An uprising is growing over a plan to use 14 acres of county parkland in Hither Woods to build a sewage treatment plant in Montauk. It would be wise for members of the East Hampton Town Board to start paying attention to residents rather than to the supposed expert consultants who sold them on the scheme for a $75 million plant to initially serve the downtown area. It is not a far stretch to think that the current establishment Democratic lock on all five town board seats could be at risk, if not from Republicans, than from a primary challenge from more environmentally minded candidates. This would be a positive development; the board has been far too cozy with business interests, particularly in Montauk, in recent years.
From the start, the Montauk sewage plant plan was problematic. The consultants first proposed that it would be paid for in part by creating a new tax district, centered on the beachfront hotels and nearby shops and restaurants — most of which are at extreme risk due to sea level rise. Relying on a special tax to fund the plant would make the downtown’s eventual abandonment much less likely. More recently, the town bought a piece of land near Lake Montauk, with the tone-deaf idea that it could be traded to the county for the woodland site where the new plant would go. As one critic put it, “In East Hampton we don’t turn our parks into sewer plants.” We could not have said it better ourselves.