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Pol tries to keep East Moriches road open

Paul Larocco

Reacting to resident outcry, a Suffolk lawmaker wants to halt the county’s planned closure of Railroad Avenue in East Moriches — a move that was intended to accommodate a commercial development project.

Department of Public Works officials had proposed late last year to close the road’s eastern end, blocking a residential neighborhood’s access to Montauk Highway. DNF Realty is set to build a 6,750-square-foot office and retail complex at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Montauk Highway.

The officials said a closure would “unquestionably” improve public safety at the existing intersection. But at a community forum late last year, civic groups protested the closure, saying the sparsely traveled portion of Railroad Avenue still has value to nearby residents.

Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) agreed, and has proposed a resolution to maintain the road’s access to Montauk Highway and require that the county public works department get legislative approval before pursuing any work permit including the closure.

“The community spoke with one voice,” Schneiderman said of the forum he held. “They said, ‘We don’t want to lose this access, it’s important to us.’”

His resolution was introduced at the Feb. 7 legislature meeting and will now be debated among public works committee members early next month. Schneiderman said he hopes the proposal will at least bring the developer back to the table to consider alternatives to the road closure, such as modifying the design of access points to the project.