Civic association teams up with college students to create pedestrian-friendly hamlet

The Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association has been working with students and professors from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse to create a plan for a more walkable, pedestrian-friendly hamlet. 

The group presented its findings Friday at Mattituck Presbyterian Church. About a dozen people attended, according to civic association secretary Jean Schweibish. 

“The people there were very engaged and had a lot of good questions,” she said. 

The undergraduate students ended up focusing on Love Lane, from north of Route 48 up to Route 25, and across to the wooded area at the corner of New Suffolk Avenue, where traffic has been a well-known problem. They pulled data from the 2011 Mattituck Business Corridor Study, a 2016 Traffic Calming Project Report and a 2017 Dunn Traffic Study.

“It was really nice to have a group of people who don’t live in the area come in with fresh eyes to take a look at everything,” Ms. Schweibish said. “It was really eye-opening for us to see through their eyes.”

The goal for professors from the college was to use Mattituck as a learning tool for students, who were tasked with creating as many solutions as possible for the problem presented.

“We learned that if there is one single big issue, it’s that it is overwhelmed by the traffic that comes with the tourism associated with wineries and farms that are flourishing on the North Fork,” associate professor Emanuel Carter said.

During the first part of the meeting, residents could walk around and look at poster boards with each student’s recommendations that had been set up in the church community room. Then, they could ask questions and speak to the students about their ideas.

Students presented traffic calming techniques for the area, including ways to signal to drivers that it’s time to slow down. One suggestion involved narrowing Route 25 slightly and lining the road with trees, to encourage people to slow down near the sharp turn in the road near Love Lane.

“The lane that you’re driving in becomes narrower and is perhaps tree-lined, [and] it changes the scale of the road enough that you inherently feel the need to slow down,” associate professor Jocelyn Gavitt said. “It’s using the environmental design and behavior tactics to get people to subconsciously feel the need to slow down.”

Other ideas included improving the Mattituck train station to make it more attractive and connecting Love Lane to Mattituck Inlet. 

“I have to give the MLCA and Southold Town a lot of credit because they really did put a lot into this and it will really benefit the town,” Legislator Al Krupski said.

Since so much information was presented, no consensus was reached on any particular approach, but another public meeting will be scheduled, featuring a panel of local architects, land-use planners and engineers. After that, MLCA will put together a presentation for the community and Town Board with a plan they feel is doable, affordable and timely and will hold workshops for public input.

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Photo caption: The group focused on Love Lane, from north of Route 48 up to Route 25, and across to the wooded area at the corner of New Suffolk Avenue. (file photo)