State Budget Makes Room For East End Institutions

American flag on Hamptons beach

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele has announced that the 2019-2020 New York state budget contains $250,000 capital funds to support development of academic and student program space on the Stony Brook Southampton campus. The new funding was requested by Stony Brook University, and will provide assistance toward the completion of several high priority projects.

         “The academic programming at the Southampton campus continues to grow,” Thiele said in a release, citing the Marine Sciences program and well as the Fine Arts program. “Nearly 500 students are now studying on the campus with continued growth expected. These capital funds will insure that the academic space on the campus can continue to be rehabilitated to provide increased quality education opportunities.”

         The budget also contains $175,000 to continue the South Fork Community Mental Health Initiative, which was launched as the result of a community collaborative by Thiele at the request of the East Hampton School District several years ago in response to the lack of mental health services for school-age children on the East End.

         The program has been hailed as a success in dealing with mental health crisis situations, as well as providing preventive services to middle school and high school age children. Because of the success on the South Fork, the North Fork successfully sought to replicate the program in its communities. The North Fork Mental Health Initiative also received a $175,000 allocation this year.

          “We still have a long way to go to provide the full range of help and services needed on the South Fork to treat mental illness,” Thiele said. “This program has provided a meaningful beginning. I am pleased that the state funds were approved to continue the program and build upon prior success.”
Need a ride? The new budget also contains $100,000 East Hampton Town to continue the successful summer bus shuttle in Montauk for the coming season.

         Thiele first obtained funding for the project in 2017. Last year, from late June until Labor Day, the town provided a free shuttle bus service in Montauk with regular pickups every 15 to 30 minutes throughout the hamlet between Hither Hills State Park and the downtown and harbor areas. Riders were able to board the bus at pre-scheduled pickup locations, as well as flag down rides along parts of the 16-mile route between 10 AM and 10 PM, seven days a week. Hampton Hopper was contracted by the town, and the mobile-app based shuttle provided 22,285 rides in 2018 during 68 days of service, up from the previous year.

         “The East End needs more public transit. This year’s state budget provides funding to support the seasonal shuttle in Montauk, as well as $1,000,000 in state funding for bus connections in association with the South Fork Commuter Connection,” Thiele said. Using these state funds, the towns of East Hampton and Southampton will provide commuters with bus shuttle service from the Long Island Rail Road stations to their jobs in the morning and return service from work back to the train stations at the end of the day.

         Thiele stated, “The final approval of state funding for ‘last mile’ connections brings commuter rail service for South Fork workers closer to reality. The plan will reduce traffic congestion to the South Fork, including the adverse impacts from automobile congestion on the environment. The service will also make it easier for South Fork businesses to recruit and retain employees by providing an alternative, faster, and less stressful commute to the South Fork.”

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