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Mar 7, 2017 2:06 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Supervisor Wants Second Vehicle Access Point For Good Ground Park In Hampton Bays

Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays. ERIN MCKINLEY
Mar 7, 2017 2:25 PM

Southampton Town is close to finalizing its purchase of a lot on Main Street in Hampton Bays, covering nearly a half acre, from the hamlet’s fire district—though Supervisor Jay Schneiderman revealed this week that he’s now considering tweaking plans for the land, which was supposed to serve as a secondary access point to Good Ground Park.

The 36-acre park—which is expected to open this summer, and will feature an assortment of retail shops, walking paths and an amphitheater—would still have its main entrance located off Squiretown Road as planned. But at a Town Board work session on Thursday, March 2, the supervisor shared that he would like to see a second entrance be constructed to the west, along the hamlet’s Main Street business corridor, using land that sits almost directly across the street from the Hampton Bays Firehouse.

The estimated $400,000 purchase of that lot from the Hampton Bays Fire District, which could be finalized as early as next month, was initially envisioned as a way to create a pedestrian walkway into the park from Main Street. But Mr. Schneiderman said the lot also could provide additional room for stores, as well as a secondary park access point for both pedestrians and vehicles.

The supervisor pointed to a recent survey completed by 1,200 residents, some of whom shared that they are worried that the hamlet’s main business district might be cut off from the park—and, more important, its expected visitors—because of the Squiretown Road entrance. Additionally, some residents who live on Squiretown Road had earlier expressed concerns about the park’s busy main entrance being located near their homes.

“What people were asking for were, basically, wide sidewalks, outdoor dining and a more vibrant feeling downtown,” Mr. Schneiderman said on Tuesday. “It’s very hard to bring that on Main Street now. So rather than just do a pedestrian-only walkway, it could be a road that runs from Main Street to the park, with beautiful pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, with some stores and outdoor seating that leads you into the park.”

Deputy Town Supervisor Frank Zappone said in an email this week that the only active plan now being considered by the town is to use the Hampton Bays Fire District property to create a pedestrian access point leading to Good Ground Park—and not the fully fledged road envisioned by the supervisor. He also noted that there have been some recent discussions about the possibility raised by the supervisor after the work session discussion last week, but stressed that “there is no active plan to implement such a connection at this time.”

The town originally intended to purchase the Hampton Bays Fire District property with Community Preservation Fund revenue. Officials have since changed course and are now considering tapping the town’s budget surplus, because using CPF money would severely limit how the land could be used. Town Comptroller Len Marchese said the surplus now stands at around $16.6 million, but he is projecting that it will grow to more than $20 million this year.

“If you were to ask my professional recommendation, I would never be borrowing any money,” Mr. Marchese told board members at last week’s work session.

But Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman Stan Glinka, the board’s two Republicans, raised concerns about using a portion of the town’s surplus to finance a land purchase, with Mr. Glinka suggesting they could be “opening Pandora’s Box” with such a move. Moving forward, Ms. Scalera said she would like for the town to establish specific guidelines for when it should tap its surplus.

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Map would be nice
By knitter (1725), Southampton on Mar 7, 17 3:53 PM
I applaud Frank Zappone, Kyle Collins and the Town Board for taking a fresh look at the plans for Good Ground Park. I watched the video of the Work Session and found the discussion to be thoughtful and focused on the business development of Main Street which was the original purpose of the Park. It seemed to me that all Town Board members agreed that this property should be purchased with Town funds as opposed to CPF monies to provide for more flexibility in its use. It seemed to be that quotes ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (443), Hampton Bays on Mar 7, 17 5:46 PM
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser