For years and years, the hamlet of Hampton Bays was known for its nightlife and thriving bars and clubs — business from the night crowds trickled to Main Street and to the area's hotels and motels.
"It was a thriving beach-front community," said Stan Glinka, president of the Hampton Bays Chamber of Commerce. "But because of zoning law changes, Hampton Bays doesn't have that boom of the young people anymore."
Now, Glinka says, Hampton Bays is in the midst of an "identity crisis."
Most recently, members of the newly-formed Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays have stated that the area has turned from a waterfront resort area into a dumping ground for all of Southampton Town's problems — density, nitrogen-loaded bays, blight, crime, and a contentious homeless shelter.
"We are really going through some growing pains," said Glinka. "The businesses are struggling — they really only have a short window during the summer."
While Glinka says he is at a loss for the answer, he knows that two things must be done to put the area back on the map.
Pointing out the positives in the community — the beaches and all related water activities from commercial fishing to jet skiing — Glinka said Hampton Bays has to find its real attraction.
"We are family oriented. Hampton Bays is like a best-kept secret," he said.
Another way to put Hampton Bays back on the map, said Glinka, is the refurbishment of Canoe Place Inn — a controversial plan that is currently in the environmental scoping stage at Southampton Town Hall.
"A catering hall at Canoe Place Inn will lure people to Hampton Bays — it will have a trickle effect," said Ginka.
With a catering facility, the motels and hotels would see business, as would area shops that sell, for example, last-minute gifts, dresses, and shoes.
"Things are changing in Hampton Bays," said Glinka. "Some people have problems adapting to change, but we have to find a happy medium."
Patch wants to know: What do you want Hampton Bays to be known for? How do you see the area developing in the next ten years? Post your comment below.
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