- The East Hampton Town Board officially approved the purchase of 77 prime acres of Montauk open space from land owner Dick Cavatt after a public hearing on the landmark purchase held at town hall Thursday, Aug. 14. The acquisition is a joint venture between the Town of East Hampton, Suffolk County and the State of New York, which will each pay one-third of the $18 million purchase price and closing costs.
The parcel is currently owned by former television talk show personality Dick Cavett
, who agreed to sell the land on Aug. 4 for $18 million, $6 million of which will come from East Hampton's Community Preservation Fund (CPF), while the other $12 million is split equally between the State and County.
Resting magnificently across 77 acres of oceanfront bluffs and wetlands, the parcel is situated between Camp Hero State Park to the east, Theodore Roosevelt County Park to the north, and Amsterdam Beach to the south, a 122-acre parcel acquired by the Town, County and State collectively in 2005. Gaining ownership of the property completes "the last great puzzle piece," of conservation at Montauk Point, according to Councilman Pete Hammerle.
As a whole, the 265 acres of what is known as the Montauk Moorlands have been gradually collected for conservation by government agencies over the past 20 years, according to Nancy Kelley, executive director of The Nature Conservancy
on Long Island, the organization given stewardship duties over the parkland.
The parcel is currently owned by Dick Cavett, former television talk show personality and sharp-witted comedian, who hosted The Dick Cavett Show
, which aired nightly on ABC from 1969 to 1975. Cavett's home sits atop the bluffs peering out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Unanimous, With Reservations
The East Hampton Town Board voted to purchase the 77 acres, with assistance from the State and County, on Thursday, Aug. 14. The town will pay one-third of the $18 million purchase price using the Community Preservation Fund (C[CPF).
State and County assistance was necessary in facilitating the purchase. According to Councilman Hammerle, a fellow Montauk resident, "$18 million out of the CPF would have shut us down." In the joint arrangement, East Hampton's $6 million share is well within the budget for CPF, according to Hammerle, and an excellent opportunity to use the fund as it was intended.
The three board members present at the Aug. 14 hearing, Councilman Brad Loewen, Councilwoman Pat Mansir and Councilman Hammerle, voted unanimously to approve the deal. Mansir tempered her position for the record, stating that her 'yea' vote was "with reservations."
Mansir later expressed concern over conserving land at the detriment to the real estate market. "Every time we buy these lands it takes valuable land off the market," she explained. Building prime real estate above the bluffs would help generate tax revenue, possibly as much as $100,000 a year, according to Mansir. If she had voted against the resolution it would not have passed.
"We bought the Struk property," Mansir recalled, citing the recent CPF purchase of the Amagansett Farmers' Market, now managed by Eli Zabar, "and that came back to bite us."
"This is a key parcel for us to protect," Town Supervisor William McGintee stressed, referring to the joint venture shortly after an agreement was reached between all parties involved, "We greatly appreciate the financial support from Suffolk County and New York State."
"I know my organization is thrilled," Bill Akin, president of the Concerned Citizens for Montauk, asserted. Akin offered perspective on the foresight evident in 20 years of preservation, "People will see what was accomplished from Hither Hills out to the lighthouse."
State and county officials will finalize the cooperative deal over the next few months. In congruence with the adjacent state-owned land, also managed by the Nature Conservancy, the property is likely to remain undeveloped, according to Erik Kulleseid, deputy director for land acquisition for the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.