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Hamptons Life

Jun 22, 2010 4:49 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Bill to rename part of pine barrens in Westhampton after Edwin 'Buzz' Schwenk passes State Assembly

Jun 22, 2010 4:49 PM

A large swath of pine barrens in Westhampton could soon be named after a lifelong Southampton resident and
community leader, State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. announced on Friday.

Legislation was unanimously approved in the State Assembly last Wednesday, June 16, to name 154.3 acres of pine barrens the “Edwin M. Schwenk Memorial Nature Preserve,” according to a press release issued by Mr. Thiele’s office. Edwin “Buzz” Schwenk died in December 2009 at the age of 86.

The State Senate still needs to approve a similar bill before the designation becomes official. The senate version is currently in the Local Governments Committee, but it could be voted on as early as this week, said Jean Segalli, a press secretary for New York Senator Ken LaValle.

Mr. Schwenk was a fixture in East End political, business and environmental circles. He was the owner of Omnibuzz Associates in Southampton, and a past leader of the Suffolk County Republican Party.

Mr. Schwenk also was instrumental in creating the Central Pine Barrens Preserve, which includes 100,000 acres across eastern Long Island, and the Community Preservation Fund, a 2-percent real estate transfer tax, the proceeds from
which are used to buy and preserve open space.

Mr. Thiele said the creation of a preserve is an appropriate way to honor Mr. Schwenk, noting that he helped preserve the land.

The Nature Conservatory purchased 308 acres in Westhampton, including the 154.3 acres that the state intends to name after Mr. Schwenk, for $7.38 million in 2005 from WJF Reality. The environmental organization then turned around and sold the land to the state and Suffolk County, which split the cost.

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