The East Hampton Town Board voted 5-0 January 17 to approve the purchase of a slightly under four-acre piece of land on the west side of Route 114, just south of the town’s border with Sag Harbor. The vote came after a public hearing that same evening, at which most of the speakers supported the proposal.
Triune Baptist Church in Sag Harbor bought the property in the early ’90s as the future site of a new church. That plan never materialized, and the church offered the land to East Hampton for $900,000. East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc previously told the board that the acreage could yield between 20 to 30 units.
Those who spoke in support of the project were applauded by most of the attendees who packed the meeting room at East Hampton Town Hall.
A couple of people, however, spoke in opposition, or at least expressed concern about the proposed purchase. David Eagan, the president of the Wainscott School Board, spoke about the small school in the hamlet, which teaches kindergarten through third grade. He said that there are 279 year-round residents in Wainscott, of which 129 are pre-K through 12th-grade students, with the older students going to school in either East Hampton or Sag Harbor.
“There is a big misconception about Wainscott’s contribution to affordable housing” in East Hampton, Eagan said. He maintained that Wainscott already contributes its fair share.
Other community members, however, countered Eagan’s sentiments. David Buda of Springs charged that Eagan was “cherry picking” his numbers.
The Sag Harbor Community Trust recently bought a slightly over two-acre parcel to the north of the Triune Church property, with an eye on creating affordable housing as well. That location currently has eight cottages on it.
“We will do whatever we can to work with the board in any way possible,” said Ed Real, a member of Sag Harbor Housing Community Trust. He suggested his group might possibly collaborate on a project across the two properties.
He then responded to Eagan’s comments. “I am one of the 279 residents in Wainscott,” he said. “My younger son had a treasured experience at the Wainscott School. He, and his friends, can no longer afford to live here.” Reale then gave his perspective as a real estate professional; he was one of several in that industry to address the board. All agreed about the need for affordable housing.
“One of the saddest things you can see today in a real estate office is a local family coming in looking for somewhere to live,” Reale said. “We have nothing to show them.”