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'Save Main Road' Discussion Evolves from Aquebogue YMCA Opposition

Meeting held Saturday morning, led by Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, included a discussion on the Village at Jamesport and suggestions for the group moving forward, as well as spirited opposition to a suggested YMCA in Aquebogue.

Over 205 years ago, the Rev. Lyman Beecher - father of famed author Harriet Beecher Stowe - gave a sermon at the Jamesport Meeting House titled "The Remedy for Duelling." The document went on to support a cause that eventually outlawed the practice in several states in the country, including New York.

While haven't met the fury of ten paces and a pistol - the YMCA hasn't even purchased any land, and no formal plans for a Y have been submitted in Town Hall - between 60 and 75 individuals gathered in the Meeting House on Saturday morning to discuss their own opposition to the project in its suggested location, and hope to find a remedy of their own that will stop it from coming to Main Road east of Route 105.

The 'Save Main Road' meeting heard opposition not only to the 40,000-square-foot facility that the Peconic YMCA is advertising on its Facebook page, but also the mixed-use Village at Jamesport, which includes over 40,000 square-feet of retail, professional, and bistro uses.

Though the particular projects themselves were the focus of most of the discussion, fear of a larger conflict between development, adherence to the town's zoning regulations, and sustaining the peace and quiet many say they sought in moving to the area revolved around all of it.

"After 30 to 40 hours of phone calls and discussions I've had in the past month, with people from Jamesport, Aquebogue, Mattituck, Riverhead proper, and Wading River," said Georgette Keller, president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Associaion, which hosted the meeting, "it became apparent that there is a much larger issue at hand: the Master Plan and the zoning codes as they exist today from Route 105 to east at the Southold border, and whether the town board and superintendent [sic] are likely to uphold them and protect a rapidly vanishing way of life here on the North Fork."

After trying to find a home for a Peconic YMCA for well over a decade - in places ranging from Route 105 to Tuthill's Lane in Aquebogue to Enterprise Park at Calverton - the when it was announced that the Peconic Y was close to purchasing a parcel on Route 25 in Aquebogue, opposite Vineyard Caterers. As of earlier this week no contracts had been signed.

With that in mind, Angela DeVito, vice president of the Jamesport-South Jamesport Civic Association, suggested that the group take its energy and try to get in the drivers' seat. Rather than just being a voice of 'no,' DeVito offered that the group - which agreed to hold a follow-up meeting on the matter - reach out to leaders with the Y and try to find an alternative location together.

"My proposal to you is that it is not too late to go to the YMCA as a community because we know what we would like the Y to do, and say, 'We would like to be able to lead this discussion," DeVito said. "'Because for the past 16 years you have had a board that has been unable to move a Y from a thought into a reality. We believe we can do it.' That puts us in the drivers' seat."

Keller also suggested drafting a list of particular questions the group has to the YMCA - such as specifics of the Pre-K program, what the organization is going to do on the property beyond the building itself, and more - to get a better idea of what the Y is considering as a proposal.

Among the dozens of individuals who showed up Saturday morning were Town Board Members George Gabrielsen and Jodi Giglio. Giglio, who has experience developing properties and told the crowd herself she is a strong proponent of property rights, suggested that the town itself get in the drivers' seat. If the community wants a swimming pool that badly, she said, the town should consider stepping up and providing that. 

In an interview following the meeting, Giglio said that between future closings at EPCAL, money the town is seeking to discover through , and with interest rates currently as low as they are, bonding $2 million for a facility could be one possibility. Elected leaders in Southold have considered building a recreation facility,  in light of developments in Aquebogue.

"We can get a return on our investment if we provide the alternative recreation opportunities at a discounted price that the public is seeking," she said.

Just over an hour into the conversation, Larry Simms shifted the conversation to the Village at Jamesport, a topic several in the audience said they were interested to learn more about. The town board recently stating the project would have no negative environmental impact on the area, a decision Simms and Keller strongly disagreed with.

"Now you see why this is bigger than just the YMCA," Keller told the crowd.

MB March 10, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Nicely written. Thanks for being there.
Joseph Pinciaro (Editor) March 11, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Sure thing. Thanks for the compliment! - Joe
steven stampf March 11, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Thank you for writing a well writtten article that discusses issues larger than NIMBY.... and for suggesting that the issue of cost /benefit to southold vs riverhead ( town , taxes, police, and schools) must be considered.
Erin Schultz March 12, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Peggy Richards said on Facebook: "nimbyism"
Erin Schultz March 12, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Susan Toman said on Facebook: "Our Youth and Families will benefit from a Y - There are some great ones to model ours after - I love the idea of a Y!"
Erin Schultz March 12, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Stephen Husak said on Facebook: "Just not on the main rd. How many peope said the new hotel was to big for main st. Well this will be that out of proportion in a rural corridor zone."
Bob Mehan March 13, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Bob Mehan, For the past several years I have been a wishful supporter for a YMCA on the North Fork. The health benifits a facility like this offers to everyone is just what the North Fork residents deserve. Not many people like myself travel 30 minutes to the closest pool for a workout. Since the possibility of a YMCA in our backyard, I can't help but think of how many people of all ages would be healthier and would take advantage of such facilities. When I am swimming I witness lanes being used for swimming, areas with an instructor for people doing water exercising, and tiny babies being instructed with a parent on intruducing their child to water. I don't see the swim team, nor open swims for children, but I know this would certainly give our youth a great opportunity to have a place to go with their peers and have fun. Some place I might add, other then the Mattituck parking lot at the movies theater. I can only hope that our community realizes the health benifits for all of us and see to it that this project goes through. I did visit the new YMCA in Patchougue. It is a beautiful building and I am sure ours would be as tasteful. Thank you and please vote yes.
Joseph Pinciaro (Editor) March 15, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Thanks Steven!
Jean Schweibish March 15, 2012 at 06:42 PM
The issue is "location, location, location" - a Y does not belong on the Main Road in Aquebogue. It won't be a good neighbor, nor will it be a good place for "our youth" - it will be another feeder of vehicles onto an already congested roadway where it won't be a safe location for children, teens or adults to travel to and from by foot or bike. Mr. Gabrielson indicated that the Peconic Y people have a notion about a "country-club-like" facility consisting of a pre-school program and a swimming pool and nothing more. They've turned up their noses at more logical recreation sites suggested by the Town, such as Stozky Park. All "Ys" are not planned or constructed equally and people who hear about a Y facility or a pool have a knee-jerk notion of the reality of whats being planned by the backers of the Peconic Y as if "we the people" have any say in the facility. The YMCA is a tax-exempt, religion-backed organization - it does not deal with the secular wishes or demands of the community and will pay nothing into the Riverhead property tax stream, while charging residents membership fees. Finally, Ms. Giglio made a better suggestion by advocating for Riverhead Town to step up and provide the swimming pool facility that so many residents want - and Stotzky Park looks like a great place for such a facility!

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