The Lake Agawam Conservancy welcomes community input on the proposed expansion of Agawam Park and the creation of Southampton Gardens. We have tried to respond to all questions and concerns. We will continue to do so.

This proposal will transform the village and the lake for the better. It will be a legacy for future generations of Southampton residents.

Right now, the lake is cut off from the public. Only those who live around the lake have direct access. The only current direct public access is at the north and south ends of the lake, and it is very limited.

The conservancy’s proposal to close Pond Lane to motor vehicles is specifically supported by the village master plan, and traffic and environmental experts. Imagine a quarter mile of direct public access to the lake.

Next year, with the conservancy’s support, the village will install an algae harvester that will clean 3 million gallons of lake water every day. The experts expect this new technology will significantly improve the health of the lake.

Every village resident should have direct access to a clean Lake Agawam for boating and, hopefully, swimming. A clean Lake Agawam should benefit our entire community, not just those who live around the lake.

Regrettably, Henry Ittelson’s letter repeats the same erroneous and misinformed arguments of others who like to drive on Pond Lane, dodging past the walkers, bicyclists and geese. Pond Lane was built for horses and buggies, not trucks and cars.

Dr. Chris Gobler, the expert on Lake Agawam, believes that a meaningful vegetative buffer must be installed on Pond Lane to prevent the flow of toxic runoff directly into the lake. There is not enough room in the existing right of way for a buffer, bicycle and pedestrian paths, safe public access to the lake for recreation, and the new gardens — and a two-lane road.

The Peter Marino plans for the gardens are preliminary. The conservancy is committed to ensuring that the gardens will not adversely impact the lake’s health and will follow best landscaping practices.

The conservancy has successfully pressed for the installation of substantial buffers around the lake, including at private homes, and for the use of best landscaping practices.

Mr. Ittleson also cites the supposed results of a flawed internet petition that could be signed by anyone anywhere in the world multiple times. This petition is particularly problematic because it was started before the conservancy made its proposal public. Some signers mistakenly thought that this proposal would close Pond Lane to walkers, joggers and bicyclists.

Change involves trade-offs. When New York City closed Central Park to motorists, the number of joggers and bicyclists dramatically increased. The same will happen in Southampton.

Robert J. Giuffra Jr.
Lake Agawam Conservancy

Letter to the Editor of the Southampton Press