|August 1, 2000
Re: Long Lane Recreational Facility
Dear Supervisor Schneiderman and Members of the Board:
I would like to relate to you the consensus reached by the East Hampton Democratic Committee at it's meeting on July 27, 2000 with respect to the proposal before the Town Board to acquire the Schwenk Farm on Long Lane for use as an active recreation facility.
It is the consensus of the Democratic Committee that there is a need for active recreation facilities in the Town and that said active recreation facilities should be located in a decentralized fashion throughout the various hamlets in Town to provide the best service to the public and best access, particularly for our Town's youth. It is further the consensus of the Democratic Committee that the Schwenk Farm located on Long Lane should be preserved as part of the Town and County's long term farmland preservation efforts either through fee purchase or purchase of development rights consistent with the preservation of numerous surrounding farmland parcels.
Both the County of Suffolk and the Town of East Hampton have a long history of commitment to farmland preservation. The Suffolk County Farmland Preservation Program established in the 1970's was a model for municipalities around the country. Following suit, the Town of East Hampton adopted the Agricultural Land Study in 1981 and in the 1984 Comprehensive Plan committed to the preservation of farmland both for protection of prime soils for agricultural use and for the open space and scenic values it provides. In 1985 the Town adopted a zoning map with agricultural overlay districts shown on Long Lane. During the period 1989-1997 the Town's taxpayers approved the expenditure of millions of tax dollars to preserve farmland and open space. The Town Board and the Planning Board have been particularly aggressive in requiring private developers to set aside significant tracts of prime agricultural soils when developing on farmland. In 1996 the Open Space Acquisition Program was adopted by the Town recommending the Schwenk Farm on Long Lane as the first priority for purchase. In 1998 the voters overwhelmingly passed the Community Preservation Fund to include the preservation of farmland. The immediate prior Town Board in 1998 adopted Resolution 906 directing the County to purchase the Schwenk parcel as farmland because of its "scenic views and adjoining protected farmland".
In addition to the legislative history the history of the parcel itself suggests that it is most suitable for agricultural use, having been used for all of most recent memory for farming.
It is our understanding that the Town is proceeding to pursue the acquisition of this parcel for active recreation while it has a study of recreational needs and suitable sites being conducted, the presentation of which has been delayed until September. It would appear to be ill-advised to commit to the acquisition of this parcel for active recreation when it may be inconsistent with the outcome of that study. We urge the Town Board to complete the study as soon as possible and present it to the public for hearing and comment and for early action by the Town Board.
It is our belief that active recreation sites are needed throughout the Town and that they can be provided with the right commitment from the Town Board and the participation of the concerned residents in each of the hamlets. It is our belief that decentralizing these facilities will assure that no one hamlet bears undue burden and that easy access to the facilities by grownups and children is afforded in each of the hamlets. It is impractical as well as inconvenient for the use of Springs, Montauk and Amagansett residents to come to Long Lane for recreational facilities that should be provided in each of the respected hamlets. We believe that the issue could best be addressed by finding suitable sites, which do exist, within the various hamlets. Financial assistance to the Springs School District would allow the construction of additional baseball and soccer fields at the Springs School at nominal expense compared to what would be paid for the Schwenk parcel. Likewise there are parcels available in the business district of Amagansett and immediately to the east of the business district which would be suitable for active recreational use. Smaller and less significant pieces in East Hampton and Montauk are also available for decentralized provision of recreational facilities.
In summary, we strongly urge the Town Board to reconsider it's previous commitment to converting the Schwenk Farm to a massive recreational facility and to redirect it's energy and resources to completing the pending study, formalizing a recommendation and implementing that recommendation which we believe will be for purchase and development of smaller decentralized recreational facilities in each of the hamlets where they are deemed necessary. Bold action now could result in these facilities being ready for the Spring 2001 sports season. As a School Board member and youth sports coach and umpire I respectfully urge your reconsideration.