Christ Church Open Space Considered for CPF

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Reverand Karen Campbell on the “Upper Meadow” next to the Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor. Emma Betuel photo

By Kathryn G. Men

The East Hampton Town Board will hold a public hearing on July 6 to consider the purchase of a 0.4-acre parcel owned by the Christ Episcopal Church on Hampton Street through the Community Preservation Fund. The proposed $520,000 acquisition earned the support of the Sag Harbor Village Board on Tuesday night, and if approved by both the town and the church diocese would preserve private green space known as the “Upper Meadow” or “Upper Lawn” in the heart of Sag Harbor.

“This is wonderful,” said Mayor Sandra Schroeder on Tuesday night, praising the church for working to preserve the property rather than selling it to a private bidder.

On Wednesday, Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisition and management, said the purchase would be subject to the subdivision of the meadow from the rest of the church property. The village would take responsibility for the management of the property, said Mr. Wilson, but the intent would be to preserve passive recreation at the site.

Rev. Karen Campbell said the church hopes to reach an agreement with the village to allow it to host five or six annual events on the property, as it traditionally has done, including the Easter egg hunt and the blessing of the animals. Otherwise, it would become passive parkland. If the sale is approved, said Rev. Campbell, the proceeds would be turned over to an endowment with any revenue supporting the return of a commercial kitchen space, which would be used to support a community café, offering a free meal once a week to residents.

The church was home of USO-style events for members of the military and their loved ones during World War II. “Our building has a long history of serving its community in this way,” said Rev. Campbell.

“We hope to be able to reach those who are lonely, or just don’t want to eat another meal alone,” she continued, noting she has also been approached by members of the community subsisting on just one meal a day as the cost of living on the South Fork outpaces what many seniors receive monthly in Social Security payments. “We hope to help alleviate some of that, and also just create a place for people to socialize around a meal together.”

According to Rev. Campbell, the church will host listening circles with parish members on June 25 and June 28 to discuss the plan in full. She stressed the church is not in any danger of closing — a rumor that sprung up after the concept of selling the property was first discussed last May.

“This is not a move of desperation,” said Rev. Campbell. “It’s a vision of our ministry, and our way of trying to serve our community better.”

 

 

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