Asked in Gansett: How Will They Survive?

    Monday’s monthly meeting of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee saw an unusually small turnout, only nine people including the chairman, Kieran Brew; the vice chairwoman, Sheila Okin, and the committee’s liaison from the East Hampton Town Board, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who began the brief session with an upbeat report on Eli Zabar’s Farmers Market.
    ACAC members had complained for much of the summer about deteriorating conditions there: a broken fence and trellis, dilapidated furniture, weeds, and more. Ms. Overby said she had talked with Pam Greene, vice president of stewardship for the Peconic Land Trust, which manages the property, and been told that the trust was working with Mr. Zabar to polish up its appearance. The broken fence has been repaired and the front gardens will be replanted, among other improvements.
    “They’ve already pulled the weeds,” said Joan Tulp. “It looks much better.”
    “And more will be done,” Ms. Overby promised.
    Mr. Brew had a question for the councilwoman about the community preservation fund. “How, as ACAC, can we advise the town board on issues of community preservation?” he wanted to know.
    Start with the C.P.F. committee, Ms. Overby advised. “Anyone can bring a suggestion to the committee — a real estate agent, a homeowner, the Suffolk County Water Authority might be divesting. . . .” The committee, she explained, looks at the suggestions and “grades” (ranks) them in order of desirability.
    Members seemed surprised to hear that such a committee existed. “At one time, each [advisory committee] was given a list of all the properties,” said Ms. Okin.
    “We didn’t have a C.P.F. committee at that time,” Ms. Overby said.
    Ms. Tulp wanted to know how the committee members were appointed. “Is there anyone from Amagansett?” she asked.
    Ms. Overby said there was no one from Wainscott — she wasn’t sure about Amagansett — and no women on the committee, whose chairman is Tim Brenneman. “They’d like a woman,” she said, going to on explain that not all the properties that are ranked wind up on the official C.P.F. list. Those that do must first have a public hearing before the town board.
    As an example, she mentioned two parcels at Promised Land near the fish factory. In early August, the board approved the $1.1 million purchase of a parcel of land at 427 Cranberry Hole Road, on the bay side of the road, for a public access to the beach along Gardiner’s Bay. However, at another public hearing a week later, Ms. Overby said, “We lost the one that was cater-corner across the street from the one on the water.” The second parcel had been envisioned as an unpaved parking lot, and neighbors objected.
    Rona Klopman said she’d happened to catch two sessions of the East Hampton Architectural Review Board on LTV, “and it seemed to be dysfunctional.” Ms. Overby answered that there were three new people on that board, and “it’s a learning process.”
    “They’ve done some very good things,” the councilwoman continued, citing the St. Michael’s Lutheran Church project, now in its final stages. “A.R.B. made sure the buildings were shingled. The community center is adorable.”
    Mention of the St. Michael’s complex, which will provide 40 affordable housing units for senior citizens whose incomes are below 50 percent of the region’s median, led to a brief back-and-forth about the traffic pattern there. The complex is directly across Montauk Highway from the Amagansett Post Office and the I.G.A.
    “How are these seniors going to get across the highway?” someone wanted to know. “How are they going to survive?
    “Some will, some won’t,” Bill Jackson remarked dryly.
    A median strip and crosswalk have been built between the complex and the supermarket there, and “the highway narrows there, which is called traffic-calming,” said Ms. Overby. “We can do some things at the crosswalk, such as push a button to cross.”
    Mr. Jackson was skeptical. “I predict a traffic light,” he said.
    As the clock neared 8 p.m., Ms. Klopman announced that she’d attended a town board meeting in Montauk last week, hoping to hear the board discuss reports from Ms. Overby and other advisory committee liaisons. “But there were no liaison reports,” she said. “They said the agenda was too long.”
    “It’s happened several times,” said the councilwoman. “Tomorrow we have another very long meeting.” She read out Tuesday’s town board agenda, which included discussions of deer management, the north-south approach airport controversy, the town budget, and other big issues (covered separately in this issue). There were 10 items in all. Liaison reports were last on the list.