Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he expected about 10 people to come to the first listening session on the currently annulled Hampton Bays Downtown Overlay District plan. Instead, about 100 showed up and about a quarter of them spoke.
Not one of them had anything favorable to say about the HBDOD. And each of them in some way managed to decry the drastic increase this plan would have on density.
Alarm bells were ringing all over the place as people talked of nightmare traffic currently with no significant permanent infrastructure improvement in the works. Others complained of the population density now, with Hampton Bays having over 1,100 people per square mile, while the town’s density is well under 200. People from emergency services noted how desperate things were even now for them to get people to the hospital quickly in an emergency. One speaker after another was in some way saying no more density.
Yes, many agreed the downtown could use some sprucing up. Things like a façade improvement project or a business improvement district could make it more attractive. It was pointed out that there was a difference between tweaking and something akin to a smaller town version of urban renewal.
People further pointed out that Hampton Bays is different — and that’s what they like about it. It is “real.” People don’t want to come here to buy $1,000 handbags or $400 blouses. They do not come to see or be seen. People come and stay because of the beauty of Ponquogue Beach, the bounty on our three bays, the activities around the Shinnecock Canal and the many fine waterfront restaurants we have.
These assets are not duplicated anywhere else in town. Basically, we love who we are and what we have.
After the Hampton Bays Civic Association meeting with over 500 very vocal people expressing displeasure with the HBDOD, and now 100 agreeing at the listening session, I don’t think the town can pretend we want this DOD nightmare.
If the supervisor and the Town Board are really listening and really sincere about the desire to give us what we want, I think there is only one course they can take: They must immediately drop their appeal with the courts over the annulled DOD.
If the courts should not uphold the previous decision and the DOD is approved, we all know the town will proceed full speed ahead with this nightmare, the will of the people be damned. Town government will have made a mockery of the definition of representative democracy.
Stop the appeal now.
One fine body…