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Civic association’s forum addresses traffic concerns

North Fork traffic was the topic of discussion at a public forum held Monday by members of the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association at Mattituck-Laurel Library.

The goal of the event was to find solutions to traffic challenges faced by locals and visitors as the population of the North Fork continues to grow.

“Tonight’s meeting is on preserving our rural character with modern traffic solutions,” said civic association vice president John Carter.

Traffic safety from drivers speeding and driving under the influence on roads like Peconic Bay Boulevard, Factory Avenue, New Suffolk Avenue and Love Lane were among the major concerns discussed during the meeting.

“It is dark, it is windy, it is narrow, there is no shoulder,” Kerri Frend, who lives on Peconic Bay Boulevard, said of her road. “There is no margin for error, we really need to stop the flow of traffic.”

Other concerns included the enforcement on weight limits for trucks and other traffic violations. 

Another issue brought up by a participant was testing for those driving under the influence of marijuana now that the drug is legal in New York. Southold Town has yet to decide whether retail marijuana dispensaries and/or on-site consumption sites will be permitted within town boundaries, ahead of a Dec. 31 deadline.

“I think they’re working on trying to come up with different types of testing,” said Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley. “Not that we can’t arrest somebody that we think is impaired by using marijuana because we can still do that, it’s just a little bit harder to prove why.”

Panelists addressed traffic conerns during the forum hosted by the Mattituck Laurel Civic Association. (Credit: Melissa Azofeifa)

Community members were encouraged to ask questions of the panelists invited by MLCA, as well as offer suggestions for solutions to traffic issues in the area. There were panelists from both government and businesses who addressed the issues, questions and concerns raised by community members.

Some of the many suggestions made by community members included self-monitoring measures such as red light cameras, cumulative comprehensive traffic studies, removable speed cushions, more police presence on heavily trafficked streets, and removing Peconic Bay Boulevard and Love Lane from Waze and other GPS apps.

Town Board member Sarah Nappa, liaison to the town’s Transportation Commission, also attended the meeting and addressed community members. 

“This isn’t something that no one’s paying attention to … We’re trying all the time to find different solutions,” she said.

Ms. Nappa told the audience that the Transportation Commission has been considering “a trolley route again, or doing some other kind of mass transportation of getting people in so that we’re taking cars off the road.”

She also mentioned that the Transportation Commission plans to purchase 20 flashing speeding signs that would flash the speed at drivers. Ms. Nappa said four of those signs would likely be placed on Peconic Bay Boulevard and said New Suffolk Avenue would also be a good spot for one of those signs.

The government panelists included Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Peconic), Southold Town Engineer Michael Collins, Chief Flatley, Jeff Strong of the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce, Charles Gueli from the Transportation Commission and Chief David Hegermiller from the Riverhead police department.

The panelists representing businesses were Ed Harbes Sr., from Harbes Family Farm, and Douglas Pearsall from Eastern Front Brewing Co.

“One of the important things of the civic association is what took place here tonight,” Mary Eisenstein, who facilitated the forum, said. “To have the residents come out and talk and say what it is that’s important to them and have the representatives come and be a part of it. So I think we all should actually appreciate this process.”