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Jun 26, 2017 2:07 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Buys Waterfront Flanders Property; Historic House And Barn To Be Demolished

The Goodale property in Flanders will be preserved as open space with the house and possibly the barn removed. JEN NEWMAN
Jun 26, 2017 4:07 PM

A vacant house and barn overlooking Reeves Bay in Flanders—best known as the home of descendants of the hamlet’s earliest settlers—will be torn down by Southampton Town sometime in the next few months, clearing the way for an educational waterfront boardwalk and the restoration of wetlands.

That decision has angered some community members and town officials, who would prefer that the Town Board, which purchased the 4-acre property for $500,000 using Community Preservation Funds earlier this month, take steps to preserve and restore the structures.

The unanimous decision by the Town Board to tear down the two buildings on the property, located on the north side of Flanders Road, was made despite recommendations from Sally Spanburgh, chair of the town’s Landmarks and Historic Districts Board, that the house and barn be preserved as a historic property and maintained by the town.

She pointed out that both were built in the 1700s by Josiah Goodale, a descendant of the first settlers in Flanders, and that even the peninsula that sits to the rear of the property is known today as “Goodale Island.”

Instead of tearing them down, Ms. Spanburgh suggested that both buildings be converted into affordable housing for town employees, or possibly renovated into a museum, parks facility or a welcome center for visitors—ideas that a handful of Flanders residents also suggested at a recent meeting.

“We do not recommend that the buildings be relocated, dismantled or selectively demolished,” Ms. Spanburgh said while addressing the Town Board, noting that both the house and barn “are associated with Flanders’ first English settlers. This town has the opportunity to lead by example with this acquisition.”

According to Flanders Village Historical Society documents, Josiah Goodale was the first of a long line of Flanders Goodales, and credited with clearing most of the woodland that surrounded the early settlement.

The late Jesse R. Goodale II went on to found Riverhead Building Supply, along with his brother, Harold, and uncle, Peter Ketcham. The business is now run by several Goodales with one of Jess Goodale II’s sons, Edgar Goodale, now serving as chairman of the company’s board of directors. All are fifth- and sixth-generation descendants of Josiah Goodale.

Town Board members ultimately decided not to delay the purchase of the property from the estate of Alfred Berti, citing the recommendation of Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund Manager Mary Wilson. She told them that they risked losing the opportunity to close on the purchase if they pushed back the sale any longer.

“This is an estate situation,” Ms. Wilson said. “It took quite a long time to get the heirs all in line.”

Citing CPF regulations, Ms. Wilson said both structures now must be demolished. She also noted that CPF money could not be used to restore or maintain either structure, explaining that a property steward would be needed.

According to Ms. Wilson, the board would have had to come up with another funding source prior to buying the property in order to preserve one or both buildings. As part of that process, the town also would have had to declare both building landmarks, and then find a steward to maintain them.

While he said he was sympathetic to those who want to see one or both buildings saved, Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the need to preserve the land, which features a swath of wetlands, was the board’s top priority.

“I understand it’s an older building, it’s a historic building,” Mr. Schneiderman said, referring to the main house. “The idea of this acquisition is preserving the bay … It would be nice if somebody that was going to that park could actually see … that peninsula, which you can’t see with the house there.”

Stanley Jeryga of Flanders, whose home sits next door to the recently acquired property, said he does not want the town to knock down either structure. He raised concerns over public safety and the future use of the land, arguing—in vain—that the main structure should have been converted into a gatehouse so officials could monitor who is entering and exiting the waterfront lot.

“Since this property is adjacent to mine, it has the potential to become a hangout of possibly undesirables,” Mr. Jeryga said. “This could create a lot of disharmony in my situation.”

But not all community members are opposed to the plan. Ron Fisher, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association, said his organization voted unanimously in favor of the acquisition. Mr. Fisher said he thinks that guaranteeing public access to the property, as well as the future addition of a boardwalk, are the biggest benefits of the purchase.

“We feel like it will just be another blight,” Mr. Fisher said of both vacant buildings. “We have no other significant access to the bay in Flanders.”

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500K for 4 waterfront acres? That's a steal. Where is the executor to this estate?
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Jun 26, 17 4:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
In a word. PATHETIC ......
By cobb (11), Flanders on Jun 26, 17 8:44 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By itsamazing (222), Southampton on Jun 26, 17 11:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
If the existing structures do not interfere with the location of the proposed boardwalk, then why tear them down? They are part of the history of Flanders. Why not restore them and use them to show off that history?
By itsamazing (222), Southampton on Jun 26, 17 11:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
Where's the parking lot going ? UGH!
By lursagirl (231), southampton on Jun 27, 17 12:08 AM
Itsamazing because there is no viable steward with the capability and or interest in restoring them.
By SqueakyWheel (27), Flanders, New York on Jun 27, 17 12:28 AM
pitiful.
By bigfresh (4489), north sea on Jun 27, 17 5:49 AM
1 member liked this comment
That dump is not historic. And Sally Spanburgh should check herself. Flag lots are a scourge, even when inhabited by people that tell everyone else what they can do with their private property.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Jun 27, 17 6:09 AM
Do tell? How are they a scourge?

Please share the history of the structure as you know it.
By bb (905), Hampton Bays on Jun 29, 17 9:15 PM
How much money does this town have to spend "saving" every "historic" dump someone waves a flag at?? TEAR. IT. DOWN.
By CaptainSig (712), Dutch Harbor on Jun 27, 17 6:51 AM
MAY i have the barn ??????
By dave h (193), calverton on Jun 27, 17 12:11 PM
Isn't that near Iron Point Park? How's that looking nowadays, haven't been back in there in a while.
By dfree (754), hampton bays on Jun 27, 17 4:28 PM
The property is about as BEAUTIFUL as one could imagine . There is a headstone there in fact.
The house is as sturdy and well constructed as could be possible .to call it anything less than than fixable isunfathomable
The property is about as beautiful as I've ever seen
By dave h (193), calverton on Jul 2, 17 2:40 AM
The Hampton Classic, Horse Show, Bridgehampton