Firefighters got to undergo some important training inside an old restaurant building that is set to be razed.
Last week, the East Hampton Fire Department hosted a training exercise for members of several fire departments in the old building at the southeast corner of Wainscott Stone Road and Montauk Highway in Wainscott. The Peconic Land Trust bought the property on Georgica Pond in 2020 with plans to restore it to its natural vegetative state and improve the pond’s water quality.
But, before the building is demolished the Land Trust let the firefighters make good use of the building.
“The opportunity allowed approximately 60 firefighters from the East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Amagansett, Springs and Montauk Fire Departments to practice skills necessary to conduct searches for disoriented/ lost firefighters in zero visibility conditions, in a large commercial building with a complex floor plan,” a statement from the Fire Department said.
“The restaurant was a particularly great opportunity because we don’t usually get the opportunity to practice on commercial occupancies and this one allowed us to train on several areas unique to that type of occupancy,” said East Hampton Fire Chief Gerard Turza Jr.
The chief said he reached out to the Peconic Land Trust after reading about how they acquired the 1.4-acre property for $6.25 million. The conservation group was able to make the purchase thanks to a donation from the billionaire heiress Katharine Rayner, who donated money to support the purchase and restoration of the property.
The property sits within the 4,000-acre Georgica Pond Watershed. After the building is knocked down, new plantings of native grasses and wetland vegetation will be done. The Land Trust will work with the Town of East Hampton and the Friends of the Georgica Pond Foundation, of which Rayner is a board member, to reduce the storm water run-off into the pond. Rayner also lives on Georgica Pond.
Though its zoning is for residential use, it had a pre-existing, non-conforming use as a restaurant for more than 50 years, most recently Il Mulino, but many remember it as Saracen and Georgica.
“We hope to have the demolition begin in the next few weeks,” said Kin Quarty, the director of conservation planning at the organization. The restoration revegetation of the property will begin after the demolition is complete.
“We were honored to be able to provide the East Hampton Fire Department and other nearby departments with the opportunity to perform training at the site prior to the building’s demolition,” she said. “Our first responders do so much for all of us every day – and we were happy to be able to give back in a meaningful way.”