- Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr
. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor), State Senator Ken LaValle
, and Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst
have co-authored a plan to ensure that the Southampton and Community College campuses in Southampton would always be dedicated to higher education. The plan, which would have to be adopted by the Southampton Town Board, would establish a new University-25 Zoning District in Southampton Town that would be dedicated to higher education and related activities. The proposal is modeled after a similar law enacted by the City of Ithaca, the home of Cornell University
and Ithaca College.
At the time that the Southampton campus was closed by Long Island University, the Town of Southampton had instituted a moratorium on the campus and conducted a planning study. No action was taken after SUNY acquired the campus in 2006. Thiele and Throne-Holst explained that in light of the recent history of the campus, the Town should now take the steps to ensure the Town's college campuses are always dedicated to higher education purposes. A University-25 (U-25) Zoning District is the best tool to assure that goal.
A number of related initiatives are currently underway to revitalize the campus, including (1) construction of a new Marine Sciences Building, (2) expansion of the arts campus, (3) creation of the Peconic Institute, (4) establishment of a visiting students program for the arts and marine sciences, and (5) negotiations to make the campus the new home for Southampton Hospital
Under the plan, lands designated U-25 could be used as a college or university and its affiliate enterprises such as institutes, hospitals, museums, theaters, laboratories, marine stations, radio stations, and other not-for-profit enterprises. The minimum lot area would be 25 acres.
Thiele stated, "As we emerge from the deepest recession since the 1930s, the need for vibrant two year and four year colleges is critical. Not only does higher education create jobs and attract business, they provide the necessary re-education and training for East Enders will need to secure the good paying jobs that will be created on Long Island. The marriage between higher education and business is clearly the economic plan for Long Island's future through institutions such as Stony Brook, Brookhaven Lab, Hofstra, and Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Unless we establish our own centers of higher education excellence, the East End will be left at the gate. This proposal is a major step to insure that we are part of Long Island's future and not an economic backwater."
"New York State made an investment in the Southampton site being a higher education facility," Senator LaValle said, "and an investment in the economy of the East End. The town's action will cement the State's vision."
Supervisor Throne-Holst stated, "I believe the future use of this campus has the potential to be a major economic engine for our community, and a source of transformational resources and talent for all of Long Island. Ensuring the location remains primarily an educational institution with the opportunity for complementary uses is, in my view, a critically important commitment to our constituents and a decision with immense strategic significance to our region."
Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming
stated, "The Southampton College campus - as a college campus - has been a vital part of Southampton's culture for generations. I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with our state representatives to take action to ensure that the college site retains its fundamental importance as a place for education in our community."