No. 6 Story of the Year: Battle lines drawn in New Suffolk

12/27/2014 8:00 AM |
The former Galley Ho across the street from Legends and Summer Girl boutique on First Street’s New Suffolk Waterfront Fund land. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The former Galley Ho across the street from Legends and Summer Girl boutique on First Street’s New Suffolk Waterfront Fund land. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Few stories from 2014 found their way into The Suffolk Times more often than the “dustup on the waterfront.” On the street, at Town Hall and in the letters section of this paper, New Suffolk residents regularly traded barbs with neighbors and business owners over plans for development along the bay.

A proposal by the nonprofit New Suffolk Waterfront Fund, which had come to own 2.3 acres across from a string of shops and a restaurant on First Street, drew a large crowd to a town Planning Board meeting on June 2. There, opponents of the project said they feared traffic problems and complained about a lack of transparency on the part of fund officials.

Plans for the waterfront involved, among other things, relocating and renovating the historic Galley Ho building to create a restaurant with up to 66 seats, and a small addition.

A Suffolk Times editorial that accompanied coverage of the dispute in Town Hall observed that, in a way, the debate was something to admire.

“Too often, when a potential issue arises in our communities it fails to attract attention from the community at large,” the paper wrote. “It’s often the usual suspects or the NIMBYs who have their voices heard by town officials, while their neighbors tune things out and fail to participate in the conversation.”

The waterfront fund subsequently held informational meetings for residents and later tweaked its plans some. Members of the local civic association conducted a survey that indicated a scaled-down eatery might be more appropriate. Those results, however, didn’t do much to sway fund officials.

In November, the waterfront fund’s site plan was unanimously approved by the town Planning Board.

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