There may have been a hint of favorable news for some Springs residents who would have been impacted by a proposed cellphone and emergency communications tower in their small-lot neighborhood. A representative of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County’s Camp Blue Bay, which is on a 170-acre site near Maidstone Park, said recently that a tower might be possible there. However, the site off Fort Pond Boulevard encircled by Crandall Street, Lincoln Avenue, and Norfolk Street appears not officially out of consideration despite outspoken opposition of the area’s surrounding residents.
East Hampton Town officials’ desire to use the Crandall woodland, as it has come to be called, should be troubling to residents well beyond the affected area. No one in Town Hall has described how the 6.9-acre property came to be owned by the town nor under what circumstances. This information should have been presented at the start; there is some indication that town planners had in mind a park or reserve at some point in the past. This history is crucial to any consideration of changing the land’s present value as open space.
The other warning sign is that the present town board is not to be trusted when it comes to recreational or environmentally significant areas. A terrible precedent was set in 2019, when four of the five members of the board voted to ask for state permission to dig up the Pantigo Place Little League fields and replace them with an emergency medical facility affiliated with Stony Brook Southampton Hospital in a procedure so serious that by law it required the assent of the New York Legislature and the governor’s signature. Scarcely noticed, the chairwoman of the town board’s Springs advisory group recently floated the idea that some other piece of parkland be taken through the same alienation process as an alternative site to the Crandall woodlands.
It is a slippery slope indeed when officials begin eyeing preserved land and recreational assets for other purposes. East Hampton Town needs more open space, not less, and should never even consider developing what it already has. The board should never have considered the Crandall Street site in the first place and instead found a way to work with, rather than against, the Springs Fire District, which had improperly installed a cell tower on its property. There has to be a way to solve the communications problems in Springs without affecting the hamlet’s rare natural places.