Southampton Town will still have first dibs on $500,000 in federal grant money that had been tagged to help pay for the renovation of the bridge over Sagg Pond in Sagaponack.
U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, who secured the federal earmark for the town more than five years ago, confirmed that the funding is still available and can be accessed by the town, even though the project for which it had been intended has been abandoned.
In September, after months of bickering between Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor and Sagaponack Village residents and officials, the town dropped its plans to renovate the Sagg Bridge and is in the process of drafting an annexation agreement, giving ownership and responsibility for the maintenance of the bridge to the village.
Mr. Gregor had said he feared that with the project abandoned, the federal grant money would no longer be available to the town.
“The money remains available to Southampton,” Mr. Bishop said this week. “The town now needs to inform the [State Department of Transportation] by letter as to what they wish to use the money for.”
Town officials have said they have not yet identified a suitable project to which the money could be directed.
Mr. Gregor has said he would like to access the money for use in renovating culverts over waterways.
Whatever project the money is directed to will have to meet state DOT standards, a requirement at the heart of the conflict over the Sagg Bridge. Meeting state highway standards demanded that the renovation project include upgrades to the bridge’s guide railings, a change that irked residents who prefer the bridge’s more quaint iron-and-concrete railings.
Those requirements will also disqualify most town roadway projects from consideration since town roads rarely meet state standards, Mr. Gregor said.