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Mar 19, 2014 10:58 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Good Ground Park Committee Narrows Design Search To Three Finalists

Mar 19, 2014 12:34 PM

The committee charged with finding an architectural firm to design the proposed Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays has narrowed its search to three finalists, one of which will be chosen by the Southampton Town Board to tackle the $200,000 project.

Ten firms submitted bids for the work prior to the March 4 deadline and the search committee, made up of town officials and civic leaders within the hamlet, whittled that list down to three finalists late last week. They include Araiys Design Landscape Architecture of Southampton, Nancy Owens Studio LLC of Manhattan, and MKW and Associates LLC, which has offices in Manhattan and Rutherford, New Jersey.

The committee will rank the final three applicants and deliver its recommendations to the Town Board during a public work session scheduled for 1 p.m. today, Thursday, March 20, at Town Hall.

Deputy Town Supervisor Frank Zappone, who has been spearheading the push for the 36-acre park since last year, did not disclose the committee’s rankings, but he said experience set the final three firms apart from the pack.

“They all brought great experience in designing public spaces in conjunction with open space,” Mr. Zappone said Friday. “The idea for the park is to have an amphitheater, as well as a playground for children and amenities to accommodate all ages—children, adults and seniors. With these firms, they all brought an enormous amount of experience in those fields.”

The designs for the park, which would extend from Montauk Highway to Sunrise Highway, would be paid for using a $128,519 grant from the State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation that was awarded to the town in December. As part of the conditions of the grant, the town will pay the remaining design costs as long as they do not exceed $200,000.

Along with the amphitheater and the playground, the park also will include walking trails and an access road for cars, in accordance with the desires expressed by residents during public hearings last year.

Tim Rumph, the founder and president of Araiys Design, said he feels his company is most qualified because it is local and because he assisted with original plans for the park eight years ago. Therefore, he feels well versed in the needs of the park.

“Part of the [town’s request for proposals] also talked about using local design officials in the town—that was another thing that was in our favor,” Mr. Rumph said. “Also, I’ve grown up, basically, in the hamlet of Hampton Bays. I had a home in Hampton Bays and I worship at St. Mary’s Church on Ponquogue Avenue. I knew a lot of people at the [committee] table.”

He also pointed out that he has experience working with the town and has a cost estimation firm that he works with that would be useful when it comes time to apply for grants to actually construct the park, which will take an estimated $2 million to complete.

Mr. Rumph said he wants to design a park that becomes an economic engine for the hamlet, drawing people to its restaurants and stores. This idea was echoed by John Williams, president of MKW and Associates, who said he envisions a slew new commercial properties along the park’s access road, which would extend from Squiretown Road and run parallel to Montauk Highway.

Mr. Williams said what separates his firm from the other finalists is its experience with designing amphitheaters, which they have drawn up for parks, like Crotona Park in the Bronx, as well as the University of Georgia in Athens. He added that “90 percent” of the work his firm does is for public entities.

“We’re accustomed to doing parks and I think our experience, our very relevant experience with amphitheaters, puts us in a good position to give the Town of Southampton and Hampton Bays an award-winning design,” he said.

MKW has also done work at Stony Brook University, the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Northport and the St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, according to Mr. Williams.

Nancy Owen, of Nancy Owen Studio, said Wednesday that her firm brings a wealth of experience to the table in terms of designing parks, many of which are scattered throughout New York City’s five boroughs. She noted that she has also partnered with engineers who helped construct Mitchell Park in Greenport Village, which boasts an amphitheater similar to the one desired for Good Ground Park.

Along with being able to design unique, quality parks, Ms. Owens said her firm also has the ability to orchestrate the implementation of her ideas all the way through the construction process.

“I would hope that they would look at the portfolio of park projects I’ve created the concepts for,” she said, referring to the Town Board. “I have a track record of doing those kind of parks in the boroughs of Manhattan, and I would hope they would have the confidence that I would design a one-of-a-kind park in their community as well.”

After the recommendations are made during Thursday’s work session, the Town Board is expected to select a firm during its next board meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, March 25, at 6 p.m.

The town purchased the 36 acres on which the park would be built in 2003 for $3.5 million from the Rosko family, using Community Preservation Fund money. A pocket park now sits on the property, next to Squiretown Restaurant, and features benches and a short walking path that would be used as a pedestrian entrance to the park once it is finished.

Although the town still needs to secure funding, Mr. Zappone said construction on the park could commence as early as 2015.

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