Bridgehampton’s Main Street was the site last Thursday of an impassioned protest that drew some 40 people who are hoping to keep a CVS pharmacy and convenience store from going up at the intersection of Main Street and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike. Calling themselves Save Bridgehampton Main Street, the group expressed contempt in no uncertain terms for the planned two-story building, which is to have 9,000 square feet of retail space and a 4,400-square-foot basement.
Those who turned out seemed for the most part to be year-round residents hoping to get seasonal residents to join the fight. Many said they did not have anything against CVS itself, which has stores in Southampton and East Hampton, but thought such a large store in that location would exacerbate traffic and detract from Bridgehampton Main Street’s charm.
The building is to go up on a vacant lot at 2510 Montauk Highway, formerly home to a beer store, on the northwest corner of Main Street. Four roads, Lumber Lane and Ocean Road in addition to Main Street and the turnpike, converge at the intersection, as does an access road for the building that houses Starbucks.
Carey Millard, an organizer of the demonstration and former co-chairwoman of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee who lives on Ocean Road, said, “I live down that road and it takes me three traffic lights to get through this intersection. And to have a huge chain store open from 8 a.m. to 11 at night! I like CVS and their anti-cigarette campaign, but they were turned down from Sag, and I don’t see why we should be stuck with them.”
The Topping Rose House, an upscale restaurant in a historic building, the 1840 Nathaniel Rogers House, which is being restored, and Almond restaurant, in another one of Main Street’s oldest buildings, are on three of the corners of the intersection. A petition from Save Bridgehampton Main Street calls for commercial development to be prohibited on the corner.
The CVS plan would need to go before the Southampton Town Planning Board for review, but no plans have yet been submitted, according to a staff member. The building would require a special exception permit because the town code limits stores to 5,000 square feet. Nevertheless, Ms. Millard said it appears as if the proposal will go through. Paul Kanavos of BNB Ventures, which owns the property, did not immediately return a call for comment.
“We’re a charming hamlet that doesn’t need an oversized store that is way out of proportion to the town,” said Julia Douglas, who had just waved a “Honk!” sign at a large truck, which did so.
“Bridgehampton should have a nice entrance to town like East Hampton. We are working hard to get the town to buy it and make a park out of it. This is a historic street; it’s just not appropriate, we have a shopping mall already,” Peter Sughrue said, manning one end of a long sign reading, “Chainstore Here?”
Saying the new building would be “a terrible eyesore,” Otis Pearsall, who has lived in Bridgehampton all his life, asked, “Did you know that this used to be the site of a historical tavern, Wick’s Tavern? They knocked it down in the ’40s, but it stood here in my childhood.”
“Already, it is a nightmare for traffic — if there is an enormous store there, which has very little parking, it is going to be mind-numbing,” Ms. Millard said before the protest, adding that Lumber Lane, “a lovely residential lane that already has traffic backed up on it,” is going to fare even worse.
“I think people are just horrified that the historic town is being threatened with a huge chain store in the middle of town, when it should be in the mall,” she said, referring to Bridgehampton Commons to the west, where there is already a Rite Aid. “We know that CVS was turned down in Sag Harbor . . . now we’re being picked on and we don’t want them either. I think we want to go on record with that.”