Where We Stand
To The Editor, East Hampton Star, March 7, 2010
Theresa Quigley’s Star letter (January 25, 2010) speaks of the costs and contract of the not yet completed East Hampton town hall: a group of historic buildings on Montauk Hwy. clustered in a way to create a functional town hall while protecting the character of each structure.
These irreplaceable buildings have survived because Adelaide deMenil and Ted Carpenter recognize the historic importance and construction details from a time when you went into the forest to find the right trees to build your house. We contemplate and admire their craftsmanship today.
I also heard of Dominic Stanzione’s forceful recommendation to break the contract for the nearly completed town hall that could be finished for $1.5 million. Quigley, Stanzione and Wilkinson are the newly elected majority of the town board. They promised to preserve the history and character of the town.
The very suggestion that the Wilkinsons should break a town contract signed in good faith is a disgrace.
Abandoning the project would also be a waste of millions of dollars already spent. What would happen to the historic buildings in the nearly completed project?
Was Supervisor Wilkinson having a “Disney” moment when he suggested that the complex could be turned into a shopping center for J.Crew and other stores? That remark demonstrates a surprising insensitivity and total lack of understanding of the character and personality of East Hampton—why it is a sought-after place to live.
Everyone agrees that we need a new town hall. What would replace the nearly completed historic structures? Even a cinder block or pre-fab metal building could cost some five to six million more than the $1.3 million required to complete the historic building project.
Contrary to Quigley’s absurd assertion that no new taxes can be raised to complete town hall because of the “poverty level” in town, East Hampton is one of the wealthiest towns in the country and can afford $1.3 million in a dedicated tax to complete the historic town hall. My belief is that more taxpayers than not would be willing to support this living monument to the town’s early American legacy.
Quigley’s wild assumptions and Stanzione’s disgraceful suggestion are the beginning of the Wilkinsons attempt to destroy the historic town hall project. Why? The only plausible answer: it was not their idea.
Rather than waste time and a ton of money attempting to break the contract the Wilkinsons should be busy figuring out how to complete this once in a lifetime opportunity and deliver on their campaign promise to support historic preservation.
Because East Hampton has preserved much of its early American character and personality it fits here perfectly. These buildings survived because the Carpenters recognized their importance to the historic legacy and character of East Hampton. To prevent their destruction they acquired them one by one, moved them to the safety of their Further Lane property and protected them from the elements. Giving them to the town for a second life in East Hampton’s history was extraordinarily imaginative and generous. They also paid for moving and other expenses and set up a $2 million upkeep fund.
The arrangement of the buildings is interesting and attractive as well as functional. That was the work of Robert Stern, dean of the department of architecture at Yale.
Opposition to the new town hall struck me as crass. To be sure it applied I checked the dictionaries. One defined crass “as so crude and unrefined as to be lacking in discrimination and sensibility.” Another was simply, “grossly stupid.”
The East Hampton Conservators are committed to the completion of the historic town hall. We invite support at www.easthamptonconservators.com.
Edward Gorman, president
East Hampton Conservators