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Town Eyes New Community Block Grants

Thu, 11/30/2023 - 05:21

The East Hampton Town Board heard recommendations for allocating an expected $120,000 for community development at its Nov. 21 work session. Such projects, in this case ranging from solar panels to an outdoor table for chess, are generally in areas identified by the census as low to moderate income or in existing affordable housing developments, Eric Schantz, the director of the town’s Office of Housing and Community Development, told the board. 

Funding comes from the federal government, but the town must make the request to Suffolk County. With a deadline of tomorrow to do that, and as the Nov. 21 work session was its last meeting of the month, the board voted on a resolution approving the recommendations. 

The East Hampton Housing Authority requested $40,000 to add solar panels to the 50-unit affordable housing complex on Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton that is slated to be completed in 2024, Mr. Schantz said. The Retreat, a domestic abuse shelter, asked for $70,000 to renovate an existing outbuilding and convert it to a recreational facility. 

Whalebone Village in East Hampton seeks $73,582 to resurface a parking lot, Mr. Schantz said. The Windmill I and II senior citizen housing complexes in East Hampton, and the one at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Amagansett, are seeking money for tables and chairs for their community rooms. The funding requests are $12,000, $8,000, and $10,000, respectively. 

The town typically awards Maureen’s Haven $5,000, which is allocated to things like operating expenses, staffing, and equipment, and Mr. Schantz recommended granting that sum. Last, the town would like to add a disabled-accessible chess table with benches around it at the recently constructed playing fields on Stephen Hand’s Path in Wainscott. Without an exact figure for that project, Mr. Schantz recommended setting aside $10,000. 

The requests total almost twice the amount the town expects to receive, Mr. Schantz said, “so we need to trim down and determine which projects we’re going to fund” or partially fund. 

The town is committed to renewable energy, he said, and full funding was recommended for the addition of solar power to the Three Mile Harbor housing complex. Furniture for the community rooms at the senior citizens housing complexes are for materials only, he added, and those rooms are used daily by residents. “We see them as not only an easy project to fund and fulfill, they’re also relatively affordable, but also something that can be done efficiently and quickly.” 

The chess table with benches at the Stephen Hand’s Path playing fields are “minor accessory structures,” Mr. Schantz said. “We see that as a project that is beneficial and easy to complete within 2024.” 

Because the Whalebone Village request represents a large portion — more than 60 percent — of the anticipated community development money that the town expects to receive, and the bulk of the funding request would be needed “to even begin the project,” Mr. Schantz said that it does not make sense to set aside money that could go toward another project that will be carried out in the coming year. The project could be postponed and potentially awarded funding in 2025, he said. 

The Retreat’s request was also for more than half of the total the town expects to receive. “They’re still in the early planning stages of that project, they don’t have building plans made up, they’re not really ready to hit the ground running in 2024,” Mr. Schantz said. He proposed awarding 50 percent of the requested money, or $35,000. 

It is possible, he added, that the county “will come back to us and say there are surplus funds” that could be allocated to Whalebone Village or the Retreat. 

Board members were supportive of the recommendations and voted in favor of the resolution to submit the funding requests to the county. 


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