By: Progress For Westhampton Beach
The public portion of this month’s work session was called to order at 7:00 pm, outside the temperature was near 25 degrees Fahrenheit, but that was far better than the six feet of snow dumped on Buffalo with more snow forecast to be on the way.
Kyle Collins, the village planner, was in attendance to contribute to discussions with respect to repairs and design work on Main Street, and to field questions concerning grocery/supermarket uses in the B-2/B-3 districts and the studies available concerning the possible impact on the village’s B-1 district.1)These matters were on the distributed agenda
The deficiencies of the Waldbaums on Sunset Avenue are no longer seriously disputed, and of late we have only rumors of rumors that a Fairway market might supplant the decrepit store. The 25,000 square foot supermarket is a millstone at the center of the B-1 District not a cornerstone of a thriving commercial center that attracts customers. Many find it unacceptable and go elsewhere.
In the coming months the Board of Trustees will be required to define where it stands on the spectrum from laissez faire indolence to meddlesome intervention in the free market.
The Board of Trustees has its work cut out for it. Whatever it does decide and whatever it doesn’t decide will be the subject of comment and criticism. Hopefully, its work will be informed by legal principles that can serve as guideposts along the way, but these guideposts will never produce “the” answer. In the end, it will be the industrious efforts of hardworking people that will fill the framework the Board provides for businesses in our village.
The evening’s discussion turned to a more fundamental governmental purpose, and less controversially a matter within the power and duty of local government – the repair of sidewalks, curbs, and resurfacing of our Main Street.
With Main Street paving, curbing and sidewalks in longstanding disrepair, and with numerous trees that are dying, or that have been trimmed beyond recognition for utility lines, an overdue discussion began. The Mayor and Trustees discussed infrastructure repairs and improvements that will support a revitalized village center.
The village planner, Kyle Collins, explained traffic calming designs that include “bulb-outs” that expand the sidewalk at corners. These might be used at the intersection of Mill Road and Main Street, and at Main Street and Moniebogue Lane. These bulb-outs are also used at crosswalks and provide both pedestrian protection and a broader expanse to plant trees where they won’t rupture sidewalks as they grow. The Board will also consider appropriate locations for crosswalks based upon observations of where pedestrians actually cross — the path from in front of the Beach Bakery directly to the south side of Main Street was an obvious choice to all. Mr. Collins recommended Smart Growth and Complete Streets as a reference to consider during the Board’s discussion. With such resources in hand it is the Board that will have to devise an appropriate plan.
The Mayor has explained that she had conversations with h2m an engineering firm. Roadwork and sidewalks repaired now will not be affected if/when the village secures funding for sewers and undertakes that infrastructure project. Sewer hook ups for Main Street stores would be done from behind the stores, the project would not require Main Street to be re-opened and work done now would remain undisturbed.
Money does matter and yesterday Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver argued in favor funding infrastructure projects by making part of the current 5 billion dollar State surplus (largely funded by bank settlements) available now. State Assemblyman Fred Thiele says he supports a proposal to have a referendum to amend the CPF program to allow funds to be spent on water quality projects.
The Mayor has had initial discussions with PSE&G with respect to burying the Main Street utility lines. A representative of PSE&G is scheduled to do a walk-through of Main Street with the Mayor and Superintendent John Kearns in the coming weeks, and will provide an estimate for such a project. There is a cost savings to do it while the street is open for extensive repairs. Exploring this option doesn’t cost anything.
Ron Hill of Dunn Engineering had provided a report on the suitability of the ground for supporting replacement bulkheading. Ralph Urban moderated the discussion concerning the bulkhead and related that test borings showed that there was no solid ground until 19 feet down. Paul Houlihan shared a conversation he had with the engineer that the loose fill was most likely “fill spoil” from dredging the marina at some much earlier date. Mr. Urban proposed that rather than repair or replace the bulkhead, the property could be reshaped at a 15% grade and floating docks could be used instead of bulkheading. This has the potential to be a very good solution that is cost effective.
The Burned Out Guldi Residence
The Mayor reported that Dunn engineering has completed the specifications for the demolition of the the former Guldi residence located on Griffing Avenue. A Notice to Bid will be published and a contractor secured. The village is now only waiting for a decision from the Court on Mr. Guldi’s motion. If the Guldi motion is denied, the village will be ready. The costs of the demolition will become a lien upon the property.
PS Catering Use Application
The village has received a request from PS Catering for the use of village property. An informal proposal was first made at the October work session, and an application has since been received with a request to have 25 mobile food trucks use the Mill Road parking lot after the Farmer’s Market has concluded for the day on Saturday, July 11th . The Food Truck vendors would set up at 4:00 p.m. and continue until 11:00 p.m.
The Mayor was concerned that Main Street food establishments that pay taxes, and are part of the thriving permanent economy could lose valuable revenue at the height of the tourist season. Trustee Tucker mentioned the argument of PS Catering from the October work session that local merchants would be permitted to participate at the Mill Road lot as well.
The Mayor explained that in her October 14th meeting with Main Street merchants they expressed a desire to have events similar to this one as a means to extend the tourist season, either in the spring or the fall. Granting such a license to use village property in July, however, would probably not be cordially received by local restaurateurs as it would only detract from business and not add. The matter was left open for further discussion.
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