Home Selling

A Fight Over Boats is a battle for the Soul Of The North Fork

Like the tongue of a snake, Long Island’s eastern edge splits into two distinct tines. The Hamptons, a cluster of wealthy villages to the south, is a popular tourist destination. To the north, a picturesque strip of farmland is proud of its blue-collar origins.

In recent years the lines have blurred, primarily due to an influx new residents who left Manhattan during Covid. Boutique hotels and cocktail bars catering to these people have appeared, and houses are now selling for 50% more than they did before the pandemic. And in the tiny hamlet of Mattituck, a marina owner now plans to strip a hillside of 600 trees and remove hundreds of millions of pounds of sand to make way for 88 yachts on the edge of the hamlet’s tidal inlet.

Locals who have lived in the area for a long time see this plan as more than a threat. A fragile coastal environment but a fight over the character and the North Fork Long Island.

In this hamlet with fewer than 5, 000 people, opponents have collected over 3,000 signatures for a petition opposing the proposal. “People are starting to cannibalize this place. They want to make it the Hamptons,” Stephen Boscola said that his family’s home is directly above the development site. Their back deck looks out over a forested mountainside that will be destroyed, if the development continues.

But the marina owner turned developer isn’t a new transplant from Manhattan. He’s one of their own.

Jeff Strong, 66, has lived in Mattituck since he was a boy and is president of Strong’s Marine, a family business that sells boats and operates commercial marinas. Strong’s Marine has been in his family for three generations. He is seeking approval from the area’s planning board to build two massive sheds for indoor yacht storage on the grounds of his yacht center.

Strong estimates it will take him over $5 million to clear out the hill, haul the sand away, and then build both 45-foot storage sheds. Each one is around 50,000 sq. ft. The yacht storage facility, he said, will offer heated indoor winter storage that fills a gap in the market for wealthy boaters from Hamptons communities like Sag Harbor and Amagansett, as well as Westchester County and Connecticut, and will put up to $65,000 in property taxes and $474,000 in sales taxes into the Town of Southold’s coffers each year.

“We’re confident there’s market demand for us to add another 88 yachts, and when it comes to the funding, we could absolutely do both buildings right from the…

Continue reading at: www.nytimes.com