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Jan 13, 2010 12:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town allows litigation on Aldrich Lane park to continue

Jan 13, 2010 12:49 PM

The Southampton Town Board is seeking help from a Smithtown law firm in its legal battle over Southampton Village’s past proposal to use land on Aldrich Lane—which was purchased with Community Preservation Fund money—as a hiring site for day laborers.

At its December 22 meeting, the Town Board authorized the town attorney’s office to retain John Denby of Devitt Spellman Barrett in Smithtown to look into seeking a temporary restraining order that would prohibit any of the 6-acre park from being used as a hiring site, acting Town Attorney Kathleen Murray said this week. Ms. Murray said that the litigation, which has been ongoing since 2007, had been handled exclusively in-house, but complex appellate and procedural issues involving the restraining order would be better handled by an outside firm. She refused to disclose how much it will cost the town to hire him.

In 2001, Southampton Town and Southampton Village jointly purchased the Aldrich Lane park with CPF money. In 2007, Mayor Mark Epley proposed using the vacant land as an open-air hiring site for the throngs of day laborers who typically lined the heavily trafficked North Sea Road looking to find work. The mayor suggested that portable bathrooms and benches might be added to the park, which sits at the corner of Aldrich Lane and North Sea Road next to a 7-Eleven, and at one point he had some shrubbery planted there to help screen the site from the street, but no permanent buildings were proposed.

A group of three Aldrich Lane residents promptly filed a lawsuit against the village and the town to prevent the hiring site and, soon after, Southampton Town Board filed a counter claim against the village based on its opposition to the site. The Aldrich Lane neighbors were granted a temporary restraining order similar to the one the town is seeking now, but late last year the appellate court overturned that order.

Although the legal battle over the issues raised in the case continues, in recent months, Mr. Epley has said the village no longer has any specific plans for using the parcel, known as Aldrich Park, as a formal hiring site.

Ms. Murray noted that the town has not yet filed the application for the temporary restraining order, and that town officials are hoping to work with Southampton Village and Mr. Epley to come to a resolution on what to do with the park.

When reached Monday, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst emphasized that the legal action was not directed toward the day laborers who congregate at the site.

“This is to protect the integrity of CPF land,” she said.

JESSICA DINAPOLI

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"[A]cting Town Attorney Kathleen Murray said this week. Ms. Murray said that the litigation, which has been ongoing since 2007, had been handled exclusively in-house, but complex appellate and procedural issues involving the restraining order would be better handled by an outside firm. She refused to disclose how much it will cost the town to hire him."

In the print edition of the paper, Ms. Murray said the fees would not be disclosed on the grounds of attorney client privilege.

The ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Jan 15, 10 11:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
The only board member to vote against this litigation was Sally Pope, Supervisor Throne-Holst having joined her republican counterparts in voting yes on this short-sighted and worthless litigation.

In November of this year an appellate court lifted the injunction against allowing day-laborers to gather at the Aldrich Lane site. Of course the day-labor issue is a complex and heated one, but for years Mayor Epley had shown great courage in trying to find a reasonable and humane solution ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Jan 16, 10 4:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
You are incorrect on a number of points.
First, the article itself states that the Town is hoping to reach some sort of agreement with Mayor Epley, out of court if possible.
Secondly, the case was not "already decided by the appellate court." The merits of the case have yet to be decided. The Second Department ruled on specific issues - mainly that certain parties should have been allowed to intervene in the case - a procedural issue. And, it is was determined that a preliminary injunction ...more
By jlc52 (7), White Plains on Jan 26, 10 5:15 PM
Oh my ---- it was ever thus!
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Jan 17, 10 6:59 PM
Town Council members behave as if the newspaper had never been invented, much less the internet. It is stupefying that a party to a high profile land use action, one in which he seeks to RESTRICT public use of public property, could have been appointed to the Town Planning Board.
By highhatsize (3360), East Quogue on Jan 21, 10 2:31 AM
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