Town Meets With Tribal Members

Justin Meinken

Members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation met with Southampton Town counterparts last week to discuss potential legislation and ways in which the two parties can work together following protest over building on the tribe’s ancient burial grounds in Shinnecock Hills.

Council of Trustees Chairman Bryan Polite, tribal member Rebecca Genia, and others sat at the table with Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, Councilman John Bouvier, and town attorney James Burke to go over protocols and state legislation on the topic Schneiderman said has not gotten out of committee yet.

“They want something we can put in place prior to excavation — that there be additional archeological review,” Schneiderman said. “They also want a member on the Community Preservation Fund committee. We’re working on that.” A current member has agreed to step away in order to make space, but the town said it’s looking at other ways to make it happen.

A joint management advisory board for culturally-sensitive properties was created in 2018, but Schneiderman said tribal members asked that it meet more frequently. Shinnecock also wants to recommend properties believed to be culturally sensitive.

“I think having a member of the nation on the committee would be great,” Bouvier said. “It was a productive meeting — very much so.”

A piece of land in the Shinnecock Hills Greenway target area, on Larboard Road in Hampton Bays, was also saved per a January 14 resolution.

Town board members unanimously approved the purchase of two lots totaling 16,625 square feet, or .38 acres, for $120,000. The parcels sit at a high point — 40 feet about sea level — Community Preservation Fund manager Lisa Kombrink said. There is a seasonal home on the property that has been abandoned for years the town is hoping to demolish.

“I don’t know how we cannot preserve these. They’re not even accessible,” Schneiderman said of the property adjacent to three other town-owned lots off eastern Sunrise Highway Service Road behind the railroad tracks. The parcels are also in a New York state archeological sensitive area, Kombrink said.

“There’s been controversy in this area in terms of culturally-sensitive property,” Schneiderman said.

“We’re taking steps,” Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni said, also pointing to the state designation. “We’re mindful of that.”

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