A drive down Jobs Lane in lovely Southampton Village will soon look quite different.
The old Rogers Memorial Library on the corner of Jobs Lane and Main Street, is the latest vacancy to strike the village. The latest construction project is an open-air, tent-like pavilion coming to the 25 Jobs Lane Parrish Art Museum site, towards the back of the property. It is to be completed by summer 2013. These are the latest of changes coming to the historic village.
Construction on the new semi-permanent pavilion cannot begin until the Parrish Art Museum vacates the grounds and moves to its new location in Water Mill, which they are set to do by the year’s end. But Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley isn’t waiting till then to fill the property.
“What the village is trying to do – the master plan – is to set zoning requirements and architectural guidelines in place to preserve the historic culture of Southampton Village,” said Epley in a phone interview last week.
Mayor Epley acknowledges the magnitude of losing the Parish Art Museum, which has been a focal point in the village throughout the years.
“We have a hole now in the middle of Southampton Village, and it is my job to fill it,” says the mayor. “The property cannot stay dormant.”
Twelve years ago the Parrish Art Museum bought the now 119-year-old library building from the Rogers Memorial Library, which left its location on Jobs Lane to relocate to its current building on Windmill Lane.
Since Epley became mayor seven years ago, he has tried his best to keep the Parrish Art Museum on Jobs Lane. But in December 2008 the Parrish sold the property at 25 Jobs Lane and began its move to Water Mill.
“I was left with no choice,” comments Epley. “I offered them the best offer I could to keep them there, and now they’re gone.”
Jonathan S. Sobel of Sagaponack and Manhattan recently purchased The Parrish Art Museum’s building at 11 Jobs Lane (the original home of the Rogers Memorial Library) for $2.87 million with a plan to restore it. But the building does not yet have a future tenant.
“The village cannot afford to have a vacant building,” says Epley, who understands the difficult undertaking of restoring the building, which hasn’t had any restoration or preservation measures made to it since the 1970s.
The new pavilion, which will help fill the void at 25 Jobs Lane, will ease Southampton Village’s latest transition. Mayor Epley believes the open-air pavilion will create a new cultural hot spot and keep foot traffic in the village buzzing while renovation of the art museum is under way to convert it into a new Southampton Center for the Arts.
“We have to be proactive, not all change is bad,” informs Epley. “There’s change that develops new opportunities.”
The pavilion will not just be a summer attraction. Plans for the new exhibition area will include an ice skating rink in the winter as well as having the Southampton Farmers Market set up there in Sunday mornings.
“25 Jobs Lane is going to be a more actively used facility. It is an invaluable resource for Southampton Village,” said Epley.
With an increasing number of vacant windows lining Jobs Lane, Epley is trying different measures to keep the historic village thriving.
“We are trying new ways to attract people, especially now since mom and pop stores can’t afford the rent,” says the mayor.
“The hardest thing is trying to protect the historic aspects of the Village of Southampton while planning for the future,” reflects Epley.