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Jan 16, 2018 2:32 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Suffolk County, Southampton Town Officials Break Ground On Speonk Commons Affordable Housing Project Tuesday

Project leaders break ground at the site of the Speonk Commons affordable housing development. KATE RIGA
Jan 17, 2018 9:27 AM

Ground was officially broken Tuesday morning on one of Southampton Town’s first two rental workforce housing developments.

Speonk Commons, an eight-building, 38-unit affordable housing complex at 41 North Phillips Avenue, will eventually be joined by another similar development at 161 Sandy Hollow Road in Tuckahoe that will boast 28 units in three buildings. Both developments will feature a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, with rents ranging from $950 to $1,715 per month. The housing will be available for families making 50 to 85 percent of median income for the area.

Combined, the developments will cost $30 million to construct, according to David Gallo, the developer of both properties and president of Georgica Green Ventures LLC. Ground was broken December 18 on the Tuckahoe project, which has been dubbed Sandy Hollow, though work on that development is not expected to be finished before Speonk Commons.

On Tuesday, a whole host of local leaders celebrated the beginning of construction on the Speonk development, marking the day as a hallmark in Southampton Town history. Workers had begun clearing the land on January 3 with the demolition of “The Castle,” a former boardinghouse well-known to locals due to its distinctive turreted look.

Southampton Housing Authority Executive Director Curtis Highsmith Jr. opened Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony, celebrating this victory on the heels of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. “Affordable housing across New York State is the American dream,” he said. “It takes a community to raise and create affordable, attainable housing.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who attended the ceremony, pointed out that the development will sit next door to the Speonk train station, saying that this “transportation-oriented development” is desperately needed on Long Island.

County Legislator Bridget Fleming added that the public transportation-friendly development will fulfill another critical need on the island, that of environmental protection. “We are a coastal community and we have an obligation to reduce carbon emissions,” she said, adding that creating viable affordable housing on the East End will also maintain communities’ diversity and contribute to the local economy.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman reflected back on the tumultuous journey to get to this groundbreaking, recalling the many contentious meetings and ultimate about-face as locals shifted from adamantly opposing the development to eventually supporting it. The key to winning that support was the town’s decision to reduce the density of the Speonk development.

“It is the first time in 20 years that I’ve seen that kind of public transformation,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

Though the timeline for the project’s completion is still unclear, the tone of Tuesday’s ceremony was one of triumph as community leaders watched a long-awaited dream come to fruition.

“This was a labor of love and time,” Ms. Fleming said after the ceremony. “This is a great day.”

