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Jul 8, 2014 2:23 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Village Asks Town To Use CPF To Purchase Gardiner Property

Jul 8, 2014 3:40 PM

The East Hampton Village Board has formally asked the Town of East Hampton to purchase the former Lion Gardiner home using Community Preservation Fund revenues.

The Village Board approved the request at its organizational meeting on July 7, and a public hearing on the purchase is scheduled by the town for August 7.

The 3.67-acre property, now owned by Lion Gardiner’s descendant Olney Mairs Gardiner, is located on James Lane adjacent to the village green and the 1804 Gardiner Windmill. The parcel contains “the mill cottage,” which was built in the 18th century with a timber frame, according to the resolution, and has remained owned by the Gardiner family descendants.

Village officials hope to restore the cottage and maintain the rest of the property as open space, as well as a home for the windmill.

“The mill cottage isn’t the most valuable part of the property,” said East Hampton Village’s historic preservation adviser, Robert Hefner. “It’s all the open space. The property itself is made up of, I think, 3.7 acres, but there is another agricultural reserve just to the east.”

The property directly to the east of the Gardiner property is privately held, he said, but there is an agricultural easement on 1.3 acres, creating a total of 5 acres of contiguous open space.

“I assume it will be leased out to a farmer,” Mr. Hefner said of some of the land the village might acquire. “That would definitely be considered, and it would be nice to have it farmed rather than just have an empty field.”

The property is the last parcel of this size owned by the original family of Lion Gardiner, who claimed title to Gardiners Island in 1648. It contains two structures, according to Douglas Elliman, with whom the property is listed for sale for almost $13 million. The front house, which was built in the 1700s, has five bedrooms and three bathrooms; the rear house was used for a garage and staff quarters.

“The cottage is a reminder of the New England heritage of the building,” said Mr. Hefner, explaining that the layout of the property with the cottage toward the front and open space in the back resembles many Puritan villages in New England.

“The board of trustees is excited about this potential purchase,” Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach said at the meeting. “We hope it comes to fruition, and we’re excited about that.”

Although the town controls the CPF and must make the ultimate decision to purchase the property, said Mr. Rickenbach, the property, if purchased, could ultimately end up in the village’s control.

“We have ample funds to purchase the property,” Mr. Rickenbach continued, explaining that the town and the village have an inter-municipal agreement where the village gets 10 percent of any monies generated by the CPF.

In order to buy the property, like any, the town must hold a public hearing, according to East Hampton Town land acquisition and management director Scott Wilson. “If all goes well and no one speaks out against acquiring it, we’ll order a survey and a title,” Mr. Wilson explained. “If those come back clean, we’ll set up a closing date.”

Mr. Hefner said if the town does purchase the property, it will presumably be open to the public, although he said he was not sure in what way.

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