A proposal to allow additional parking by permit only on the north end of Edwards Avenue near a small town beach was shelved after residents of the neighborhood turned out to today’s Town Board meeting to pan the idea.
The Town Board held a public hearing today on the parking proposal brought to the board by Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller, who said the idea came out of the town’s Traffic Advisory Committee. The code revision would extend on-street parking by permit only, on the south/west side of Edwards Avenue north to Meadow Way.
Board members heard objections from area residents who said expanding the area where parking will be allowed would create a dangerous situation on the narrow roadway, which includes a sharp curve and a steep hill as it descends to the beach.
The road is a mere 20 feet wide in the area, said Baiting Hollow resident George Goode, president of the Wellswood Civic Association. The stretch of road where parking is currently allowed by permit only on the south/west side of the road is more than adequate to serve town residents looking to access the tiny beach, Goode said.
The proposal would extend the area where parking would be allowed by approximately 800 feet, Goode said.
Hegermiller said the proposal came to compensate for the loss of two parking spaces on the east side of the small parking lot at the beach entrance, where a boat ramp is also located.
Compensating for the loss of two spaces in that lot with 800 feet of new parking is overkill, Goode told the board. The existing on-street parking is in front of mostly vacant wooded properties. The expanded area fronts developed properties, he said.
“That whole blue line that got added there is all in front of residences,” he said.
“It is treacherous with no parking. If you put parking along here, with kids getting out [of cars] with rafts and whatever, it’s going to be dangerous,” Goode said. Driveways are on a steep incline along that stretch of the road.
“I think you should leave it the way it is,” he said, “and north of there should be ‘no parking’ — and enforced.”
Council Member Frank Beyrodt, who said he lives in the neighborhood agreed. “It would be dangerous,” Beyrodt said.
Edwards Avenue resident Olivia Andreacchi said residents pulling out of their driveways have a difficult time seeing oncoming traffic. The road, because of the hill and curve there, is “very steep and blind,” she said. Adding more parking, Andreacchi said, would be “a public hazard.” The road is also narrow and when emergency vehicles respond to a call, it becomes essentially impassable, she said. “I ask that you… consider the safety of the residents who live on Edwards Avenue and the safety of those who come to visit us,” Andreacchi said.
Glenn Ashton of Baiting Hollow said existing parking is “more than sufficient for the extent of the beach that the town has…. It’s not really a beach in the common sense,” Ashton said. “We don’t have a lifeguard. We don’t have lavatory facilities. It’s more like a public access and a boat ramp.”
“It’s a two-lane, very steep road with no shoulders, very limited sight lines, which is hazardous without additional parking. By adding parking .. you’re just making it into a one-lane road essentially and you’re making it a treacherous road very hazardous for vehicles and pedestrians alike,” he said.
“Adding parking is making the beach something that it’s not intended to be,” he said.
“This is an extraordinarily bad idea,” said longtime local resident Bill Talmage. “In all the years I’ve been there Id on’t think I’ve seen all the parking spaces full,” he said. He expressed concern that the town would face pressure to get rid of the boat ramp, which he said is an essential safety feature frequently used by local residents to rescue boaters and swimmers in distress in the Long Island Sound.
“I think we do have to word this a little bit better, to make it clear we are not eliminating all the parking spaces” in the small lot adjacent to the ramp, Council Member Tim Hubbard said.
He said after listening to the community, he favors eliminating the two spaces in the parking area adjacent to the boat ramp without replacing them with new spaces on the roadway — “being that it is not an overly crowded beach at most times.”
Hubbard said the proposal would have to be amended.
“This is the purpose of public hearings. This is what it’s all about,” Hubbard said. “We don’t put it up saying it’s a done deal. We put it up to hear from the people and make a decision based on everything,” he said. “This was a great turnout. Thank you for coming out.”
The hearing record was left open for 10 days, until 4:30 p.m. on March 17.
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