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Southampton to have day laborer hiring site


The Village of Southampton will help establish the fourth formal hiring center for day laborers on Long Island, in a local spot where many workers gather waiting for employment, Mayor Mark Epley announced Friday.

Stepping into a controversy that has vexed numerous communities on the Island and across the nation, Epley said the village is in the process of creating the site on part of an empty lot next to the 7-Eleven store on North Sea Road and Aldrich Lane.

Friday, village workers planted trees around the outside of the site so motorists will not clearly see in. White spray paint marked the U-shaped path where gravel will be laid so contractors and homeowners can pull in to pick up workers.

Epley said the village plans to place benches and portable toilets on the site, but no trailer or building for now. The site should become operational within a week or so.

The village has become overwhelmed by as many as 150 day laborers who line streets including North Sea Road and Jobs Lane and sometimes even stand or lie down on people's front lawns, he said.

"I have them spread throughout my entire village now," Epley said. "I want to concentrate them in one spot."

His decision was met with praise and scorn. Sister Margaret Smyth, head of the Hispanic Apostolate for the North Fork who will help run the site, said, "It's an option. We have to do something because what exists is not working."

But Tom Wedell, a contractor from Southampton, called the project "ridiculous."

"I don't understand how they can put a hiring site for illegal immigrants when it's against the law to hire them." Wedell said.

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March 30, 2007, 9:34 PM EDT

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