22 Aug 2014
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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.

'Save Main Road' Discussion Evolves from Aquebogue YMCA Opposition 'Save Main Road' Discussion Evolves from Aquebogue YMCA Opposition 'Save Main Road' Discussion Evolves from Aquebogue YMCA Opposition

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.

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