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May 13, 2014 5:26 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Good Ground Park Designer Discusses Potential Features, Including 'New Main Street'

May 15, 2014 2:59 PM

Southampton Town officials and representatives of the architectural firm hired to design Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays discussed plans to build a two-way street with 80 diagonal parking spaces and a row of storefronts through the southern portion of the park at a public forum last week.

John Williams, president of MKW Landscape Architecture, the New Jersey company awarded the $200,000 contract to design the 36-acre park that would run from Montauk Highway to Sunrise Highway along Squiretown Road, presented his plan—and accepted feedback on a bevy of potential features for the park—during a meeting with about three dozen hamlet residents last Wednesday night, May 7.

During the discussion, Mr. Williams floated the idea of possibly connecting the new road—which would run parallel to Montauk Highway and act as an entrance into the park from Springville Road—to either an extended Cemetery Road or a new road that would be built through a now vacant section of land along Montauk Highway.

The new road was part of the concept plan created last spring that the town used to secure the $128,519 grant from the State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to help fund the facility’s design. While most of those in attendance had little to say about the plan, at least one woman took issue with the idea of carving out a new corridor for the proposed parking spaces and stores.

“Why do we need a road with more shops in the middle of this beautiful park?” said Deborah Foley, a Hampton Bays mother with two young children. “I think we already have a lot of shops, some of which are vacant on Main Street. And who’s going to be controlling what stores go in there?

“Because if I’ve got an entryway to a children’s park nearby, I don’t want some of these stores,” she continued. “I don’t need another pizzeria, I don’t need another Chinese restaurant, and I don’t need a beauty salon or deli.”

She added that she likes the idea of having a walkable business district, but questions whether Hampton Bays will be able to attract the right kind of companies for such an area.

Mr. Williams said the idea is to attract park-friendly businesses, such as cafés, restaurants and kiosks that could be open seasonally or for one-time uses, like festivals and other events.

“That’s how we’ve been talking, generally, about this,” Mr. Williams said. “That’s what we see as a possibility—not [auto] body repair shops, not industrial stuff—things that are park-sensitive, park-centric and kind of augment the park and, at the same [time], augment downtown [Hampton Bays].

“This is a destination, I think, that you want the citizens in your community to come to and there are other uses that would work really well with the park that I think would be great,” he continued.

A dozen lots line what will eventually be the southern border of the park and each is zoned village business. Some properties extend all the way to Montauk Highway, while others are shorter, though all are be eligible to have some type of business built on them, Deputy Town Supervisor Frank Zappone said after the meeting.

Mr. Zappone noted that the town has conducted studies for both the “new north main street,” as well as the construction of the other roads that would potentially feed into it, and MKW will use those studies as a baseline when developing the park’s design. The design must be finished by the end of June so town officials can apply for state grants to help finance its construction, which is expected to cost around $2 million.

During the forum, which was held in the Southampton Town Community Center on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays, Mr. Williams presented an array of possibilities for every aspect of the park, ranging from major components, like the type of amphitheater and performance stage, to minute details, such as the kind of pavement that will be used for the walking trails or the styles of benches and trash cans.

Mr. Williams also discussed other potential features including an interactive water element for children to play in, rest areas at various points along the proposed walking trail, elaborate playscapes and a grand entryway with a beacon or lighthouse to attract visitors prior to concerts and other events.

Officials also discussed incorporating the 1.9-acre property that sits across from the Hampton Bays Firehouse on Montauk Highway into Good Ground Park, possibly as part of the main entrance. That property, however, is owned by the Hampton Bays Fire District, and Fire Commissioner Rob King said the district’s board has not yet met with town officials to discuss that possibility.

During last week’s presentation, attendees were given a booklet containing the different features and a marker to check off the ideas they like and dislike, as well as offer written suggestions. The booklets were handed back to MKW at the end of the evening.

After Mr. Williams ended his presentation, residents shared their opinions of the park, and while most spoke favorably of at least one combination of ideas, Hampton Bays resident Bruce Doscher said he was not ready to throw his support behind any aspect until he knows how much the town is going to be spending.

“The place to start is, ‘How much money do we have for this thing?’” Mr. Doscher said. “Then we can figure out how many features we can put in, then we aren’t disappointing people down the line ... I think you’ve gotta start with the number and add features to that number.”

Mr. Zappone said town officials do not yet know how much they are looking to spend on the park’s features or its future operational expenses. He added that, at this stage of the process, the town is more concerned with identifying what features are desired by the community and securing as much grant money as possible.

“I don’t mean to be evasive, but we’re gonna have to pick our way through that and make judgments about, ‘Yes, we like this idea, but we’re not going to be able to sustain this idea in perpetuity,’” Mr. Zappone said. “But we don’t know what the answer to that is until we start looking at some of the ideas.”

The park could be completed as early as next spring if the town secures the required grant money, according to Mr. Williams.

