It briefly looked as if the Southampton Town Board might delay a scheduled December 20 vote on Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni’s proposal to ban parking on the east side of the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike for 385 feet south of the Sag Harbor village boundary line — a stretch of highway that the Reid Brothers garage uses to park overflow customer vehicles, blocking the village-owned Nancy Boyd Willey roadside park from view.
But in the end, the board voted 5-0 to impose the ban. It was to take effect immediately after its filing in Albany.
Set for a vote at the board’s last meeting of 2018, the proposal — first aired at a public hearing on December 11 — came up for more discussion as celebrated landscape architect Edmund Hollander, a friend of proprietor Robert Reid, asked the board to hold off while he came up with a plan to improve the park. Mr. Reid himself, who has said the park is illegal and that he was looking forward to filing a lawsuit over the parking ban, did not attend the meeting.
On a sliver of land over the village boundary line that was created by a county road realignment in the early 1970s, the modestly landscaped park was created by volunteers in 1996 to honor Ms. Willey, a Sag Harbor historian and environmental advocate who died two years later.
Telling the board he had a “meeting with the mayor tomorrow to discuss this because I think it’s actually more complicated than just do we park here or do we not park here,” he said the park “is a wonderful memorial” to Ms. Willey. But “calling it a park is a stretch,” he added. “It is a strip of grass with some non-native trees, something we could make look much more attractive and make much more ecologically beautiful.”
One possibility, he said, was creating a “rain garden” there of native species that would filter road runoff before it reaches nearby Ligonee Creek, which delineates the village boundary.
He argued that the town should be supporting local businesses like Mr. Reid’s, which he said performs a money-losing public service as the only nearby state vehicle inspection facility. “I’d love if the board could just hold on and let us examine doing something safe and appropriate” but that doesn’t negatively affect or penalize a local business.
Messages requesting comment from Mayor Sandra Schroeder on Monday were not answered by press time Wednesday.
A volunteer who helps maintain the park and who helped circulate a petition last summer calling for the parking ban, Gretchen Renner had already spoken, urging the board to pass the parking ban. After Mr. Hollander’s pitch, she returned to the speaker’s lectern. “What a great offer to improve the park,” she said, but “however small or narrow it is, it is a memorial park to a woman who did great things for Sag Harbor.” She said she had no desire to see the garage “not succeed; I just don’t want it to pour out onto the road in front of the park.”
Councilwoman Christine Scalera said it “sounded like there has been some communication with Reid Brothers” so there might be an opportunity to work out some kind of “accommodation.”
“I did it for five years,” Ms. Renner said of her efforts to discuss the issue with Mr. Reid, who has told her that the town code allows him to park cars along the roadside, she told the board at the December 11 hearing. She noted that Suffolk County has supported the parking ban.
“All that would be great,” she said of Mr. Hollander’s offer to remake the park, “but you are not going to effect that if you put no-parking signs there now no matter what you do in deliverance of that.”
Mr. Schiavoni, arguing that Reid Brothers has room to park its customers’ vehicles, circulated satellite images from the town’s GIS (Geographic Information System) showing the 2.8-acre Reid Brothers parcel, part of which is taken up with “some kind of masonry use,” he said, “so he’s kind of … made it unusable for his auto business.”
He also showed adjacent village and town parcels on which he said the Reid Brother’s business is encroaching, including a property set aside as a recharge basin for the ongoing Rowe Industries Superfund site.
“His property is 2.8 acres. He’s encroached onto town property. He’s using country property. And in my opinion, he has enough room to store his cars from his commercial business, and so for those reasons I want to keep this resolution on for today” to impose the parking ban “as per the county’s recommendation.”
Mr. Schiavoni, who said he had recently talked with Mr. Reid, told the board that Sag Harbor was preparing legislation to ban parking on the east side of the road on its side of the village-town boundary line.