This winter I have been exploring unusual destinations in the Hamptons. Last week, it was Speonk, this week it is Northampton, in the Town of Southampton. Yes, there is a Northampton in the Hamptons, but it doesn’t have any ocean, although it does have a lake with great fishing. Now unless you were a student at the Eastern Campus of Suffolk Community College, the odds are you have never stopped in Northampton. I once had an assignment there for a local East End free weekly, a story I was paid for, but they chose not to print. There was a huge breaking news Martha Stewart story. I remember the quote, “We still have to pay him; he spent a whole day there.”
The “there” (Northampton) is located on the western borders of Eastport, Speonk, Westhampton and East Quogue, along Sunrise Highway Road. The hamlet is roughly 11.7 sq. miles with a population around 600 souls. The Suffolk Community College Campus there opened in 1977 and for reasons known truly only to God was and is to this day advertised as being in Riverhead. In fact, the mailing address of the school is a Riverhead address, but not a blade of glass, or square inch of asphalt touches Riverhead.
You can’t have a Hamptons hamlet without controversy and in the 1980’s residents of the Northampton area were complaining of lack of attention from the Town of Southampton concerning services. They organized and voted to incorporate and form a town called “Pine Valley.” To simplify a very complex two-year period, part of the movement was also to stop a development that would have had huge infrastructure costs and tax implications that the locals did not want. However, they didn’t want any taxes, which caused the first mayor of Pine Valley to resign due to stress of running a town without a town hall, etc. The situation captured the imagination of the NY Times as “the paper of record” ran a string of amusing stories about the situation, as the town voted to incorporate and then two years later voted to become unincorporated and go back to the way things were. Now, cars wiz by Northampton on County Road 51 going from Manorville to Riverhead, perhaps to the County Court and hopefully not to the county jail.
The jewel of Northampton is Wildwood Lake, a lake formed by glaciers in the last Ice Age that has a huge variety of fish such as: Largemouth Bass, Chain Pickerel, Pumpkinseed, Yellow Perch, White Perch, Brown Bullhead, and Rock Bass. The lake reaches depths of sixty feet and displaces 64 acres. It’s picturesque and is a secret deluxe fishing hole for knowledgeable locals.
Another weekend, another new adventure in the old historic Hamptons. Coming soon, I am finally going to take the public tour of Plum Island, as promised a while back by the Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell who like yours truly holds a graduating degree from The George Washington University in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. I sailed past the island with its historic lighthouse, and those mysterious buildings where nefarious experiments are rumored to have taken place.