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25 Comments by Michael Wright


Urgent Care Center has busy first six months

As noted in the story, starting last month the Urgent Care Center began accepting all major insurance plans for care. " Dec 23, 08 9:51 AM

Jury now deliberating in Oddone trial

Judge Hinrichs sent the jury home for the night about 5:50 p.m. They are not sequestered. They're back in the jury room to continue deliberations at 9:15 am tomorrow. " Dec 2, 09 7:26 PM

Shinnecock Indian Nation wins preliminary federal recognition

Or you can scroll up on this page and read the second story in the "Related Articles" section....Read them all in fact! " Dec 17, 09 4:04 PM

Fred Smith traces a career in sports journalism

Morgan's Raid, was CONDUCTED by Confederate soldiers. They were known as Morgan's Confederates. They captured Union soldiers....lots of them...." Feb 12, 10 12:38 PM

Restoring Alewife Runs

Once upon a time there used to be an alewife run from Taylor Creek into Coopers Pond in Southampton Village but the dreen that leads to the pond has become clogged with phragmites and landscaping from big estates between it and the bay. It would be nice to see an official effort to clear it and restore the run into that pond. There is lots of federal grant money availablle for those kind of projects. " Apr 27, 11 8:01 AM

Scared Juror, Medical Evidence Slanted Jury Says Oddone Attorney In Appeal

Yes, I was present in the courtroom for the arguments. The defense has refused to share any information with the Press other than the attorney, Mr. Wolinsky, agreeing to speak with me very briefly outside the courtroom. " May 8, 11 9:11 PM

Montauk Doctor Dies From Rare Virus

Yes, that is true. Two of three previous cases identified in New York State were on the East End. One on Shelter Island in 1994 and another in Bridgehampton in 1995." Jun 28, 11 1:22 PM

Firefighters Injured Battling East Hampton Fire

Yep, you're right, Greenmonster. Thanks for pointing it out. The story has been changed to reflect this correction." Nov 16, 11 9:32 AM

Iconic Lobster Inn Is Sold, Condos Could Be Future

From 2008....

The Lobster Inn suffering as a result of county roadwork
Publication: The Southampton Press
By Beth Young Sep 19, 2008 1:12 PM

The Lobster Inn.
view all images
Sunrise Highway didn’t go all the way to Southampton when Skip Tollefsen built the Lobster Inn in 1969, but the changes to the end of that road over the past two years are now putting the squeeze on his business.

Mr. Tollefsen appeared before the Southampton Town Planning Board last week to discuss the possibility of building condominiums to replace the restaurant, and he lamented the ongoing impact of County Road 39 changes that he said have made it impossible for the restaurant to survive.

Famous for its waterfront dining, local seafood and hometown ambiance, the restaurant stands at an intersection that has become known among traffic consultants as “the bottleneck at the Lobster Inn.” That is where the two eastbound lanes had been reduced to one as Sunrise Highway ended and County Road 39 began in the shadow of the restaurant’s large red sign, before an expansion of the highway added a second lane.

The Lobster Inn, a 293-seat restaurant that includes a 48-slip marina, had little to do with the bottleneck. For years, it benefitted from increased business on Friday nights from eastbound tourists stuck in traffic, but otherwise it maintained a clientele of regular customers who returned for the venue’s trademark “splat,” a feast containing every shellfish imaginable, and other maritime delicacies.

It is also the location where the Southampton Town Trustees and a handful of baymen who practice aquaculture on Cold Spring Pond dock their boats.

When plans to improve County Road 39 by adding a second eastbound lane were finalized last year, Suffolk County banned left turns from the restaurant’s parking lot into the newly flowing traffic where the merge had been.

Last year, Mr. Tollefsen printed maps showing his customers how to get back on County Road 39 through a circuitous route that involved doubling back westbound on North Highway to Exit 66 on Sunrise Highway.

He said that many customers gave up trying to get to the restaurant, and his business was down 25 percent last year. This year, business has been even worse—but he said the county’s long-term plan for the road will be the final nail in his coffin.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who was a driving force behind the road improvement, “came in and said, ‘Skip, we’re gonna close you down,’” Mr. Tollefsen told the Southampton Town Planning Board last Thursday, September 18.

Mr. Schneiderman rejected Mr. Tollefsen’s version of the conversation and said this week that the Lobster Inn is “definitely factored in” to the county’s long-term plan. “The county hasn’t forgotten that there’s a commercial establishment there. We’re trying to resolve those issues,” he said.

Mr. Schneiderman said that he’s aware that Mr. Tollefsen is interested in selling the property and he is waiting for a concept plan from the town for potential future public use of the land.

