Tag Archive | "Sagaponack"

Demolition Ok’d For Meighan’s Cottage

Tags: , , , , ,


By Claire Walla

Anthony Petrello is one step closer to developing his beachfront land.
Last Friday, July 15 the Sagaponack Architectural and Historic Review Board (AHRB) voted in favor of an application submitted by the Texas businessman to demolish the small cottage now resting on the grounds of the nine-acre parcel he purchased from the White family in 1998. The property deed was formally transferred to his name last year.
The board voted four to one, with one absentee: Tom White. AHRB Chairwoman Ann Sandford was the lone voice of dissent, but not because she believed the building necessarily needed to be preserved on the existing site. In fact, she said she agreed with other board members that the building’s history and current condition do not actually make it historically significant.
“I voted against [the existing application for demolition] because there was another version of the [application] that allowed for an option for a third party to work with the Petrellos so that if they came up with a mutually agreed upon plan they could move the cottage to another location,” Sanford explained in an interview.
“From my perspective, a lot of people had done research; they had gotten a hold of some families [who had lived in the cottage],” she continued. “I felt that it would benefit the community to leave that option open.”
At a public hearing on June 24, the AHRB heard from several Sagaponack residents who appealed for the preservation of the building, claiming it to be a piece of Sagaponack’s history.
The 585-square-foot building on Petrello’s property is known as “Meighan’s Cottage,” and until Petrello bought the property on which it sits, “Meighan’s” was one of six small structures that had been rented out every summer for decades. (The other five are still owned by the White family). It is also thought to be the oldest, having been built in the late 1930s.
A report submitted to the AHRB that summarizes the history of the cottage highlights the fact that these cottages are the last of their kind in the village. Similar sentiments were expressed in letters submitted to the board by Sagaponack resident Bruce Kaplan, and Robert Brewer, whose father began renting a cottage from John White Sr. in 1935.
“I believe these camps are of historical interest as they show how the Sagaponack beach transitioned from raw farmland to the built-up, very high-end beach homes that exist today,” Brewer wrote. “The Meighan Camp and the other five White camps, which have been preserved, are nearly the only ones still in existence. They are a piece of Sagaponack history which deserves recognition.”
The AHRB first heard from Petrello’s lawyer, Nica Strunk, and his architect, Lisa Zaloga, at the public hearing June 28. Both Strunk and Zaloga impressed upon the board several aspects of the building’s history that they said should prevent it from being considered worthy of historic preservation. Most notably, Strunk said historic preservationist Alison Cornish had already declared the cottage “noncontributing” and thus ineligible for preservation.
In a resolution adopted last week, the board indicated it was “unable to identify how the subject of the cottage contains any distinctive architectural features of historic value or how this cottage is in any manner distinctive.”
At a meeting on August 19, the AHRB will address a building plan for the property.

