Greenporters want their voices heard on waterfront development

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Greenporters said last week they want to have their voices heard over those of consultants when it comes to waterfront redevelopment.

Greenporters want to be heard and don’t take kindly to lengthy monologues that don’t give them much opportunity to make their views known.

That was the main message that emerged from last Thursday’s meeting at the Third Street firehouse with consultants hired to guide the rewrite of the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

When consultant David Smith of Saccardi & Schiff/VHB offered to spend an afternoon at Village Hall to hear individual comments, residents let him know that wasn’t sufficient. They want another public meeting not so dominated by the consultants, they said.

Although last week’s meeting was described as “a conversation” between the consultants and village residents, “so far it’s been a monologue,” former trustee Michael Osinski complained.

Mr. Smith and his associate, C.J. Hoss, spent more than an hour reviewing their mandate and some of what they learned about the village’s needs at a poorly attended April public meeting.

In the approximately half-hour that villagers had to outline their concerns last week, speakers brought up many issues, many unrelated to land use concerns, which is at the heart of the LWRP. They included the following:

• There’s far more and better paying jobs in Greenport, at least some of which could be in oyster farming.
• Village zoning regulations are out of sync with current needs for development.
• Stirling Creek needs to be dredged.
• The village lacks a public swimming pool.
• Attention needs to be paid to water quality and the potential problems that could arise from nuclear waste buried both in Connecticut and Long Island.
• There’s a need to better control parking and traffic.
• Scenic vistas need to be protected.
• Fifth Street Beach doesn’t always have lifeguards on duty during the summer and lacks a dock.
• There’s a need for facilities to train young people in the skills necessary for boating and sailing.

Mr. Smith said he wants to explore whether something like the old Empire Enterprise Zones could be created to offer tax breaks to encourage business growth. He also discussed further exploration of “smart growth” concepts to provide affordable housing downtown.

The last effort to create such a project, Greenport Gateway on the southeast corner of Front and Third streets, was withdrawn because village zoning doesn’t permit such housing.

Mr. Smith agreed to talk with Mayor David Nyce about scheduling a third public meeting for more input from residents. He also agreed that before his recommendations to the Village Board are solidified, the public would have a chance to comment.

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