Pictured Above: The current Bridgehampton Senior Center |. Southampton Town photo

Southampton Town’s oldest and least-used senior center on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike is nearing the end of its useful life, but the town is considering replacing it with a new project that could offer great synergies with the neighboring community.

Town planners and engineers pitched a plan to build 16 units of affordable rental housing at the 3.5 acre site at the Southampton Town Board’s Aug. 16 work session, along with a new senior center that would have updated amenities more comparable to the town’s two other senior centers in Hampton Bays and Flanders.

“I think this could be a real good model for something we could do in different places at this scale,” Town Planner Janice Scherer told the town board, adding that the town could add programming for the new renters and the community at large in the new senior center.

The cost of building the senior center would be offset by the rental housing.

“It’s under-utilized now,” said Town Engineer Tom Houghton of the building, which was built in 1986 and has just a warming kitchen for senior meals. “Five to six seniors come by…. It’s definitely acting and looking like a 40-year-old building. It’s at the end of its useful life as far as what the community needs it for. It could serve the neighborhood instead of just seniors. Community housing above it could really turn this property around.”

The property is also near the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreation Center, the South Fork Natural History Museum and the Children’s Museum of the East End.

The town would need to create an overlay zoning district on the site to allow both the increased density of housing and the community center there.

Southampton Director of Housing and Community Development Kara Bak said the town could receive extra county funding for the project by designating some of the housing for people with developmental disabilities.

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman mused that, while housing for senior citizens would be “a little easier in general to build” than housing aimed at anyone who meets income requirements — mostly because seniors don’t usually have kids who need to be educated in the school district — “I lean toward not restricting it to seniors. We need places for our workforce to live.”

Ms. Bak added that the Bridgehampton School district could accommodate more students — it’s one of the most under-enrolled districts on the East End.

Apartments at the site would likely be geared toward 80 percent of area median income, which for a family of two would be $93,000.

Mr. Houghton said the town would look to incorporate solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations into the design, and would explore several options for bringing a modern septic system to the site.

Board members said they were supportive of the concept, and that they hoped it could be done in a cost-effective way.

“We’re in a crisis, absolutely,” said Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni. “I would like to see some people who live here volunteer for the Bridgehampton Fire Department and EMS.”

“This is needed, and it’s in the right place to solve a big problem,” said Councilman John Bouvier. “I’m totally supportive.”

“I’m all for it. We need to do more like this,” said Councilwoman Cyndi McNamara.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she 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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