NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It has hosted the U.S. Open four times in three different centuries, and counts the rich and famous among its members — but the Shinnecock Hills Golf Course is in the spotlight over an unusual road request.
Not far from Main Street in Southampton where tourists flock for the summer season, the renowned golf course is nestled amid rolling hills.
The oldest formal organized golf club in the U.S. has found itself in a controversial debate over a road.
“It has certainly generated a lot of community input, some pretty emotional,” Southampton Town Supervisor, Jay Schniederman said.
Schniederman explained that the town’s Tuckahoe Road slices through the club’s private property.
When the course was built in 1890 it was used by horse and buggy.
Now, it is a favorite shortcut of frantic commuters trying to get to work on the East End — creating a growing safety issue between golf carts and commercial traffic.
Shinnecock wants to close it to all but members and reroute traffic to St. Andrews Road.
“It sounds fair, but I would like to see their plan,” Linda Stocknoff said.
“Golf courses are a privilege and it was built around the road, no I don’t think it should be moved,” Peggy Reiner said.
The club member acting as a key negotiator — Michael Bloomberg. He said Shinnecock will assume all costs to move the road, give $1-million to local schools, and another $6-million to town public road projects.
“It sounds like a reasonable request,” Bob Greenberg said.
Some said the town can’t afford to sneeze at the offer.
“Yes of course this will help the golf course, but it has to help the town even more. If it doesn’t do that then it won’t be accepted,” Schneiderman said.
The hotly contested issue must be resolved soon to give the course time to implement possible road changes before it hosts the 2018 U.S. Open.
Several plans including limiting public access, banning commercial traffic, and lowering the speed limit are also being discussed.