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Nov 2, 2011 9:55 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

State Grant Could Spark Good Ground Park

Nov 2, 2011 11:42 AM

Southampton Town officials and residents of Hampton Bays may have found a way to get the development of a public park in the hamlet off the ground.

A recently publicized $400,000 state grant could provide enough funding to clear trees and finish the recently dedicated Vincent J. Cannuscio Trail, a hiking path through the 38-acre town-owned property that will ultimately be known as Good Ground Park.

Securing the grant from the State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will be tricky and would also require a $400,000 match from the town or affiliated groups; the grant, if it can be secured, could make $800,000 available for the development of the park.

“This has all come together very quickly, but we hope it will spark conversations to gather community support,” said Kevin McDonald, a Hampton Bays resident who works for The Nature Conservancy. “We can fundraise publicly, either under the auspices of some existing group or [form a new group] Friends of Good Ground Park. If we can do it and everyone is fully aware, it may not work … [though] parks thinks this is a very strong proposal.”

The Town Board on Friday unanimously approved the application for the grant, even though lawmakers acknowledged that with the town’s fiscal belt cinched tight, it is unlikely that much money would be available from public coffers for the matching grant. But Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and other board members acknowledged that such concerns would be something the town could address once the grant is secured.

“We can go ahead and approve going forward with this, and if we’re granted the grant, we can decide what we’re going to do at that time,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

She explained that if the town wins the grant, and can’t secure the matching funds, it can always opt out of it.

“You’ve got $8 million or $9 million worth of land that is made accessible by this grant,” Mr. McDonald said. “This is a ready-to-go project but for this $400,000 grant and then the match.”

The town purchased the 38-acre property in the heart of Hampton Bays in 2003 using $3.5 million of Community Preservation Fund money. The property was earmarked for a sprawling public park and urban renewal effort with scattered commercial development areas. The town dedicated the Vincent J. Cannuscio Trail just last month in honor of the former town supervisor and Hampton Bays resident. The trail will snake through the park and connect to a pocket park that’s adjacent the town’s Community Preservation Fund offices, where the dedication ceremony took place.

“The town bought this property many years ago and it’s been sitting dormant,” Robert Anrig, a member of the town’s CPF Advisory Committee, told the board members. “Woods is nice, but this is supposed to be a park.”

Ms. Throne-Holst noted that the town already has an application pending with the state’s parks and recreation department for another $400,000 grant, to cover work on the Nathaniel Rogers House in Bridgehampton. Mary Wilson, the manager of the town’s Community Preservation Fund, noted that the two projects are very different and the historic preservation project, which is backed by substantial private money, would likely be looked at very differently by grant managers than parkland in Hampton Bays.

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