That 70-acre parcel known as the “Wainscott Pit” is in the news again, and the reason for its media presence has made some Wainscott residents rather unhappy.
More than a year ago, Wainscott Commercial Center LLC, which owns the property, submitted to the East Hampton Town Planning Board an application titled “Suffolk Cement Site Plan/Special Permit.” Its purpose: to build—or relocate—the cement plant on a new, four-acre, commercial-industrial-zoned (CI) location in the pit, farther north and to the east of the current Suffolk Cement ready-mix operation. Having been deemed unsafe, that existing plant was shut down more than a year ago and been inoperable ever since.
The applicant, John Tintle, representative for the owner, first appeared before the board 10 months ago with what is termed, in planning lingo, a “preliminary site plan.” While the application and the board’s initial response to its content have been a matter of public record since last June, and available to all interested eyes in the Planning Department’s office, several residential neighbors of the pit, namely those on nearby Hedges Lane, learned about the proposal only recently.
Appearing at the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meeting earlier this month, several Hedges Lane residents expressed their opposition to the proposal, some under the impression that the Planning Board had approved it and that construction is about to begin. Not so. The board (of which I am a member) has not approved the application, nor has the applicant submitted formal site plan or lot-line modification applications, as requested by the board.
Adding fuel to the fire was a story in last week’s Suffolk Life’s East Hampton edition, which quoted Mr. Tintle as saying, “The Planning Board was absolutely thrilled with our application.” As a board member, I feel comfortable in saying that being “thrilled” is an unlikely expression the board would use to describe any application before it, any more than the board would condemn a proposal in its initial hearing. The application is pending; it has been sent back to the applicant, asking them to do some homework.
Last September, this column commented on the fund-raising for the restoration and upkeep of the Wainscott Chapel. Then, some $40,000 of the $100,000 goal had been raised. In the intervening seven months, only $10,000 has been added to the pot, and the Wainscott Sewing Society, keepers of the historic building, is eager to rekindle the effort and raise the additional $50,000 needed to put the chapel into better working order.
Originally the Bridgehampton school, and for many decades known as the Wainscott Community House, the chapel was moved to its present site 100 years ago (the precise date is either 1909 or 1910—records show both years). Today it is Wainscott’s meeting place, a multi-purpose building serving a variety of civic, religious and even political interests.
Registered Wainscott voters casts their ballots there on election days, the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meets there once a month, Sunday morning church services are held inside, Alcoholics Anonymous uses it for meetings, and often it is the site of weddings, art exhibits, and family gatherings.
Donations can be mailed to the Wainscott Sewing Society, Box 561, Wainscott, NY 11975. You also might add $10 to your contribution and receive a copy of “Wainscott Dumplings,” written years ago by Alice E. Osborn Hand and republished in 1998 to commemorate Wainscott’s 350th anniversary.
A charming book of 120 pages, “Wainscott Dumplings” is a treasure of a publication, filled with the history of our hamlet, personal sketches of its founders and its people through the generations, and old photographs of houses and buildings and the farming and whaling times of long ago.
The police were called to the April 5 meeting of Wainscott’s CAC , not to quell unruly behavior by committee members and guests but to give their periodic State of the Hamlet address. East Hampton Police Captain Edward (Eddie) Ecker and Lieutenant Francis (Newt) Mott, while fielding the recurring complaints about parking and speeding, pronounced Wainscott “very lucky,” saying the hamlet has very little crime, few burglaries, and a fine quality of basically noise-free life.
“Speeding and illegal parking tickets have increased in Wainscott,” Captain Ecker told his audience, while assuring the gathering that police vigilance will be increased when the summer months arrive.
Summertime, according to south-of-the-highway Wainscotters, is when motorists unnecessarily crowd our roads while avoiding the Montauk Highway traffic snarls. Captain Ecker told attendees to “call me anytime at 537-6863 when you have an issue or a problem.”
Richard Whalen, an attorney and a principal in Land Marks, an East Hampton-based land planning business, appeared before the CAC to encourage Wainscott support for his proposal to have East Hampton Town purchase 11.5 acres between Town Line and Wainscott Hollow Roads. Owned by the Strong family, whom Mr. Whalen represents, the parcel was subdivided in the early 1980s into contiguous lots. An agricultural easement protects the largest, 6.8-acre lot of prime agricultural soils, and another agricultural easement covers a portion of the 2.7-acre segment. A two-acre lot borders only Wainscott Hollow.
Next month’s CAC guest speaker, on Saturday, May 3, will be Dr. Dominic Annacone, Wainscott School District Superintendent.