Disputes over the transactional agreement for a parcel of East Hampton land have hampered the town’s purchase as part of its community preservation fund.
The town purchased about a one-third acre property at 21 Muchmore Lane in East Hampton Village adjacent to Herrick Park. The East Hampton Star reported the town paid close to $2.8 million for the land from Ralph Dayton, son of a former mayor of the village who died in 2003.
The deal came after Dayton reportedly sold several other parcels to the town, but since he decided the property should become an arboretum dedicated to his late father.
One of the terms of the transaction was the erection of a plaque honoring Douglas Dayton and a christening of the park as the Douglas E. Dayton Arboretum. However, an operating agreement including the covenants and restrictions has not been signed to Ralph Dayton’s knowledge, despite the tendering of payment and the deed.
“He has sullied an absolutely beautiful thing,” Dayton said to the East Hampton Star of Mayor Jerry Larsen, who previously spoke out in support of the property’s acquisition.
The rules of using community preservation fund money dictate the creation of a detailed management plan. The town is responsible for developing the plan and for this property, the town and village would implement the plan together, according to Councilman David Lys.
The community preservation fund is also designed to purchase and preserve open spaces. At least one resident spoke against the purchase, citing a lack of transparency and the possibility of the park “being transitioned from a park mostly for passive enjoyment and casual recreation into a heavily used event venue.”
The fund is supported by a 2 percent transfer tax on real estate sales in the five East End towns. As of mid-2021, the fund has raised nearly $1.6 billion and has preserved 10,000 acres of land in two decades.
The fund has generated an average of $70 million per year through 2020, when revenues reached an all-time high of $139.42 million, a 79 percent increase from 2019.
[East Hampton Star] — Holden Walter-Warner