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Aug 23, 2011 4:01 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Center Of The Arts Plans Could Be Finalized Soon

Aug 24, 2011 10:58 AM

With less than a year remaining before the Parrish Art Museum leaves Southampton Village for Water Mill, the plans for its replacement—the Southampton Center of the Arts—are about to be finalized.

Village Mayor Mark Epley—who has described the metamorphosis of the museum property as one of the most important decisions that his administration will make—said the final draft of the village consultant’s plan will be presented at a public meeting on Tuesday, August 30, at the Southampton Cultural Center on Pond Lane. The meeting begins at 5 p.m.

The public, he said, can expect to learn the final results of a community survey regarding the future use of the village-owned site at 25 Jobs Lane. The property includes the current 17,000-square-foot museum building and about 2 acres of surrounding arboretum, but does not include the Carroll Petrie Center for Education at the Parrish Art Museum—the former Rogers Memorial Library building—which is owned by the Parrish.

Representatives from the village’s Manhattan-based consultant, Webb Management Services, and the planning firm Foresite Facility Planners are expected to present the plans, alongside the mayor and other members of the center’s founder’s committee, including Village Planning Commission Chairman Siamak Samii and Thomas Knight, the chairman of the Southampton Cultural Center. The mayor said the village also recently hired a launch consultant, Mara Manus, a Stanford University graduate who has extensive experience in film and theater in Los Angeles and New York, for $10,000 per month. Ms. Manus is responsible for developing the programming for the multidisciplinary facility and developing partnerships, he said.

An initial estimate of a three-year, $20 million renovation project has since been reduced, according to the mayor. “This process has changed those expectations a little bit, and part of the renovations and potential expansions of the building will be driven by the partnerships we create,” he said.

Originally, the mayor said, he anticipated all renovations being done first, before the programming could take root. But he said the work will now be phased in and that a sorely needed restoration of the building could cost anywhere from $6 million to $9 million.

“We heard everyone’s concerns over cost,” Mr. Epley said. 
“This is a public-private 
partnership. The costs of restoration and operations of that building are not going to fall on the village taxpayer.”

More definitive plans than the four sketches presented at a Planning Commission meeting on July 7 are also expected to be unveiled on Tuesday. The village could possibly have a contest open to architects, although much will be driven by funding capabilities, the mayor said.

The village is in the process of completing the bylaws for the new organization and hopes to have a board of directors in place by the end of this year, according to Mr. Epley.

The Parrish plans to vacate the site next summer. The museum’s decision to terminate its long-standing lease with the village, and vacate the village center to build a significantly larger, more modern building in Water Mill, was a contentious issue last decade. At one point, museum officials had drafted plans to expand the building into the surrounding grounds, but village officials and community members rejected those plans on the grounds that they would eat up too much open space and would not restore the site’s historical flavor. The mayor said he offered the museum a chance to own the building, but that Parrish officials chose to go ahead with a new building that they said could mount special exhibitions and permanent-collection installations simultaneously, among other advantages.

The mayor said a historical landscape study of the property completed last decade eventually led to a set building envelope, meaning that no matter who occupies the building, the historical grounds would be preserved. Any future additions on the site would be less intrusive than what the Parrish had originally planned, he said.

Tuesday’s meeting will also feature a question-and-answer session at which time members of the public are invited to share their opinions.

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