East Hampton: 555 is for Farming, Reviving Accabonac Affordable Housing

In the ditch.
In the ditch.

The East Hampton Town Board was busy at its Tuesday work session with numerous issues of concern to folks in town. Here’s a quick look of where they’ve moved the ball on several projects:

555

For some reason, of late, the public has taken to calling the former Principi Farm on Montauk Highway in Amagansett “555,” a less-than-imaginative name derived from its street address.

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell decreed at Tuesday’s work session that he will now call the property “Amagansett Farm,” and farming is exactly what he wants to ensure happens there, after much recent public concern that the 19-acre property, purchased by the town through the Community Preservation Fund earlier this year, was in the sights of a golf club looking for a driving range.

East Hampton Director of Land Acquisition Scott Wilson is about to issue a request for proposals from potential stewards of that land. Though his RFP is titled “Farmers Wanted,” Mr. Cantwell said he wants the town attorney to look over the document to make sure it’s clear the town is looking to have the property farmed.

“I want to make sure the language is explicit,” he said. “‘Farmers Wanted’ might not do it.”

Mr. Wilson said he’s received inquiries from farmers looking to grow everything from microgreens to llamas and sheep at the farm, which has an 8,000-square-foot barn.

The board is expected to approve the RFP at tonight’s 6:30 p.m. meeting.

Revisiting Affordable Housing at Accabonac Tennis

East Hampton Housing Director Tom Ruhle spent several years in the mid-2000s working on a plan to build affordable housing at the town-owned former Accabonac Tennis Club property on Accabonac Road, but that project was put on hold for the past five years.

He now wants to renew work on the project, which would be three buildings, configured as condominium-style manor houses with one, two and three-bedroom housing units,  to be sold for between $155,000 and $210,000.

Mr. Ruhle said $960,000 in state and county subsidies originally approved for the project have been withdrawn and the town will need to re-apply this coming January.

He said he hopes to have the project approved in the next nine months and then built in nine more months, “but I’m an optimist,” he said, despite the fact that he’s waited nearly a decade for this project to come to fruition.

Beach Booze Plan Too Little Too Late?

The town board voted at Tuesday’s work session to hold a public hearing July 17 at 6:30 p.m. on new changes to the proposed Amagansett beach booze ban.

As a compromise with the East Hampton Town Trustees, the town is now proposing to ban alcohol consumption on weekends and holidays through Labor Day on Indian Wells Beach during hours when lifeguards are on duty. The original proposal would have banned alcohol consumption on both Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue beaches every day during lifeguard hours. The new proposal would only restrict alcohol consumption within 1,000 feet of the lifeguarded area, while the original proposal called for 1,500 feet.

As an additional caveat, the town has agreed to a request from the trustees to let the law sunset at the end of this summer season. It would have to be reinstated again next year if the town wants to continue to ban alcohol at Indian Wells, which has become a hotbed of drunken collegiate tomfoolery in recent years.

Board members weren’t really happy with the changes, especially since, even if the law is approved on July 17 after the hearing, it would take several weeks before it is approved by the state and goes into effect.

“We’re at July 1 and we still have nothing in place,” said Councilman Pete Van Scoyoc. “We’ve been talking about this for several years now. Essentially, this year’s done without any meaningful change and that bothers me. We’ve heard very clearly from quite a few people in town [in favor of the ban].”

“Time’s a-wasting, but this will give us a short view [of how the law will work],” said Councilman Fred Overton.

Army Corps is Combing the Beaches

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the Army Corps of Engineers and the Suffolk County Department of Works have been putting together a plan to shore up downtown Montauk against storms, and will soon be looking for cooperation from private business owners whose property would abut the sand-filled geotextile bags to be placed on the beach.

“They need to grant access permission to their properties so surveys can be done,” he said.

Mr. Cantwell added that the Army Corps recently brought an amphibious vehicle to the beach in Montauk to conduct elevations, and it looks like they’re taking the residential neighborhood of Ditch Plains, which is also vulnerable to storm tides, into account.

“They went east of Ditch Plains,” he said. “That’s good news that they’re putting together data for the Ditch Plains area.”

Fixing the Airport

The town board is planning to vote on two bond resolutions for the airport at their 6:30 p.m. meeting tonight, including a ten-year, $270,000 bond to repave taxiway 4-22 and a ten-year, $354,000 bond to repair the lighting at taxiway alpha, whose wiring was originally placed in the ground without a conduit and is now malfunctioning. The board is also expected to hire Young Environmental Sciences tonight to conduct a noise study at the airport.

CPF Program Gets a Clean Audit

East Hampton was the poster child for mismanagement of its Community Preservation Fund money under the administration of Town Supervisor Bill McGintee, but a recent outside audit found that there are now “absolutely no problems” with the town’s administration of its fund, said the town’s budget officer, Len Bernard, at Tuesday’s work session.

Mr. Bernard said the fund’s revenue has trended upward over the past four years, taking in $28.8 million in 2013 and $11.7 million in the first five months of 2014, and should end 2014 with a cash balance of more than $40 million.

CPF Director Scott Wilson said the town has now preserved more than 530 properties, and is looking to add more than 100 properties surrounding Lake Montauk to its list of properties it would like to acquire.

Bring Your Logo to the Arts Council

The newly formed East Hampton Arts Council has extended the deadline to artists who would like to design the logo for the new organization. If you’re interested, send a 300 dpi jpeg image of a logo that incorporates the name of the East Hampton Arts Council to easthamptonartscouncil@gmail.com by July 11.

 

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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