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Feb 22, 2017 10:53 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Main Street Overhaul Requires Removal Of Dozens Of Trees

Brian Murrell of H2M Engineering breaks down parts of the Main Street revitalization plan to the Westhampton Beach Village Board. BY ERIN MCKINLEY
Feb 22, 2017 11:37 AM

Though they are still working to nail down the final details of what will be a multimillion-dollar Main Street revitalization project, Westhampton Beach officials are now certain that there will be at least one casualty of the upcoming work: all of the trees lining the village’s main business corridor.

As part of the upgrades that are expected to begin in the fall, village officials shared this week that the estimated 72 trees lining Main Street, including many that are now rotting, must be taken down so that new drainage, sidewalks and a conduit pipe for a possible future sewer system can be installed along the commercial corridor.

There are several species lining Main Street, including Callery pear trees, Japanese zelkova trees, as well as oaks and maples. The age of the various trees is not immediately clear.

The Main Street work is now tentatively estimated to run about $4.6 million—or $200,000 more than previously estimated—though that figure is expected to change once more details are known. One of the unknowns is exactly how much it will cost to replace the trees along Main Street, information that will be included in a landscaping plan that also needs to be finalized. The village does not yet know what kinds of trees would replace the ones to be removed.

“There will be a transition period where it will be ugly,” Village Board member Stephen Frano said at last week's work session, referring to how Main Street will look during the work that is expected to be completed in two phases and over the next two years, possibly wrapping up toward the end of 2018. “No hiding it.”

The village has been discussing upgrading infrastructure along Main Street since December 2014. In addition to new drainage, sidewalks and asphalt, the project calls for the reconfiguration of the intersection of Main Street and Library Avenue—a particularly troublesome corner as Library Avenue and Mill Road are not in perfect alignment.

As part of their planning, village officials now must take into consideration how the work can be done without interfering with next year’s summer tourist season. According to Brian Murrell of H2M Engineering in Melville, who was hired by the village to map out the revitalization project and provide estimates, the work will likely be completed in two phases, with the first beginning this September and continuing through May 2018. Crews will then stop working until after that Labor Day. In addition to temporary sidewalks, Main Street will likely be bare of trees for at least one year as they will probably be removed as part of the preliminary work and, most likely, will not be replaced until after most of the renovations are complete.

“This is what people see of the project and it hasn’t really been nailed down at this point,” Mr. Murrell said. “It is hard to know what we are designing.”

Presently, there are 72 trees lining Main Street though, last year, Westhampton Beach Department of Public Works Superintendent John Kearns estimated that at least 40 are rotting and need to be replaced, according to a report from Bartlett Tree Experts of Southampton. The same report notes that the remaining 32 trees require pruning.

Mayor Maria Moore said this week that the village will try to salvage as many of the healthy trees as possibly, if they can be relocated, though she acknowledged that most cannot be moved due to their size and rot. In the preliminary cost options for the project, H2M has allocated $175,000 for new trees, landscaping and furnishings along Main Street. Now, Mr. Murrell said, the village needs to start making decisions on specifics, like what types of trees and how many they would like to see planted.

“One thing we have discussed is we don’t want to go through all of this and then plant trees and, 15 years from now, they are ripping up the sidewalks again,” Trustee Ralph Urban said. “We want a type of tree that won’t do that to the sidewalks and we would like ones that offer a better view of the storefronts. Right now they are blocking a lot of signage, so that is the concept.”

According to Mr. Murrell, contractors will want to remove all of the trees early in the process, meaning that Main Street could go well over a year, including next summer, without any trees lining it. Many of the benches could also be removed over that span. While the mayor said she would like to limit the number of trees taken down at one time, Mr. Murrell and Mr. Kearns both warned that it might not be feasible to stretch it out, explaining that it would most likely cost more to remove them piecemeal.

Ms. Moore also shared this week that the village will have to do some strategic planning when it comes to certain events, like annual parades and festivals, due to the pending work. She said that, in some instances, organizers will want to find different venues or, with parades, alter their routes. Other organizers, she added, might consider skipping a year depending on the condition of Main Street.

“For one year we will have to reroute some of these activities,” Ms. Moore said. “But how else could we do it?”

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Isnt the bigger story where they are going to get the $4.6m to do the work? Im still waiting to hear that on the infamous "sewer district". I guess the taxpayers have no say in all this money they are spending and the Main Street business are also gonna really be screwed. Think they would have consulted Main Street first but I guess the mayor and Trustees all have business on Main Street so they know how that works.
By realistic (472), westhampton on Feb 23, 17 9:26 AM
Isn't this the handy work of Kyle Collins, the Southampton Town Planner, who was responsible for the boondoggle of Good Ground Park...."they paved paradise to put up a parking lot". The amount of trees that were removed to build a park (oxymoron), was disgraceful.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Feb 23, 17 5:00 PM
You don't need to cut trees. That's what makes main street so nice. STOP CUTTING TREES....
By rvs (106), sag harbor on Feb 23, 17 11:01 PM
For anyone interested in attending the next
Village Trustee Meeting will be
Thursday March 2, 2017 at Village Hall 165 Mill Road
The Next Village Work Session wil be
March 15 , 2017 at 5:00 at Village Hall 165 Mill Road

By GWCofC (4), Westhampton Beach on Feb 25, 17 10:44 AM
Hampton Bays' hamlet revitalization efforts garnered 1200 recent survey responses. The Town of Southampton recently permitted the public to weigh in through an online survey process which yielded 1341 responses--to explore the potential redevelopment of of the Ponquogue Beach Bathing Facility in addition to the two public workshops held in September & November, months when more people are present in the community. Hopefully our WHB Village government is similarly contacting taxpayers, Main Street ...more
By st (129), westhampton beach on Feb 25, 17 12:11 PM
You made some good points about the Ponquogue Pavilion survey process. However, it took a lot of people from HB demanding that they reach out to more of the community. The Good Ground Park boondoggle is a completely different story. The design and construction process was disgraceful - limited community input - cost overruns - no $$$ for comfort stations - a one day opening that some believe (including me) was for the benefit of ATH election campaign. If you look at the google maps before and ...more
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Feb 27, 17 1:00 PM
Thank you:). And that's a shame about the Good Ground Park. And we seem to be over the estimate on costs here already as well. Not including how much it will cost to replace the trees.

I've heard that some pipes will be run for the possible future sewer system. Maybe we should get a cost on the sewer system first? If we can't afford a sewer system, maybe we shouldn't pay to run pipes? A sewer system is tens of millions of dollars. Maybe we need it, maybe we don't. I want to see numbers. ...more
By st (129), westhampton beach on Feb 27, 17 3:12 PM
I'd like to know if new sewers will result in more restaurants opening on Main st. or whether current restaurants are in violation because of inadequate sewers? I have not noticed any problems with Main st. sidewalks. This seems like a giant make-work scheme to me that will total the "village" look of WHB for years.
By JackO'Dwyer (16), New York on Mar 2, 17 1:05 PM