Guest Spot: Community Preservation Fund can be used for more than saving open space 

Just one year ago, shortly after our new administration was sworn into office in Greenport, the village hosted its first “Vision for Greenport” meeting at the historic Greenport Theatre (now the North Fork Arts Center at the Sapan Greenport Theatre). At this event, our keynote speaker was the legendary New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who spoke about preservation, the East End and his enormous contributions to our state through the now 26-year legacy of the Community Preservation Fund he spearheaded. What many don’t know is that Fred and others spent nearly 14 years diligently working on the CPF before the bill was enacted and signed into law in a Southampton farm field by then-governor George Pataki in 1998.

With more than $2 billion raised for the fund through the 2% real estate transfer tax, all of us on the East End have benefited from open space preservation, along with water quality funding and historic preservation, which were added through changes adopted by the state over the years. Unfortunately, the Town of Southold, which manages the fund for the Village of Greenport, has not yet adopted those longstanding changes, which every other East End town has done. A change in that policy would benefit our village greatly. We find ourselves at the crossroads of working for our community and knowing there are many things we can do with our fair share of this fund, and we ask you to join us in speaking to the town about Greenport’s share.

We also would like to share the exciting news that we are collaborating with a local property owner, who has a very special piece of land that we would very much like to preserve in perpetuity. This land has great historic significance and perfectly fits the intention of the CPF fund and our Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. In the coming weeks, we hope to share more about this potential acquisition. But most importantly, we call on the community to please join us Tuesday, July 16 at 4:30 p.m. at Southold Town Hall to show support for our continuing request for our fair share. We invite you to join us in asking the Town Board to adopt the long-instituted changes to allow us to draw down the CPF for needed water quality protections and historic preservation. And, we hope you, too, will see the enormous value in the land we wish to protect within the incorporated Village of Greenport. When we can share that news, we will also request that the Town of Southold support this very first use of CPF funds in Greenport in the fund’s 26-year history. 

We are also thrilled to report that Assemblyman Thiele recently introduced new legislation passed the state Senate and Assembly and awaits the governor’s signature to become law. This important set of changes to the CPF guidelines pays special attention to the Village of Greenport by mandating that towns that have a disadvantaged community, such as the Village of Greenport, get a minimum of 10% of the CPF fees collected annually. Additionally, there are several other provisions which will benefit us, including the creation of an East End Regional Advisory Committee made up of each town supervisor, one village mayor and five community members. We are pleased to share that the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association voted unanimously last week to appoint me as the representative once signed into law by the governor.

So please join us in asking Supervisor Al Krupski and the Town Board to give Greenport its fair share and let’s secure this very special property and use funds for our precious water needs and historic preservation. We have all benefited from land preservation on the North Fork, but there is so much more we can do in the Village of Greenport with the support of our Town Board.

Kevin Stuessi is the mayor of Greenport Village.