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Aug 31, 2010 6:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Back to the drawing board for the Amagansett Lifesaving station

Aug 31, 2010 6:31 PM

About a month ago, it seemed the fate of the Amagansett Lifesaving Station was all but sealed, but now it is back to the drawing board as at least three parties have tossed out ideas for managing the facility.

After the East Hampton Historical Society asked the East Hampton Town Board to make changes to its lease, which would have increased the society’s control from the first floor to the whole building and extended the contract from 10 years to 50 years, the Artists and Writers of East Hampton have 
come forward to stake a claim, and Lyle Greenfield, a member of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee and the 
Concerned Citizens of Amagansett, has reentered the conversation.

“I think what’s happening now is interesting because it calls attention to a building that otherwise would just be sitting there,” Mr. Greenfield said. “It stimulates discussion that calls for forward motion as opposed to inertia.”

The town signed a 10-year lease with the historical society in November 2009, giving it control of the first floor, with the idea that the town would be responsible for renovating the building. After the town discovered it could not use the Community Preservation Fund to complete the work, the renovation project took a back seat until the historical society presented a new proposal this year to take over the fund-raising, pending the new lease that extended and expanded its control.

Meanwhile, other groups in town expressed their desire to see the station put to other uses.

Earlier in the year, Mr. Greenfield proposed a cafe at the station; and this month, Ralph Carpentier, a member of the Artists and Writers of East Hampton, proposed that the station be used like Ashawagh Hall in Springs as a place to exhibit local work.

Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said that when the historical society asked to renegotiate its lease, she thought that was a good time to see if some of the other ideas that had been 
presented could be incorporated. Before Mr. Carpentier spoke at the August 17 board meeting, Ms. Quigley had 
called for a meeting with members of the historical society and Mr. Greenfield, hoping they could exchange ideas and come to an agreement. After Mr. 
Carpentier spoke on behalf of the Artists and Writers, she also invited him to the meeting 
that was held that Friday, August 20.

Ms. Quigley said that the day before that meeting, the board received a letter from the historical society claiming it had been “denied access” and stating that because the town was “demanding commercial uses,” the society had determined the town to be in default of the lease and therefore was reneging on its agreement.

“We know of no denial of access and there were no demands for commercial use,” Ms. 
Quigley said. “We recognize that either party has the right to cancel with six months’ notice, 
but we’d love to work with 
them. We’d prefer to work with them.”

But Ms. Quigley said she does find many of the ideas presented for the station interesting and she hopes that ultimately, the town can find a party that will be willing to incorporate as many as possible.

“My vision is this is a beautiful asset of the town’s and I think it’s wonderful that people are interested in sharing ideas and getting the asset used and improved,” she said.

Richard Barons, the historical society’s executive director, 
said the break was an amicable one. He said the real reason for dissolving the agreement was that the contract stated 
that the town would be responsible for the renovations, which was no longer the case. He said that when the historical 
society saw the support for the other ideas presented, especially the idea for the cafe, it 
thought the plans had grown beyond its means, and it was best to forget that contract and start over.

“The default is based on the fact that the town does not have money for the restorations,” he said. “The other points are just points.”

He said the historical society is still an interested player, and hopes to find a way to work with the town to use the station in a way that the community and the board supports.

“I didn’t want to stand in 
the way of creative local thinking,” he said. “It seemed 
more logical to be honest and say no reason to keep that old contract but after discussions, if the historical society is still 
considered a valid player, then we’ll come up with a new contract.”

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Make it into a nightclub. Why think small with some little cafe?

The former Tiana lifesaving station, in East Quogue is a bar/nightclub. It makes for a great venue and is also available for residents to rent for private events. I'm sure that it might be a venue that might take a few parties off of our overburdened beaches. We have so much shoreline but it is too hard for people to access and use. We live here, and people come here, because of our beaches. However, there are only ...more
By NWHarbor (7), Northwest on Sep 5, 10 6:44 PM
"Make it into a nightclub. Why think small with some little cafe?"
At first I thought your openning line was facetious; its incredible that you are serious with such a presposterous suggestion. Hey why not build an amusement park - there's so much shoreline, right?
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Sep 6, 10 6:23 PM
I thought he was probably being facetious too but I really don't think it preposterous that some waterside venues cater to those who want some entertainment. Southampton Town listened to a dozen or so old biddies and closed dowm a handful of sites and basically put Hampton Bays and East Quogue into bankruptcy without adding a shred of value to the communities.

When they couldn't shut down Neptune, they punished the owners by making them reduce the height of the tower on an historic building ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Sep 8, 10 12:48 AM
Try adding some "entertainment" to Main beach or Georgica in EH Village and watch the uproar.
The Amagansett beaches are a gem, despite already suffering the indignity of litter from nightly bonfires, dogs, etc. Less truly is more.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Sep 8, 10 8:23 PM
What's so wrong with diversified interests and creative solutions? Sometimes less is just...less.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Sep 8, 10 10:28 PM