Former White Family Cottage Up For Demolition

Tags: , , , ,

Nika, White Property-adjusted

By Claire Walla

One powerful Texas businessman. Five members of a long-time Hamptons farm family. And 57 acres of highly valued oceanfront property.
It’s an all-too-familiar equation. In recent years, acres of East End farmland have been sub-divided and developed by wealthy individuals seeking seaside solace from the big, bustling city. A village originally named for the abundance of what once grew there, Sagaponack (a Shinnecock word meaning “land of the big ground nuts”) now has only one working seaside farm.
While the story of farmland development has been told before, the White property in Sagaponack is somewhat unique. Not only was it recently the subject of a glossy exposé in the July issue of Vanity Fair, but the 57-acre parcel is one of the last working farms in the incorporated village.
While the long fight to preserve the flat vista is still in the throes of tangled litigation, this week’s chapter centers on the Sagaponack Village Architectural and Historic Review Board (AHRB).
Last Friday, June 24, Anthony Petrello, the Texas businessman, presented an application to the Sagaponack AHRB proposing the demolition of a 585 square-foot structure on a 9-acre parcel of land he purchased from the White family in 1998.
A big part of the larger controversy stems from Petrello and White’s contract of sale for the land. Written into the rider at the end of the document is a clause in which Petrello is granted a “right of first refusal.” In other words, should any one of the Whites attempt to sell the property to someone outside the family, they would be legally obligated to court Petrello first.
The relationship between the Petrellos and the Whites goes back to the ‘90s when Petrello and his wife Cynthia first began renting one of the six summer cottages at the southern foot of the White family compound — right beside the Atlantic Ocean. From east to west, the cottages are: “Liberty Hall,” “Shangri-La,” “Dune Tip,” “Wainscott Station,” “The Model,” and “Meighan’s Cottage.”
Though Petrello spent most of his summers in “The Model,” he negotiated a deal with the White family to buy the south-west corner of the land for $2.1 million. This parcel includes “Meighan’s Cottage,” which is now his to do with as he pleases.
Well, as much as anyone in the village of Sagaponack can do with their land as they please.
The application to demolish the small cottage has been met with outrage from some in the Sagaponack community who worry that the cottage will be replaced by a massive home. Though Petrello has already submitted architectural plans to the Village of Sagaponack for a two-story structure, these blueprints were not up for review last week.
During the public comment portion of last Friday’s meeting, Sagaponack resident and lawyer Bruce Kaplan explained his position as a community member bent on preserving the low-key atmosphere of the agricultural community. Together with other Sagaponack residents, Kaplan previously opposed the construction of the controversial 63-acre compound built by investment banker Ira Rennert in the late ‘90s, an event which largely led to the creation of Sagaponack as an incorporated village in 2005, giving the community more local control over such matters.
“One of your most important functions is to preserve buildings that possess special character, or value as part of the social or political [character] of the village,” he told the board.
Kaplan went on to explain the historical importance of the strip of six cottages on the White property (including “Meighan’s,” which belongs to Petrello) to the history of the Sagaponack community.
They are important, not only for the significance of the buildings themselves — “Meighan’s” was reportedly built by John White Sr.’s half-brother in the 30s — “but for the people who occupied them,” Kaplan said.
He told the board that Howard Meighan, who commissioned construction of the cottage, was an executive at CBS.
“Meighan was a person of some distinction,” Kaplan went on.
He urged the board to preserve “Meighan’s Cottage” by denying Petrello’s application for demolition: “Do not let it fall victim to a wrecking ball, caught in the path of a Texas tornado.”
However, according to lawyer Nica Strunk who is representing Petrello, “Meighan’s Cottage” lacks enough historical significance to be saved. Not only that, it presents major health hazards.
And while she gave in great detail her reasons for the property’s demolition, she began her case by addressing the board on a more personal matter.
“Before I begin talking about the legal issues, I wanted to explain a serious concern that we have as attorneys for the applicants,” Strunk detailed. “We’re worried that this meeting today really has less to do with the fact that there is a 585 square-foot building on this property and more with the people who are involved in this matter.”
She noted that local publications — not to mention the Vanity Fair piece — have outlined the personal dispute that’s welled up between Anthony and Cynthia Petrello and the White family. Strunk urged the board not to weigh its decision on White’s good reputation in the community — his family has farmed the same land since the end of the 17th century — but rather to “treat Anthony and Cynthia Petrello the way you would treat every other member of this village.”
Strunk criticized the board for calling a public hearing on this matter, when similar issues in the past did not warrant additional public discussions. Later, AHRB President Ann Sanford would defend the board’s decision, explaining that the public hearing was voted on unanimously by the board.
“It has been our practice [to call a public hearing] if one or more residents step forward,” she said. “That was a signal to me that this was an important issue for the community.”
Strunk continued, “Local gossip and inflammatory articles in Dan’s Papers could have a negative impact on the members of this village. It is imperative that [these issues] do not affect this board.”
Apart from personal matters, Strunk said the cottage is not historically relevant. Besides the fact that the structure has actually been moved from its original pilings, she noted that the architectural elements (sloped roof, partial sheet-rocking) don’t carry architectural relevance.
Plus, according to a report by historian Alison Cornish in 2000, Strunk explained the structure was labeled “non-contributing” as part of a survey of historic structures, which included buildings in Sagaponack.
Rounding off Strunk’s presentation, local architect Lisa Zaloga told the board that the building is, in fact, non-conforming to FEMA regulations, the pilings contain creosote and the interior tested positive for lead paint. Restoring the structure, she said, would be “almost impossible.”
“In terms of preservation, to make this building any kind of habitable structure, we would have to heat it, the roof-rafters are not sized correctly [and would] have to be removed and it would have to be insulated,” she explained.
“I’m concerned that there might be some people who idealize this property for what beach-front property should be,” Strunk continued. “The building is so small that it doesn’t even meet house size standards.”
“It is not under any standard worthy of preservation,” she concluded.
However, resident Edie Lutnick, whose property sits adjacent to Petrello’s land, echoed neighbor Bruce Kaplan.
She said she does not know either Petrello or the Whites very well and thus concluded, “I don’t have any bias either way.”
“I do, however, look out my window, and I look at the cottages down the line and it’s convenient to say that 500 square-feet is small. These cottages make up a whole, and they make up a whole on a farm that all of us have come to love,” she explained. “To take these cottages as if they are distinct individual things that you can take apart and rip away one by one is a disservice to the residents of Sagaponack.”
Lutnick urged the board to preserve the building in order to keep the historic nature of the cottage community intact.
“The reality is, this doesn’t have to be a residential structure. You can move the house back in compliance with the coastal erosion zone,” she added. “There is a way here that everyone can win.”
The hearing is now open for a 10-day comment period, which will close on Monday, July 4.
At the end of the hearing, Sagaponack Village Attorney Anthony Tohill asked Strunk whether or not it would be possible to preserve the building, but relocate it to another piece of land off of White’s parcel.
“I of course anticipated that question,” Strunk said with a grin. “The clients are open to that option. Our main goal right now is to get a building permit on this lot, and this is one of the steps. If there is any reasonable suggestion, we are open to it.”

