Southampton candidates spar over issues at civic meeting
Both the Republican and Democratic candidates for Southampton Town Board and Suffolk County Legislature agreed Tuesday that helping the northwest portion of town – most of which shares a school district with Riverhead Town – is an important goal in their campaigns. But the two sides disagreed about how best to achieve this goal.
One key disagreement concerned the proposed formation of a Riverside sewer district, seen by some as a key to economic development in the area.
The Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association held the forum Tuesday in David Crohan Community Center in Flanders, where candidates for Southampton Town Supervisor and council spoke, along with candidates for the South Fork’s Suffolk County Legislature seat.
Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst of Sag Harbor, running for reelection on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines, is opposed by former Supervisor Linda Kabot of Quogue, running on the Republican and Conservative lines.
Ms. Throne-Holst defeated Ms. Kabot four years ago and then won again two years ago when Ms. Kabot ran only a write-in campaign.
Ms. Throne-Holst said her administration has done a lot for the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton areas, including establishing an economic development task force, getting the county’s sex offender trailers closed, obtaining a grant for a walking trail to the river in Riverside, having the police department join the East End Drug Task Force and issuing a request for proposals from developers interested in jump-starting economic activity in Riverside.
“Economic development in Riverside is absolutely crucial,” Ms. Kabot agreed. But she said that having done a number of studies on the area, the town should be taking action. She said the area near the former car dealership on Route 104 should be rezoned for shopping centers and the property north of the Riverwoods mobile home park should be rezoned for senior housing. The Republican Town Board candidates have included a section on Riverside in their campaign platform, Ms. Kabot said.
The two candidates also differed about future handling of the area’s sewage. Ms. Kabot said the town should hook into downtown Riverhead’s system while Ms. Throne-Holst supports a $250,000 study of the issue. The views of the county legislature candidates, incumbent Jay Schneiderman and Republican challenger Chris Nuzzi, split along the same lines.
Mr. Nuzzi said he disagrees with doing a $250,000 study on sewers in Riverside since “we already know the answer,” which would be hooking into the Riverhead system.
Mr. Schneiderman, who sponsored the bill to fund the study, has said that Riverhead Town rejected a request to tie into their sewer system, which Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter has confirmed in interviews.
All candidates supported current plans to create a walking trail from Flanders Road to the Peconic River and to build a pedestrian bridge over the river from downtown Riverhead connecting to that path. Town and county officials hope to obtain a grant for that project.
“We have very serious issues here,” Ms. Kabot said. “The northwest quadrant of the town needs attention.” At one point, she added that she’d like to see someone from the area run for town board, though Ms. Throne-Holst’s running mate, Brad Bender, is in fact from Northampton. Ms. Throne-Holst later thanked Ms. Kabot for “endorsing” him.
Ms. Kabot said that during her two years as supervisor, the town brought the Big Duck back to Flanders, got the state to repave Route 24 and renovated the Crohan Community Center.
Ms. Throne-Holst’s running mates for Town Board are Mr. Bender, a former FRNCA president and landscaping company owner who made an unsuccessful bid for Town Board in 2011, and Frank Zappone of Southampton, currently her deputy supervisor. In the past, he was a school administrator for many years and also worked for Apple and for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Republican/Conservative council candidates are Stan Glinka of Hampton Bays – president of the Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce and the Rogers Memorial Library and a vice president at Bridgehampton National Bank – and Jeff Mansfield of Bridgehampton, a finance professional who also has degrees in business administration and law.
Some Republican candidates were also critical of the current administration for not following through on a pledge to create a night court within the town justice court, something Flanders and Riverside residents felt would help deal with quality-of-life offenses.
Ms. Throne-Holst said the attorneys in town didn’t want to go to night court, and the decision to have night court was up to the town justices, who didn’t pursue it. She said the Town Board can’t force judges to do something since they themselves are elected officials.
Correction: The print version of this story in the Oct. 17 News-Review incorrectly said the meeting was Monday.