Keep It Small - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2018083

Keep It Small

I attended the August 29 meeting hosted by the Hampton Bays Civic Association on the future of Hampton Bays [“Rebellious Crowd Packs Auditorium For Redevelopment Forum In Hampton Bays,”, August 31]. I have a few comments.

First, I ask the Southampton Town Council members and the Town planners to “think small.” Hampton Bays is a small hamlet, and it seems that most people like it that way. High density and tall buildings are inappropriate for our hamlet.

Possibly, we can learn from our mistakes. For example, the condos being built on the east side of the canal are clearly oversized for their location. In addition to blocking views of the unique canal, their height and density don’t allow for any feeling of space or air.

Slides shown at the meeting trying to justify tall (greater than two stories) buildings showed streetscapes in Southampton and Sag Harbor. Both of those villages have wide main streets that aren’t overwhelmed by height; Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays is much narrower.

Also, there was much talk about a walkable hamlet center. Perhaps some spaces between buildings and possibly a few small pocket parks would help meet that goal. A commercial center should have plenty of shops and offices but also should allow free-standing buildings like the two historic buildings so nicely renovated on Main Street. Please keep a sense of scale in mind when looking at appropriate development for Hampton Bays.

Second, I find the Hampton Bays Downtown Overlay District to be too prescriptive. We need more creativity and the freedom to be different. If the full build-out were to occur under this plan, it would be outdated before it was built.

Now is the time to step back and examine what would really satisfy the goals of the residents of Hampton Bays. What I heard at the meeting was agreement that improvement in the commercial area should be made, but not at the price of sacrificing the small-town specialness of Hampton Bays.

Finally, some speakers mentioned that Good Ground Park should be a prominent feature of the hamlet. Some even suggested that it’s not enough that the park is there but that it needs to be seen. So a vehicle entry is proposed for the middle of Main Street.

Given our traffic situation, another intersection with Main Street seems ludicrous. Would there need to be another traffic light?

I suggest that it is not important that the park be seen, but it is important that residents and visitors alike know that it is there. Perhaps prominent signs could serve that function.

In summary, I think the residents are ready for some changes, with certain caveats and guidelines. Keep it small, keep it simple, keep it flexible.

Barbara Pierce

Hampton Bays