Town Seeks Design Proposals For Good Ground Park In Hampton Bays

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In less than two weeks, a design will be submitted to the Southampton Town Planning Department that will determine the future of a long-anticipated 36-acre park that will extend from West Main Street in Hampton Bays north to Sunrise Highway.

The town issued an official request for proposals earlier this month for landscaping firms to submit their designs for Good Ground Park by Tuesday, March 4. The Southampton Town Board will then award the contract, which could be worth as much as $200,000, to the firm with the best proposal late next month.

Based on preliminary designs the park will likely include an amphitheater, walking paths and a playground. Those amenities were requested from community members last year, when officials were discussing conceptual plans for the park.

The Town Board will base its decision on the recommendations of a committee, one that will feature both town officials and hamlet residents, though that group has not yet been assembled.

“This is as close as we’ve ever come to moving this project forward,” Deputy Town Supervisor Frank Zappone said Tuesday. “About 10 years ago, this project died on the vine, so to speak, because of a lack of funding. Everybody is excited about the idea of this actually coming to fruition.”

The town was awarded a $128,519 grant from the State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in December to help fund the design portion of the project based on last year’s conceptual plan. The town agreed to cover the remainder of the cost of the design, as long as the total cost does not exceed $200,000, according to Amy Pfeiffer, a principal planner in the town’s long range planning department.

After the design phase is completed, the town will go through another bid process for the park’s construction, which is projected to cost about $2 million. Mr. Zappone, who led the town’s grant application last year, said the process of seeking grants to help cover those construction costs has begun.

On Friday, town officials hosted 16 landscaping firms from across Long Island, and as far west as Westchester County, interested in designing the park that will be constructed in the heart of Hampton Bays. During the meeting, interested parties were able to ask questions and view the property, Ms. Pfeiffer said, adding that several additional firms that were unable to attend later called to express their interest.

“We’re very encouraged by the scope of applicants that have expressed interest in the project,” Mr. Zappone said.

So far the land management department has not received any proposals, but Ms. Pfeiffer said that is to be expected as the town issued the request only about two weeks ago. She expects the majority of the proposals to arrive on or just before the March 4 deadline. Town officials are not sure how many applications will be filed, noting that businesses are not obligated to do so.

“Realistically, we are asking a lot,” Ms. Pfeiffer said. “To be able to put all this together for a $2 million project is a lot. Some people may shy away from that, but I hope we get a good turnout and I think we will because it is a unique parcel and we think it could lead to a lot of economic development in Hampton Bays.”

The proposals will be reviewed by a committee that likely will include a Town Board member, a representative from the town attorney’s office and at least one person from the land management department, the Hampton Bays Citizens Advisory Committee and the Hampton Bays Civic Association or Beautification Association, Ms. Pfeiffer said. The town has not yet reached out to anyone about being a part of the committee, but Ms. Pfeiffer expects that to be done soon. She said the committee will probably include no more than 10 people and that the Hampton Bays residents selected will be those who were actively involved in the earlier planning stages.

The Town Board is expected to award the contract on Tuesday, March 25, and there will be two public hearings after that for people to comment on the selected design and suggest changes.

The park property was purchased by the town in 2003 for $3.5 million from the Rosko family, using Community Preservation Fund money. There currently is a small pocket park on the property next to Squiretown Restaurant that includes benches and a short walking path.

Community members and town officials have expressed a desire for the park to eventually be a centerpiece for the hamlet, particularly the amphitheater, which Mr. Zappone explained will be created, more or less, by using the property’s natural topography, which includes a bowl-like dip. Ideally, the amphitheater would host concerts and shows, creating a draw to the Main Street business district, Ms. Pfeiffer said.

Ground could be broken on Good Ground Park as early as 2015, according to Mr. Zappone, which would allow for a tentative opening date of summer 2016, though much will depend on the amount of funding the town can procure through grants.

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