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Is this the year the North Fork becomes more popular than the Hamptons? (Credit: Grant Parpan, file photo)

Is 2017 the year the North Fork will finally become the cool, must-go-to destination, overtaking her more affluent, star studded and perpetually traffic congested half sister, the South Fork?

The North Fork has been reinventing herself now for quite some time, from potato farms to wine tourism. But with the discussions about a moratorium on wineries, it seems that this is now a mature industry. Luckily, the North Fork has started to diversify into new fields such as organic produce and livestock farming, an active farm-to-table scene, stores specializing in repurposed, reclaimed and recycled goods and a lively community of artists.

In the heydays of Wall Street affluence, trendy New Yorkers discovered the South Fork. Now the North Fork has become the destination of choice for a new generation of city dwellers interested in a different paradigm of living. Many North Forkers value that, with lower property prices, there is still room for creativity and individualism, to experiment with oyster growing, snail farming, llama breeding or lavender tourism, opportunities lost in other parts of the East End. On the South Fork, where average home prices have reached $2.2 million, little room is left for brilliant entrepreneurs richer in ideas than in capital.

But what will happen if the North Fork is fully “discovered?” Rents and property values will soar, driving out exactly those people who are shaping her special character. This has happened in so many other places around the world that became victims of their own success.

So maybe 2017 should be the year the North Fork proudly recognizes its value but keeps it a secret as long as possible so as not to attract the attention of opportunistic development more interested in corporate profits than contributing to a diverse, vibrant community fabric.

May this wonderful place maintain its uniqueness not just in 2017, but also for many more years to come!

The write is a New Suffolk resident. This letter originally appeared in the January 5 edition of The Suffolk Times. To submit a letter to the editor send an email to [email protected]