Survey says … a small café is welcome in New Suffolk

The former Galley Ho restaurant in New Suffolk. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)
The former Galley Ho restaurant in New Suffolk. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

New Suffolk residents are welcoming the return of the Galley Ho, according to the results of a survey conducted by the New Suffolk Civic Association. 

The organization mailed out 261 questionnaires in August to get a better sense of the community’s feeling toward the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund’s controversial proposal to turn the vacant Galley Ho building into a 66-seat restaurant.

The survey asked residents to weigh in on everything from the number of special events they’d like see on the premises each year to whether a restaurant should be permitted on the First Street property at all. (A restaurant is allowable under current zoning.)

The results, released by the association Saturday, showed that 91 of the 167 respondents wanted the Galley Ho, which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, to be renovated into a small café with a modest menu and a snack bar window.

The respondents, however, were opposed to a full-service restaurant at the site, with 87 people saying that would be “undesirable.”

“We think the survey is an accurate reflection of the community,” said the civic group’s vice president, Joe Polashock. “Basically, they wanted the Galley Ho to be like the way it was before the storm, a small place.”

The survey also indicated that the majority of New Suffolk residents wouldn’t be opposed to the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund holding special events there, such as its annual Chowderfest and other fundraisers. Those who responded also approved of private indoor events at the renovated Galley Ho; however, according to the survey, they did not favor large outdoor events on the property such as weddings.

Overall, the waterfront fund board welcomed the results.

“It reaffirmed that the majority of the community is still in favor of having an eating establishment,” said chair Pat McIntyre. “That feels good.”

Members of both community groups were present during the unveiling of the results on Saturday. Unlike previous Planning Board meetings — at which New Suffolk was described as a “community divided” over the proposal — Saturday’s meeting wasn’t contentious, Mr. Polashock and Ms. McIntyre agreed.

“It was an informative and very well run meeting,” Ms. McIntyre said.

“It was very positive and polite,” said Mr. Polashock. “We discussed the results of the survey. Period. I think it will be a good road map moving forward.”

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