East Hampton Town will seek proposals for the use of its new tract of public land in Amagansett, 19 acres of open space and farmland along Montauk Highway where a luxury senior citizens housing development had been planned.
The property was purchased this spring with $10.1 million from the community preservation fund for “the preservation of agricultural open space and recreation,” according to a town board resolution approving the deal.
Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Tuesday that a draft request for proposals is being prepared by Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisition and management, and would be discussed by the town board at an upcoming meeting. The board, Mr. Cantwell said, is “focusing on an agricultural use for the property that includes the building and the land.” The site contains a stable and a residence and is set up as a horse farm.
However, he said, the call for proposals will likely not narrowly define the types of proposals that could be submitted for the board’s review. The more specific the request, Mr. Cantwell said, “the less opportunity for people to come in with ideas.”
This week, Peter Garnham, an Amagansett resident who is active in the local farming community, expressed his concern in a letter to the editor and in an interview by phone that the South Fork Country Club, which has a clubhouse and 18-hole course on Old Stone Highway, has the Montauk Highway property in its sights as a location for a driving range.
“We cannot afford to lose any more farmland,” Mr. Garnham wrote in his letter to The Star. “At a time when there is great demand for fresh local produce, it would be a mistake if the opportunity to return this land to productive organic farm use is abandoned.”
He asserted that the terms of the request for proposals have been “rewritten to favor an application” by the golf club. “It’s possible that those of us who opposed [the land’s] development could be dealt a sharp disappointment,” Mr. Garnham wrote.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Bob Maroney, the country club’s general manager, said that “at this point, the club really doesn’t have anything to say.”
Asked whether a bid by the club to use the town land would be entertained, Mr. Cantwell reiterated that the call for proposals will be “broad,” but “agriculturally focused.” The board, he said, “can always negotiate, focus, or restrict” what can happen on the property before entering into an agreement for its use.