Town Endorses Pantigo Place For New Hospital Satellite

The East Hampton Town Board and a senior town planner agreed at a work session on Tuesday that the anticipated East Hampton satellite of Southampton Hospital should be located on the Little League fields at Pantigo Place. Support for the site followed a presentation in which it was said the size of the property would be adequate and after a discussion about parking.

Preliminary plans call for a building of between 54,000 and 64,000 feet, which would include emergency, treatment, and waiting rooms, as well as an imaging center, lab, and offices for primary care doctors and specialists. The cost has been estimated at between $35 million and $45 million. In a second phase, a 10,000-square-foot addition could be built. The hospital has said it receives 17,000 visits per year from patients from East Hampton Town.

For the satellite to be on Pantigo Place would require rezoning the 4.5-acre site from parkland and conservation designation to commercial and industrial use. Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said Tuesday that such rezoning might also require special legislation from New York State, since the land, which he said may have been intended for affordable housing, was purchased by the town with money borrowed for parkland.

“However, later the town decided it would be more appropriately used for the ball fields,” Mr. Cantwell said, “and then the town borrowed funds and authorized it for use for recreation purposes. In terms of its current zoning and what the town borrowed the money for, there are alienation issues that have to be addressed.”

A sticking point was whether the 140 parking spaces proposed would be adequate. A detailed traffic study is forthcoming, but Eric Schantz, a senior town planner, said the on-site parking was likely to be sufficient because vehicles could be diverted to nearby town property.

“It’s frustrating that we don’t have the traffic study when we have to make this decision. It’s going to have a huge impact,” Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said at Tuesday’s session. “Conceptually, it makes sense to site it here and potentially use the Wainscott property for two ball fields.”

The town board may pass a resolution as early as next Thursday’s regular board meeting to formally designate the Pantigo Place parcel the official site for the satellite, rather than a Wainscott site that had also been a candidate. Although the hospital already has received a $10 million commitment from the state for the project, the designation is necessary, Mr. Cantwell said, so that the hospital can finalize its state application by the end of the year.

All the town board members expressed support for Pantigo Place, with Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc saying it has several good attributes: “It’s located next to the East Hampton Healthcare facility now, all those offices, and it’s centrally located geographically . . . closer to Montauk than the western site would be.”

When Mr. Cantwell asked Mr. Schantz for his expert opinion on the location, he said, “There’s going to be a lot of hurdles and a lot of things we need to do as far as design and planning,” Mr. Schantz replied, “. . . but I do feel that this is the appropriate site for it.”