Sagaponack Barn Allegedly Ignited By Hazardous Materials

Tags: , ,

Heller_Schwenk Barn Fire_6709

By Claire Walla

On Sunday, June 26 at approximately 12:15 p.m. Southampton Town Police were alerted to a barn fire that erupted at Schwenks Farm on Montauk Highway in Sagaponack.

According to Southampton Town Fire Marshall John Rankin, the flames extended over the top of the barn by 20 to 25 feet, prompting help from at least seven volunteer fire departments in closest proximity to the East End parcel.

About 75 to 100 firefighters from Southampton Town, East Hampton Southampton Village, Amagansett, Sag Harbor, North Sea and Bridgehampton Fire Departments were on the scene at 3491 Montauk Highway, in the vicinity of Town Line Road and the Poxabogue Golf Center.   Rankin noted that three trucks were set-up with hoses, and an additional truck from Sag Harbor with a portable water tank assisted the fleet.

“They did pretty well,” Rankin said of the firefighting crew.  “They had the fire pretty much under control at about 1:45 p.m.,” which was when Rankin arrived on the scene.  “They were just getting ready to do salvage and overhaul when I got there.”

Though Rankin said no one was reportedly injured in the blaze, “unfortunately the building was a total loss.”

The fire is thought to have originated in the storage barn itself, which housed various farm equipment, including highly flammable grease and oils, as well as oxygen and Acetylene gas (materials that are often used in combination for welding).

“It appears as though Mr. Schwenk had been working inside the building prior to the fire,” Rankin explained.  “He was there that morning working on some stuff.”  One of the tasks he was reportedly working on included cutting a strand of polypropylene rope.  The Southampton Town Fire Chief noted that polypropylene rope is typically burned and therefore melted at the end to prevent the strand from fraying.   Though the official cause of the fire has not yet been officially determined, Rankin said “we’re working on the possibility that the rope had continued to smolder” after Schwenk left the building.

Because of the potentially hazardous materials stored in the old, wooden structure, Southampton Hazardous Materials Team responded to investigate the scene after the fire had been put out.

Rankin explained that there was a house and a garage located in relatively close proximity to the now-charred wooden structure, but said they were not threatened by the flames.

Southampton Town Police reported to the scene around 12:15 p.m. to set-up a perimeter around the building, which consequently blocked-off Montauk Highway between Sagg Road and Wainscott Harbor Road for about three hours.

What’s In Merrall Hildreth’s Barn?

Tags: , , ,

Hildreth's General Store in miniature

By Annette Hinkle

Merrall Hildreth’s Sagaponack barn is legendary — and so is Hildreth himself. A carver of wood, a creator of local architecture (in miniature no less) and a collector of historic farming and mercantile implements (his family owned the Sagg General store for years), the 87 year old can trace his lineage on the East End all the way back to 1635.

Don’t expect Merrall Hildreth to talk much about himself or his woodcarving ability though. He’ll tell you it’s just what he does to pass the time, particularly in winter, explains Bridgehampton Historical Society’s archivist Julie Greene and program coordinator Sally Spanburgh.

“It’s so ingrained in him that it’s nothing except who he is,” says Greene. “He’s a Hildreth they’ve been here in Sagaponack for generations,”

“He’ll say ‘See how many streets they’ve named after me around here?’” adds Spanburgh. “But he says it jokingly.”

But Greene and Spanburgh know treasures when they see them, and this week, the historical society opens a new exhibit entitled “Merrall Hildreth’s Woodworks.” It’s a show that was born in Hildreth’s red barn, which sits behind the General Store on Sagg Main and which, rumor has it, is astounding.

Spanburgh and Greene had long heard about the great ‘museum’ Hildreth had in his barn and people in the area kept asking the pair if they had seen it yet. The answer was no, in fact, they hadn’t. But that was soon to change.