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How in God's name does Hampton Bays justify hiring a firm from New Jersey!? Unbelievable.
By bjoners (13), southampton on May 14, 14 9:16 AM
Apparently the firm was the winning bidder on the project for the Town of Southampton.

Pretty simple if you read the article and stop bloviating!
By PBR (4885), Southampton on May 14, 14 9:31 AM
Replace paradise , put up a parking lot.
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on May 14, 14 9:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
^^^ seems like a common phrase on this website which sometimes is appropriate but in this case I disagree.

Huge swaths of Hampton Bays, East Quogue, Westhampton, Flanders, Riverside and Northampton are permatently preserved by NYS, Suffolk County and/or Southampton Town as part of the Pine Barrens. Areas like the one described in the article are appropriate for parkland development.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 14, 14 9:55 AM
It's a lot nicer than it used to be when I was a young lad but you're not replacing paradise in Hampton Bays if you build a parking lot there.
By Schandra (11), Sag Harbor on May 17, 14 3:51 PM
Public/Municipal projects are open to all qualified companies to bid. The bids are opened in public and awarded to the lowest bidder who meets all the qualifications. Standard procedure. Although I also would have liked a local company to do the work this process makes sure there is no favoritism or over paying for work.
By lmahanna (15), Hampton Bays on May 14, 14 10:11 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yeah, you're probably right. Better to just sink the locals into the poor house with property taxes and then send the cash to Jersey. I stand corrected.
By bjoners (13), southampton on May 16, 14 9:34 AM
Reality strikes again!

The Town is REQUIRED by law (and fairness etc.) to seek bids and to accept the lowest from from a qualified.

Local firms were eligible to bid. It appears that none did, or that none was the lowest qualified bidder.

If you have factual information that varies with the above, please let us know the true facts.

Thank you.
By PBR (4885), Southampton on May 16, 14 10:16 AM
: . . . and to accept the lowest bid from a qualified bidder."
By PBR (4885), Southampton on May 16, 14 10:18 AM
Problem is it never should've went out for bid. This could've been done in house, but SHT is addicted to consultants and they're feeding that addiction regularly. Funny how land locked lots that aren't worth much will now be accessible and worth a great deal more. Wonder who stands to gain from this. Follow the money to the trolls.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on May 14, 14 1:52 PM
Interesting point about landlocked parcels being freed up.
By PBR (4885), Southampton on May 14, 14 1:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
Who, "in house" is capable of this? And please, when you make claims, follow up with something of substance. Elsewise, you sounds like you are gabbing over the back yard fence, spreading rumors of your own making.
By But I'm a blank! (1282), Hampton Bays on May 14, 14 4:29 PM
There's really no such thing as a "landlocked" parcel. Everyone has a right to access - it may be complicated, it may involve easements, but you always have a right to access (which goes back to paper streets, old filed maps, etc.). That being said, the owners of the properties would likely see a big swing in property values.

What people need to remember is that the parcel being proposed for a park was owned privately and there were several ideas were floated before the Town bought it ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 15, 14 9:30 AM
Btw ICE, who would do this in-house? The Town has like 1 long range planner who is bogged down with a mound of projects and two "regular" planners. There's literally no one who could be tasked with this project because the Town has made cut after cut
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 15, 14 9:31 AM
Wrong Nature, there really is such a thing as a landlocked parcel. I happen to know of one in particular north of Montauk Hwy just west of the canal in Hampton Bays. I know the owners and they don't have access (without trespassing) and can do virtually nothing with the property. There was no agreement for access worked out prior to a subdivision going in which cut it off. No easement, they don't just happen on their own, they must be created and were not in this instance.
As for in house maybe ...more
By ICE (1214), Southampton on May 15, 14 3:27 PM
Historically, a landlocked parcel (in general) may have a theoretical right of access, but using it legally and without protest by the surrounding landowners often requires extensive legal work and financial resources. Many old "wood lots" in the hills of Southampton were like this, and local families often found it too burdensome to enforce their rights of access over old dirt roads which were not used frequently through the years/decades, when new landowners took title to the properties over which ...more
By PBR (4885), Southampton on May 15, 14 4:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
It just takes a good title company in 95% of the cases - sometimes the surveyor needs some extra work to go back and dig through the files. It's very hard to legally create a landlocked parcel and it's really hard to prove in court that one can be denied access to land they own.

That's a bit off topic though - with respect to the duties of Town employees: There are many creative, talented, smart and capable employees at the Town. But they have a full workload, do you really think the ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 15, 14 8:30 PM
The old wood lots were different from what I understand, so maybe you can check with old-time surveyors. Maybe this fits in your missing 5%? I am referring to very old deeds, no surveys, and from decades ago before the Town's database of lots and parcels even existed (no tax map at all). Not that important here -- have a good weekend.
By PBR (4885), Southampton on May 15, 14 9:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
Nature- On the wooded or otherwise cloistered lot issue you're wrong, I've also seen lots of this type at auction for $100 and less, the county can't get rid of them and the nieghbors must not want them. Guess how the county likely got many of them? Someone stopped paying taxes, because they couldn't do anything with the lot...

