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Feb 2, 2018 10:13 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton To Spend $850K To Restore Artists' Studio And Home In Springs

Robert Strada talks about Charlotte Park and James Brook at Thursday's East Hampton Town Board meeting. MICHAEL WRIGHT
Feb 6, 2018 1:27 PM

East Hampton Town expects to direct $850,000—or more—from its Community Preservation Fund this year to the renovation of the former Springs home of abstract impressionist artists James Brooks and Charlotte Park.

The CPF program’s 2018 management and stewardship plan, which was approved by the Town Board on Thursday night, February 1, includes the estimated costs for renovating two structures, the artists’ former home and studio, on the 11-acre property off Neck Path.

“That’s just a ballpark estimate for the restoration,” the town’s land acquisition and management director, Scott Wilson, said on Thursday. “If you look at it, you’d say it could cost more. It’s considerable work.”

The town has licensed oversight of the renovation of the property and its future management, as a historic destination and possibly a museum, to a nonprofit group called Peconic Historic Preservation. The group plans to restore the studio and home to be used in much the same way as the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center—revealing the setting in which the artists worked, and possibly displaying some of the renowned couple’s art, most of which is owned by the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill.

“It’s a site that is desperately in need of repair and restoration,” said Robert Strada, an architect and principal in Peconic Historic Preservation with a long resume of historic preservation projects. “Brooks and Charlotte Park were close friends of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. They were also part of a group of abstract expressionist artists who came to East Hampton who essentially made New York the center of the art world.”

The town purchased the property from the artists’ heirs in 2013 for $1.1 million. The house and artists studio that are now to receive a six-figure overhaul were nearly leveled.

“We did buy that property for open space and were going to tear those buildings down,” Mr. Wilson said. “Subsequent to the acquisition, we realized who these people were. We had bought it from the heirs, who had different names. We didn’t even realize it was the artists’ former residence.”

The town had to change the designation of the property under the CPF from open space to historic preservation, which allows for as much as 10 percent of the town’s annual CPF revenues to be spent on stewardship and upkeep, including the restoration or renovation of historic structures.

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By country joe (60), sag harbor on Feb 2, 18 2:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
Seriously?? They are going to ultimately spend $1M to renovate it just because it was owned at one time by a couple of artists whose work looks like someone tied a paintbrush to an elephant's trunk and let "paint"?? Of all the things that EH needs right now that's how they are spending our tax dollars? It was bought under the premise of being "open space" land but now they want to spend more money building something the residents of EH will never get to use or benefit from.
By localEH (426), East Hampton on Feb 2, 18 2:18 PM
WOW, just taxpayer money for some one's EGO...
By knitter (1902), Southampton on Feb 2, 18 2:54 PM
I agree, I think this is wasteful. If the artist was that important or whatever then let someone start a foundation / trust like they did for the Thomas Moran home in East Hampton Village and have private funds renovate the place.
By Rich Morey (373), East Hampton on Feb 2, 18 2:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
More empty "historic" homes that nobody knows about, nobody cares about and nobody is going to go to. Waste waste waste and waste some more. So stupid it makes you wanna puke.
By Preliator Lives (431), Obamavillie on Feb 2, 18 3:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
Even though James Brooks and wife Charlotte Park are acknowledged to be important artists who came to Montauk in 1949 and moved to The Springs in 1957, the fact is that the James and Charlotte Brooks Foundation has ceased operations and distributed all their remaining art works to various museums (including a large number to the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton). Their next of kin sold their 11 acre parcel with house and two studios to the Town Community Preservation Fund with the clear understanding ...more
By davbud (127), east hampton on Feb 2, 18 9:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
Time for CPF to end. No more extensions. Mission accomplished as there are few open spaces to buy.

Funding historic preservation, septic systems, housing were not the intended scope. The CPF was never to be a "piggy bank" to randomly funding Town projects.

Spending $2 million of funds on this project illustrates how far off the mark the program has gone. Other comments are correct that other functioning organizations should handle this project, if sound.

By Amagansett Voter (61), Amagansett on Feb 3, 18 9:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
What your seeing is Dems run wild. In 2009 they almost destroyed the CPF. It took the Wilkinson administration two years to audit where $30 million went and then they put in restrictive practices for property evaluation, appraisal and purchases. Then they get criticized for not spending any money on CPF purchases for that 2010-2012 period. The Dems come in and cant spend fast enough. They purchase the SWAMP and take it off the commercial tax rolls. It didnt have to be a car wash. Great spot ...more
By pluff (59), East Hampton on Feb 3, 18 2:21 PM
2 members liked this comment
As for taxes, everyday houses are sold, ripped down and new mansions built. But, taxes are still going up and up. Gotta stop the spending, spending. It's only tax payers monies.
By knitter (1902), Southampton on Feb 5, 18 11:29 AM
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