Featured Story

New Suffolk traffic, parking study outlines several recommendations that will be further reviewed

A recently completed traffic and parking study focused on the New Suffolk area outlined several recommendations that will be further reviewed by Southold Town and the public, although any changes are unlikely to be implemented by this summer.

The Town Board voted Tuesday to accept the New Suffolk Comprehensive Traffic and Parking study, drafted by engineers from the firm AKRF.

“They have several different recommendations,” said town attorney Bill Duffy. “There are a lot of different options, so that’s why we just accepted it as complete and it’s going to be subject to more stakeholder meetings.”

The Transportation Commission will meet with the consultants, who will also be available to meet with the public to discuss different options, he said.

Councilwoman Jill Doherty said it is difficult to provide a timeline for the process and implementation, but said she did not envision anything be done this summer.

“I was trying to move it along and have a meeting March 11, so the engineers would come out, but the rest of the Town Board felt that they wanted to have the Transportation Commission come out and give a response,” she said. “It’s not a normal study that we did, it’s more gathering information of an area and they say, ‘This is what we gathered and this is what we suggest’ and there’s all these different suggestions so it’s kind of hard to say.”

The study was focused on the center of New Suffolk, bounded by Orchard street to the north, Jackson Street to the south, 1st Street to the east and New Suffolk Road to the west. Engineers collected parking data and observations during the peak summer beach season last year on Thursday, July 4, and Saturday, July 13, both from the New Suffolk Beach parking lot and in the hamlet center. According to the study, it was estimated that up to about 70% “of beachgoers parked elsewhere in the hamlet center other than the beach parking lot on July 4th” and up to about 50% did the same on July 13. The beach parking lot was filled by noon or earlier on both days, engineers found. Similarly, the boat ramp lot was filled to or near capacity most of July 4, as mostly boat trailers were parked there.

The study goes into the data collection process, stakeholder engagement and provides a toolbox of options, along with visual tables and figures. Engineers recommended in the study that certain changes be implemented before summer, such as improving safety and commercial parking on 1st Street.

Ms. Doherty said she spoke with the rest of the board during Tuesday morning’s work session about holding two meetings with the public, coming back with the Transportation Commission and for the board to then decide which route to navigate and begin implementation.

“To implement, we would have to do code changes because we would do street signs and this and that,” she said. “If it’s something that we say, ‘Oh, we can just change this sign, this sign and do one public hearing,’ it’s conceivable we can do it this year. But it looks like it’s going to take a lot longer, so I suspect nothing’s going to be done this summer.”

Even so, she said, the board will continue reviewing the results and attempting to expedite the process.

Recommendations outlined in the study include converting the diagonal parking stall on the east side of 1st Street between Kind Street and Main Street to parallel parking. Engineers also suggested erected “commercial vehicle loading zone 7 AM to 10 AM” signs on the blockfaces of 1st Street between King Street and Main Street “to accommodate commercial delivery needs.” The last major recommendation was that the town hire a parking enforcement agent, at least on a seasonal basis, if and when changes to parking regulations are implemented.

Other ideas include clear signage indicating parking permit regulations, paid beach tags on Town of Southold parking permits so that beach visitors may park their vehicles in both the hamlet center and/or the beach lot and potentially opening up the vacant lot adjacent to the existing New Suffolk Beach parking lot “to accommodate overflow beach parking demand during busy hours.”

The study was made public on Wednesday and is available for viewing on the town website.