SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A small courtyard is making big waves in the Hamptons, where locals say a land owner deliberately created an eyesore, out of spite.
In Southampton Village, what used to be a charming pedestrian courtyard is now off limits and behind the fence – what looks like a joke.
Bricks pulled out haphazardly and dozens of plastic flamingos grazing. The mayor’s not laughing.
“It is my understanding that this is absolutely deliberate and in protest because he was not able to get what he wanted,” Jesse Warren, the mayor of Southampton Village said.
What the property owner wanted was to replace his small stores and fountained courtyard with a two-story commercial building.
But on one of the oldest streets in America, outrage ensued and petitions were launched.
Owner John Vigna pulled his proposal, but now the courtyard – once a jewel in the heart of historic Jobs Lane – is destroyed.
“He said he can do whatever he wants because he is rich. The owner’s behavior is reprehensible,” the mayor claimed.
So now the courtyard is shuttered which merchants say is hurting business on a world famous block known for lingering and people-watching.
It was a communal spot. That’s what Southampton is about. You see nothing but destruction there, it’s not what our community wants to see,” saleswoman Allegra Maloney said.
Residents vow to sue.
“He is not allowed to destroy this and this is public space. For 31 years it was public space. The fact he owns it has no relevance to that,” Evelyn Konrad, an attorney and Southampton Village resident claims.
The owner’s attorney argues the property is private, with a fence put up for safety reasons. He would not comment on who destroyed the courtyard, but says it was built in the 1970s and it has no historical significance.
“There are certain historic guidelines that have to go through, we love our Jobs Lane,” Susan Madonia, an antique store owner said.
The mayor agrees it’s private property, but in public view, and is reviewing village code to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
The owner’s attorney says he is considering other options for the property, that will comply with all codes and “enhance the area.”