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Aug 8, 2017 5:58 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Town Approves Accabonac Harbor Preservation Deal With Nature Conservancy

East Hampton Town and The Nature Conservancy are partnering to purchase 3.2 acres of land on the edge of Accabonac Harbor's wetlands. The house currently on the property will be torn down. COURTESY MARIAN LINDBERG/THE NATURE CONSERVANCY
Aug 8, 2017 1:25 PM

The East Hampton Town Board last week approved the purchase of 3.1 acres of land on the fringes of Accabonac Harbor’s wetlands in a partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

The board unanimously approved dedicating $2 million of Community Preservation Fund revenue to the purchase. But the sale price accepted by the current owners, members of the Maloney family, is in the neighborhood of $2.3 million.

The Nature Conservancy, which will purchase the property from the Maloneys and then sell it to the town for $2 million, raised the additional money for the purchase through a private fundraising drive.

Marian Lindberg, conservation finance director for The Nature Conservancy, told Town Board members that the group has long been wanting to add the property to the adjacent 29-acre Merrill Lake Preserve, which was donated to the Conservancy decades ago by preservation advocates—and cousins of the Maloneys—Frederick and Merrill Lake.

“I think the first letter I wrote to the sellers about this property was 10 years ago, so I’m very happy to be here tonight,” Ms. Lindberg said at the board’s meeting on Thursday night, August 3, at Town Hall. “The town, being very mindful of its responsibility to manage its CPF funds carefully and conservatively, drew an upper limit, and the sellers wouldn’t accept that. So The Nature Conservancy stepped in and raised money from the community in order to make the deal happen.”

Ms. Lindberg said the Conservancy has raised $340,000 thus far and is still soliciting donations to cover all the costs of the deal.

When the three-way deal is complete the town will tear down a house that stands on the property.

Ms. Lindberg spotlighted predictions from ecologists that as sea level rises in the coming decades, the edges of the property’s currently wooded uplands will begin to convert to wetlands—a “migration” that ecologists say is critical to the harbor’s wetlands fringe surviving.

She said there were some “very generous” donors who helped the Conservancy raise the money, a success that she attributed to understanding of the ecological importance of the harbor’s wetlands to the Springs community as a whole.

Springs resident Chris Tucci applauded the partnership deal but implored the town to keep its eye on other priorities as well.

“As we’re preserving we should try to counterbalance the affordable housing situation,” he said. “The more you preserve, the more it makes it unaffordable for people to exist here.”

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