Local and state officials are joining Amagansett business owners in their opposition to plans to repave a stretch of road through the hamlet during daytime hours, a move that wouldn’t block traffic flow but would eliminate some parking on Main Street.
In late September, the Suffolk County Department of Transportation announced a $13.8 million project to repave a 15-mile stretch of Montauk Highway, including a 1,500-foot “priority section” of road through Amagansett’s Main Street. The DOT is suggesting that the strip of road will be repaved during daytime hours to speed up the process, saying that otherwise it must wait until the spring of 2015.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. asked the department last week to repave the section during evening hours only, fearing that the project could hurt businesses on Amagansett’s Main Street.
Mr. Thiele said he met with Mr. Cantwell and other members of the Town Board who had spoken with local merchants about the project, and he believes Amagansett should not be treated any worse than other communities.
“When they did this project in Southampton Town, through Water Mill and into Bridgehampton and then Wainscott, they were able to do the work at night,” Mr. Thiele said during a phone interview. “We simply don’t think Amagansett should be treated any differently. This fall is still an important part of the local economy here—it’s not as busy as summer, but to eliminate parking places for local businesses is not warranted.”
Two Amagansett business owners, Mary Schoenlein, of Mary’s Marvelous and Alda Stipanov of Astro Pizza, voiced similar concerns. Both were unaware of the DOT’s plan before being contacted by a reporter, and both said they would like to see the department put the work off until the evening hours.
While repaving would never close or reroute traffic traveling in either direction, according to DOT spokesperson Eileen Peters, street parking in the area would be temporary eliminated.
“The biggest inconvenience to businesses will be the lack of street parking,” she said. “Things will move a little slower, but if there’s parking off the street or in the back of stores, businesses should be able to carry on as usual.”
Ms. Peters said the department is working with local business owners and asking for their feedback about the potential daytime work and will proceed with the plan only if it is well received. “Although some people may not believe it, we really do our best,” she said. “We know it’s disruptive and, for these businesses, they need their parking. It’s their livelihood. But we also know its beneficial for people,” she said of newly paved roads.
Ms. Peters said businesses in the affected area should contact the department with any feedback regarding plans as soon as possible, and that a letter about the DOT’s plans is now available on the Amagansett Chamber of Commerce website.
The repaving is scheduled to begin on October 20, according to a release from the DOT.