East Hampton Town plans to build a new senior citizens center on a seven-acre property in eastern Amagansett.
The property at 403 Abraham's Path would be purchased for $1.63 million with municipal funds already accounted for in the town's 2021 capital budget. "We budgeted $10 million over three years," Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said at a town board meeting on Tuesday, "and in 2021 alone, we budgeted $3.5 million. So the money is there."
The property is part of a 14.3-acre, residentially zoned parcel adjacent to an undeveloped portion of the town-owned Terry King ball field complex. It is bordered to the south by the Long Island Rail Road tracks and to the east by Stony Hill Stables.
The new site will allow for a quiet, natural setting with ample parking space, Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said. "We can design the center with a lot of natural light and quiet outdoor space. We could also consider some recreation for seniors. . . . If the community wanted -- and we're looking for community feedback and input -- we could do shuffleboard, bocce, pickleball."
The proposed site will accommodate current and future needs of the town's senior citizens nutrition and adult day care programs, allow for multiple other activities to take place simultaneously, and serve as a permanent home for the East Hampton Food Pantry. "During Covid, our food pantries are seeing three times the number of families that they had seen in the past," Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said. "They deserve a permanent home."
The senior citizens center on Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton is more than 100 years old, and its reconstruction or relocation has been a goal for several years. Pre-pandemic, a daily lunch was served to senior citizens and an adult day care program was offered along with exercise classes and social programs. "But our programs and services are somewhat limited by the space that we have," Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said. "We really need a proper center." Meanwhile, demographic trends indicate a growing demand for such programs and services as residents age and live longer.
The new structure will allow space for additional wellness programs such as yoga, dance, meditation, and health screenings, more enrichment programs including things like healthy living lectures, and spaces for events such as book club meetings, card games, art classes, and movie screenings.
With a new facility, "We can properly serve the needs of the seniors attending the adult day care program," Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said.
The new center will be a net-zero energy facility, meaning its energy consumption will equal the amount generated onsite from renewable sources. It will feature a low-nitrogen wastewater system. The town's senior citizens center building committee and its energy sustainability committee will provide expertise as the project moves forward, according to Ms. Burke-Gonzalez.
Originally, a new senior citizens center was to be built on the site of the existing center, but that plan was abandoned because of site limitations, disruption to ongoing activities and services during construction, and increasing congestion in the busy Springs-Fireplace corridor. In 2019, the town board vowed to identify an alternate location for a new, larger facility.
A public hearing will be required in order to acquire the property. Issuance of a request for proposals for architectural, energy modeling and engineering services, and bonding for the purchase of the property will follow.
This story has been updated since it was first published.