Editorial: Time to Reconsider Impound Yard

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A majority of residents in the greater Sag Harbor area — and beyond — believe having an impound yard surrounded by one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in the State of New York is not wise and should be reconsidered.

Since last spring, many community members, including Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt, various environmental groups and even Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. have all but begged the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees to reconsider plans to construct an impound yard for the village police department on a small portion of a 24-acre parcel owned by the village in the Town of Southampton, nestled next to the greenbelt off the Sag Harbor-Bridgehampton Turnpike.

Even some members of the Southampton Town Planning Board, who were asked to review the village’s proposal in May, appeared hesitant to grant site plan approval — and did so only under the threat of a “Monroe exemption,” a provision that allows municipalities to forgo review for certain projects. Instead, the planning board approved the plan with a set of provisions in an effort to exert some control over a project that appears to have had few supporters outside of a handful.

The impound yard would cover roughly an 80-by-60-foot area just south of the recycling transfer station operated by Southampton Town on village-owned property. The land in the past was used as a dump and most recently housed a large number of PSE&G trucks. While that is appreciated, it is impossible to ignore the fact the acreage is located in one of the most ecologically sensitive areas in the entire State of New York, hosting species that are rare and vulnerable. The historic use of a property should not condemn it to toxic uses or make it unsuitable for preservation.

We encourage the board to join Trustee Aidan Corish in taking a step back from this proposal, meet with environmental groups and residents alike to discuss their concerns and consider alternatives. The Southampton Town Board has already demonstrated a willingness to work with the village on preservation efforts including toward the creation of the John Steinbeck Waterfront Park and the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center projects. Certainly, the preservation of 24 acres next to the Long Pond Greenbelt is another project worth consideration and a purchase that could offset the cost of a number of critical projects the village needs to tackle.

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