Pitch for Affordable Housing Could Tax Wainscott’s One-Room School

East Hampton is exploring the possibility of building a new affordable housing complex in Wainscott, which could double the number of students who attend the one-room Wainscott School.
East Hampton is exploring the possibility of building a new affordable housing complex in Wainscott, which could double the number of students who attend the one-room Wainscott School.

The non-profit Windmill Village Housing Development Fund Company already manages three affordable housing complexes in East Hampton Town, and they’re now looking to begin another project on town-owned land in Wainscott.

The catch is that the population of the one-room Wainscott School, which currently teaches about 20 students in grades 1 through 4, could double if the new housing is built.

Michael DeSario, who chairs the Windmill Village fund’s board of directors, told the East Hampton Town Board at a work session Tuesday that his board was asked by the town to find new locations for affordable housing, and found a 31-acre expanse comprised of seven town-owned parcels between Stephen Hands Path and Daniel’s Hole Road near the CDCH Charter School to be “well-suited for a new project.”

Mr. DeSario proposed a complex of eight buildings, each with six units ranging from studio to two-bedroom apartments with a community room and a small, cleared recreation area. In total, there would be 48 apartments at the site. Twenty would be one-bedrooms, 20 would be two-bedrooms and there would be eight studios.

He estimated the project would take between four and six years to build, and would cost about $15 million, to be funded through grants and tax credits. The housing would be aimed toward “low and very low income” people, with a preference for people who already live in East Hamtpon, including seniors, veterans, disabled people and young people with young children.

Wainscott School Board President David Eagan was leery of the proposal.

“I can assure you that the impact on our district will be profound, because we are unique,” he told the town board at Tuesday’s work session. “I think you all know we are, depending how you count it, the third smallest school district on Long Island. The numbers presented today would double our school population.”

Mr. Eagan said the school is currently educating 20 or 21 students and can accommodate a maximum of 24 students. He said the school has hired consultants to look into the cost of educating students who would live in the new complex.

Mr. DeSario said that since the housing project is aimed at families who are already living in East Hampton, they likely are already attending school somewhere in town. He said if there isn’t room in the Wainscott School, the East Hampton School District has room.

Students in the upper grade levels in the Wainscott School District already attend East Hampton schools.

Mr. Eagan said he believes he will have the analysis from the school’s consultants in about a month.

Mr. DeSario urged the board to move forward with the project.

“Right now, we have a really unusual and opportune moment here,” he said. “Windmill is a well-known and proven developer, and the people who control the purse strings are for it. It’s an unusual situation and it could change in a new election.”

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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