get done
By john o (34), southampton on Jun 24, 10 1:11 PM
Again not to repeat this again the Town is not, by its nature, in a position to negotiate a private lease agreement. By shining the light of the public on this you change the negotiations. This good guy bad guy thing should never enter these discussions. Its about money, and money over time, and money back on investment. This personality thing is absurd unless you just add government. Then you create a real special place where all these dynamics are given a life of their own. Lets call it "Public ...more
By Bob Schepps (77), Southampton on Jun 24, 10 8:36 PM
Let's just name this "Nuzzi's Folly"
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jun 25, 10 12:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
Anna, take charge here please.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jun 28, 10 7:45 PM
Another screw up by Ricky Blowes. Why is he still employed??? Isn't Heany gone????? Always remember what goes around comes around!!!!
By bayview (160), Southampton on Jul 3, 10 6:52 PM
Another screw up by Ricky Blowes. Why is he still employed??? Isn't Heany gone????? Always remember what goes around comes around!!!!
By bayview (160), Southampton on Jul 3, 10 6:54 PM