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May 6, 2019 3:20 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Peconic Baykeeper Moves Into New Hampton Bays Headquarters

Sean O'Neill at the new Peconic Baykeeper headquarters on Tuesday. VALEIRE GORDON
May 7, 2019 3:07 PM

The Peconic Baykeeper’s former headquarters, located along Old Country Road in Quogue, wasn’t cutting it for Executive Director Sean O’Neill.

He said that the industrial-style building severely lacked a sense of “charm,” and was out of sync with the organization’s mission to protect Long Island’s “drinkable, swim-able and fish-able waters.”

That’s why he was thrilled to finally move into the not-for-profit’s new headquarters on Red Creek Road in Hampton Bays in March. The 3-acre property was bequeathed to the Peconic Baykeeper organization in 2014 by former landowner Haris Wehrmann, who according to Mr. O’Neill, was a longtime supporter of the organization.

For the past several years, the not-for-profit has been working with the Town of Southampton to change the property’s zoning from residential to commercial. “It’s been a long process,” Mr. O’Neill said.

In addition to serving as the Peconic Baykeeper’s headquarters, the property is perfectly suited to serve as an education center.

Mr. O’Neill said that the organization is planning to host nature tours, including educational background on the property’s upland prickly pear cactus habitat, pine and oak forestland, freshwater wetlands—containing the endangered eastern mud turtle—and saltwater wetlands leading to Red Creek Pond.

However, in order to realize this vision, Mr. O’Neill said that the building—which dates back to the 1920s, according to public records—requires upgrades to its heating and cooling system, as well as replacing its rear deck for handicap accessibility.

He added that the deck is estimated to cost between $5,000 and $10,000; however he could not offer an estimate for the HVAC improvements. Both, he said, are dependent upon private donations.

“It’s an old building,” Mr. O’Neill said, noting that he hopes to have the renovations completed by the summer. “We’re trying to raise some money to fix the place up.”

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