Two Options - 27 East


Two Options

Regarding the failure of either the Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund with the Sag Harbor School District or the school district on its own to effect a purchase of the Marsden Street sites next to the school, what if either:

The school organizes a revote. This time, the proposal would address the obvious fears of many community members (with and without children). It would do this by including funding for an independent feasibility study to assess the site from standpoints of both the economic and environmental costs of excavating.

If there were a “yes” vote for a proposal with the study, the best case would be that voters could be assured that any proposal for future projects at the site would be within reasonable financial and environmental limits. The worst case of a “yes” vote would be that the school might own the site and have to wait till an affordable, useful and perhaps as yet unimagined use be found.

Either way, the school would be protected from the potentially devastating effects of the development of luxury houses, with all the concomitant heavy-duty maintenance traffic, in what reasonably should be the school’s backyard.

Or, the community as a whole presses the Southampton Town Community Preservation Fund for preservation of the site that would be open to the public and which would prioritize use by the school. Such use could be recreational and educational and would prioritize the need for open space for stormwater management. (This last is a clear CPF objective, and we know it has the funds.)

For example, many argue that Marsden is no longer a wetland. It clearly once was. What if a long-term project to restore it (with no excavation) could be undertaken, with students and teachers implementing much of the work? Pierson students would have the option to receive training in stormwater management, botany, horticulture, landscape design, planning for climate change. Such training might greatly enhance future timely career choices. The village and the school would gain a much-needed resource when the big storms come, as they surely will.

Both these alternatives would require the ability of the school, village and the public to listen to one another and have constructive, creative conversations. We have just seen what happens to everyone when this is missing.

Carol Williams

Sag Harbor