Lipstick and Rouge - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2038674

Lipstick and Rouge

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman has represented that town officials plan to “start over” with the Hampton Bays downtown revitalization plan [“Q&A: Jay Schneiderman Talks About Hampton Bays and How the Conversation Will Go From Here,”, September 12].

I am skeptical that town officials are starting over. Instead of retaining an independent facilitator, Supervisor Schneiderman, along with the town planning administrator, are taking the lead on starting over. It seems more probable that the town officials will work toward repackaging the annulled Hampton Bays Downtown Overlay District with a little lipstick and rouge, and resubmit it to the community — or, worse, continue with the appeal of the State Supreme Court decision and try to get the annulled HBDOD reinstated.

Let’s remember that these are the same officials who are responsible for the epic failure that dragged on for six years and still refuse to admit they got it wrong. They took a relatively simple task — coming up with some design standards and infrastructure improvements to revitalize the downtown of Hampton Bays — and turned it into an over-engineered exercise based on the latest planner’s scheme for a high-density, form-based code overlay district used for blighted downtowns such as Wyandanch and Brentwood, not Westhampton Beach or Southampton Village, as represented. When faced with informed opposition, they resorted to a contract to “neutralize” the opposition, since they couldn’t defend the annulled HBDOD on its merits.

We may never know if it was incompetence, arrogance or corruption that got us here, but here we are.

So now, in an alleged attempt to start over, Supervisor Schneiderman has announced “listening sessions.” These sessions are purposely separate from official town meetings and shielded from the official public record. Does Supervisor Schneiderman believe that a version of off-the-record, back-office meetings is a way to regain the community’s trust?

It appears that, at the same time, the town planning administrator, who repeatedly defends the annulled HBDOD, is working on the lipstick and rouge reconfiguring the data from the annulled HBDOD with another survey that can be interpreted any way they want. I suspect we will once again hear the mantra from the town planning administrator that the annulled HBDOD is exactly what the community wants, and it is just that the community doesn’t understand that.

The Hampton Bays community must continue to have their voices heard. I strongly urge everyone to continue to stay engaged and attend the listening sessions to be held on Thursdays in October, starting with October 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at the Hampton Bays Senior Center at 25 Ponquogue Avenue, and let your voices be heard loud and clear.

Maybe the town officials will get it right this time.

Gayle Lombardi

Hampton Bays