I’m pleased that Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman engaged the Hampton Bays community in listening sessions and smaller focus groups about the revitalization of downtown Hampton Bays as part of a starting-from-scratch approach.
However, these initial engagements only scratch the surface of what’s required for shaping a revitalized downtown that meets the needs of residents and visitors alike.
Like the Sag Harbor of years ago, I consider Hampton Bays an “Un-Hampton” and one of the reasons I like living in Hampton Bays. And, like the Sag Harbor of the present, we must be diligent about maintaining a local sense of place in the face of heightened interest and development pressures.
Moving forward, I would like to see an independent subject matter expert who specializes in downtown revitalization retained to represent and work with our community. Substantive and proven planning process-related methodologies must be identified and implemented. The resulting output: a concise and easy-to-follow documented path forward for bridging the two points of existing conditions and desired community goals.
The topics listed below are just some requiring detailed discussions and analysis to further demonstrate community input is valued and not just an effort to gain acceptance for any project(s) after key decisions have been made:
Review of, and updates to, the Southampton Town Comprehensive Plan.
Identification of the specific area/boundaries defining “downtown” Hampton Bays.
Zoning, density, funding sources, areawide strategy concerning environmental impacts.
Areawide infrastructure systems (sewer treatment, traffic, parking, water supply/quality, building and siting of battery energy storage systems).
Impacts on school services, fire protection, emergency medical, police, and code enforcement personnel and equipment.
The downtown Class 2 Superfund site.
Constraints, underlying realities and competing tradeoffs to provide context in which final decisions will be made.
Starting from scratch includes a Hampton Bays community planning committee. Stakeholders must be provided with the information necessary to understand the key topics and issues to ensure informed and productive discussions. For stakeholder education efforts to be effective, the information must come from a source that is viewed as trusted and neutral.
Starting from scratch leverages the collaborative methodologies defined in the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative Guidebook, in addition to seeking DRI funding.
Starting from scratch delivers a community-supported vision and comprehensive planning process that includes, but also goes beyond, property owned by Alfred Caiola.
What, and who, comes next after Mr. Schneiderman’s term as Southampton Town supervisor concludes in 2023?
I expect our current and future supervisor, Town Board, and community to remain demonstrably engaged, working collaboratively and transparently toward common, well-informed and achievable goals.
I remain cautiously optimistic.
One fine body…