There is a hearing at East Hampton Town Hall this evening on an update to the overarching policy document that guides land buys using money from the community preservation fund. The draft that will be brought to the town board for consideration does not contain major departures from a program that many residents value highly and that has been an unmitigated success. The 251-page document lists every property suitable for some form of protection, whether by outright purchase, through easements, or via public-private partnerships. It also provides guidelines for officials as they mull potential deals.
Approved by voters for the first time in 1998 and several times since, the preservation fund in East Hampton has helped save hundreds of acres of land, protect drinking water sources, and assure the survival of rare plants and animals.
By reducing the number of residences that will ever be built here, the preservation fund has helped keep taxes relatively low by limiting the need for new public services and infrastructure. And it has set aside accessible acreage for pursuits such as hiking, birding, and outdoor education. Another goal of the program is to maintain East Hampton’s connection to the past, something the fund can be used for under certain circumstances.
Tonight’s hearing, though routine, is an opportunity to be reminded of the community preservation fund’s importance in the constant fight to keep East Hampton attractive and viable as a vacation and second-home economy — a place its residents are proud to call their home.