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Sep 16, 2009 1:34 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Revised museum plans receive warm welcome from Planning Board

Sep 16, 2009 1:34 PM

A revised site plan application for the new Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill has gotten a positive reception from Southampton Town Planning Board members, who lauded the proposed project for its promise of using local contractors and furthering the arts on the East End.

Museum officials presented the amended site plans for a smaller, less costly building to the board at a meeting on Thursday. A public hearing on the revised site plan is expected to be scheduled for sometime in October. After the public hearing, the board has 62 days to issue a decision on the amended site plan application.

“This plan is a scaled-back plan,” Planning Board President Dennis Finnerty said. “But it seems to be a lot more sensitive to the local vernacular than the previous plan.”

If an approval is granted, museum officials can seek building permits and move a step closer to construction. Officials estimated that once construction begins, possibly in the spring, the museum will be completed within 18 months.

Planning Board member George Skidmore hailed museum officials for selecting Ben Krupinski Builders of Southampton as the project’s general contractor, noting that it will help the local economy.

“I think it’s great that it will be able to use local construction, for the economy around here,” Mr. Skidmore said.

Board member Jacqui Lofaro said the proposed museum, though somewhat pared down in size, will be a boon for art on Long Island.

“I’m pleased that the Parrish was able to readjust their plans, given the economic downturn,” Ms. Lofaro said in an e-mail this week. “The revised plan appears to satisfy not only the museum’s needs for more space but also preserves and promotes the unique artistic history of the East End.”

The proposed museum, which now resembles an elongated barn, was downsized by museum officials when the economic downturn made fund-raising difficult, Museum Director Terrie Sultan said. The museum’s price tag is now an estimated $20 million rather than the $80 million attached to the original design. The museum will also be 13,000 square feet smaller than the sprawling 49,000-square-foot building originally planned for the Water Mill site.

The expansion will allow the museum to better display its permanent collection, which includes works by high-powered artists such as William Merritt Chase, Fairfield Porter and Willem de Kooning.

“The core values of the architecture remain exactly the same,” Ms. Sultan said, noting each of the 10 galleries will be made to resemble the intimate, domestic space of an artist’s studio. “All the things that we care about are all the same, only better.”

Mr. Finnerty said members of the board are “certainly supportive of the design changes” and that museum officials “really hit the nail on the head.” He said he didn’t expect any hang-ups in the revised site plan application as it moves on to earn a possible final approval from the board in the coming months.

“I think we are really excited about the project moving forward,” Mr. Finnerty said. “It is going to be an international facility that will hopefully draw people from around the world.”

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