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Legislature formally approves land swap in Greenport near Sound View

10/11/2019 6:00 AM |

A portion of County Road 48 in Greenport near the Sound View will be slightly altered as engineers install a series of raised medians intended to increase safety for pedestrians.

Work is expected to begin this fall and last through the spring.

The project will be made possible following a voluntary land exchange deal between the county and the Sound View complex owners. The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved the deal at its Oct. 2 meeting.

The owners of the hotel and its Halyard restaurant agreed to give the county a portion of their property on the south side of County Road 48 where it provides parking for guests and houses tennis courts. In exchange, the owners will acquire county-owned property located between the existing Sound View buildings. The Sound View owners will also be paying the county $300,000, the difference between the greater market value of the county-owned properties. The funds will be accepted as revenue reserved for debt services, according to the updated resolution.

The exchange comes from a traffic-calming plan 15 years in the making that is designed to improve the heavily-traveled roadway surrounding the complex and make it easier for patrons parked on the north side of the Sound View property to back out safely before re-entering Route 48. That section of road has been the site of three pedestrian fatalities since 2007.

A 2004 county study suggested adding a center median with plantings and curbs to the dangerous stretch of road. The issue has been raised several times since then, following the deaths of George Haase Sr. of East Marion in 2007, Thomas Keating in 2009 and Howard Meinke of Laurel in 2014. All three men were attempting to cross Route 48 when they were struck by vehicles and killed.

Bill Hillman, chief engineer for the Suffolk County Department of Public Works said Sept. 23 that the road is in desperate need of reconstruction, which can only be completed with the acquiescence of the Sound View land.

Dan Dresch, the acting assistant chief engineer for DPW, said the county is swapping its right of way on the north side of the road where the hotel is located in exchange for property on the south side of the road.

“[They’re] essentially the same size parcels and the idea is that we’re shifting the road to the south, away from the hotel,” he said.

The subtle shift will slightly bend the road away from the hotel, thereby enabling engineers to install a series of raised medians. The plantings proposed in the 2004 county study will be added to the median. They will be maintained by Eagle Point Hotel Partners, which purchased the complex in January 2016. Erik Warner of Eagle Point praised the agreement in a statement last week.

The reconstruction will also change the current setup where drivers back out of the hotel parking lot onto the road.

“It’s over the course of a quarter mile or so that the road is being shifted,” Mr. Dresch said. “It’s very subtle, but it enables us to do these improvements in that area.”

On Sept. 23, a committee of Suffolk County legislators approved the proposal. Last Wednesday, the full body legislature approved it.

Engineers will be begin working this fall toward relocating utilities on the south side, constructing the new road, shifting traffic over and removing the road as it exists along the front of the hotel. From there, Mr. Dresch said, ancillary construction will begin. Traffic movements will always be maintained and no structural demolitions, road closures or detours are anticipated, he said, adding that the aim is to be “substantially complete” by the start of next summer.

The agreement will also help mitigate flooding concerns, which Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said last week has resulted in road closures before.

“All that preserved swampland from the south side, that’s flooded because in heavy rains that actually backs into the road,” he said.

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