“I knew him from church,” says Spanburgh. “I said ‘I heard you had quite a collection upstairs in your barn. Can I see it?’ He said ‘Come over.’”

As avid historians, Spanburgh and Greene expected to see some incredible objects — but they were hardly prepared for what met their eyes when they got a glimpse of the second floor of Merrall Hildreth’s barn.

“Our jaws dropped,” recalls Spanburgh. “It was a cacophony – every square inch of that building on the second floor was filled either with his own creations or old Sagg Main General Store items like the post office boxes or farm equipment. It’s got rafters and it was packed. Rakes, hoes, oxen yokes, chicken cages, coffee grinders.”

“He had some of the old glass cases that were used in the store,” adds Greene. “He does wonderful whimsical things with wood — he unwrapped a candy bar, ate the candy and rewrapped it around a block of wood and had that in the case.”

While it sounds like a kid’s dream come true, Spanburgh notes it’s not the kind of place you would want children to run free — given the many delicate and intricate treasures they would love to get their hands on.

“There’s so much up there, you’d have to have your child leashed and muzzled,” notes Spanburgh. “It’s a playground.”

“It feels like the Louvre,” she adds. “You’d need years to explore it.”

So Spanburgh and Greene decided to see if they could bring Merrall Hildreth to the public with an exhibit at the historical society. They sent a formal letter asking if he’d be interested in sharing his woodwork with the community. Hildreth readily agreed and it was as simple as that.

“He said, ‘Let me know when you want me to bring it over,’” recalls Spanburgh.

This past weekend, the pieces arrived at the historical society’s archives building, where they will be on view through the end of June. Among the pieces are quaint birdhouses that resemble structures you might find while driving the back roads of Sagaponack on a Sunday afternoon. Hildreth also carves figures — everything from howling dogs and doll house furniture, to three foot tall bears with pants and suspenders, intricate jewelry boxes and even contemporary dancing figures that resemble a 3-D version of something Matisse would’ve loved.

But without a doubt, it’s Hildreth’s recreations of local architecture that will garner the most ohhhs and ahhhs when the show opens this Friday. His structures are recreated in minute detail and are more than just familiar landmarks around Sagaponack and Bridgehampton. They are in fact, memories of sorts — buildings that Merrall Hildreth has personally spent time in or those with special meaning in his life.

There’s the Sandford saltbox on Bridge Lane, the first First Presbyterian Church (which is no longer standing) and the one room schoolhouse in Sagaponack. Classic red and white, just like the real thing — a section of the shingled roof can be removed to reveal the inside of the schoolhouse in miniature as it looked when Hildreth was a student there — right down to the inkwells on the desks. There’s even an image of George Washington hanging on the front wall of the classroom like it did in Hildreth’s day (upon closer examination, it’s evident that this portrait is actually a postage stamp featuring Washington’s visage).

Hildreth’s use of a postage stamp as a portrait is appropriate given the fact that Merrall Hildreth was the Sagaponack postmaster from 1969 to 1986 — his family owned the general store on Sagg Main since the turn of the 20th century when his great uncle and father ran the place.

Though the store is no longer in the family, Hildreth has built an intricate replica of it — not as it appears today, but as it looked more than 100 years ago. Inside the green and white model are handmade wooden counters and postal boxes — complete with tiny letters that fit in the mail slots and a stack of weekly newspapers. Tiny cans and cereal boxes line the shelves of the little store, while crates of vegetables and sacks of flour and potatoes sit on the floor. The pot belly stove near the front door is where local farmers historically congregated to shoot the breeze while picking up their mail.

“It was groceries, hardware, boots, dry goods — a mercantile store,” explains Greene. “It’s different today — now they just call it a deli and the post office is next door.”

In fact, it was during Hildreth’s tenure as postmaster that the U.S. Postal Service stipulated the post office had to be separate from the store.

While the buildings themselves are special — it is when the tiny furnishings and objects are in place that Merrall Hildreth’s woodworks really feel authentic. And that, notes Spanburgh, is as it should be.

“I always feel a structure is only alive when it’s inhabited,” she says. “All the pieces he’s used to make the General Store bring it to life. It’s not just about the architecture but the function in its life. That’s part of the appeal.”

“Merrall Hildreth Woodworks” openS with a reception on Friday, May 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Historical Society Archives (2539-A Montauk Highway). The show runs through the end of June. Hildreth and his wife of 60+ years, Mary (Lewis) Hildreth, will be honored at the historical society’s annual cocktail party this year.

