New details have been announced about the opening weekend of Good Ground Park—a recreational facility that will include an amphitheater situated on 36 acres in downtown Hampton Bays.
Plans have begun for the opening weekend of the park, scheduled for the weekend after Labor Day. On October 14, an official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place. On October 15, an Oktoberfest-themed community celebration will include activities throughout the day at the park. The rain date for the community celebration is scheduled for October 16.
According to Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, the community day will include entertainment such as pumpkin- and face-painting, jugglers, and four or five different kinds of performances in the amphitheater. Mr. Zappone’s staff has been talking with representatives of a local dance school about staging a performance and running a free dance class for children in the amphitheater, as well as other musical entertainment for all ages throughout the day.
In addition, local merchants will be invited to set up food trucks selling refreshments. Mr. Zappone noted that any local vendors who have an interest in taking part can contact their Town Hall office and they will be put on the list.
However, there is still a long way to go until the opening weekend.
Last month, sidewalks were poured and the trees for the park’s main road were cleared and the ground leveled. Director of Municipal Works Christine Fetten said, at a July 14 Southampton Town Board work session in Hampton Bays, that construction is on budget and on schedule.
“We’ve been blessed with some good weather, which has helped contribute to the progress,” Mr. Zappone commented.
According to Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, currently, the stage of the amphitheater is in place and roads and curbs have been installed.
Mr. Zappone said the project is currently broken down into three phases. First, construction crews are continuing work on the main entrance and main paved pathways as well as finishing the amphitheater. In addition, they are working to create a main street pedestrian access point near the Hampton Bays Fire Department headquarters. Half of the park benches and lights then will be installed in time for the October event.
In the second phase, Mr. Zappone said, grant applications submitted this month will, with any luck, help pay to construct a comfort station, water fountains, two playgrounds—one for toddlers and one for older children—and to install the other half of the park lighting and benches. Mr. Zappone added that he hopes this phase can begin early next spring.
Finally, in the future town officials will discuss, in detail, the best way to create walking trails throughout the rest of the park.
Mr. Zappone noted that vehicles other than the food trucks will most likely not be allowed at the opening celebration, and town officials are reaching out to local merchants to request the use of their parking lots.
“That’s the point,” he said. “This is a pedestrian park. It’s designed to bring people into the park and through the village. That’s the purpose of the park. We’re opening it [in the fall] to introduce the Hampton Bays community to the park.”
Mr. Schneiderman agreed but emphasized that he views this as a town park, not just a Hampton Bays park.
Mr. Zappone added that the event is not exclusive to Hampton Bays residents, but that the park will have its formal opening in the summer of 2017.
“Why do it now?” Mr. Zappone asked rhetorically. “I think if we have this event now we’re going to learn some of the things we need to learn now to better plan for May and June of next year,” he answered.
The amphitheater is one of the main aspects of the park town officials will need to plan for.
With the entrance off Squiretown Road, the theater connects to the main access path through the park. The 750-seat theater will include stone seating and natural informal field seating, which has allowed some trees in that area to remain, according to Ms. Fetten.
“It really lent itself to the topography,” she said. “It’s only going to serve to benefit the community very well with its offerings.”
Mr. Zappone said he wants the performances to be low-impact, noting that town officials need to be thoughtful about what works best for the venue and Hampton Bays. He mentioned that local performing arts and chamber groups have already reached out to him hoping to be part of the theater’s lineup.
“We need to approach this very carefully,” he said. “This is in the heart of a community. We have to pick and choose the kinds of performances very carefully, initially in small amounts.”
Formal advertising for the event is slated to begin after Labor Day.