Murky Waters - 27 East

Letters

Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1728821

Murky Waters

Murky are the waters swirling around the supervisor and the Town Board’s rush to give a $4 million parcel of land purchased with Community Preservation Fund money to STAR, a group promoting a “pool” for children [“Southampton Town Board Closes Hearing On Community Pool Proposal,” 27east.com, September 23]. What is really proposed is a two-story sports complex in the center of traffic hell.

At a meeting last week held by the Tuckahoe Citizens Advisory Committee at Town Hall for the purpose of allowing STAR Aquatics to inform the public of its plans and how it intends to pay for them going forth, the same unsubstantiated PR claims — in lieu of facts and analysis — were repeated over and over again.

When asked direct questions about their organization, Josephine DeVincenzi, president, and Kim Foulks, executive director, would not, could not and adamantly did not answer them. They would not say where their organization was registered; clarify its legal status — nonprofit? LLC?; where it was located, and why the only address is a post office box. Where are their tax records? Searches online by several people prior to the meeting turned up nothing. Where are the filed records of their charitable activities over the past decade required by the government to reaffirm their nonprofit or not-for-profit privileges?

How much of the donations ($600,000 from an anonymous donor?) have been spent on salaries, travel, consultants and studies? How much money does STAR have on hand as of this date?

STAR would not provide any answers. This is public information — but where is it?

The supervisor and Town Board should have done the work they were elected for and are paid to do by vetting the legal and financial status of this group and their clarifying future financial feasibility before moving on it. Instead, they have ignored all of these concerns to race to deliver a $4 million parcel of land, paid for by taxpayers, into the hands of a P.O. Box.

Their attempt to ram it through with accelerated and compromised hearings during a time of crisis fools no one. To be clear: All considerations, hearings and votes on this proposed development should be halted now — even before “pool” is misleadingly added to the CPF uses, certainly before thorough findings as to the status of STAR by the town attorney, the town comptroller and the supervisor’s office provide the information the public has asked for. To ignore this is to put the current and future residents of the town at risk.

In place of clarity and information, the public is left wondering whether the pool/sports complex developers/consultants are working at the behest of STAR, or vice-versa. And does a tax-strapped community during a health crisis need to make a sports complex (public gathering place) a priority?

Frances Genovese

Southampton

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