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Criminal. The area cannot support the density. How about make the real new homes more affordable by cutting down on the ridiculous hurdles it takes to build one. Plus, as they move to the new (who got paid off?) septic requirements adding to the already exuberant cost of going through planning and environmental protocols.
By The Real World (368), southampton on Jan 16, 18 3:36 PM
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We spend a lot of time talking about the disconnect between government and community. The Speonk Commons development represents the process gone right. Supervisor Schneiderman, Councilman Bouvier, Councilwoman Scalera, Councilwoman Lofstad and former Councilman Glinka met with us countless times. They listened to our concerns. They came to our town and engaged our civic associations.They fought for lower density on the site. In the end we have a complex that will yield the same amount of people ...more
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 16, 18 4:20 PM
Sad day for the residents of the area. Property values down, taxes up and traffic remains the same for traveling east over the canal. Who does this help? No one. Affordable housing needs to be built east of the canal where the work is not, west of it. This is making Speonk, Southampton township a lot less desirable place to live.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Jan 16, 18 8:06 PM
It's disingenuous to reference workforce and workers in regards to this housing project. You can not discriminate against a tenant based on any lawful form of income.
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Jan 16, 18 10:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
IMHO the Town has no business in providing housing, affordable or otherwise.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 17, 18 12:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
Perhaps being a couple decades ahead of the curve has skewed one's view?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 17, 18 12:59 AM
That's a very principled view that doesn't really help people who lack housing.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 17, 18 2:33 PM
While very pleased to see the redevelopment of this blighted property, the price tag is astonishing - just shy of $790,000 per unit. This type of development is unsustainable and too much is related to permitting and engineering expenses
By roverton (64), Westhampton on Jan 17, 18 6:05 AM
Ray, the 30 mill figure is combined between Speonk and Sandy Hollow.
Still high, but not 790K high. The state $ needed to keep the complexes affordable in perpetuity.
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 17, 18 10:32 AM
Craig, thank you for correcting me. The correct figure would be $455k per unit. While its better, its still very high for multi-family construction. This is especially true when you consider there are a number of studio units.
By roverton (64), Westhampton on Jan 17, 18 2:21 PM
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Craigcat, shoot for the moon and get what you want. What they approved they planned from the very first meeting. It was evident. The as of right provided a commercial component that would increase the tax base with no impact on schools as well as provide more retail for the area. So even if the amount of people were the same (which I disagree) the benefit to the community would be there. This is typical pontificating politicians slamming a project down a communities throat. How about lower the ...more
By The Real World (368), southampton on Jan 17, 18 7:25 AM
There will be a commercial segment at the complex. Not sure what will be viable, but it will be there. What they approved was not planned from the start. I assure you it that. I think people need to understand that it's the state that funds and pushes these models. Personally, and I have expressed this to all involved, I prefer an ownership model. Sadly, the state has no such model and in order to fund these complexes need to increase density on relatively cheap land. You will see more of this ...more
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 17, 18 7:43 AM
Sorry for spelling errors. Fat fingers on a kindle.
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 17, 18 7:45 AM
For once our local govt. got things right. Big thanks to all involved.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Jan 17, 18 8:16 AM
The same Town that cannot enforce the housing laws in Hampton Bays and allow people to live in deplorable conditions in old hotels. Lots of Kool-Aid
By The Real World (368), southampton on Jan 17, 18 10:20 AM
1 member liked this comment
In other words, in your "Real World" they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Let's hear your suggestions for THE real world that the rest of us live in.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jan 19, 18 9:42 PM
Nice job on the part of all of those who took the time to become informed and to work together to come up with a sensible solution to a difficult problem. Coincidentally, a report was just published today by the Rauch Foundation showing that Long Islanders do in fact want more housing options. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and as the Speonk project demonstrates, context is everything. http://www.longislandindex.org/data_posts/long-island-index-poll-long-islanders-want-more-housing-options/
By Patti Schaefer (12), Westhampton Beach on Jan 17, 18 10:52 AM
This had better stay within "WORKING CLASS". Parents rented to Section 8 and the place was destroyed within a year. You can't mix neighbors of different incomes, people are resentful by nature. Sad to say but true. Just listen to all these comments.
By lirider (288), Hampton Bays on Jan 17, 18 12:23 PM
Sad day. The elementary school is full to capacity and as this project generates no tax income the building of a new school will put an extreme burden on the already overtaxed residents of the area. The politicians are joyous because they get to spend more of our money and add low income housing residents to vote for them.
By Andy (2), Remsenburg on Jan 18, 18 4:32 PM
It is work force housing, not low income. There are strict rules about who gets to live there. Also, that piece of land is in the Eastport-South Manor School District.
By tenn tom (259), remsenburg on Jan 19, 18 7:39 AM
And if this doesn't happen, will you be here to eat your words?

I see you're still actively commenting, why are you ignoring my questions surrounding your racist "Celts" comment?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 19, 18 9:34 AM
Pee Wee - I think you need to look into the renting/vetting criteria. Also, if that did happen, we'd scream and broadcast it to all who will listen, thus killing any chance of this model being plugged in anywhere else. The state does not want these models to fail - they have way too much invested. So perhaps you can actually give those making $36,500 - $89,000 a chance instead of condemning an end result based on a hypothesis based on inaccurate data. More, we are going to work closely with Diana ...more
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 19, 18 12:34 PM
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Actually this is in the Speonk/Remsenburg school district. I checked with the town.
By lifesaver (118), speonk on Jan 20, 18 1:09 PM
I drive through this area everyday and it is already run down when compared to the rest of the Hamptons. Don’t kid yourself, this is an improvement. The current housing stock in this entire area is old and run down. Speonk is a ghost town. You build housing next to a railroad station and act like you are giving the best land away for free. You couldn’t give me a free house in this area and everyone who is honest would agree with me. There are very beautiful properties and homes very ...more
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Jan 19, 18 8:55 AM
Not entirely accurate. That property has and is being used as affordable. The N Phillips Ave corridor is slowly being transformed. Yes, that area has mostly small rental homes. As a matter of fact, a home was raided right up the road because of illegal overcrowding. So the truth is N. Phillips is not without issues, but it could be a diamond in the rough. It's going to take some time, but we can do it. I think 1st time buyers should keep an eye on it.
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 19, 18 12:24 PM
Hey PW, finally a response! Do you have any clarity on what you meant by "the Celt are better than you will ever be"?

It sounded like a claim about racial superiority. Po Boy threw you a lifeline and suggested that you may have meant the Boston basketball team.

Would you like to go with that?
Jan 20, 18 11:24 PM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
I do not expect PW to address his racism, but bring it up so everyone knows. Racists are cowards and run when confronted.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 19, 18 11:24 PM
I'll be the first to admit: I'm astonished that nobody is even acknowledging your comment was racist.

