November is swiftly flying past, and I’m sure we’re all relieved that the political ads have ceased, at least for a while. But while politicians were busy being politicians, life went on for the rest of us.At the last Bridgehampton CAC meeting, Tom Neely, director of public transportation and traffic safety for Southampton Town, explained that the use of the term “transportation hub” is not a formal designation for Bridgehampton, but is instead a phrase from regional transportation studies that have been done, and the phrase may be in the comprehensive plan reflecting the reality that BH is a destination/crossroads for the train, local bus and intercity bus. Tom assured the CAC members that there are no plans afoot to make BH more of a hub.
In response to questions about the parking tax and long-term parking fees, Mr. Neely reported that, according to 2013 figures, the town gets $54,709 from the parking tax and $7,000 from long-term parking fees. Half of the long-term parking fees are assigned to the parking district, with the other half assigned to the town clerk’s office to administer the long-term parking program. Maintenance and landscaping cost about $30,000 a year, he reported. The rest is banked against the need for future repairs or improvements. The parking district tax is based on the 2005 tax rate, the latest Tom could find. On a $500,000 property, the tax is about $4.90. BH residents do get a $50 reduction in long-term parking fees, so they are not being “taxed” twice. (Long-term parking fees are $75/BH resident; $125 taxpayer; $300/non-resident.)
The town does provide services to the BH LIRR station, (i.e. snowplowing and maintenance) per an agreement between the town and the LIRR signed in 2002. Many municipalities have similar agreements.
At the same meeting, Greg Konner gave an overview of development plans for the “Barnes & Noble” and “Carvel” sites. Plans have been submitted to the town for two buildings with a total of 27,000 sq. ft. with 150 parking spots on 8 acres which are zoned highway business. They have tenants for both buildings (a gym and a yoga studio) but added that they don’t know what else will happen with the rest of the property because they don’t have other tenants. The advertisement that had been circulated with three additional buildings was not an official plan and they are not pursuing it.
He also commented that the restaurant on the site will probably come down shortly, noting that the Fire Marshal wants it down because in the winter there are homeless people living there and it is a potential hazard.
Cathie Gandel suggested that the community would want landscaping coverage to shield the site from the street, similar to the natural woodlands barrier that hides some of the Commons. Leonard Davenport noted that the sales tax from businesses on the site would not contribute to our Bridgehampton Library or school tax districts, since that area, despite being in Bridgehampton, supports the Southampton School District.
I suppose some of us may be using our local bus or train station to travel this coming Thanksgiving, while some of us are remaining home, getting ready for the feast. As Erma Bombeck once wrote: “What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?” (Erma Bombeck, “No One Diets on Thanksgiving,” November 26, 1981).
But that day is not so wonderful for many people who are struggling. Panera Bread is once again serving as a designated drop-off site for Island Harvest Food Bank’s annual “Turkey & Trimmings,” a most worthy cause that helps to feed Long Island’s hungry. The program serves as a lifeline for the hundreds of thousands of Long Islanders who struggle to put food on the table. To lend a helping hand this holiday season, Panera Bread is asking its neighbors to donate frozen turkeys and non-perishable food items at any of its 24 Long Island bakery-cafés on or before December 24, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. We have a Panera Bread here in the Bridgehampton Commons.
In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy whatever preparations you and your family might be making for the coming Thanksgiving holiday.