A proposal to eliminate the portion of Tuckahoe Road that runs through the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club — site of the 2018 U.S. Open and previous tournaments — was met with strong opposition from a standing-room-only crowd of residents at Thursday’s Southampton Town Board work session.
The golf club’s president, Brett Pickett, said that heavily traveled Tuckahoe Road presents safety concerns for golfers who have to cross it half a dozen times for one round of golf. He said the club would replace the portion of the road north of County Road 39 at its expense with another that would go around the perimeter of the club and possibly intersect with St. Andrew’s Road.
As part of the proposal, which was presented to the board for the first time on Thursday, the club would make a $6 million donation to a community investment fund for projects throughout the town, and a $1 million contribution to the Tuckahoe school district.
Pickett said the money will have to be raised.
“We have a very serious safety problem,” Pickett told the board. “Tuckahoe Road cuts right through the center of our property.” He added that to play a round of golf, golfers “have to cross it six times” when there is “a high volume of commuters.”
Pickett said the possibility of a “tragedy” happening with a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle is inevitable.
“There are intoxicated drivers speeding and weaving onto the grass, and golf balls hitting and narrowly missing the cars of unsuspecting drivers,” Pickett added.
But residents and others who spoke at the work session objected to closing a road that they said provides motorists with bucolic views, and replacing it with another that would attract more traffic and noise, just to satisfy golf club members.
At least one local official echoed their concerns.
“You’d be rerouting one of the most beautiful roads in all of the Hamptons,” said Sheila Comparetto, a member of the Southampton Town Landmarks and Historic District Board.
Mary Welker, who lives next to the club, said it has been a good neighbor.
“We all have benefitted from the prestige of having a world-famous golf club in our midst,” Welker said, adding that “the interest of a few should not change the lives of residents.”
Pickett said the proposal was far from a final plan and that the club is open to suggestions for tweaking it.
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman noted that a traffic study and public hearing would be among many necessary requirements before the proposal could come under serious consideration by the board.