On the contrary, Po Boy, Erin 27 E, and Toes in the Water have come to your support.

Now that you are standing by your comment about the racial superiority of the Irish people, I wonder if anyone will speak up?

For context, when PW said:

"Americans are very gracious and welcome legal immigrants. Always have been."

I reminded him that once, the Irish were ...more
Jan 20, 18 9:20 AM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
PW is correct that I misattributed the "always have been" comment to him, but it's a fact that he said "the celts are better than you will ever be." Care to explain what you mean by that PW?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 20, 18 9:20 AM
Every once in a while I'm really glad this site doesn't have comment edit/delete tools.

In the comments of the Zeldin story dated Nov. 30 you wrote the following on January 16,care to explain?:

The Celts are better than you will ever be.
By pw herman (770), southampton on Jan 16, 18 9:45 AM
2 members liked this comment
Jan 20, 18 9:51 AM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
Since PW doesn't want to talk about his comment, would anyone care to weigh in on why this comment is not racist? Go ahead and change my view.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 20, 18 9:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
Fore, why don't you explain why it is racist instead of asking why it isn't. Claiming one is better than another is not inherently racist. Pw wasn't claiming superiority or displaying prejudice. I doubt he even knows what race you are.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 18 2:38 PM
I wish they would stop calling this affordable housing and call it what it really is: subsidized housing. Just look at all the politicians in the picture. No way in the world this will be affordable.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Jan 19, 18 9:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
There's no guarantee that one will be able to afford to live where one desires. Using tax payer money to destroy open space and build subsidized housing in an environmentally sensitive area is just wrong. Sandy Hollow is a terrible situation.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 20, 18 11:55 AM
Their political future is in that ditch they are filling in.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Jan 20, 18 12:05 PM
The state and county have invested over 32 million dollars into the Sandy Hollow and Speonk complexes. That's 32 million reasons for the state and county to want to see these things succeed. The state vetting criteria is pretty strict and clear. The multiiple layers of oversight are in place as well, and in the case of Speonk, we are engaged in the process on all levels.
Screaming that either complex will devolve into drug infested slums doesn't do anyone any good. That's a fear driven reaction ...more
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 20, 18 12:23 PM
If the state and county have invested over 32 million dollars into the Sandy Hollow and Speonk subsidized housing complexes it's already a failure.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Jan 21, 18 7:59 PM
The public did get involved in the Sandy Hollow disaster and were ignored at every turn, from voicing concerns about destroying an environmentally sensitive piece of property abutting critical wetlands to traffic impacts on an already maxed out
sandy Hollow Rd to impacts on our school system . This social engineering experiment was rammed down our throats , so please excuse our skepticism.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 20, 18 12:36 PM
Not saying your concerns aren't valid. We share many of the same concerns here. The point is there are some stating that the inevitable end result will be drug infested slums. I don't think that's fair, nor do I see any benefit from it.
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 20, 18 12:55 PM
The potential for a Section 8 component is real, hence the concern for all the problems that brings.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 20, 18 1:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
But neither property is participating in the section 8 program. Also, the demand for these units will be so high with qualified tenants, it's doubtful that you'll ever see a need for either to have to rely on the section 8 program.
My 2 main concerns are the impact that this may have on our school. I think the Nelson Pope assessment is too low. I hope I'm wrong. I'm also concerned with the traffic issues when the train is in station.
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 20, 18 1:47 PM
PW, what's the difference between "welfare recipients" and "local low income workers"?

Isn't there any possible overlap between the two groups?

What did you mean by "Celts"?

In what way are they "better" than I "will ever be" according to you?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 21, 18 9:23 AM
I think we're all benefiting from government spending, no?

I'd just like to understand you better.

Care to explain what you meant?
Jan 21, 18 10:13 AM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
Perhaps if you didn't run away from your comments I wouldn't have to chase you.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 21, 18 10:13 AM
PWH - I'm going to choose to stay positive, engaged, and base my opinions on information. I sincerely hope that you are never on the receiving end of judgment based on misinformation. Good luck.
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 21, 18 12:38 PM
Some debates aren't worth having, Fore1gn.
By Craigcat (258), Speonk on Jan 21, 18 12:40 PM
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I've got lots of tine, Cat :)
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 21, 18 1:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
Fore likes the comment but continues to stalk for answers he somehow thinks he is "entitled" to. Silly really.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 18 8:05 PM
Hey dnice! I don't feel entitled to an answer, and indeed PW is as free to run away from his comments as he is to make them, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like one.

