Schneiderman Backs Bridgehampton Historic District

Bridgehampton Main Street, which could be included in a new historic district with limits on exterior changes to storefronts. David E. Rattray

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman attended the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Monday evening to further his campaign to obtain an historic designation for the hamlet’s business district. 

“I want to work with you at making this happen,” Mr. Schneiderman told the large turnout of residents assembled in a conference room at the Bridgehampton National Bank. 

Mr. Schneiderman made the case that the designation — whether achieved through local measures or by getting the district listed on the state and national registers of historic places — would help protect the integrity of Bridgehampton and, therefore, be good for both businesses and homeowners.

During Mr. Schneiderman’s two-term tenure as East Hampton Town supervisor, from 2000 to 2004, he played an integral part in the successful effort to have a portion of the hamlet of Amagansett registered as a historic district. To receive that designation from the New York State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places, a site or district must be declared “significant in the history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture of New York and the nation.”

Although Mr. Schneiderman predicted that Bridgehampton property values would go up if the designation were established, because it would safeguard the “special feeling” of the place, one downside to the change would be the inevitable building restrictions — geared toward protecting a district’s historic character — that would follow. 

The response to Mr. Schneiderman’s proposal from the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee was extremely positive. “During the last 25 or so years, we have undergone an incredible transition from a rural farming hamlet to a landscape of McMansion subdivisions and tear-downs replaced with out-of-scale houses,” said Pamela Harwood, the C.A.C.’s chairwoman. “The notion of creating appropriate models and guidelines going forward is welcome, as is saving Bridgehampton Main Street.” 

But Phil Mannino, who on Wednesday evening was working the host’s station at World Pie on Main Street, which is owned by his son Michael, had a differing opinion. “I think it’s a little heavy-handed,” said Mr. Mannino, who is in favor of residential restrictions but worried that the historic designation would mean ceding control over business decisions, like whether or not to replace the restaurant’s windows. “I pay taxes so I’d like to be able to run my business the way I want.”