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Management Plans Eyed for Amagansett and Montauk Preserves

Thu, 02/09/2023 - 10:41
Amagansett Plains at 555 Montauk Highway in Amagansett
East Hampton Town

Stargazing, bocce ball, and a continued landing site for medevac helicopters? Those are just three proposals for the 18.8-acre Amagansett Plains Preserve under a management plan being considered by the East Hampton Town Board.

Councilman David Lys and Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisition and management, gave a presentation to the board on Tuesday that also reviewed a management plan for Avalon Park in Montauk, which, like Amagansett Plains, was purchased with community preservation funds.

In meetings with the town’s Nature Preserve Committee, said Mr. Lys, a consensus had emerged that property at 555 Montauk Highway in Amagansett  — bounded by Bunker Hill Road to the east and the V&V gas station and Gansett Meadows affordable housing complex to the west — would allow for walking, biking, jogging, photo-taking opportunities, birdwatching, and other “passive” uses, but not competitive or organized sports. The site’s dominant feature is a grassy meadow, “exceedingly rare on Long Island,” board members were told.

The land, purchased for $10.1 million in 2014, is the remnant of a larger parcel once owned by Richard Principi. It was proposed for high-density development three times between 1977 and 2013, according to town documents presented at the meeting.

The management plan would create a parking lot, separated from the rest of the site. Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc noted that “as things stand now, people can just drive all over the area, and in fact do,” going beyond an existing trail and roadway. A suggested split-rail or other fence is proposed, to keep cars off the meadow.

Also under consideration: a potential community garden space on what was, at one time, farmland. “The [nature] committee didn’t want to preclude agricultural use” said Mr. Lys, though he did note that the sandy soil wasn’t ideal for farming.

Speaking of fences, Mr. Lys said he was sitting on one when it came to allowing night-time uses “for stargazing and such.” Parks are generally open from sunrise to sunset, and this would be an exception. “I’m on the fence,” said the councilman.

The nature committee considered and rejected baseball or other organized sports, he said, but a casual game of bocce may be permitted. Organized sports might be allowed if they were part of a community event, said Mr. Lys, but would require a special permit.

The meadow has historically been used as an occasional landing site for medical evacuations via helicopter. It would continue to be reserved for that use under the proposed management plan.

Mr. Lys also led the way on a discussion of a proposed management plan for Avalon Park in Montauk, located on a peninsula that juts out into Ford Pond. The 3.26 acre property, the site of the former Avalon Lake Front Resort, was restored to green space in 2021 following a $2.9 million purchase using C.P.F. funds.

Mr. Lys envisioned a “pocket park” that would not only allow for passive uses but could also be used to launch a small boat from a small stretch of shoreline; fishing, and “maybe hunting,” from a single waterfront dock. Such blinds, he said, have “been traditionally used in that area for duck-hunting.”

The park, which is at 136 Second House Road, would be a carry-in, carry-out spot, with no picnic benches, to discourage overuse and litter, he said. The site boasts many dozens of plant varieties along with a glacial erratic.

“It’s a very neat spot. Go out there now,” encouraged Mr. Lys, before the ticks emerge.

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