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Jan 5, 2010 6:59 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton pulls CPF funding for lifesaving station

Jan 5, 2010 6:59 PM

The future of the Amagansett Lifesaving Station on Bluff Road is up in the air at the start of the new year, after East Hampton Town Board members pulled the plug in mid-December on a plan to spend $173,000 to renovate the building using money from the Community Preservation Fund.

The plan came under fire from community members because of its questionable use of CPF money. The CPF was established to purchase land for open space, recreation and historic preservation and to preserve historic buildings. The lifesaving station, which was built on the site that it stands on now in 1902, was moved to a nearby location by the Carmichael family, who purchased the building for use as a personal residence, in 1966. It was donated to East Hampton Town in 2007 and moved back to its original location.

“I’m having a very hard time deeming it acceptable for CPF use,” former Town Attorney John Jilnicki told the board at a work session on December 15. Mr. Jilnicki said that he made his determination after speaking to State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who drafted the CPF law, about the project.

“It’s a really odd, unique situation. The CPF statute provides for preservation of historic buildings. However, when you get to that section, it’s fairly clear that the building has to be fixed to real property. We got a bill of sale rather than a deed,” he said.

Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land management, said that the building, which has a boat shop, crew quarters and a mess hall, had fallen into disrepair and that the town had an obligation to make repairs.

“We accepted the building with the understanding that we would pay for the upkeep through CPF,” he said, adding that one of the intents of the CPF law was to preserve historic buildings. “There’s a disconnect between the language of the law and the intent,” he said.

According to Mr. Wilson, the Hook School House, which was purchased by the town and has since been moved to land owned by East Hampton Village, was also purchased under a similar understanding, and if the town takes a new legal stand on the CPF law, $40,000 in expenses for moving that building should not have been charged to the CPF and should now be reversed.

“The CPF is fundamentally a land program,” said Town Board member Pete Hammerle.

Zachary Cohen, an East Hampton resident who has spent a good deal of time studying the town’s finances, was at the December 15 meeting. He said that $119,000 had already been spent to build a foundation for the lifesaving station, though it is unclear how it was paid for because the bond that was authorized to pay for it was never issued.

Mr. Cohen said that the bond authorization was drafted in a loose enough manner that if the town now decides to issue the bond, it can do so because it does not stipulate that the money be spent solely on the foundation.

Mr. Wilson said that he is looking into paying for the restoration through grants and donations, and Mr. Hammerle said that the town could pay for the renovation as a capital project, though spending on capital projects is currently on hold while the town examines the faulty recordkeeping that could add millions of dollars to its deficit before all of the accounting is put in order.

“We’re still facing having a historic building we own that is deteriorating. This is too important to let it sit much longer,” said former Town Board member Brad Loewen.

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It's ashame that we just watch history fade away. Fix what needs to be done.
By 1640sWhaler (74), Sag Harbor/Easthampton on Jan 8, 10 4:21 PM
it is a shame. I believe germans actually landed on Amagansett, LI and men from this station helped provide evidence that led to their capture. With that said our town is beyound broke and fixing this is a luxury we can not afford. I personnaly feel funding for EH day Care and project most are more important
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Jan 11, 10 10:28 PM
The Hampton's are always Broke. It's just amazing. To go back years and tell them, hey don't bother building this for 40 bucks, it will be 40 million to fix it in 200 years...
By 1640sWhaler (74), Sag Harbor/Easthampton on Jan 12, 10 3:39 AM
The Marine Museum on Bluff Rd. in Amagansett is a town owned historic building. It was neglected for more then a decade. The bill to repair... 2003 more then $100,000 for a heating system... 2008 nearly $400,000 for other repairs. This paid to outside contractors when in house upkeep would have been about $1000 per year on average. Of course the in house workers are schedueled to be eliminated to save money. Penny wise pound foolish?
By facts man (148), east hampton on Jan 12, 10 10:25 AM
Maybe a Grant can be found??
By 1640sWhaler (74), Sag Harbor/Easthampton on Jan 12, 10 1:07 PM
Have local contractors/residents do a day or two of work, pro bono. Then one day they can say to their kids 'I helped preserve that, for you'. In fact McGintee an crew have some free time. It's time to GIVE back to the community. This is our maritime history. Pride in East Hampton runs very deep, no one wants to see history neglected.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Jan 12, 10 6:07 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well Said...
By 1640sWhaler (74), Sag Harbor/Easthampton on Jan 13, 10 3:55 PM
mcgintee is in florida hiding
By asurest (117), easthampton on Jan 13, 10 6:24 PM