Dan Rattiner's Stories

Moving a Road: If Tuckahoe Road Is Moved, Put It Someplace That Needs It

The Shinnecock Hills Golf Club wants to pull up Tuckahoe Road where it winds through their course between County Road 39 and Sebonac Road. Golfers, teeing off or putting, have to concentrate while trucks and cars rumble by. Here, Tuckahoe Road from Route 27A to Sebonac goes right alongside the fairway. If the Town would close that part of the road where it bisects the course, it would make things a whole lot better for the golfers. It’s true that golf is a good walk ruined. But it’s also supposed to be a time for contemplation and the re-charging of batteries. Who wants to be lining up a putt only to check the lie and see a Roto-Rooter truck rattling by? Or continue to carry their clubs from green to the tee box crossing a public road fraught with hazards. It’s been said that such things can give a good golfer the yips, and maybe add two or three strokes to his game.

They’ve got a point there, I suppose, but the fact that this is a very important and exclusive country club probably makes this proposal not sit well with the general population around here. Nevertheless Mayor Bloomberg, who is a member of the club, met with Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and others to brainstorm how this simple excision of an offending road might be done and result in some positive tradeoffs from a motorists’ perspective that could save lives, and I am not talking just about people getting beaned with golf balls.

Shinnecock Hills has offered to pay the whole fare to do this, which is estimated to be about $5 million. That is a plus. And they would build a spur road along the southern border of the club’s property linking Tuckahoe Road with St. Andrews Road where it circles around and makes a very awkward and dangerous connection with County Road 39 farther east.

It would only be a slightly curvier Tuckahoe Road in the end. And it would make a much safer passageway onto and off County Road 39 from St. Andrews Road. Frankly, that might make it worth doing.

As for the club itself, one of the most prestigious and historic golf clubs in America, it stands as the course where Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, having come back from Scotland in 1902 with this new game, put a tee in the ground, a ball on the tee and hit a hook of a drive (the legend goes) down in the direction of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation. He told people the game was golf, and said they played it in Scotland, and he was bringing it here. It’s also the place where the U.S. Open will be played in 2017, the fourth time it will be played on this challenging course in a generation. And shutting that part of Tuckahoe Road would convert the shut down part to a long and special private driveway up to their clubhouse, instead of the rather ho-hum quick turn to the clubhouse off the very public Tuckahoe Road today. Nevertheless, the public appearing at a recent hearing regarding this proposed change was largely against it. This was something a club they were not allowed to join wanted to do. Forget it, some of them said.

I’ve drawn the before and after for this project which gives you a better view of how this change would make things better or worse. It really is too complicated to try to explain in an article such as this without such a drawing.

This application does bring to mind an earlier attempt to change a road brought to my attention by members of the oceanfront and very exclusive Southampton Bathing Association about 15 years ago. Gin Lane passes by the entrance to that club.

I don’t know how this happened, but many years earlier, when people tried to figure out how to direct the traffic going by the club on Gin Lane, they created it very wrong. The vehicular traffic on the Lane passes just a few feet from the club for its entire length. The private parking area for the membership and guests sits on the other side of Gin Lane to within 10 feet of Lake Agawam. If you are a member, you park by the lake and have to walk through the traffic to get to the club. It’s dangerous. The members were thinking of asking the Village of Southampton to just change the traffic pattern. Have the clubhouse, the club’s parking lot and drop-off by the ocean and the road and its traffic skirt the pretty lake. It made perfect sense. A win-win for everybody. You might even have bathing and boating and fishing in the lake for the public by the side of Gin Lane. But when the public heard about this, they were wildly against it, for no particular reason that I could see, except it was something the Bathing Association, a club they weren’t allowed into, wanted. So the parking and road situation is still all wrong today.

Frankly, I think the general populace would be more enthusiastic about removing this part of Tuckahoe Road if they felt the membership there would be more forthcoming about what they could do with the removed road, for example, bring a chopper in, pick up the road and move it to someplace where it is more badly needed.

The parking area in front of Cromer’s Market in Noyac comes to mind. Whoever dreamed up the new traffic and parking mess they just put in there must have been impaired in some way. It’s certainly an accident waiting to happen. Whoops. There’s an accident now. Dropping down Tuckahoe Road from the chopper there would put the minds of a whole lot of Cromer’s customers at ease.

Or put Tuckahoe Road as a bypass in the incredible mess at the corner where Sandy Hollow, Bishops, Sebonac and County Road 39 awkwardly come together these days by Sybelle Carpet.

Or use Tuckahoe Road as a floating causeway to get across Georgica Pond so as to avoid the big tie-up on the Montauk Highway where Stephen Hands Path and Daniels Hole Road join up at the East Hampton Airport turnoff. That could be a game changer there.

It’s proposals such as these which lighten the otherwise tense mood between town and gown in these parts. Just remember, you read this first in Dan’s Papers.

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