A Southampton man has started a campaign to urge the State University of New York to sell off the campus in Shinnecock Hills in an effort to save SUNY money and put the land on the Southampton Town tax rolls, but the university says they have no plans to abandon the campus — rather, they are doubling down.
Edward Broidy proposed in a that the campus be sold for executive offices, which, he says, will lower taxes for property owners in Southampton and bring high paying jobs to the community.
"Bringing the college back to life is not the way to help Southampton’s economy," Broidy argued. "Another college or institute will not help the majority of the town residents. Property taxes help; jobs help. Jobs will pick up the real estate market — that’s what helps, not putting another tax exempt entity back in Southampton and calling it an institute."
has been searching for a new role for the campus after an undergraduate sustainability program was moved to the main campus and the dorms were shuttered in 2010 despite the . Graduate marine science and creative writing programs remain intact, and Stony Brook Southampton has since launched , a semester-long marine sciences program for visiting undergraduate students.
And the university says the campus' offerings are expanding.
"All the academic offerings in Southampton take full advantage of the unique facilities at the campus and outstanding existing faculty," university spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow said. "Introducing new and enhanced programs at Stony Brook Southampton demonstrates the university’s commitment to maintaining world-class academic programs on the Southampton campus, now and into the future."
Sheprow pointed out that the university has a new MFA program in theater and film and hosts nationally renowned summer workshops.
"In addition, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SOMAS), utilizing the Marine Sciences Research Station at Southampton, is engaged in cutting edge research to better understand all threats to the estuarine ecosystems so critical to the environmental and economic health of the East End," Sheprow said.
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, an advocate of the college, said Broidy's plan would, in the interest of capitalism, tarnish "one of the most beautiful and culturally important spots in town," while the town already has zoning in place to accommodate office complexes. As an example, she noted that Gabreski airport in Westhampton in undergoing industrial and office park development.
"This country was certainly built on several of the good tenants of 'capitalism,' but it was also built on good and readily available education, farming and aquaculture — and one does not have to replace the other," Throne-Holst said.
"The SUNY Southampton campus occupies a very different role for those of us who care about maintaining a site for education, marine science, and hopefully very soon, the newly conceived Sustainability Institute — as well as being an important cultural center," she said. "The importance of maintaining a higher and continuing education hub in our town, as well as exploring and protecting the sustainability of our region should not be lost on anyone."