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East Hampton Village Board Turns Its Thoughts to the Spring

Thu, 02/22/2024 - 16:30
The basketball courts at Herrick Park as seen in January.
Christine Sampson

The Feb. 16 meeting of the East Hampton Village Board was a hodgepodge of activity.

The board accepted an additional $30,000 donation from the East Hampton Village Foundation “for Herrick Park, to finish the basketball courts,” said Mayor Jerry Larsen.

Jennifer Fowkes, a member of the town planning board who is “working part-time for the foundation,” told the trustees that the village’s farmers market will start up again on April 28, a Sunday, and will continue on Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., going forward. This is a change; in past years it was held on Fridays. “A lot of people can’t come on Fridays,” Mayor Larsen said.

Ms. Fowkes, who until last fall was the executive director of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, is also working to organize the third May Day 5K run, which will be held on May 5.

In another sign that spring approaches, Carrie Doyle, a village trustee, announced that the second Hamptons Whodunit will be held from April 11 through April 14, and will feature “15 New York Times best-selling authors.”

Jeff Erickson, the village’s acting police chief, announced that the force is once again to receive state accreditation. “Only 30 percent of the police departments are accredited, from across the state,” he said. “It’s an arduous task that happens every five years. It says a lot about the quality of our department.”

If the board agrees, the design review board, which now meets twice a month, will in future meet just once a month, at 9 a.m. on the third Tuesday of the month, said Billy Hajek, the village planner. Board members agreed to the change in a resolution later in the meeting.

Mr. Hajek also noted that a consultant has yet to be chosen to spearhead the village’s proposed comprehensive plan, to be drawn up by a committee yet to be named. “It’s not just me sitting in a room writing it,” said Mr. Hajek. “There will be lots of public input.” The comprehensive plan, he explained, is a road map to guide the village for the next 20 years.

A public hearing on whether La Forest Lane should become a one-way street continued. William Dejonge, a resident of La Forest, said he had the support of every homeowner on the road. The idea is to slow traffic through the residential neighborhood, which Mr. Dejonge said had become “markedly and consistently worse over the last three decades.”

David Ganz, a village resident, agreed that safety was important, but reminded board members that they’d just commissioned a traffic study for La Forest Lane. “If the study states it should be a one-way road, make it a one-way road, but let’s have the evidence,” he said.

Mr. Hajek replied that the study was only in the information-gathering stage. “When they have something to report, we’ll do it in public,” he said.

Andrew Goldstein, who lives near La Forest at the corner of Georgica and Jericho, doubted the traffic study would find cause to make La Forest one-way, and said the village board had been sent many letters from residents in opposition. “It’s a problem that doesn’t really exist,” he said, adding that “it would not be fair to the people on the other streets” if La Forest became one-way.

Mayor Larsen opted to keep the hearing open until the board receives more information from L.K. McLean, which is conducting the traffic study. “We’ll address this again in March,” the mayor said.

Six other hearings on local laws, characterized by Mr. Larsen as “housekeeping issues,” drew no public comment; some were then closed. One was left open until the East Hampton Town Trustees have a chance to comment. That law would give the village’s police chief the right to close village beaches in an emergency, without permission from the trustees.

Two others, involving changes to the zoning code, were also left open. One, if passed, will mean that residents who live on flag lots will no longer need to “select a front yard.” “All yards would be side or rear yards,” said Mr. Hajek, which is “consistent with nearby municipalities.”

The other, he said, would allow “recreation rooms” in accessory buildings. “So, if someone has space above a garage and wants to put in a gymnasium or pool house, this would permit it, under certain types of requirements.”

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