Gurney's Inn
August 23, 2006

Lobby To "Leave it Alone"

They want to keep it wild. That's what fans of the new park in Springs told the East Hampton Town Board last Thursday night. During the public comment portion of the board's regular session, Springs residents Fran Donovan, Carol Buda and Kerry Baker urged town board members to eschew any plans to develop the acreage beyond its most natural state.

Citing Maidstone Park, Baker opined the town's most densely developed hamlet already has enough improved recreational areas. What it lacks is accessible open space. To Baker, Springs Park is a hidden jewel. Buda and Donovan agreed. Said the former, "Everyone says, 'why can't they just leave it alone?'" Donovan reported that a petition to that effect has already garnered 50 signatures.

Supervisor Bill McGintee countered that three months ago another petition boasted 300 signatures. Residents signing that entreaty wanted the park developed as a place for horseback riding. He was emphatic in offering a reassurance. "There has been absolutely no decision made on where we want to go," he said.

Councilwoman Deb Foster has been the lead liaison on the park issue since she took office in 2004. She reported that she's now sharing duties with freshman Councilman Brad Loewen. Both promised to ensure community input when it comes time to develop plans.

There is nothing solidified, both said. Foster admitted, however, that rumors have run the gamut from fountains to a two-acre dog park. She expressed plans to pull together a committee representing all the park's user groups to work towards a plan.

Foster made just about the same promise right after she took office in 2004. Rather than follow through, however, the town board decided to give the newly opened facility some time, to see how it's used, before moving forward.

The acreage, which just about spans an area between Three Mile Harbor Road and Springs Fireplace Road, was acquired during the Schneiderman administration about five years ago. At the time, in the face of an ardent push for playing fields and recreational facilities, the Republican town board convened a committee to make recommendations as to how the 40-plus acres should be developed.

The resulting plan was denounced as "too grand" by then-Councilman Job Potter. In 2004, when Democrats seized control of the town board, it quickly became evident that Potter's sentiment was shared. Ditching the plan was among one of the fledgling McGintee administration's first philosophical about faces.

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