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Aug 16, 2017 11:08 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Trustee Seeks Additional Beach Parking

Proposed additional parking along Meadow Lane.
Aug 16, 2017 11:08 AM

A Southampton Village trustee is asking his fellow board members to find additional parking areas along Meadow Lane and Dune Road to prepare for what he says could be a catastrophic blow to the village.

At the past two Village Board meetings, Trustee Bill Hattrick said he is concerned that the village might lose a lawsuit filed by neighbors who want to end daytime beach driving and parking at the stretch of village beach known as the “Picnic Area.” It is the only beach in the Town of Southampton where that is permitted in the summer.

Filed by attorney Nica B. Strunk, on behalf of the Araskog family—Kathleen Araskog Thomas, Andrew S. Thomas, Rand V. Araskog and Jessie M. Araskog—in October 2015, the suit claims that the Village of Southampton and the Southampton Town Trustees are unfairly and illegally allowing vehicles on a small portion of the beach in front of the Araskog home during the day in the summer months, while excluding vehicles from all other beaches. Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit is the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

If the village loses the case, Mr. Hattrick has pointed out, it would mean beach-goers who typically use the Picnic Area will need to find other places to park when visiting the beach.

Mr. Hattrick proposed to the board that they begin to look at a stretch of land on the northeastern corner of Halsey Neck Lane and Meadow Lane as a potential area to accommodate a few cars. “There is a huge area on the northeast side of Halsey Neck Beach,” he told board members at a meeting on Thursday, August 10. He said there is an approximate 20-foot-wide section where cars could park and no homes nearby.

Mr. Hattrick requested that surveys be done to determine how much of that land belongs to the village, though he heard from the village superintendent of public works, Gary Goleski, that there is a good chance the village owns about 50 feet there. He suspects that the village can add 10 to 12 parking spots—which could be helpful on weekends when the lots at Coopers Beach and the helipad are full.

Last weekend, the parking lot at Coopers Beach was filled to maximum capacity, and the on-street spots, like those at Road D and Halsey Neck Lane, were filled as well.

At last week’s meeting, Mr. Hattrick also brought up Road A, one of seven “letter roads” that were deeded to the Village of Southampton by the Town Trustees in 1956, with the stipulation that the roads would remain open for people to access the beaches.

Mr. Hattrick said he measured the width of Road A and found that it was 19 feet wide. According to an old survey, the road should be 50 feet wide—meaning encroaching properties on both the western and eastern sides of the road have reduced the road by more than half. He asked that Village Attorney Wayne Bruyn put together maps of each of the lettered roads that have the survey images superimposed on top of a satellite image of the roads to show how much encroachment has occurred.

Ultimately, Mr. Hattrick told board members that they should widen Road A to allow the possibility of two rows of parked cars, so more people can access the beach.

Francis “Fran” Adamczeski, a resident who frequently attends Village Board meetings to lobby for beach access, praised Mr. Hattrick’s statements. “We need more access,” he told board members last week.

At a meeting last month, Southampton Village Mayor Michael Irving said he wants to keep Road A open so that a few cars can park there, but did not want to promote its use. He also said he wants to see Road A return to its natural state.

Mr. Irving said he was wary of the idea of opening the bay side of Road A, because oil and other fluids dripping from vehicles may harm the wetlands.

Mr. Hattrick said on Monday that was a bunch of “horse hay.” In fact, he recommended gravel be put down to firm up the ground for parking and to possibly offer some filtration of pollutants, though he added that he doesn’t think cars today drip that much oil.

Mr. Adamczeski sided with Mr. Hattrick, adding that more harm is being done to the wetlands by the homeowners nearby. “Lawns don’t belong on the beach,” he said. “It’s not natural.”

As far as the opening more beaches for driving and getting more access for the public, Mr. Irving told Mr. Adamczeski and members of Southampton Association for Beach Access that the Village Board will continue pushing for their cause. He recommended that they ask the Southampton Town Trustees for their help, adding that it appears they have walked away from the issue.

“We are, in fact, the ones doing the most,” Village Trustee Richard Yastrzemski agreed.

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