Two Projects, Two Approaches


There’s an upside to The Independent’s extensive coverage area. Following the activities of five town governments, we get to see who’s doing it right . . . and who’s not.

Take the tale of two projects. Southampton town is looking to develop a marine park alongside the Shinnecock Canal, while East Hampton officials are considering paving “Dirt Lot” out at Ditch Plains.

The latter project, designed to improve emergency service access and address a paucity of parking, elicited impassioned opposition last week. Montauk residents chafed at the notion of the potential impact to community character, not to mention the environment.

Residents rebuked three designs presented during a work session and the town board put the brakes on the project, pending further study including community input.

By contrast, during their work session last week, members of the Southampton Town Board prepared to move ahead with their project, community members predominantly supportive.

What’s different?

Southampton town officials have been making great use of online surveys to garner community input BEFORE they go ahead with considered projects. They’ve sought input on the marine park alongside the canal, downtown revitalization in Hampton Bays, and programs for Good Ground Park, just to name three. The survey related to the maritime park was sent to all the zip codes throughout Southampton township, and saw some 750 responses. Of those, 85 percent thought the development was an excellent idea.

The Dirt Lot disagreement isn’t the first time East Hampton officials presented projects to the community late in the game. It’s more habit than not.

There’s a downside to The Independent’s extensive coverage area.

We watch as local governments balk at harvesting good ideas from their neighbors, or even paying attention to what they’re doing. East Hampton has a reputation for being at the forefront of environmental protection. Its officials could benefit from watching counterparts to help bring them up to speed in other areas of governance.