After a long, detailed process (made longer by COVID-19), I have sold my parents’ property in Shinnecock Hills to the Town of Southampton for preservation, as of March 2021. This was a wonderful, magical result, and, as they say, it took a village to make it happen:
• The team at the Community Preservation Fund, led by Lisa Kombrink, who helped me through the process and answered all my (frequent) questions.
• My Realtors, Linda Kabot and Bob Tomich, who had to navigate a very different and protracted sales process. They also had to coordinate the demolition of the existing house on my behalf to meet the preservation criteria, as I had already relocated to England.
• My family lawyer, Kerin Guidera, who worked very hard to ensure that the legal elements came together by the deadline, while was living overseas months before the closing.
• The officials from the Town Board who voted to approve the purchase of the land.
• My good friend Richard Casabianca, who suggested the preservation approach in the first place, and nudged me (kicked me?) along when the process seemed to stall. He also put me in touch with Becky Genia, from the Shinnecock Nation, which is committed to preserve more of Shinnecock Hills in perpetuity.
• Becky Genia herself, who helped to marshal support from many others, both in the Shinnecock Nation and elsewhere — people who wrote letters, emails and made calls to support us, most of whom I never met to thank directly.
• My neighbors the Leibholz family, who were early supporters and encouraged me along the way.
• And, of course, my husband, Gareth Heatley, family, and other friends both from the town and beyond, who thought preservation was a great thing to do.
It is a challenge on the East End to preserve land, which is commanding a greater and greater premium for development, as more and more people choose open space here over city life. Sales for development can be much faster and simpler. Understandably, the town must have a process to ensure that the valuations are fair, that the land meets the preservation criteria, and that supporters and taxpayers alike have a chance to be heard in the process.
But all that takes time. It took a year from start to finish to complete this process. But you can’t “un-develop” land once the trees, the animals and the “wildness” are gone.
The people I really need to thank are my parents, Bruno David Dull and Margaret Rose Dull, who preserved and stewarded the land surrounding their house for 55 years. Thank you.
Coombe, Saint Austell, United Kingdom
One fine body…