Notes from Wainscott

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Minor chaos reigned at the Wainscott Post Office last Saturday morning. Someone, presumably someone in charge, decided that it would be good on that day and at that time to replace the sidewalk directly in front of the post office building. Giving the benefit of doubt to the someone-in-charge, it could be that the work crew arrived much too early.

Saturdays, as all Wainscotters know—as do non-Wainscotters who patronize our P.O. because it is less congested than its larger East Hampton counterpart—is the busiest day of the week for mail pickup. Weekend-only residents have only Saturdays to retrieve their bills, newspapers, magazines, letters, and unsolicited junk mail pieces stuffed into the narrow slots. Year-round folks congregate there on Saturdays and chat with one another. Because the mail is usually “not up” until 10:30 or so, vehicular traffic is heaviest from that hour until the 1 p.m. closing.

Parking at the post office, as this column has previously noted, is less than agreeable on most days. The parking lot is in need of repair, the lines delineating the parking spaces are barely visible, and many drivers ignore the space lines and deposit their cars wherever it suits them. Complicating the routine confusion are those people who, with no business whatsoever at the post office, use the lot to park while they buy their fish and bagels and wine in the shops on the other side of the highway.

Anyway, back to Saturday morning. When I arrived at 11 o’clock, the chaos had already taken hold. Strategically placed orange and white traffic cones blocked off half of the parking area. Three large vehicles, including a cement truck from Island Ready Mix in Center Moriches and a back hoe, and three men were at work removing the existing cement sidewalk. Cars were scattered here and there, and people—Andy Babinski, Jackie Szczepankowski, and Henry Clifford among them—were dodging the dust while rolling their eyes in amazement.

Only Ruth Metz, the 88-year-old Bicycle Maiden of Wainscott, escaped the confusion. Ruth rode her bike, recently recovered from a flat tire, to the post office, chained it to a tree and went about her business on foot.

Despite the parking dilemmas, occasional fender-benders and flares of temper, it is this columnist’s opinion that traffic congestion at the Wainscott P.O. is preferable to hundreds of home delivery mailboxes dotting our roads and streets.

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Apologies to John Tintle, Wainscott Commercial Center LLC, and those who read my piece on the proposed relocation of the Suffolk Cement plant in the “Wainscott Pit.” I mistakenly reported that the entire operation had been shut down more than a year ago and has been inoperable ever since. Only the company’s office at the plant was closed, having been deemed unsafe; the ready-mix production continues. Thank you, Steven Caputo, for your e-mail setting me straight!

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A sizeable story in the Escapes section of last Friday’s New York Times noted that, on the South Fork, the “soft whoosh, whoosh of the Atlantic has been lost to the clack, clack, buzz, buzz of hedge trimmer and lawn mowers.” This is certainly true in Wainscott. Our hamlet is awash with the trucks and lawn-machinery-toting trailers of landscaping firms. Often, it is difficult to drive and see around them as their operators trim and clean and plant.

Summer is on its way, and as tomorrow turns into May, only a month remains until traffic increases tenfold, Wainscott’s main roads become thoroughfares for motorists bypassing sections of Montauk Highway, and our beaches, shops, and restaurants are populated by throngs of thrill-seeking summerites eager to share the fascinations of the Hamptons. Are you prepared?

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During the April meeting of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, Richard Whalen, an attorney and a principal in Land Marks, an East Hampton-based land planning business, appeared before the CAC to encourage Wainscott support for his proposal to have East Hampton Town purchase 11.5 acres between Town Line and Wainscott Hollow roads. Owned by the Strong family, whom Mr. Whalen represents, the parcel was subdivided in the early 1980s into contiguous lots. An agricultural easement protects the largest, 6.8-acre lot of prime agricultural soils, and another agricultural easement covers a portion of the 2.7-acre segment. A two-acre lot borders only Wainscott Hollow.

When the CAC meets this Saturday morning in the Wainscott Chapel, Dr. Dominic Annacone, Wainscott School District superintendent, will be the guest speaker. The meeting starts at 9 a.m.; Dr. Annacone is scheduled for 10 o’clock.

If you haven’t seen the new school at the corner of Main Street and Wainscott Hollow Road, take a gander. Grass is growing all around, new shrubbery 
has been installed, the schoolhouse 
sits proudly on its raised elevation, and 18 children attend classes every weekday.

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