Brown Harris Stevens/Houses at Sagaponac: Reviving Field of Progressive Homes


illustrator cover description.ai

by Emily J Weitz

When architectural legend Richard Meier and real estate mogul Harry Brown came up with the idea of Houses at Sagaponac a decade ago, it was their answer to a landscape being swallowed up by McMansions. Meier and his architectural peers, pioneers of modern design, had been building here on the East End since the 60s. Then in the 90s, the cedar shingle home invaded.

The plan was to design 32 houses on one vast tract of land north of Route 27 in Sagaponack, each of which would be a proud testament to modern architecture. Meyer selected the architects who, in his view, were the best in the world. Thirty-two designs were received, and nine homes were built. Eight sold. Then, Brown passed away and the bottom dropped out from beneath the housing market.

Now, the Houses at Sagaponac project has had to revamp its mission. The project was sold to builders Reinhardt and O’Brien out of Bridgehampton, who found the financial backers. And while previously the project was not exclusively associated with any one broker, now Brown Harris Stevens is managing the sales end.

“For Brown Harris Stevens, this is great because we get a lot of exposure,” says Amelia Doggwiller, a real estate agent working on the project. “We didn’t just get one house, we got the whole package together.”

When Brown Harris Stevens came into the picture, there were 24 lots and one completed house still on the market. Now, Doggwiller says, “we have thirteen lots to go, plus one completed home.”

The change in strategy for the Houses at Sagaponac has affected the way the houses are marketed as well as how they are built.

“We decided to switch to letting the buyer work with the plans and work with the architect,” says Nilay Oza, the architect managing the project. “Previously, I was acting like the buyer, expressing interest and bankrolling the project. Now a buyer can choose from an array of designs.”

As a result, buyers have a lot more say in what they want their home to look like.

“The designs are not fully done,” explains Oza. “After someone decides to build the house, then they work with the architect to complete them.”

Another major change in the project is that, in addition to the 32 original plans, the Houses at Sagaponac is accepting submissions on a rolling basis from architects at every point in their careers. After they presented this new development at the Architectural Digest show in New York City two weeks ago, “we were inundated with architects,” says Oza.

“We had 16 new entries right after the show, and we chose 12,” he said.

With all these new plans, buyers might be able to choose from five designs per property, which Brown Harris Stevens markets through renderings.

“Ten years ago this would not have been possible,” says Oza. “Rendering technology has changed tremendously. Renderings can really transmit the feeling of a house. So it’s easier to conceive of a process where a broker takes a rendering to a buyer and it looks real.”

In terms of the way these houses are being built today, “a lot has changed in the world of modern architecture,” says Oza. “Ten years ago, the idea was that bigger is better and everything should be done in spades.”

He acknowledges there might have been talk of sustainability in design; but then, said Oza, “a 10,000 square foot ‘sustainable’ house would be built. The profession, like the car industry, is now seriously questioning this approach. Buildings are getting smaller and they’re using sustainable materials.”

But it’s not just about sustainable any more either. Oza points out that there’s also a local component that has gained ground even in the last two years.

“Two years ago you could let something like reclaimed wood from across the country slide. Now we think of things in terms of ‘cradle to grave’. You need to take into account where it came from, how far it has traveled, etc,” he said. As a result, the project has taken on a more local outlook and strengthened the local community of builders and suppliers as well.

Even though the Houses at Sagaponac has received designs from architects from all over the world and at all stages in their careers, “the designs share interesting commonalities,” says Oza. They all try to capture the delicate balance between “privacy and a sense of openness.”

Each house is on a little over an acre of land, and the houses are relatively large (about 3,000 square feet). So the architects had to get creative in maintaining the modernists’ sense of openness without inhibiting a sense of privacy.

Ed Reale, Senior Managing Director for the Hamptons at Brown Harris Stevens, calls the project  “a hall of fame of modern architects. It’s a unique concept. There are maybe a few others in the world. To have such world-renowned architects, including international, all in one place is quite the unique development. And bringing in younger, newer designs is bringing it more up to date as well.”

In a market that is still questionable at best, Brown Harris Stevens is moving the Houses at Sagaponac project pretty quickly. Doggwiller attributes this success to the value buyers will find.

“Before you couldn’t get in for less than $4.5 million,” she says. “Now with these new architects, you can get in for just over $2.2 million. It’s a great value at this moment.”

