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Suffolk lawmakers to weigh replacing Sag Harbor guardrails

Guard rails along the north side of Long

Guard rails along the north side of Long Beach Road in Sag Harbor are seen on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Suffolk lawmakers are considering a $350,000 project to remove metal guardrails near Sag Harbor that residents have complained marred scenic water views since the county installed them.

The offending posts along Long Beach Road would be replaced with a more rustic, wood-facaded steel rail, county officials said.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said he has identified $250,000 in state money for the project along the town beach known as Long Beach, west of Sag Harbor between North Haven and Noyack. The county would fund its $100,000 portion through a bond.

“This is one of most scenic vistas in the district,” Thiele told county lawmakers at the public works and infrastructure hearing. He described the existing rails after the meeting as “the type you see along the Long Island Expressway.”

Bill sponsor Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Southampton) cited the importance of tourism on eastern Long Island. “We have little margin for error in altering our landscape out east,” she said. “This is an iconic view.”

The county installed the guardrails in June 2014, after a letter from a member of the Noyac Citizens Advisory Committee who was worried about safety. Public Works Commissioner Gil Anderson said county engineers went out, studied the spot and found the rails appropriate as a safety measure. It was not immediately known how much the county spent to install the rails.

Fleming said the installation took residents by surprise.

Legis. Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) asked incredulously, “Because they don’t look good, we’re changing them?”

Fleming said it was because “the aesthetic impact on an iconic beach.”

Thiele said the guardrails could be reused in other locations. He warned it could take six months for the state money to come in for the project.

Removing the guardrails would be the second victory in recent months for South Fork aesthetes. The state earlier this year removed large “Welcome to New York” signs installed on the East End after residents complained.

The bill passed the committee 4 to 1, with Trotta abstaining so he could visit the location. The full legislature will vote Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Before the guardrail discussion, the Legislature heard a proposal for cutting 15 percent of the county’s bus routes — 8 of 53 — in order to cut costs. The county faces a $189 million deficit as it prepares its budget next year.

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