Amagansett Farm Is Topic

Members of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee want to have a say in determining the future use of Amagansett Farm, the 19-acre parcel purchased by East Hampton Town. The town is considering various proposals for use.

In a sparsely attended meeting on Monday, the group debated the most appropriate use, if any, of the property, which was purchased in the spring using the community preservation fund.

Kieran Brew, the committee’s chairman, read aloud an email from Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisition and management, which detailed the process of awarding use of the land. Sealed proposals were due July 31. Members of the C.P.F. advisory committee are now charged with reviewing and evaluating them. The committee will discuss the evaluations on Aug. 25, after which members will submit their findings to the town board, narrowing the field of applicants for the board to interview.

A public discussion of the top applicants, at a town board work session, is the likely next step, Mr. Wilson wrote. The board, however, reserves the right to dismiss all applications and begin the process again.

As reported last week in The Star, agricultural, recreational, and equestrian uses are among the six proposals submitted.

Many ACAC members spoke in favor of agricultural use.  But Elaine Jones, an owner of the Vicki’s Veggies farm stand, who is not a member of the committee, objected to the idea of a commercial venture on land that cost the town $10.1 million to preserve, and worried aloud about deer fencing and hoop houses should the parcel be used for agriculture. “That land is the most beautiful piece of land in Amagansett,” she said. “I don’t want to see it ruined. You may as well bring in a 7-Eleven.”

Ms. Jones was not happy about a proposal from the Bunker Hill Corner Farm Collaborative, made up of Balsam Farms, Amber Waves Farm, and Britton Bistrian, an Amagansett land use planner who is a member of the committee but was not present, to rent most of the parcel and its barn for $6,000 a year. “If it’s true that one proposal was $6,000,” she said, “I would pay $10,000 to leave it open space. It’s not worth destroying it for $6,000.”

Ian Calder-Piedmonte, an owner of Balsam Farms who is not a committee member, defended the Bunker Hill proposal. Leasing the property, he said, “affords us an opportunity to keep doing what we love. And I think it’s reasonable.”

Another concern raised was the state of the soil. Rona Klopman of the committee quoted Herbert Field, also of the committee, who told her that the property had been a potato field. Until the 1930s, arsenic was applied to potato fields as a pesticide. “Whatever proposal goes there, we should have an idea of the quality and contents of the soil,” she said.

In other news from the meeting, the town has chosen an architectural firm to design the public restroom that is to be built in the parking lot north of Main Street. “Their proposal was around $15,000, which is very reasonable,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said. “They’ll put sketches together, we’ll communicate with the citizens advisory committee and decide what kind of building we want.”

Some members of the committee conveyed their neighbors’ concerns about vehicles speeding on Bluff Road and nearby lanes and their wish for an all-way stop at the intersection of Bluff Road and Atlantic Avenue. The “wonderful August people” with their “fast cars and bad attitudes” were responsible, Mr. Brew said. Mr. Cantwell suggested that members reach a consensus and send a letter to the town board. “We’ll have the Police Department and Highway Department look to see if it makes sense from a traffic point of view,” he said.