Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, in his first State of the Town address Tuesday, described how the Hamptons’ swelling popularity has filled his town’s coffers but also has created problems with traffic and housing.
The 20-minute speech, about 100 days into Schneiderman’s term, previewed how the Independence Party supervisor hoped to balance some of the town’s economic gains and logistical snarls.
“We’re a popular area,” he said. “We continue to build more homes, create more labor demand, more people on the road. Our housing costs are so high that much of our workforce can’t possibly live in a lot of the areas where they work, and so we see more and more people commuting in.”
Schneiderman said the town is projected to continue running budget surpluses this year and highlighted how Standard & Poor’s Rating Services this year upheld the town’s AAA rating.
He attributed the town’s financial successes to “conservative budgeting practices” but also a growing tax base and rising building permit fees linked to a post-recession real estate boom in the Hamptons.
That popularity, he said, also has snarled traffic and pushed 80 percent of the town’s workforce to more affordable areas west of the Shinnecock Canal.
Next week, he said, town officials will experiment with turning a stoplight into a blinking light on the main thoroughfare through the town during the morning rush hour, from 6 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
He said officials would monitor changes in congestion at the intersection, at County Road 39 and Tuckahoe Road.
“We’re hoping that even a 10-minute reduction in commute time could really change people’s lives in a small but significant way,” Schneiderman said.
Southampton officials, he said, are also working on “creating housing opportunities.”
Schneiderman was elected supervisor in November after serving 12 years as a county legislator and four years as supervisor of neighboring East Hampton Town. He replaced Anna Throne-Holst, who left the supervisor post at the end of 2015 to seek the Democratic nomination for Congress.
Schneiderman devoted much of his speech to projects underway or pending in Hampton Bays, the town’s working-class and middle-class core and its most populous community, which has for years been the subject of economic revitalization efforts.
Southampton officials, he said, are proposing a picnic area, comfort station and high-tech wastewater system at a newly created Maritime Park in the hamlet, on Shinnecock Canal. Construction also is under way on the new Good Ground Park in downtown Hampton Bays, he said.