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Sep 23, 2009 1:40 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Homeowners association disgruntled over charity foot race

Sep 23, 2009 1:40 PM

The members of a homeowners association in Southampton Village voiced their displeasure to the Village Board on Tuesday over the course of a 10K charity run for autism that snaked through their neighborhood on privately owned roads Sunday morning.

The race, called the Flying Point 10K, ran through Pheasant Pond, a development located south of Montauk Highway and surrounding the pond for which it is named. About 180 runners participated in the event.

The roads in the development—Pheasant Close South, East, North and West—are private and are maintained by the Pheasant Pond Association, not the village, according to Carol Nobbs, secretary of the association.

“There have been two issues of trespassing,” Ms. Nobbs told the board 
during its meeting on Tuesday. One referred to the Flying Point race, and the other an earlier incident in which Cablevision construction workers dug up a portion of the private road to install cable.

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley apologized to Ms. Nobbs and Harry Hackett, the other member of the association present at the meeting, for the fact that the run went through Pheasant Pond’s streets.

“We approved the race. Most of it was in the town, a part of it was in the village,” Mr. Epley said. “We didn’t realize it was a private road. We would never have approved a public event on private property. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Kim Covell, the organizer of the race, and an assistant editor at The Southampton Press, said that she received all of the necessary approvals from the village for the race and would have sought permission from the association if she had known that it was necessary.

Ms. Covell noted that the race has been operating for the past four years, and that she has never had a complaint from Pheasant Pond residents before. She said she will ask the association for permission in the future.

Mr. Hackett said he wished the village and the organizers of the race had come to him first, and explained that the association would have most likely allowed the event to use their roads. “If a charitable organization wanted to use the road, we would let them,” he said.

But Mr. Hackett said he would have had the group’s organizers sign a waiver that would protect the association in the event of an accident during the race. Stephen Lamson, the owner of Terrain Limited Construction in Southampton, which takes care of Pheasant Pond’s roads, recommended such a procedure in order to hold the Pheasant Pond Association harmless in case a runner tripped on a bump in one of the roads.

Mr. Hackett said that he has been asking the village to take over the roads for the past seven years, and most recently met with them about it a year ago. “It’s been an ongoing thing,” he said.

Mr. Epley said Wednesday morning that he doesn’t know why Southampton Village has not taken over Pheasant Pond’s roads, but he suggested it might have something to do with the cost of maintenance for the highway and public works departments.

“I’m not opposed to taking over those roads,” Mr. Epley said, adding that if the roads were ever to become public, the village would have to remove the speed bumps currently installed on some of them.

Ms. Nobbs and Mr. Hackett said that they have considered closing off the roads of Pheasant Pond to the public by installing gates on Downs Path and Narrow Lane, making Wickapogue Road the only outlet to the development.

But both said they would prefer to not take such drastic measures. Ms. Nobbs said that there would have to be a vote among the 50 homeowners in the association.

There are currently signs that state the roads are private, Ms. Nobbs said.

Absentee Voting

After a conversation with Village Clerk Jim Van Nostrand late last week, Village Attorney Richard DePetris suggested that the Village Board not allow absentee voting in the upcoming special election for the $6 million firehouse on Hampton Road.

After

the village’s executive session Tuesday night, the trustees passed a resolution prohibiting absentee ballots in the bond vote.

“Personally, I’m not happy with that, but I understand the legal point of view,” said Mr. Epley.

Mr. DePetris explained that New York State law regarding absentee voting in special elections, such as the one being held on October 9 for the proposed firehouse, is vague and does not specifically prohibit or allow those types of ballots.

The New York State Attorney General, however, has issued opinions prohibiting absentee voting in such elections, he said. Mr. DePetris said that the village could jeopardize the election and open itself to a lawsuit if it allowed absentee voting.

Mr. Epley added that the village did not allow absentee voting in the special election held almost 10 years ago for the police department.

Eileen Musarra, who was standing in as village clerk because Mr. Van Nostrand was away, said that she has already had inquiries from the public about securing absentee ballots.

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