It’s unfortunate that the debacle concerning the Community Preservation Fund’s mismanagement in East Hampton Town is now distracting our lawmakers from a glaring truth: land is disappearing.
As much as we would like land to be able to reproduce and never ever be completely gobbled up by development, it’s simply not the case. The same thought process must be applied in noticing that land is also being preserved at a mind-boggling rate. While we’re aware that none of the East End towns have said “we’ve preserved all the land that’s out there,” the truth of the matter is that one day soon they will; perhaps not in Riverhead and Southold, but without a doubt in the two South Fork towns.
Last year we interviewed Fred Thiele and as one of the forefathers of CPF, he excited us by entering into discourse about moving in a new direction, about one day focusing more on, for example, historic preservation as a result of the fact that open space is indeed an endangered commodity. There was much talk in public by many parties on perhaps one day altering the course of CPF. We feel that talk is now overshadowed by the CPF Task Force’s recommendations to hold steadfast to the true intent of the law as they see it: preserving land.
Open space is only one aspect of preserving a community.
There is the opportunity to not recoil and not overreact to the recent fiasco concerning the law and to continue to be visionary. Being visionary, by the way, is what got us here in the first place.
What about purchasing land and restoring it to its natural state? How about purchasing lots with looming, dilapidated buildings and turning the space into a park? How about not preserving every parcel of open space so as to hinder the possibility of one day having real, affordable housing east of the canal so people, young and old, can remain in the community they have always cherished or have grown to cherish?
The phrase “community character” appears very high up in the original legislation and part of our community’s character, part of Sag Harbor’s charm, is its historic appeal. Quite frankly, there isn’t a lot of open space to be had in this village — but we all know that doesn’t mean there is nothing in Sag Harbor worth preserving. We sincerely ask all the players in this re-drafting of one of the most successful community preservation programs in the country to remember that, as they have their round-table discussions and as the amendments make their way to the legislature floor in Albany, to keep Sag Harbor in mind.Â