Ed Harbes said that he would like a seasonal crossing guard to during the fall at his Mattituck farm — much in the same way that Riverhead Town provides traffic control officers for certain events at Hallockville Farm just down the road on Sound Avenue, he said.
has sections of their business on both sides of Sound Avenue, parking and a pumpkin patch on the south side and more parking among an array of farm stand buildings and agritainment activities on the north side — and a wine barn, the operations of which the Harbes family wishes to expand.
A site plan for the winery expansion plan and proposals to control traffic are currently before the Southold Town Planning Board. Using a traffic control officer seemed to be the best option to improve the situation at Harbes Farm to members of the Planning Board and to Mr. Harbes, who said he is just as concerned as anyone about public safety issues.
“We’ve been discussing this matter for several years, really,” Harbes said on Thursday afternoon. “We’ve done a traffic engineer study at the Planning Board’s request … a seasonal crosswalk was a concept discussed recently. I’m willing to listen. We’re still in the site plan process, and I’d like to know the cost involved.”
Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said he hesitates to provide a traffic control officer on weekends during the height of routine business of the season at Harbes.
“Let’s face it, we’ve been discussing this for the last 20 years,” Chief Flatley said. “It’s at a stalemate. A crosswalk at that location would only slow things down more than they already are. Setting up one of our traffic control officers would set up a precedent for other private establishments. But if that is the direction we receive from the Town Board, that’s what we will do.”
Flatley said that he felt that it was unfair that Harbes is the only business in town that takes up both side of the roadway at their location — and that setup lends itself to more pedestrians crossing than other high-traffic businesses such as Krupski’s Farm and Pindar Vineyards in Peconic. Though those businesses are located across the street from each other, they are not the same business.
“If Harbes could contain parking to one side of the road, that would limit crossing,” Chief Flatley said.
To farmer and Southold Town Councilman Al Krupski, who also experiences crowds similar to Harbes’ in the fall at his on Route 25, “success makes things complicated.”
“If it had rained last weekend, you wouldn’t be calling me right now,” he said. “This is a tough business and it depends on good weather. October should be a busy month. It think the site plan process should take into consideration the intensity of use with the addition of the winery.”
Harbes said he is limited to what he can do as a business owner due to the limited parking on either side of the street. He said that he would have to bulldoze existing structures in order to provide more parking.
“The north side of the road is at a maximum as far as what we can to on the footprint,” he said. “But I think everyone has well-intentioned, long-term solutions on the table to address public safety. This time of year, people want what the North Fork has to offer, with the scenic vistas and family activities. That’s what makes a fall season a success.”