The house and barn would be torn down to create...

The house and barn would be torn down to create waterfront access. Credit: Randee Daddona

A community group has suggested knocking down two buildings with ties to Flanders’ first settlers to give residents access to the waterfront.

The Southampton Town Board voted 5-0 at its Tuesday regular meeting to acquire two land parcels — totaling four acres — on Flanders Road, one of the which contains a residence and a barn, for approximately $500,000 in Community Preservation funds. The acquisition is now the subject of debate as some residents propose opposing plans for what to do with it.

The Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association supports knocking down the buildings and creating an elevated scenic catwalk with access to Reeves Bay near the property.

Ron Fisher, the association’s president, said the $500,000 catwalk project would give residents of Flanders and Southampton “the ability to walk along the bay, enjoy the views and the water,” and they could do it in a way that “preserves the environment, preserves open space, and they can safely enjoy nature.”

Others have called for preserving the structures.

Sally Spanburgh, chairwoman of the town’s Landmarks and Historic Districts Board, cited the home’s connection to Josiah Goodale, believed to be the first Southampton native to permanently settle in Flanders in the mid-1700s and whose family owned the property until the late 1900s.

Spanburgh told the board the house and barn had historic value and contributed to the hamlet’s character, asking the board to “lead by example” in preserving the structures, suggesting using them in ways such as workforce housing for town employees or for educational purposes.

Community Preservation manager Mary Wilson recommended the town board move quickly to acquire the property for its wetland and scenic values. She added that preserving the structures could make it harder to open the property to more public access.

Southampton Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone said Thursday a final decision on the buildings had not been made yet, and both structures would need to be reassessed before that.

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