By Mara Certic
Quite like every debate this campaign season, Monday night’s Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting focused predominately on water quality, development and taxes, but the conversation continued and took a bit of a turn after the meeting officially ended with a swift tap of the gavel.
After a discussion with the three sitting Republican Southampton Town Trustees about all things water, the CAC, whose members are appointed by the town board to represent the concerns of the hamlet, stuck around to discuss possibility of making Bridgehampton an incorporated village.
“Town officials are overlooking our hamlet,” said Dick Bruce, who presented the group with three pages of information he had gathered on the town and nearby villages. “There are things we can do for the quality of life. That’s really the purpose of this,” he said.
Mr. Bruce continually brought up the example of Sagaponack, which became an incorporated village in 2005. Recently, he has been in communication with Sagaponack Mayor Donald Louchheim.
“I don’t want this town to become a village,” Mr. Bruce said, “But I don like to go to the dentist either. This is a must-do.”
If Bridgehampton became an incorporated village, it would have its own village board of trustees, building department and planning board. As a village, it would likely contract with the town for police, highway and other services.
To qualify as an incorporated village, the area must be no more than 5 square miles, and would have to have at least 500 residential voters. Mr. Bruce suggested the boundaries be the Atlantic Ocean to the South, the Railroad tracks to the North, the Bridgehampton Commons to the West and Lockwood Avenue to the East.
“They were able to shrink back their taxes,” Jenice Delano, a member of the group, said about neighboring Sagaponack. “They don’t pay the same share anymore.” She added that if more hamlets east of the canal became incorporated villages “the whole burden of all the taxes will be on Hampton Bays.”
“Back where it belongs,” added co-chair of the group, Nancy Walter-Yvertes.
Ms. Delano suggested the hamlet of Water Mill and the area between Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor became villages too, “Pretty much we’re trying to cut off our tax responsibility for paying for the poor areas,” she said.
A group of members will begin looking more closely into how and why nearby villages shared the services they did, and made specific decisions, and will continue to look into the feasibility of making Bridgehampton the eighth village in Southampton Town.
In other action, members of the CAC will meet with Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. this week to discuss the issue of crosswalks in the hamlet. This comes just weeks after a Bridgehampton woman was killed crossing Main Street.