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Nov 19, 2010 9:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village To Ask Stony Brook For Windmill Back

Nov 19, 2010 9:30 AM

Southampton Village officials want Stony Brook Southampton to stay open, but if the college does not, they have one request: Give the village back its windmill.

The desire has surfaced in years past—mostly during previous periods of uncertainty about the campus’s fate, including earlier this decade when Long Island University sold the Shinnecock Hills campus—but this time around, the village will formalize its request in writing.

Mayor Mark Epley said Village Trustee Paul Robinson will draft a letter this week to Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. Should the campus close completely, the village would like to have its windmill, now located on the campus, returned east before the property is sold to developers, the mayor explained in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“If the college is there, the windmill should stay there, because it’s a focal point for the university,” Mr. Epley said, adding that the village’s top priority is still to have the campus be used as an educational institution.

The stately, centuries-old windmill originally stood at what is now the intersection of Windmill Lane—which was named after it—and Hill Street in the village. It was moved to its current Shinnecock Hills location in the late 1800s. In latter decades, it has served as a quaint backdrop to the 82-acre campus of first Southampton College and then Stony Brook Southampton.

Mr. Robinson broached the topic of the windmill’s return during closing comments by Village Board members at their meeting last Wednesday, November 10.

“With all the news about the college maybe going ‘poof’ and the potential development up there, one of the things that goes through my mind is this beautiful windmill that really belongs in the downtown area,” Mr. Robinson told the board. “Hopefully, the college will remain forever and ever,” he added, before saying the historical mill would look great at the intersection of Nugent Street and Windmill Lane.

“That windmill at that corner would be absolutely spectacular,” agreed Trustee Nancy McGann, who, along with Mr. Robinson, voiced great enthusiasm over the idea.

Ms. McGann noted, however, that although that corner would be an ideal spot, and photographs with the windmill superimposed there show that it would fit, the intersection is still undergoing some drainage improvement plans at the moment.

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor, an alumus of Southampton College and supporter of the Stony Brook Southampton campus, said in a phone interview on Tuesday morning that he views the windmill as an integral part of the campus, though he understands the village’s perspective.

“I expect that property to continue to be used for higher education, and I don’t see it being moved. I see it being part of whatever the future of the college is for a long time,” he said, noting that the mill was refurbished in recent years and a lot of the money that went into the project came from private donations from alumni.

“Obviously, I’m committed to making sure this never happens—but if for some reason there wasn’t a college there, I certainly would want to see the windmill preserved, and I understand the interest that the village would have. But at this point, our focus is on reopening the college and having that windmill be part of the college.”

Stony Brook University slashed funding at the campus last spring, stripping the Southampton satellite school of most of its academic programs and facilities. Mr. Thiele is among the officials at the forefront of restoring the college.

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The windmill will remain and the college will return.
By SOS (4), east hampton on Nov 18, 10 12:34 AM
2 members liked this comment
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Nov 18, 10 4:19 PM
Are you kidding me. The village either sold or gave the windmill to the college in the late 1800's. Why do they think they have ownsership rights to it over 100 years later. Stand in line behind the Shinnecocks land claims, they were her first and should get the Windmill. It would make an excellent cigarette shop along Moantauk highway!
By Walt (292), Southampton on Nov 20, 10 9:03 AM
What a good idea, not that I can think of where it might go. But, I'd hate to see it go to developers. Rather, if the college does go permanently defunct, I'd like to see the property used for affordable housing available to local working families - NOT more McMansions. Since I believe public money bought the college's land, the public should get the benefit of it.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Nov 20, 10 10:55 AM
I believe the Windmill has historical significance to SH Village. If it's fate is ever in question, the village should have a claim to it. For now, I hope it can safely remain where it is.
By METCOMedia (116), Hampton Bays on Nov 20, 10 10:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
Id like to see the entire property returned to the taxpayer. We didnt all make that huge investment just so Stony Brook could have another asset to rent out for its own profit. It was taxpayers of this state that purchased ithe property & paid to renovate it, with the intent that Stony Brook University would operate a 4yr residential college there. Stony Brook reneged on its end of the deal. Seems to me that if you pay for something & then don't get it, you get your money back. Its doubtful ...more
By ts (71), southampton on Nov 21, 10 10:08 PM
1 member liked this comment

There was an article in the news recently about Stony Brook working with SCCC and SUNY Farmingdale to offer classes at the Southampton campus. It is still being used for the writing program and for marine sciences. The "tax-payers" didn't vote on it's use or say, "here, we are letting you use this money for x y and z". No, the state took tax payers $$$ that they had and purchased the college. They have not reneged on anything other than a "promise" about Stony Brook Southampton ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Nov 22, 10 1:04 PM