The East Hampton Town Board recently encouraged residents and business owners to attend a series of public kick-off meetings to launch the 2016 East Hampton Hamlet Study.
The Massachusetts firm of Dodson & Flinker will conduct the study along with the Town of East Hampton Planning Department. According to Marguerite Wolffsohn, Town Planning Director, the study is expected to take a year, and will take a detailed and intensive look at issues affecting commercial areas in each of the six hamlets of East Hampton, Springs, Wainscott, and Amagansett, as well as Downtown Montauk and Montauk Harbor. It is hoped that the result of the Study, to be presented to the Town of East Hampton at its conclusion, will aid in the creation of “dynamic, walkable hamlet centers while preserving open space, natural resources, and the unique character of each hamlet.”
The Town’s 2005 Comprehensive Plan “called for an evaluation of the Town’s ability and desire to meet future commercial needs and to develop detailed plans for commercial areas. East Hampton business owners and associations, Citizen Advisory Committees, Village and Hamlet Improvement Societies and other organizations have continued to urge the Town to conduct these studies and analyses,” including open space preservation, a business study, re-zonings, enactments of Historic District regulations, protection of Scenic Resources, and other important actions and policies that will assist in “formulating detailed plans for the future of each individual hamlet center in order to help foster the existing character, enhance the economic vitality and meet the needs of East Hampton Township.”
Through a series of public participation events, and the inclusion of a separate Business Study “that will recommend concrete steps the Town and the business community can take to maintain a thriving tourist economy while serving the needs of both second homeowners and the year-round community,” the Town hopes to collect “various data on existing conditions and issues affecting these hamlets to shape and locate future development.”
Dodson & Flinker will conduct the study, and when asked how an out-of-state firm has addressed concerns for the East End, Wolffsohn explained, “Dodson & Flinker is very familiar with East Hampton. They did the scenic study for us a few years ago.” The firm’s location is not a concern for the Town. “Although we have a number of issues that are unique to East Hampton, the general planning concerns that we have are not unique to Long Island and our hamlets have quite a few things in common with small New England towns that have historic hamlet centers,” she added. “Also, Dodson & Flinker has two Long Island firms working with them on the study: Fine Arts & Sciences and L.L. McLean Associates.”
Wolffsohn relayed that the first public meetings were “Good, with between 40 and 75 people at each.” Further, Wolffsohn revealed the most prevalent concern among both residents and business owners seems to be “Water quality. People were very much aware that this is essential for anything that we would want to do.”
Wolffsohn also indicated that the next meetings are “Tentatively scheduled for May 18-21, June 1-4 and September 14-17, but additional communication regarding the Business Study will take place prior to May and we encourage people to send comments to [email protected] which both the Town and the consultants can view, and go to ehamptongov.com and click the Hamilton Study page in the left column for confirmation on upcoming dates.”
Among the 11 goals as outlined in the Comprehensive Plan, the first goal is to “Maintain, and restore where necessary, East Hampton’s rural and semi-rural character and the unique qualities of each of East Hampton’s historic communities,” which would seem to express the unified desire of all residents and business owners, and perhaps stir committed involvement of all.