Memorable Meals from the Farmstand

Tags: ,

web Jennifer & Jim

By Emily J Weitz

Pike’s Farm Stand, which overflows with the season’s harvest right up through Halloween, is a Hamptons institution. If you were to stop by in season, you’d find Jennifer Pike talking with loyal patrons, or Jim Pike delivering another batch of the freshest local produce available. And this past season was a fine one indeed, with the weather conditions lining up just right to ensure lots of sunny days. Not only does this mean that “the crops were sweet and grew well,” says Jennifer Pike; but because of the Pikes’ location just down the road from Sagg Main, a lot of beach traffic means a lot more people driving by, unable to resist the look of the melons, which according to Pike, were “exceptional this year”.

Now that the pace of the East End is slowing, the Pikes have closed up shop to focus on the quieter details of farming: finances, equipment maintenance, and yes, of course, cooking. Jennifer plans to share her favorite cooking ideas, inspired by the farm, with the community on Wednesday, November 17 at the Rogers Memorial Library. Come at noon with a bagged lunch to hear about what’s in season and what’s on the table Thanksgiving Day at the Pikes’ place.

When Jennifer Pike was approached by the library about giving a talk, she wasn’t sure what topic to choose. Memorable Meals for Everyday Cooks is designed to give people ideas for “easy Thanksgiving sides you can make ahead,” says Pike. With people often traveling to get to their holiday festivities, it’s nice to have something you can bring with you, especially when it will bring a taste of your own home to the table. Since we live in a place so rich with local flavor, it only makes sense that we’d bring something from our own backyards.

Some of the recipes she’ll be sharing include corn pudding, stuffing (which is more like a bread pudding, it’s so moist), and a caramel nut tart.

“That’s an alternative to pecan pie,” Pike explains, “which I hate.”

At this time of year, there’s still plenty of produce coming out of the earth to use in our cooking.

“There’s lots of broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, salad greens and winter veggies like kale, turnips, and parsnips,” she says.

Mostly, when Pike cooks up these ingredients, it’s “really simple. Broccoli with butter and salt is just right.”

But she also incorporates these ingredients into other dishes, like the stuffing, which features local spinach, or of course, the corn pudding, which she usually uses corn from the farm frozen at its peak in summer.

And then there’s the produce that may be “a little past its peak. These veggies still taste better than something shipped from far away and a lot better than what you’d find in the grocery store…”

And on top of the taste and health benefits of eating these locally grown vegetables, buying local is politically important.

“It’s really important to support the local farmers that work to stay open,” Pike says.

“There are a lot of very slow days. People want them to be open on Thanksgiving, but it’s important to support them in between… Eating local is as much about supporting the farmers as eating healthy, especially at this time of year.”

Not only are we supporting the farmers, but we’re supporting the earth by reducing our carbon footprint. The shorter a distance your food has to travel, the less fuel is used on getting that salad onto your plate.

Pike reminds that “just because summer ends doesn’t mean the idea of the carbon footprint disappears… It’s harder to remember to stop at the farm stand when it’s forty degrees, but we need to continue to make that effort.”

Pike’s talk, which will provide inspiration for the Thanksgiving table, fits right into this idea of supporting the local farmer. For the Pikes, there’s a strong connection between the Thanksgiving holiday and the philosophy of farming.

“This is a holiday devoted completely to food,” says Pike. “And trying to get as much of that food from as close as you can is turning into the whole point in our generation. Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate food. And we are certainly thankful for another successful season under our belt, and being able to provide food to our neighbors.”

Jennifer Pike will present “Memorable Meals for Everyday Cooks” at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton on Wednesday, November 17 at noon. Recipes will be shared and she will also discuss the local vegetables coming out of the ground at this time of year. For more information or to reserve your space go to www.myrml.org or call the library at 283-0774.

Townline BBQ Dishes Up Popular Trivia Contest

Tags: ,

web Biz Townline Pic

“This is the biggest crowd in East Hampton without a basketball,” William Taylor jokes. Taylor is sipping a sweet tea and looking out at a sea of locals packed into Townline BBQ. Seated at a corner table near the bar, Taylor is waiting for his son Billy to arrive for what is known to this crowd as “Quiz Night.”

It’s a Thursday evening in early October and the parking lot of this Sagaponack eatery is overflowing and an adjacent road is lined with cars. The air smells of sweet pulled pork, fried jalapeño poppers and beer on tap — a few Townline BBQ staples. Inside, the cavernous, wood paneled bar is teeming with players who are eager to test their mental acuity. A record 14 teams have assembled this evening, forcing quiz mistress Sigrid Benedetti to station her amp, microphone and score board atop the pool table.

