Westhampton Beach Village officials are considering repaving and refurbishing Main Street next year, with possible improvements including burying power lines, installing new crosswalks, implementing a new parking system, and even installing a landscaped median.
These ideas and others were discussed during the Village Board’s most recent work session, held last Wednesday, November 19.
Mayor Maria Moore said she would like to use surplus funds given to the village from the state’s Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, as well as leftover sidewalk repair money from a 2012 grant along with other available funds, to replace the sidewalks and curbs, and repave the surface of the road along the village’s main business corridor.
It was not immediately clear how much money the village will have to spend on such a project, Ms. Moore said, adding that she plans to apply for a $300,000 revitalization grant from Albany to help finance the project. She said she also hopes to have a plan in place to begin the construction in the spring, if possible, or next fall, whichever interferes less with the summer season.
“We’d want to talk to contractors to see if it’s something that could be done in three months,” Ms. Moore said. “It should be an offseason project.”
Village Planner Kyle Collins recommended that the board consult the best practices outlined by the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Smart Growth America when compiling a plan for a safe and successful Main Street.
Mr. Collins suggested that the village install curb extensions, or “bulb-outs,” that would extend further into the street at crossing points to make for shorter, more distinct crosswalks. Along those same lines, Mr. Collins recommended different treatments for the pavement in the crosswalks, or building them out of bricks, to make them stand out from the asphalt. The board also discussed moving crosswalks to areas where people tend to cross the most to cut down on jaywalking.
To offset the loss of parking spots that would come with adding curb extensions, Mr. Collins said the board might consider 45-degree parking, as opposed to the current 30-degree parking on the street. He also suggested they consider making intersections narrower.
“If you’re going to spend the money for infrastructure improvements downtown, it would be nice to make some upgrades at the same time,” he said.
Ms. Moore said she plans on meeting with representatives of the Long Island Power Authority to discuss possibly burying the power lines that currently zig-zag over Main Street while the village replaces the road.
Village Trustee Ralph Urban proposed a plan to remove the trees that have been slowly reshaping the sidewalks along Main Street with their roots, and then narrowing the sidewalks on each side of the road to make way for a center median.
“I kinda like the idea of taking 2 feet off each side of sidewalk and putting in a median,” Mr. Urban said. “Then get rid of the trees, which tear up the sidewalks eventually and put all the trees in the median. You have the same amount of lane space, but you have a median instead.”
Simon Jorna, owner of The Beach Bakery on Main Street, said it is crucial that the village remove the trees, which he said have already started to damage the Books & Books building, which he also owns.
Mr. Jorna said he’d also like to see the village remove the metal traffic and parking signs that line Main Street, and replace them with the wooden ones used to mark street intersections. He’d also like to see street parking reduced to an hour instead of the current two-hour limit, adding that no employees—including shop owners—should be allowed to park in front of their stores.
In terms of aesthetics, Mr. Jorna said he’d like to have lights in the trees along Main Street year-round, and a consistent pavement type for the entire length of sidewalk.
“The sidewalks and the curbs look terrible,” he said. “I could say in Sayville, Riverhead and Hampton Bays look better than us. They used to be the laughingstock of the Hamptons, and now they look better than us—that’s embarrassing.”