There was less than smooth sailing for one Bridgehampton resident’s plans to revive the Mecox Yacht Club at town-owned property at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill, as several neighboring residents lined up to criticize the proposal at a Southampton Town Board meeting Tuesday.
Jeff Mansfield of the Mecox Sailing Association, which is slated to manage the property as a nonprofit, came before the board in hopes of entering into a license agreement to resurrect the club—an organization that once taught children how to sail small sailboats two decades ago, he said. The club would include a sailing school and sailboat racing and would serve as a boating organization for people of all ages.
Part of the proposal for the property would include clearing about 6,000 square feet of vegetation to make room for 16 Sunfish sailboats. It would also include renovating a storage structure that is already at the site, and adding one portable restroom.
Mr. Mansfield kicked off his comments at a hearing on the request by acknowledging that there were those in the audience who opposed his plan. He thanked them for being there to listen to the proposal. He argued that the sailing school would benefit the children of the community.
“I believe that we are all here for what we believe is the best for the community at large,” Mr. Mansfield said.
Mr. Mansfield told the board that the Mecox Yacht Club has a special significance, serving as a longtime staple of the boating and sailing community in Water Mill and Bridgehampton. To bolster his argument, he mentioned that 250 residents had signed a petition in support of the yacht club. The proposal also comes with the approval of both the Bridgehampton and Water Mill citizen advisory committees, as well as the Bridgehampton Historical Society.
Residents and attorneys lined up to voice their concerns about the proposal, which mostly focused on issues of traffic safety and congestion.
One group, Mecox Bay Associates, is an organization of about 18 residents. It was represented by Bran D. Weber, a Melville attorney, who argued that allowing Mr. Mansfield to run the operation there would be a “potential destruction of a public resource.”
Other representatives of the group said the plans pose serious traffic issues, noting that Bay Lane in Water Mill, where the club would be situated, is too narrow and densely populated to accommodate additional traffic. They also expressed concerns about the clearing of vegetation.
Tom Neely, the executive director of the town’s Transportation Commission, said traffic concerns could be mitigated by additional parking spaces and possibly instituting beach permit-like regulations in the area.
Most residents who spoke denounced the proposal and asked why they were not consulted about the project.
Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst countered that the details of the proposal were made public for “quite some time.”
The board adjourned the hearing until October 12, at 1 p.m., when Ms. Throne-Holst said it’s likely the Town Board will make a decision on whether it will enter into a license agreement with the group.
After the meeting, Ms. Throne-Holst rejected claims that the town was secretive about the plans “The allegations that we’ve been somehow secretive of this or unresponsive is incorrect,” she said.
Ms. Throne-Holst also said she had heard that the resident group opposed to the plans may submit a counter proposal for the same project to be moved to W. Scott Cameron Beach on Dune Road in Bridgehampton, although she said “no proposal was ever submitted.”