As the catering director for the Honest Man Restaurant Group, which includes Rowdy Hall in East Hampton, La Fondita in Amagansett and Townline BBQ, Benedetti held the first quiz night over two years ago. Benedetti recalls that she wanted to drum up business in the off season. She knew trivia events were popular at pubs in the United Kingdom and were becoming trendy stateside. The friendly contest has attracted a steady fan base. It started with 15 players but has blossomed to around 30 regular contestants. As queen of the festivities, Benedetti pens the questions and acts as emcee.

Of crafting the trivia — which ranges from the simple to the obscure, Benedetti remarked, “I have actually never been big into trivia, but I don’t think you need to be good at trivia to have an idea of what other people might know.”

Tonight, the start time of seven o’ clock has been delayed by the unexpected number of participants, which is a welcome development for William Taylor’s crew, Team Taylor. Billy, one of the group’s star players, is stuck in traffic on the Southern State Parkway.

Benedetti rings the bell and the games begin. There will be six rounds with 10 questions per session, she explains. The first category, pop culture and current events, seems easy at first.

“In which U.S. State was Pastor Terry Jones planning to burn the Qur’an?” Benedetti asks the crowd. Taylor quickly jots down an answer.

“Who is the famous husband of Lakia Spicer?” Benedetti continues. The group appears dumbfounded.

“How often do the follow events occur?” Benedetti says, moving onto the next round. “The U.S. Census? The changing of the guard? The Ryder Cup? Presidential elections in Mexico? High Tide?”

While Benedetti continues reading her list, Billy arrives and takes over the answer sheet from his father. Teammate Catherine Giaquinto notes that the father and son duo usually do most of the answering.

“A lot of the time your first answer is the best answer,” Billy says later during a lull between rounds. “It’s just random facts. There is no way to prepare.”

Billy concedes some of his answers are arrived at through free association, but every once and a while he will be lucky enough to have a personal memory attached to the correct answer. For team mate Christina Zapel, she once knew the answer to a question concerning sorghum syrup, or molasses, because “sorghum mollasses” was often served at a restaurant she frequented in Missouri.

Benedetti believes most participants are attracted to “Quiz Night” because it allows them to parade their trivia knowledge in a competitive setting. “I don’t think there are a lot of opportunities in various lines of work to show off what they know of the world,” she says. “They come to Townline and they can flex their [mental] muscles. And they want to win.”

The remaining rounds finish up, including one called the “John” section where either the question or answer features the name. Team Taylor comes in second to The Saucy Jacks. The group, however, nets a second place prize of $150.

“It covers the cost of the food and drinks,” William Taylor astutely points out. His son and the rest of the team linger on in the bar, to order another round.

“It makes me happy [to see the family teams],” Benedetti says. “A lot of people don’t hang out with their parents. It’s nice is it to have that familial connection.”

Undeterred by tonight’s defeat, the Taylors will be back next week.

Townline BBQ’s “Quiz Night” is held every Thursday at around 7 p.m. Cost is $10 per participant with a maximum five players per team. Hints are published on Townline BBQ’s Facebook page the day of the event. For answers to questions in the article visit sagharboronline.com. For more information call 537-2271.

Save a Beach, Save a Home


We like the fact that oceanfront owners in Sagaponack and Bridgehampton are seriously looking at banning together to protect their property, and ultimately local beaches, from erosion by way of a self-taxing Beach Erosion Control District.

In our experience, it’s unusual to find a group of people willing to tax themselves. And while this group has an obvious vested interest in self taxation (that being their oceanfront homes), by creating such a district, they will also be leveraging their ability to protect the ocean beaches which we all enjoy. As a taxing district, they would also be eligible to apply for federal reimbursements in the event of an outlay of money in the aftermath of a storm — which could come sooner than we would all like. Homeowner Gary Ireland also feels that the district would add leverage to residents’ complaints against the Army Corps of Engineers, whose East Hampton projects many believe caused the erosion in the first place.

By being proactive and building up the buffer zone between home and ocean, these property owners are also less likely to need to use FEMA flood insurance due to damaged or lost homes. As taxpayers, we would much rather see federal funds used to pay for reimbursements that nourish beaches we all enjoy, rather than claims on private oceanfront property enjoyed by a select few.

While we understand that the dollar amount this taxing district might require may be a huge burden for a few homeowners — specifically those who inherited their property and would never have been able to purchase it today — we feel with oceanfront property, there are always options such as renting it out for a month or two in the summer. Seems like a small price to pay to save a home, and a beach. 

Sagaponack Leads Pack of Nation’s Most Expensive Small Towns

Tags: , ,

web biz pic

By Georgia Suter

Despite declining home sale values throughout most of the country, the East End’s small village of Sagaponack has weathered the recession remarkably well. Last week’s Business Week magazine identified the historic, ocean-side area as being the most expensive in the country, with median home sale prices in 2009 hitting $4,421,458, compared to $174,000 throughout the rest of the nation.