LOL, really fuzzy math and false equivilancies! Your numbers indicate that the design co has budgeted the labor cost at 100% of the cost of the project, when 10% ...more
By ICE (1214), Southampton on May 17, 14 1:35 PM
Ice - the article states that the company is being paid $200,000 to design a park. Surely a chunk of that goes into overhead costs (i.e. they will say that a map drafter costs $100/hour, but the map drafter only gets $50/hour so the remainder goes to the company for other line items and some profit). I understand what you are saying with respect to that, but what is your honest opinion of the number of man hours this $200,000 contract will require?

I have a hard time imagining that ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 18, 14 10:56 AM
Btw ICE and PBR - take a look at the Suffolk County Tax Map (you can google Suffolk County GIS Viewer). You will see that there are only a handful of properties that don't benefit from direct access to Mtk Highway - but they may have common ownership or existing easements. It doesn't seem anyone will be getting a great windfall from this proposed project.

(the GIS tool from Suffolk County is really awesome btw)
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 18, 14 2:38 PM
The 200k is a waste of money that could of been given to the Hampton Bays Beautification committee. Hampton Bays needs to fill all the stores that are vacant. They don't need another downtown.
By chief1 (2579), southampton on May 14, 14 6:05 PM
2 members liked this comment
I can just imagine your comments if the headline was "Town gives Hampton Bays Beautification Committee $200,000.00.
Hampton Bays cant fill the stores. That has to come from the privates sector, people willing to invest $. And guess what Chief? They may not speak English as a primary language.
By But I'm a blank! (1282), Hampton Bays on May 16, 14 3:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
A project like the proposed will bring Hampton Bays back. Ya know, d@mned if you do, d@mned if ya don't! There's a faction of people are anti-development within HB and here we have the Town trying to make a beautiful park which will be an attraction and centerpiece of the Town and people come out of the woodwork to cry about it.

Chiefy is always whining about how HB is a dump and how all the good things in HB have been ruined and we should let whatever developers do whatever they want ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 16, 14 4:09 PM
Well said, Nature.
By PBR (4885), Southampton on May 16, 14 4:50 PM
Why build more stores when Montauk highway is full of vacant stores already? This park is a boondoggle. The Town leadership is a joke.
By HB90 (154), southampton on May 14, 14 9:56 PM
Who is going to pay for the maintenance, liability insurance, road repair, garbage, police etc. GUESS!!
By sgt202 (73), Hampton Bays on May 15, 14 2:29 PM
So the Town should NEVER build new parks because of the reasons you mention? Sheesh.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 16, 14 9:17 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By sgt202 (73), Hampton Bays on May 15, 14 2:30 PM
Perhaps the stores created could create a sense of "quaintness" that Main Street in Hampton Bays lacks.
By BaymenNYC (59), Manhattan on May 16, 14 1:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hampton bays needs to be saved it is quickly turning into flanders... let the people build the park and let some people with money come in here snd open up some restaurants and bars that will bring some glory back to this town
By bigblue84 (67), Hampton Bays on May 16, 14 4:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wow Nature your finally getting it. The waterfront has to be developed so lets let the Recksons build some condos and restaurants. We don't need another park or new downdown. Hampton Bays already has Red Creek Park which is the biggest park in town. By the way Blank I have no problem with Hispanics or anyone else as lon g as they follow the laws. Nice way to twist what I said.Still stalking me I see.
By chief1 (2579), southampton on May 17, 14 9:28 AM
No one is walking from red creek park to main street or vice versa.

That waterfront area IS developed with restaurants that are open to the public. Developing it as condos and a catering hall accomplishes nothing. Creating a way for people to explore those restaurants, adding shops and making it easy to get to the other side (and enjoy cowfish etc.) would be ideal. Condos doesn't help anything.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on May 17, 14 11:15 AM
Chief,
Do you REALLY want me to go over your anti-immigrant posts, specifically when it come to Main St, Hampton Bays? Please, you may have memory issues, but no one else does.

ps: Your first line, "your" should be "you're" , again, I've pointed this type of mistake out to you before, please pay attention.
By But I'm a blank! (1282), Hampton Bays on May 20, 14 9:09 PM
Thats correct blank,chief me and you should have a talk one time. I will buy you lunch. what do yousay
By local 84 (334), riverhead on May 22, 14 8:53 PM
In fairness, Hampton Bays need ends storm water drainage more than a park! The whole Town does, it's way behind EPA regulations.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on May 17, 14 1:37 PM
So maybe they should put down there sniper rifles and pick up some shovels
By 27dan (2552), Southampton on May 20, 14 2:41 PM
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