Dan Rattiner's Stories

Southampton School Building Mistake on Narrow Lane

The Southampton School Board seems to be making an extraordinary mistake in deciding to buy a home in a residential zone and fixing it up to make it a new administration building for the Southampton School District.

They have claimed that because administration buildings are administered by rules from the state, that might make it possible for them to buy this $2.3 million, 4,700-square-foot mansion at 50 Narrow Lane—which is for sale—and just ignore the fact that zoning requirements put in place by the Village of Southampton currently allow only private residences on this street.

There are about 15 fairly modest residences all in a row on Narrow Lane from where it starts on Hampton Road to where it ends on Wickapogue Road. With this logic, the school could buy any one of those homes, or even all of them, and turn them into school buildings without regard for local zoning. This also could apply to any property anywhere in town.

This makes no sense. But they have signed papers to buy it. And they intend to respect its architecture outside while, I have been told, modifying the inside to make it suitable for 19 staff members. (The house as a private residence has six bedrooms, four and a half baths, hardwood floors and two fireplaces. The superintendent could potentially occupy an office with a private bath and fireplace.)

They would also expand it, build a two-story addition on the back, put a second floor on what is currently a detached garage, add 10 parking spaces on the property and spend another $3 million to make it 7,400 square feet, double of even triple the size of other homes on the street.

In addition to this, the school board is implicitly taking the position that there is no need to have the school administration on school property. This makes no sense either. At the present time, the school administration buildings are located on the school campus, immediately accessible to the intermediate school and the high school that surrounds it.

When problems develop, the school administrators are right there in the center of it to deal with it. That’s how it should be.

The school board says these 40-plus-year-old temporary buildings now have outlived their usefulness. So what? One simple solution would be to replace them on the same site with new “temporary” buildings where the old ones were. They’ll last another 40 years, as these old ones did. New ones are better constructed. Temporary administration buildings have long been used in Bridgehampton, Springs, East Hampton and other places. Why take these highly paid administrators off campus where it takes a hike to find out what is going on?

The answer seems to be that already more than $8 million has reportedly been set aside for new buildings for the school district. It’s burning a hole in their pocket. Well, spend this $8 million on the kids.

A referendum to have this project move ahead is scheduled on May 15. The district gets its deposit back from the seller if it is not approved.

Good.

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