GustavsonColumn: North Fork New Year Wish List

01/05/2014 12:00 PM |
GLEN GOLDSTEIN COURTESY PHOTO  |  For-profit events such as the North Fork Century ride (pictured) are no longer allowed in Southold Town.

GLEN GOLDSTEIN COURTESY PHOTO | A biking/hiking trail from Riverhead to Orient would be just what this writer is looking for in 2014.

I know you’re supposed to make resolutions for the New Year, but this year I have only wishes. (Truth be told, my resolutions don’t seem to have worked out all that well in the past.) We’ll not dwell here on the obvious wishes — world peace, good health, a return to the Original Obama and a 28th World Series title for the Yankees — but focus instead on this place that we all know and love: Long Island’s North Fork.

It’s an intensely personal list — perhaps a tad, uh, wishful — and I make no claim that it’s comprehensive. And if you don’t like Troy’s list, I encourage you to send yours to me at [email protected]. I’ll share the best wishes in this space in the near future.

So here goes:

• I wish Southold Town would take some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it receives each year from the Community Preservation Fund to develop a plan for a new biking/hiking trail from the Riverhead Town line to Orient Point. Such a trail might use portions of the Long Island Rail Road right of way and existing nature preserves, parks and bike paths, but the big piece would involve new access through existing vineyards and farms. The positive impact on the tourism industry here would be incalculable.

• I wish the folks who program the Suffolk Theatre would step it up a level or two in terms of the acts they’re presenting. If attendance has been disappointing, it’s because Suffolk hasn’t been able to reach the level that the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center and Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett seem to have reached. Yes, I know, that takes dough, but better acts will generate more dough.

• I wish the Village Cinema in Greenport would stop trying to be everything to everybody (now showing: Superman 17!) and instead pattern itself after an art house theater like the Sag Harbor Cinema. After all, the Greenport theater is owned by Shelter Island summer resident Josh Sapan, who is chief executive officer and president of AMC Networks, which has presented such outstanding independent-style programing as “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.”

• I wish the Greenport business district could attract a few more traditional retailers. Men’s clothing, sporting goods and electronics/computers are sectors that come to mind, and I’m sure there are others. (Historically, The Arcade used to fill some of those niches, after a fashion, but the big box stores in Riverhead are killer competition for a purveyor of general merchandise.)

• I wish the Democratic Party would regain its former juice and re-establish some semblance of a two-party political system in Southold Town.

• I wish that the Greenport and Southold school districts’ recent decision to share one superintendent represents another significant step toward broader school consolidation — administrative, academic and athletic. Imagine, for example, a boys varsity basketball team that includes Greenport’s Gavin Dibble, Southold’s Liam Walker and Mattituck’s Gene Allen. We’re talking state championship, baby!

• I wish Southold Town’s justices and The Suffolk Times would reach an accord that would allow the ultimate disposition of certain cases they hear, such as DWIs and other arrests, to be published regularly in the paper. That way, if an original charge is reduced or dismissed, or a person is found not guilty, readers of the newspaper will know about it, just as they knew about the original arrest.

• I wish rumors that a new indoor tennis facility is coming to the North Fork prove to be true. We’ve needed one for decades and a quick survey of clientele at the indoor tennis facilities in Quogue and Westhampton suggests we’ve got enough players up here to make a North Fork facility viable. Not to mention the impact it might have on the high school tennis programs here.

• Finally, I wish the Southold Town Highway Department would move Village Lane, Orient, to the top of its to-be-repaved list. The former Joan Giger Walker and I start out virtually every road trip — whether it’s to Greenport or Cincinnati — over some of the roughest road America has to offer. (OK, it’s no Cross Bronx Expressway, but it’s still pretty darn bumpy.)

Settle down. I told you this was a personal list.