Vote to Preserve Stables

Aisha Ali, the head trainer at Amagansett’s Stony Hill Stables. The land will be preserved through a joint development rights purchase by the Peconic Land Trust and East Hampton Town. Morgan McGivern

    East Hampton Town and the Peconic Land Trust will join forces to purchase the development rights over 9.5 Amagansett acres containing the Stony Hill Stables.
    According to a unanimous vote of the town board last Thursday night, after a hearing on the idea, East Hampton will spend $489,250 of its community preservation fund to preserve the stables. The land trust will begin fund-raising to acquire its portion of the $978,500 purchase price, Sara Gordon, a representative of the land trust, said Tuesday.
    Stony Hill Stables, which has 30 horses and offers riding camps and lessons in hunters, jumpers, and dressage, was established 50 years ago by the Hotchkiss family and remains under the ownership of Elizabeth (Wickety) Hotchkiss.
    An application to create a three-lot residential subdivision in lieu of the farm has been under town planning board review. But, Ms. Gordon said this week, the stables have “ardent supporters” who drew up a petition asking for them to be saved. That prompted the land trust to get involved and approach town officials about a plan.
    The trust’s Deborah Light Preserve, Quail Hill Farm, and Stony Hill properties are close to the stables, along Town Lane, Ms. Gordon noted. “It’s kind of in our backyard as well. It’s a community character preservation” effort, she said.
    Ms. Gordon said it could take several years to raise the money to proceed, but, “the alternative, because of the needs of the family, is a three-lot subdivision.”
    The town, said Scott Wilson, East Hampton’s director of land acquisitions and management, “will close whenever they’re ready.”
    “We’re confident that we’re going to succeed,” Ms. Gordon said, “and that it’s a good place to put our efforts.”
    Some potential donors have already come forward, said Maureen Bluedorn, the president of the Stony Hill Stables Foundation. “We’re just thrilled that the town is taking these steps to preserve the essence of what East Hampton is all about,” she said by phone on Monday. Preserving the acreage (an approximately one-acre area containing the family house will be excluded) will help maintain the pastoral and historic nature of the area.
     Stony Hill Stables is used by locals, Ms. Bluedorn said. With 28 employees, it has more than 230 students a year, she said. The foundation, she continued, was established specifically to provide scholarships to local children, enabling them not only to take riding lessons, but also to be assigned a pony for a summer riding camp and to participate in horse shows. At the hearing at Town Hall last week, Marc Lowlicht, the father of an 11-year-old scholarship recipient, read a letter she wrote about what it has meant to her.
    Also last Thursday, following a hearing, the town board voted to buy two lots on Lincoln Avenue in Springs, totaling a half acre, from Suffolk County for $7,920. The purchase will also be made with the community fund, to preserve open space.
    David Buda, the sole speaker at the hearing, called it a “welcome acquisition” that would add to adjacent vacant parcels that have also been purchased. It would be a “wonderful resource for Springs . . . if the town intends to make it a passive park.” The parcels, he said, were designated for use as a park in 1977 urban-renewal maps of the area.