Perhaps you'd like to opine, since PW is uninterested in talking about the things he types. Was his comment racist?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 21, 18 8:09 PM
government spending benefits all of us??!! Obviously some benefit MUCH more from redistribution of tax payer's money than do others
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 21, 18 8:14 PM
Obviously some people are a greater weight on the taxpayer than others, whether in raw dollars or per capita, but what I meant is that "there's something in the budget for everyone" not "everyone will benefit from everything in the budget"
Jan 21, 18 8:32 PM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
Whether we're subsidizing wall street or main street, everyone's on the government teat in some way or other.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 21, 18 8:32 PM
Fore, I already answered your question. Check your other posts. To save you some time having to research your multiple requests for PW to answer, my answer was no.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 18 8:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
I frankly had not seen your response farther up! You're right, we should talk about how we define racism.

For me, it must meet two criteria:

1. An expression or superiority or inferiority
2. based on an ethnic or racial identity.

PW said "the celts (an ethnic group) are better than you will ever be (an expression of superiority).
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 21, 18 9:00 PM
Perhaps his comment was racially insensitive or just offensive to you, but I don't believe it was racist. Perhaps PW was displaying pride in being a Celt. I don't know as I don't know PW. Nothing I have read leads me to believe PW is a racist. I'm not sure it is fair to condemn anyone as a racist by a single post. Using the term "racist" so easily might weaken its currency. I'm pretty sure that by calling someone racist you’re much more likely to get an empty apology and defensive rationalizations. ...more
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 21, 18 9:26 PM
Do you agree with my definition?

Do you agree with my interpretation of PW's comment?

I think there's be nothing wrong with saying "it's great to be white/black/celt!" but putting others down with "we are better than you because we are white/black/celt!" is a much more harmful statement.

I think highlighting racist behavior, or ignorant behavior if you prefer, is an important way to deter it individually and generally.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 21, 18 10:01 PM
Where did I say I'm "here for the free stuff"?

Ready to talk about your comment yet?
Jan 22, 18 9:10 AM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
You can even talk about it using 80s movie quotes if you want!
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 22, 18 9:10 AM
Celtics rule!
By Po Boy (5299), Water Mill on Jan 22, 18 9:22 AM
You'll find me hard-pressed to cheer for any team from Boston...these Celtics are impressive, though. Let's see if they can get out of that three-game losing streak and keep a stranglehold on the East.

The Conference crown still goes through the King!
Jan 22, 18 12:59 PM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
But what does all that have to do with PW's comment?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 22, 18 12:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
You are, if nothing else, a good sport Fore;).
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 22, 18 2:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thanks dnice, I try to follow the Golden Rule. Do kids still learn that these days?

You never did say whether you agreed with my definition or interpretation.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 22, 18 2:59 PM
the productive members of society are most definitely NOT on the government teat but are providing the funds doled out!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 25, 18 10:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
I answered your original question on whether I thought PW's post was racist. I will not participate in trap questions.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 22, 18 3:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
And that's your prerogative, although you were the one who suggested that I "explain why it is racist instead of asking why it isn't."

You also said that "Pw wasn't claiming superiority" which I directly disagree with.

Again, his statement was: "The Celts are BETTER than you will ever be." (emphasis mine)
Jan 22, 18 3:08 PM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
Choosing to think what we think is fine, but thinking about how & why we think it is so much more rewarding.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 22, 18 3:08 PM
PW stated better than you, not your race. Whatever he meant is a question better asked of him.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 22, 18 3:18 PM
But he's still making a statement about the superiority of a racial group. Does the comment sound better or worse if we switch "Celts" for another group:

"The Mexicans are better than you will ever be."
"The Blacks are better than you will ever be."
"The Aryans are better than you will ever be."

I'm going to make an assumption that, since he highlighted Celts as "better" than me, he believes that I'm not one of the Celtic people.

For me, PW does not need to identify ...more
Jan 22, 18 3:34 PM appended by Fore1gnBornHBgrown
Dnice: I agree completely, but my attempts to ask him have been rebuffed.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jan 22, 18 3:34 PM
Why isn't any of these projects ever done in the incorporated villages. How.about Sag Harbor stepping up or Southampton village. Most of the town council lived in these villages and for that matter most of the jobs are located in these villages. We do not want to upset the residents of these villages.
By HB salvation (27), Hampton bays on Jan 23, 18 11:00 PM
This is a FRIENDS & FAMILY taxpayer giveaway for politicians and the Housing Department!.
Connected tenants who work and live outside of Southampton will qualify for these cheap apartments. They just need a P.O. box or address of a friend or family living in Southampton. Do their taxes listing that SH address and Bingo! Bouvier offspring who no longer live here, and others with connections will reap the benefits of this taxpayer ripoff.
By lightfoot (9), southampton on Jan 25, 18 12:07 PM