As 2022 draws to close, as a community, we must take stock as to what we want our future to be.
Should Liberty Gardens, a highly controversial 60-unit multifamily housing facility specifically funded for veterans and other people with mental and physical disabilities proposed for half of the Southampton Full Gospel Church property on County Road 39, be a part of Southampton’s future?
This proposed development will be entering its fourth year of consideration by the Town Board. Having attended several public hearings, and having listened to all the arguments for and against the facility, I am unconvinced that this is the right place, or the right time, or that any time would be right, for this facility to be thrust onto this site, because of traffic and all the environmental impacts and foreseeable problems, including the probability that the half of the property that the church is on will be put up for an additional facility, making the total number 120 units in the near future.
I worry about the Hillcrest neighborhood’s future if, after the first Liberty Gardens is built, the town decides that it has to be utilized to access this development. Hillcrest is one of the few actual and vital, self-sustaining “workplace” communities east of the canal. How can residents be sure that they will not be burdened with serving as a cut-through for this high-density development? No guarantees as it stands now.
Despite consistent promises and it being dropped for now from the plan, anyone with common sense can understand that you cannot have one entrance, or exit, onto a highly trafficked roadway for 120 vehicles potentially entering and exiting this development throughout the day. There are accidents regularly.
Anyone who has lived on the East End or in any seasonal resort area knows that affordable housing or workforce housing is scarce because real estate is prized, but it does have a place and should have a place even in these communities. Liberty Gardens does not answer any of the needs for local affordable housing, although it was always saying it did. It is a separate issue, as the buses of veterans showed us.
My thoughts are that we should not push through controversial high-density projects and ignore problems that people in the future will have to solve, and that we should be looking to protect Hillcrest now.
One fine body…