It’s been well over a decade since members of the Shinnecock Nation first protested the subdivision of a piece of land across Montauk Highwy from the Shinnecock reservation that had contained their wampum-making factory.
This week, a piece of that land will become Southampton Town parkland after Parrish Pond Associates, LLC, agreed to sell lot 24 of the subdivision to Southampton Town for $900,000 from the town’s Community Preservation Fund.
Tribal member Rebecca Genia was one of five people who was arrested while protesting the subdivision in 2000, and she asked the town board at a public hearing Sept. 9 to try to purchase neighborhing lot 23, which was also part of the wampum factory.
“To me, this is a good effort,” she said of the town’s purchase of lot 24. “Even though it’s small, it’s big in our world.”
Ms. Genia said she’d heard lot 23 was purchased by a neighbor, but she didn’t know what the neighbor’s intent was in buying the property.
Southampton Community Preservation Fund Director Mary Wilson confirmed that a neighbor had purchased the second lot, but there are covenants and restrictions in place to keep both lots from being developed.
Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said the town can meet with the neighboring property owner to see if they’re interested in selling the land to the town.
Ms. Genia also asked if the Shinnecock Nation could hold ceremonies on lot 24 at least once a year.
Town board members were unsure, and said the answer to her question likely lie with the homeowners’ association in the subdivision.
“Due to the unique nature of the land, we should make every effort we can to accomodate that use,” said Councilwoman Bridget Fleming.
“There is quite a bit of homework we need to do there,” said Ms. Throne-Holst.
Ms. Wilson estimated the closing process for the town to take title to the land will take about two months.
Tribal member Elizabeth Thunderbird Haile suggested the town work to keep residents of the subdivision from dumping their grass clippings and lawn debris on the property, and perhaps fence it off or put an informational kiosk on the property letting people know why the land is vacant.
“The Shinnecock Nation, from the earliest times, placed a row of stones,” she said. “That would be our marker.”