There is a lot of consternation — rightly so — about the future of downtown Hampton Bays [“Rebellious Crowd Packs Auditorium For Redevelopment Forum In Hampton Bays,” 27east.com, August 31]. A few things jump out for me. Mainly, that progress is inevitable. The question is, can we guide it in satisfactory directions? And satisfactory for whom?
More housing, in the form of apartments, sounds like a good idea, but more traffic does not. A sewage district to allow for greater density will help protect our groundwater and ultimately our bays. That also sounds like a good idea, but higher taxes do not.
There is a fear lurking in my mind behind all of these proposals. I’m a South Fork native and proud to have made my home in Hampton Bays for over 20 years. I want to see our hamlet thrive and embrace a future of community-minded prosperity.
But what I saw happen to downtown East Hampton gives me pause. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Main Street and Newtown Lane felt like a typical small-town business district, because it was. A pleasing collection of shops and eateries that provided basic necessities for the local population and made for an enjoyable stroll when in town. I assume rents were reasonable, because the stores would stay in business for several years, and you didn’t have to break the bank to do a little shopping.
This is no longer the case. There’s very little left for the average person in downtown East Hampton. Southampton suffers similarly.
While I hope to see Hampton Bays meet its potential as a thriving shopping district serving its residents’ needs and provide livelihoods for shop owners, my greater hope is to see it done without the related “Hamptonization” (or “resortification”?) of extremely high rents with expensive boutiques that come and go every other year.
Is such a thing possible? I really hope it is.
One fine body…