Though there is currently a moratorium on development on County Road 39, the town exempted the Lobster Inn from that moratorium earlier this year—in exchange for an agreement from Mr. Tollefsen to give his road frontage, and the land his business’s sign is on, to the county.

The county plans to use Mr. Tollefsen’s remaining street frontage to create a service road connecting Inlet Road West, which runs alongside the restaurant, with Inlet Road East, a road that currently connects to County Road 39 just east of the former merge. The new service road created by that connection would not have access to County Road 39.

The change in the roadway, which is outlined in the county’s long-term improvement plan, might make driving safer, but it will certainly make the route more circuitous for residents who live near the inlet, who will need to drive west on North Highway to Exit 66 on Sunrise Highway before turning back on Sunrise Highway heading east.

It’s a five-minute detour for those who know the roads, but Mr. Tollefsen said that it will prove deadly for a business that had historically been dependent on eastbound drivers who do not know the area well.

If he were to keep the restaurant open, he said would need to put a sign at Exit 66 urging drivers to get onto North Highway to get to the restaurant.

Though Mr. Tollefsen has asked the county to put a traffic light in front of the restaurant to allow customers to get out, he said that it has refused, citing safety concerns.

“The county so much wants to get rid of this road,” said Mr. Tollefsen’s attorney, Wayne Bruyn. “We can’t say it’s not appropriate to make these other things safer for our neighbors.”

Over the past two years, Mr. Tollefsen had negotiated with the Town Trustees and Cornell Cooperative Extension to potentially use his property as a nature center or a marine research station, but the town was unwilling to pay Mr. Tollefsen’s asking price.

He said that he had even considered creating a world-class butterfly garden as a destination before his research revealed that he wouldn’t be able to attract enough butterflies.

Since the Lobster Inn, which stands on two parcels totalling 7 acres, is in a residential area, Mr. Tollefsen’s latest plan is to build between 14 and 30 condominiums on the site, along with a public yacht club. He said that the baymen and Trustees would still be able to use the docks, and the plan with more units could include affordable housing.

The plan is also currently before the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, because the town had created a Maritime Planned Development District for the property in 1999 to allow Mr. Tollefsen to build a barn, woodworking shop and farm stand on his property.

Mr. Tollefsen’s attorney is arguing that the PDD has now expired and the property should revert to its original residential use.

“I wanted to grow vegetables and serve them in the restaurant, but I can’t sell what I grow myself,” said Mr. Tollefsen, citing laws that prohibit him from selling produce grown on the site. “It’s beyond me.”

“There’s been no consideration for me or my help or my customers. I told my young help to look for something else,” Mr. Tollefsen told members of the Planning Board, adding that he is now asking his aging friends to help out in the kitchen because there’s no future at the restaurant for young people looking for a career in the business.

Mr. Tollefsen no longer keeps regular hours at the Lobster Inn, and his wife, Karen, who answered the phone there Monday morning, said that this 
winter the restaurant will be 
open only on weekends, for the first time ever.

“Not too many people care. The town’s been extremely difficult,” she said of their decision to close.

" Jan 30, 12 12:16 PM

Sag Harbor Waters Closed To Shellfishing After Samples Turn Up Neurotoxin

Yes, thanks dklughers, I thought the story made it clear that the toxin is a naturally occurring thing. It is created by this organism, Alexandrium, and is only transferred to shellfish when they eat that species of algae (it technically isn't an algae but for all intents and purposes....). It's only the latest of several species of red, brown and blue/green algae that can blossom in our bays and ponds each year with devastating results. " May 22, 12 12:20 PM

Brown Tide Chokes Western Shinnecock Bay

Yes, as an aside, the brown water gets pulled toward the inlets with the outgoing tide. It seems it gets as far west as Pikes area on the Moriches side and well east of the Ponquogue Bridge on the Shinnecock side. Dr. Gobler said he'd actually heard from people who said it was getting washed out the inlet on one recent day. " Jun 26, 12 3:50 PM

Oceanfront Residents Approve $25 Million Beach Rebuild

As will be explained further in this week's story, Nature, the town and project organizers have told me they are hoping they will be able to get waivers from the seasonal dredging and beach work restrictions. If you'll recall, the WHD project back in 1995 was done in summer. They can get around the various restrictions by either proving that there will not be a conflict or by accommodating for it. For example, in WHD I believe they had plover observers on hand throughout the project, to make sure that no plovers were present etc. The March-November prohibition is due not just to plovers but to flounder breeding offshore and something to do with a rare beach plant (that's the main hold-up in the late summer and early fall I believe). If they can prove that plovers or this rare plant isn't present in the project zone they might be able to escape those restrictions. It will be up to the DEC and USFWS so whether they will get around it or not remains to be seen. It's important to them, I'm told, both because of the calm seas around the summer monts and because the dredges are cheaper to hire when not a lot of work is going on elsewhere due to the restriction windows. " Feb 4, 13 12:45 PM

After Labor Day the plovers are not the obstacle, it's this beach plant, the odd name of which keeps escaping me.

