Star Room Buy Gains Support

David E. Rattray

An East Hampton Town Board vote last week to purchase the Montauk Highway, Wainscott, site of the long-closed Star Room nightclub, which also was known as the Swamp, was a step in the right direction, according to a number of Wainscott residents who spoke in favor of the buy at a hearing last Thursday night, but it was not the final hurdle in obtaining the 1.1-acre lot.

The property is owned by the estate of Isha Kausik, but a bank holds a $2.5 million mortgage on it. The town board has approved a contract with the estate for a $2.1 million purchase using the community preservation fund, but the bank must clear the deal.

A recent proposal to build a car wash on the property met with opposition from numerous members of the community, who said it would increase traffic and be harmful to the environment.

The town has been eyeing the site since 2015, Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisitions and management, said last week. If purchased it would remove the vacant, dilapidated buildings to return the lot to a natural state. 

Sara Davison, the executive director of the Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation, which has raised $300,000 to contribute toward the purchase, noted at the hearing that the draft hamlet study for Wainscott envisions a park, or open space, there. 

“It is imperative to preserve these rare opportunities for public green space within the business district and the Georgica Pond watershed,” Ms. Davison said, adding that the science is clear. “We believe that this is money well spent, and will help improve the quality of life for all East Hampton residents.” 

Among others who spoke at the hearing was Philip Young, who said he had been developing commercial property in Wainscott since the 1980s, and has at times been at odds with East Hampton Town. But, he said, based on the proximity of the old Star Room to residences, “this is the one instance where I’m totally for what you’re doing.” 

“Apart from being at the entrance to Wainscott and the entrance to East Hampton, it is a key component for the watershed area in all of East Hampton,” Jose Arandia said. 

“This is a really good move on your part. Thank you for listening to us,” Carol Slater said. “It’s so encouraging that the money is being used this way,” one man said. 

“What a concept — a government that listens to the residents of the community and takes on a challenging project. You’re on a roll,” Marian Lindbergh, a Wainscott resident who works for the Nature Conservancy, said. 

She gave board members thanks, noting that it comes “from someone who remembers hearing the sounds of the Swamp from my house. So many of my house guests went over there,” she said, “so I can’t really call it a derelict operation. But I’m glad it’s going to be forested, or a park.”