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Sports East submits plans for Peconic property

The developers behind the Sports East facility once pitched for Route 25 in Mattituck have dusted off their plans in the hopes of seeing the fitness club built in Peconic instead. 

In response to a request for proposals issued earlier this year for a “major recreational facility” to be built on 10 acres of town-owned land on Carroll Avenue, local developers Paul Pawlowski, Joe Slovak and Steve Marsh submitted plans for an 82,500-square-foot indoor facility.

Their proposal complies with the main requirements set forth by Southold Town officials: To have an indoor swimming pool and be economically accessible to residents.

In addition to the indoor pool, a floor plan for the facility shows a multipurpose indoor field, three tennis courts, pickleball courts, batting cages, a basketball court, gym and four yoga/dance studios.

It would also feature a small reception and café area, men’s and women’s locker rooms and a pro shop.

“One of their main proposals is that they’re not going to necessarily run the classes themselves,” Town Attorney Bill Duffy explained as he reviewed the proposal during a work session Tuesday.

In an interview Tuesday morning, Mr. Pawlowski said they hope to complement existing businesses in the area, rather than directly compete with them.

“We’re looking to work with professionals that are in the area and give them proper space to do what they already do,” he said, adding that local yoga teachers and spin instructors could teach classes at Sports East.

The project would develop 4 acres of the property and no outdoor uses were included in the proposal.

“I don’t think [the developers] proposed ballfields for the outside of this facility like [they] had in the past on the other project because largely, [they] felt that ballfields were already there and it would be a little bit redundant to create more,” Supervisor Scott Russell noted.

The Carroll Avenue property is uniquely situated near Tasker and Cochran town parks on Peconic Lane.

Mr. Pawlowski said that was the main reason they opted to propose an entirely indoor facility. “[The town parks] are already there, they’re great,” he said.

Despite no longer being located along Route 25, Mr. Pawlowski said the location is centralized for all Southold residents and would fit nicely with the existing facilities.

“We’re really trying to fill a void in indoor recreational needs for our community,” he said.

Mr. Pawlowski said that rather than operate as a private fitness club, he’d like to model the memberships after the Southampton Youth Services recreation center, which opened in 2003. In Southampton, adult residents pay $75 per year for access; nonresidents pay $125.

“A lot of people from the North Fork do go there, but Southold Town residents, Greenport residents, we don’t have this,” he said, noting that they’d like to serve the local residents first and foremost.

He said that in addition to a small membership fee, individualized instruction and fitness classes would likely come with their own costs.

Mr. Pawlowski said he hopes the facility can serve all areas of the population. “We feel everything we’re offering on an indoor basis will attract every demographic from kids that really have nothing to do in the colder months and adults who’d like to use the swimming pool or use the tennis courts for exercise,” he said.

Mr. Russell, noting that several details must be reviewed before the project moves forward, described the plan as a “compelling proposal that was submitted by a person with a record of getting things done and doing it well.”

Sports East was first pitched in 2015 for a site along Main Road in Mattituck, but the project was blocked in 2017 when the Southold Zoning Board of Appeals upheld a December 2016 ruling that the property was not zoned for membership club use. That property has since been purchased for preservation by Suffolk County.

According to Mr. Duffy, the next steps are for the Town Board to vote on whether to accept the proposal and authorize negotiations to begin on the terms of the agreement, including whether the land will be leased from the town.

The Town Board would also have to adopt a “floating” recreational zone on the property, which is currently zoned for agricultural uses.

The floating zone was created through legislation adopted earlier this year to make way for recreational facilities for which a genuine need has been established, regardless of underlying zoning.

Mr. Russell said the board was going “right to work” to review the details and address any concerns raised by either party.

“We’d love to get this done sooner rather than later,” Mr. Pawlowski said.

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