It just so happens that a break down of some of the costs for the project, including the amount being paid to the consultants, is also in this week's paper, on newstands Wednesday night at 7pm...

" Feb 5, 13 7:57 PM

Southampton Town Conservative Party Recount Request Denied After Improper Votes Were Discovered

Neil,

According to the account we were given, the purportedly inappropriate votes were discovered by the party's county chairman, Ed Walsh.

The story, as stated, only reports what is alleged in the letter, though copies of the VPR sheets and party registration rolls that we were given by the Conservative Party this week do seem to substantiate the claims. We know the names of the two men alleged to have voted improperly but chose not to identify them in the story.

But, yes, without comment from the BoE we were not able to independently confirm whether or not the men in question actually did cast votes in the Conservative primary and whether or not they are registered Conservatives.

As to the timing, the party said that while there may have been time for a court challenge, even if a favorable ruling had come through immediately there would not be time for the BoE to schedule and organize a re-vote. Again, the BoE declined to comment so we could not confirm whether this was or wasn't true.

Thanks for reading. " Oct 9, 13 1:25 PM

Tribe Protests Beach Work In Hampton Bays

FoReel,

Thanks for calling attention to this. That wasn't worded perfectly. I guess that particular sentence shouldn't have said "the beach" but made the finer point that some portion of the beach is state territory since the story had earlier referred to the private ownership of beaches, which is a townwide condition.

As noted, the state or public territory, in most of the town, extends to the mean high water mark and Mr. Hahn seemed to believe his vehicles were traveling along a part of the beach seaward of that. It's arguable, and a little murky since those things are not always very well defined and there are two pretty clear rap lines on that beach, one of which the vehicle tracks were well below, the other not.

The Trustees are still doing some legal research with regard to this area. There was, I'm told, an 18th century agreement that claimed the area between the high and low tide lines for the public but it's not clear if that claim transferred from the Proprietors to the Trustees when the Proprietors were dissolved.

And, no, I'm not related to Gordell as far as either of us are aware. Not sure about Gordon.

Thanks again for the interest, folks.

mw

" Jun 13, 14 11:14 AM

Garbage Pickup Pilot Program Planned For Flanders, Riverside

Ms. Fetten has asked us to note that there will have to be additional work sessions on the drafting of the district proposal before the town solicits bids from collection companies.
-mw" Jul 21, 14 4:12 PM

John's Journey From Ecuador To The U.S., Part 2

One note with regard to John specifically: he has a SS# and has taxes deducted from his weekly pay, including federal income tax and social security (though it would appear that he will never claim benefits). " Sep 10, 14 12:22 AM

Town Trustees, Not Villages, Must Control Beach Access In Southampton

This is a weekly column, commentary sometimes, that I write for this sports section, independent from my position as a news reporter for our main section. It is typically focused on fishing or waterfowl int in our region but on occasion, such as this, offers my personal view of various states of affairs local outdoorsmen encounter in their daily movements.
Thanks for reading.
mw" Apr 20, 16 9:57 PM

UPDATE: Southampton Town Trustees Open Mecox Cut

Just to clarify for those just reading the story on Thursday. The meeting is tonight, June 16. Town Hall, Hampton Road in Southampton. " Jun 16, 16 2:47 PM

UPDATE: Medevac Chopper Lands On Sunrise To Evacuate Injured Woman From Wednesday Crash

Westbound lanes were open throughout but slow because of rubbernecking. As of 3:30 p.m. eastbound lanes east of Hampton Bays exit were still closed. " Aug 17, 16 3:45 PM

Albies And Bass Give Anglers A Full Week

Unfortunately, nobody is. It would be exceedingly difficult to trace back to where the fish came from. An experienced fisheries biologist may be able to determine how the fish died or note injuries that would give a hint as to the cause, but the funding/manpower/interest just isn't there. These wash-ups of dead stripers happen every couple years or so and are almost certainly the tip of the iceberg in terms of large amounts of dead or dying fish dumped overboard by someone, they just don't all end up washing ashore. Fisheries managers and scientists try to ballpark this invisible mortality when calculating their quotas for all fishermen, but there's no telling how accurate they are. There is nothing wrong with commercial fishing, but the methods we allow these days are destined to be a dunce cap for us in the history books. " Sep 27, 16 6:29 AM