Everyone is happy. Well, almost.
When the East Hampton Union Free School District closed on a town-owned property on Springs Fireplace Road near the recycling complex this week, it found a home for its school bus fleet — and spared a residential neighborhood under consideration that most assuredly wanted nothing to do with it.
“It’s a done deal,” said Superintendent Richard Burns. The district has already applied for approval to begin construction. “We submitted plans to the state for expedited review.”
East Hampton has been in dire need of space for its buses and support vehicles since deciding a decade ago to purchase its own bus fleet and run its own bus routes rather than lease the job out.
A proposal to build a depot, which included a repair garage on district property on Cedar Street, drew spirited opposition from neighbors. One group, dubbed the Cedar Street Committee, vowed to fight the matter in court.
After briefly digging in its heels, the school board opted to seek other possibilities. Former East Hampton Town supervisor Larry Cantwell, meanwhile, noted the town was sitting on a potentially surplus parcel — the former scavenger waste site on Springs Fireplace Road. After a period of negotiation, the two sides found a meeting of minds: the school district would pay $2.3 million to build its facility on the nearly four-acre tract.
School board president J.P. Foster said last week the conversion would be swift. “We need a place to work on our buses,” he said.
The district’s current lease for property on Route 114 that houses the fleet is set to expire next year. Burns said the project will begin in earnest by March or April. “We’ll be fine,” he said.
There were concerns voiced that the buses would add to traffic congestion on Springs Fireplace Road, but Burns said that has been put to rest. “We don’t operate during the summer, and we are [already] there every day,” he said. “Most of our buses are early morning or after three.”
Burns pointed out nearby Abrahams Path gives the district another east-to-west road to disperse bus traffic.