New Hospital Annex

In his “state of the town” speech last week, East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell made note of the effort to build a medical center on Pantigo Place. Southampton Hospital envisions an emergency room here, with doctors’ offices and related medical services, as it prepares to abandon its existing location and move to the Stony Brook Southampton campus on County Road 39. Patients and health care responders, especially Montaukers, have for years bemoaned the time it takes to get to Southampton Hospital in emergencies, particularly in summer. While that is a serious concern, we question the location and size chosen for a new facility.

Among the most important considerations is traffic and commercial density. The Pantigo Place property is in a portion of town just outside East Hampton Village that is already showing signs of unwanted sprawl. Adding a massive medical building to the mix would have numerous negative effects. Concerns also have begun to be voiced about the considerable amount of wastewater that would be produced, and how it might affect drinking water.

Important to consider as well is that the site is now used for Little League baseball and would require a change from parkland and conservation status to commercial use — setting a risky precedent. The former Child Development Center of the Hamptons charter school property off Stephen Hand’s Path might be a better location. In justifying the need for an emergency room, the hospital says it serves 17,000 patients from East Hampton a year, a figure that is hardly credible. We suspect that money is a hidden factor. East Hampton’s deep-pocketed donor community, unlike Southampton’s, has not traditionally been a strong supporter of the hospital. It is plausible, therefore, that fund-raising is likely to have played a part in recommending a shiny new facility in more or less the very center of town.

East Hamptoners are sure to welcome an emergency medical center, but at a minimum our elected officials should think again about whether the hospital’s grand plan is really right for the place it has been proposed.