Activists Against Plan for Impound Yard

The Sag Harbor Village Board’s decision to use a site adjacent to the Long Pond Greenbelt for a vehicle impound yard drew an onslaught of criticism during a public hearing on Nov. 13 and prompted Aidan Corish, a trustee, to make a forceful plea for another location. The greenbelt is part of an ecosystem of coastal plain ponds.

The village intends to use part of a 24-acre site off the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike to build an 80-by-60-foot paved parking lot, where vehicles seized by the Police Department would be stored. The plan was approved by the Southampton Town Planning Board in June, and, last month, the village board authorized an engineering firm to begin preparing for the lot’s construction. Mr. Corish was the only board member to vote against the resolution.

The project has faced pushback from the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt and others who believe an impound yard, which would potentially be subject to leaking car fluids, would threaten the environmental health of the greenbelt, which is over the sole-source aquifer and contains breeding ponds for the endangered eastern tiger salamander.   

During the public hearing, a procession of people, including Dai Dayton, the president of Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt, and Frank Quevedo, the executive director of the South Fork Natural History Museum, pleaded with the board to abandon the proposal. The board did not take action.

“At first, we thought you didn’t understand the importance of this property to the health of the animal life, plant life, and waters of the Long Pond Greenbelt,” Ms. Dayton said. “Now, sad to say, we just feel you don’t care.” 

Mr. Corish said he found the testimony compelling, and he argued against building a “piece of permanent infrastructure” in such an environmentally sensitive area. “Most of the laws that we pass we can change; this is different,” he said. He asked Mayor Sandra Schroeder and his colleagues to find an alternate location. “There’s always one more solution to the problem,” he said.

Ms. Dayton said on Friday that she was encouraged by Mr. Corish’s comments, but since she has repeatedly tried without success to initiate a discussion with the mayor and other board members, she was doubtful Mr. Corish would have better luck. “I feel like they don’t want to hear it from him either,” she said. 

Ms. Dayton said she and other members of her organization planned to keep showing up at public hearings. “Since the board won’t speak to us, it’s the only way we can talk to them,” she said.