One More Condition - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2080822

One More Condition

The Southampton Town Board is currently considering a request from the Sag Harbor School District for $6 million in Community Preservation Fund revenue to help acquire several lots on Marsden Street that sit squarely within our national historic district and in a quiet residential neighborhood. The school district plans to clear-cut those lots to build an athletic field and a 70-car parking lot there.

There has been intense opposition to this scheme from many residents of Sag Harbor who believe those plans will have a detrimental impact on the historic district and the quality of life in the neighborhood.

Our organization, Save Sag Harbor, opposes this use of CPF funds for many of the reasons neighbors have already cited, but particularly because it would set troubling precedents.

First, the district already receives a huge stream of tax revenue and has its own bonding capacity. It seems to be asking the CPF for this money rather than asking taxpayers or lenders. If the CPF funds this purchase, why shouldn’t every school district come seeking funds for infrastructure wish lists?

Moreover, the district has stated that because it is under the authority of the State Education Department, its development of these properties is not subject to review by any municipal body. If that were true, it would be highly inappropriate for the town to bestow CPF money on an entity that proclaims its intention to ignore the concerns of the community!

Sag Harbor’s, and Southampton’s, concerns and values regarding land use are expressed in their respective zoning codes and building regulations, which include, in our village, the requirement for projects to be approved by the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review. That Board brings special scrutiny to any changes proposed in the historic district.

That board has spent much time and effort reviewing — and rejecting — the current owner’s development plans on these same Marsden Street lots, for houses that were out of scale with the neighborhood.

Now the district proposes a much more radical transformation of the site, razing 4 acres of trees to squeeze an athletic field, parking lots, a massive retaining wall and other structures on this once-quiet street. But our planning, zoning and architectural review boards will have no say?

We hope the Village Board and the Town Council will see the serious problems with committing CPF funds to a purchase that will vanish from local government’s jurisdiction, and take a bite out of our historic district to boot.

The Town Council and CPF program manager already have enumerated several very sensible conditions to qualify for the use of CPF funds. One more critical condition should be that the local community, via its established regulatory bodies, have oversight.

Hilary Loomis

Bob Weinstein


Save Sag Harbor

The letter also was signed by Save Sag Harbor board members Barbara Roberts, Tom Clavin, Randolph Croxton, Myrna Davis, Sara Gage, Elizabeth Gilbert, Peter Ginna, Cathleen McGuigan and Dan Weiss — Ed.