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Preservation Board debates land use: Klenawicus discussed at Monday meeting

The Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board began what will be on ongoing discussion Monday morning about what activities members think should or should not be allowed on land purchased with its money to preserve.

While use of Klenawicus Airfield for a treatment system for liquid wastes wasn’t the prime subject, it was raised in the discussion. Councilwoman BJ Ianfolla, the Town Board liaison to the CPF Advisory Board, said officials are exploring alternative sites.

Town Engineer Joe Finora clarified the status in response to an emailed question. “The airfield site is still the preferred location for the reasons discussed in the engineering report,” he said.

Public feedback objecting to use of that site has resulted in his department and Lombardo Associates, the consulting firm that issued the report, expanding the search criteria to evaluate a broader range of locations. The “analysis is ongoing and the results may or may not change the professional recommendation to proceed with the airfield,” Mr. Finora said.

The general discussion of how CPF land should be allowed to be used will continue at the April 11 CPF Advisory Board meeting. Money for the CPF comes from a 2% tax that buyers pay when purchasing East End properties and is used in turn to purchase open space for preservation and fund water protection programs.

The crux of the issue on Monday was whether any commercial operations should be allowed on CPF-acquired properties.

Board Chairman Gordon Gooding said he has no problem with passive uses such as educators bringing students to the sites. But he said he would have a problem with someone operating any kind of commercial business. It’s meant to be open space for people’s enjoyment, Mr. Gooding said.

Member Cathy Kenny said a policy should be adopted, instead of leaving the issue to be decided as situations arise. Member Joe Denny thought soccer being played on the former St. Gabriel’s site would be acceptable, while his board colleague Tim Purtell though that could tear up the field. Mr. Denny thought use of the site for the annual Fire Department chicken barbecue likely would cause more damage than a soccer game.

The Peconic Land Trust’s Melanie Cirillo said in Southampton there was a surf instructor who ran courses from a farm site preserved with CPF money and problems developed because parking spaces were being totally taken over by those attending the sessions. A compromise was worked out limiting the hours when the site could be used for surfing instructions.

At the same time, she said the Suffolk County Farmland Committee had to approve that use because some county money had been used in purchasing the land.

Mr. Gooding noted a number of preserved sites on the Island have been purchased through a partnership with the county.

In years past, representatives from all five East End towns met to discuss issues all had with how to administer CPF money. Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) is working on issues to guide its use, he said.