On September 3, the Suffolk County Water Authority began the installation of its new water main on Main Street in Westhampton Beach, almost at the same time as the start of an ambitious $11 million Main Street improvement project being undertaken by the village.
“The groundbreaking on September 16 was the culmination of three years of planning for the reconstruction and revitalization of the village’s Main Street,” said Mayor Maria Moore. “The project is being done as expeditiously as possible, and in a manner that will permit all of the shops and restaurants to remain open for business.”
Bove Industries, Inc. was selected as the contractor for the improvement project, with Sandpebble Project Management,, and construction is underway, with Main Street and some of the side streets closed to vehicular traffic as overhead utility lines are buried, more landscaping is added along with red brick pedestrian walkways, and roadways are brought up to snuff.
“This $11-million project includes traffic calming features including two traffic circles at either end of the street, curb extensions, and a raised crosswalk; water quality improvement features including permeable pavers as well as two hydrodynamic separators that filter debris from the stormwater before it makes it way to the canal; new LED street lighting; new curbs and sidewalks; the replacement of all storm pipes and drainage, and the undergrounding of all utilities so no more overhead wires,” said Moore.
The businesses and restaurants remain open, although foot traffic is thin.
However, businesspeople remain optimistic about the new and improved Main Street, for the most part.
“I’m a little worried this will affect my holiday business,” said Eileen McIntyre, jewelry designer and proprietor of Garden of Silver. “It’s been slower than usual in September.” Other businesses are putting colorful displays and signs outside to hopefully attract customers. And it’s clearly a group effort — businesses are supporting one other.
The Post Stop Café has a sign in its window stating, “Our season was cut short due to the ‘early’ closure of Main Street. We think it’s only fair that the ‘year-round’ eateries get the business. It will be beautiful in the spring.” The whiteboard is signed, “Thanks, Sandy and the crew.” The “early” reference is because the SCWA project began two weeks before expected.
Between the water main upgrades and the Main Street improvement project, the street is closed to cars until January 2020, with the sidewalks and the balance of the project completed by mid-May, before the summer season begins.
There are pedestrian crossings, and the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center continues to showcase big names like Graham Nash this weekend, and Steve Earle and G.E. Smith October 26, in spite of the torn-up roadway. On its website, WHBPAC suggests parking strategies to incoming audiences.
Lisa Oehler, of Hamptons Consignment Shoppe, around the corner from Main Street on Sunset Avenue, said, “Although big changes are underway on Main Street, many businesses and local residents look forward to the positive changes in our community. Plenty of parking has been designated, so find a spot, get your steps in for the day, enjoy a meal, and treat yourself at one of the many businesses that remain open all year,” she said.
“We continue in our efforts to get the word out that although there is construction underway, our Main Street shops, restaurants and Performing Arts Center are open for business,” said the Mayor.