Evan Kulman, Senior Vice President of Corcoran Real Estate Group, commented on the area’s enduring real estate and land value, noting that his company is recently seeing a lot of activity in the sleepy village — numerous homes are expected to hit the market in the next few months. Currently, Corcoran Real Estate Group has a pre-construction property on Gibson Lane in Sagaponack that speaks to the area’s pricey nature. At 7,500 square feet with ocean views, the property hasn’t yet broken ground, but it’s currently listed at $8,450,000. Kulman anticipates that as soon as construction begins on the project, demand for the parcel may increase and the value may likely rise.

Business Week is quick to narrow in on profiling the type of residents that are drawn to the small village– chairman of the Renco Group Ira Rennert being one wealthy buyer that built a mansion in Sagaponack, on 63 acres, in 2004. That year, the New York Times estimated the worth of his 29-bedroom home, called “Fair Field,” to be more than $170 million. Many of the area’s home buyers hail from Manhattan, and the recent Wall Street bonus season has been seen to have trickled favorably down to the East End, bringing new clients and instigating a bit of a buying surge. Kulman notes that the majority of their market comes from the New York City buyers, and that most of their clients are Manhattan residents.

When asked about the steady attraction that Sagaponack holds, compared to other surrounding areas of the East End , Kulman comments on the small size of the village, which, in turn, means fewer homes that are more exclusive. “Many homes don’t trade often,” he states of the property in the area, and the property is continually sought after “because of the beauty of Sagaponack and because of it being understated.” The small village, up until the 1970s, abounded with potato fields and has been described as having had a laid-back community of farmers and writers such as Kurt Vonnegut.

Beate Moore, the Senior Vice President of Sotheby’s Realty, shares similar observations on Sagaponack’s strong real estate market, stating that she’s recently seen closings that reflect the village’s pricey rank. Moore noted that Sotheby’s recently closed a property on Gibson Lane for $19 million. Another listing closed on Hedges Lane in Sagaponack for $14 million in the past couple months.

“There’s been a huge pick up in activity,” she stated. Of the area’s rebound, Moore added “There were eight sales in December, and December is usually one of our slowest months, so it was a nice surprise.”  Additionally, Sotheby’s recently sold a piece of land shy of one acre, with nothing built on it, for $3 million. “Sagaponack is highly thought upon,” Moore said.

Business Week’s real estate summary points out that the small village of Sagaponack isn’t the only thriving housing market on the East End. Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk County accounted for more than half of the fifty most expensive small towns in America, with Water Mill coming in at number six– its median home sale price being $2,238,676, and Bridgehampton coming in at number eight with its median at $2,081,717. Also representing the East End in Business Week’s survey of the 50 Most Expensive Towns of the United States were Wainscott, which ranked at 13th place, Quogue at 30th place, East Hampton North at 42nd place and North Haven at 48th place.

Sagaponack Board Mulls Over Beach Nourishment Project

Tags: , , ,

Sagaponack resident Gary Ireland and coastal geologist Aram Terchunian visited the Sagaponack Village Board on Monday to revisit an old issue of beach erosion. According to Ireland, over 45 years ago the Army Corps of Engineers attempted to protect the eastern beaches on Long Island by widening and lengthening the sand dunes, hoping to create a buffer against future natural disasters like the hurricane of 1938. Urged by beachfront property owners, the Army erected groins in East Hampton to keep the sand in place. Unfortunately, said Ireland, the groins caused erosion farther west along the shore in Sagaponack.
“The tide carries the sand [down the shore] like a river. If you put up groins, the sand builds up on one side and the sand is eroded on the other side. In Sagaponack, we are down drift from these incredibly large groins,” explained Ireland in a later interview.
Ireland’s family has witnessed the devastation of beach erosion first hand. His cousin’s home fell into the ocean in 1993. Ireland’s mother has twice moved her cottage further inland — and Ireland fears his own home, an unheated cottage built in 1938, will suffer the same fate.
On Monday, Ireland and Terchunian asked the board to consider once again creating a special taxing district, an Erosion Control District, to help levy funds for a beach nourishment project.
“I know the homeowners are discouraged [by the special district idea]. It is saddling the victims with the problem … but we have no other choice,” remarked Ireland.
The district would act as a non-federal sponsor of a beach nourishment project and would most likely share the costs with the county, state and federal government. This additional monetary support by higher levels of government is based on a strong desire at the local level for the project.
According to Ireland and Terchunian, the project would cost roughly $24 million or $1,600 per square foot of beachfront.