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On Parking, Pinwheels, and Wind Cable

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 19:41

After a member of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee complained at last month’s meeting that the Amagansett School had not allowed “holiday decorations” to be placed on the lawn in front of the school building in April, the committee wrote to the school principal, Maria Dorr, requesting clarification.

At the June meeting on Monday night, Scott Turner, the school’s new superintendent, was in attendance. “They wanted to put pinwheels up that lined the walkway in front,” Mr. Turner told the group. “It is a liability to have stuff like pinwheels sticking up from the ground,” he said, citing safety concerns. “We’re trying to keep it simple.  Not anything can be put randomly in front of our school.” 

“We need to be conscious of safety concerns and different religious beliefs,” said Mr. Turner, who is in his 20th year as a school administrator, most recently in Saugerties, N.Y. “The school and the community are the same. I want the school to look great for the entire community .  .  . keep it clean, keep it neat, keep it classy. I want good curb appeal.”

The superintendent also told the committee, to applause, that school officials have decided to ban latex and Mylar balloons at school events and on school property. “We’re dealing with the graduation and wedding seasons,” he noted. That story is covered elsewhere in today’s paper.

“Seth is very concerned about safety,” someone remarked approvingly as Mr. Turner concluded his presentation and turned to leave.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Si Kinsella of Wainscott, a vocal opponent of the proposed offshore South Fork Wind Farm, distributed fliers depicting Amagansett Main Street as a postapocalyptic site, lined, according to an accompanying map, with “saw-cutters, pneumatic hammers, backhoes, trenchers, excavation loaders, dump trucks, and soil” from excavated “construction pits.” Should Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind’s proposed Beach Lane cable-landing site in Wainscott be rejected, Mr. Kinsella maintained that its “only viable alternative” would be Hither Hills in Montauk. From there, he said, Orsted “wants to dig up 11 miles” of Route 27, including through Amagansett, to reach the site of the cable terminus on Cove Hollow Road in East Hampton. “If they use Montauk, they trash the Montauk Highway,” he told the group.

Several committee members appeared stunned, or at least bemused. “I’ve lived in Amagansett for 76 years and it’s still the most beautiful village here, and I’ll be damned if I let them ruin it,” said Elaine Jones, who is also head of the East Hampton Independence Party, whose candidates oppose the wind farm.

Councilman David Lys, the committee’s town board liaison, was asked whether the board has taken a stance on the location of the cable. It has not, he said. In the end, it was decided to send someone to represent Amagansett at the following day’s New York State Public Service Commission’s informational forums and hearings, and to have them report back next month. The hearings are covered on the front page of today’s paper.

Megan Eames asked Councilman Lys whether something could be done about the profusion of streets in Amagansett named Cross Highway. “My dad’s pills ended up getting soaked in the rain, left on the wrong Cross Highway,” she said, adding that “you put my address in GPS and it goes to the Cranberry Hole Road Cross Highway to Devon.”

East Hampton, someone observed, also has its share of Cross Highways. Mr. Lys agreed to bring it up with the town board, remarking that there were also too many Bay View Avenues, or close variants, in town.

Other matters under discussion Monday included water quality in Fresh Pond. Tom Field said the pond should be opened to Gardiner’s Bay, and suggested inviting the town trustees, who manage the pond waters, to discuss the possibility. It was decided to write a letter of concern to the town board, with a copy to the trustees. 

Committee members had generally opposed there being a food truck at Albert’s Landing beach this summer, and appeared relieved to hear from Mr. Lys that there would be none, as no vendors were interested.

Parking problems were the focus of two exchanges toward the end of the meeting. Carl Hamilton said he’d seen a sizable bus (not a Hampton Jitney) parked at 3 p.m. on Sunday in front of the Stephen Talkhouse, and that it was still there three hours later, in a one-hour parking zone. “They’re taking up five parking spaces,” he said. “Let them unload in front and park in back.” Mr. Hamilton also wondered why traffic control officers, who he said were “walking up and down the street writing tickets for everybody else,” had left the bus alone. Mr. Lys indicated that police would be informed.

The other parking discussion involved the wildly popular new restaurant Coche Comedor, on Montauk Highway just west of the hamlet. Patrons park not only along the highway but across from it, John Broderick said, all the way to the end of Oak Lane. “It’s an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

Mr. Lys replied that the site was a restaurant before zoning laws were enacted, calling it a pre-existing, nonconforming “legal entity.” He noted also that Route 27 is a state highway, and any concerns would have to be addressed to the State Department of Transportation.

Coche Comedor has a seating capacity of 68, he said, not including the bar, with 42 parking spaces. “I counted 72 cars on the highway the other night,” Mr. Broderick said. “I know our fire marshal has been there,” said Mr. Lys.

Also on Monday night, the committee held elections for new officers. Twenty-seven voting members braved a downpour to attend; seven others did not, including two who were said to have moved away. By unanimous acclimation, Vicki Littman was re-elected vice chairwoman of the committee, while Rona Klopman and Randi Ball were re-elected co-secretaries. There was no opposition.

The chairmanship, however, was contested. Before the vote, the two candidates were asked how long they had lived in Amagansett. “Since 1985,” said Arthur Schiff. “Thirty years,” said Jim MacMillan.

By a show of hands, the committee decided on closed balloting. Slips of paper were passed around. Mr. MacMillan was re-elected, 15 to 12, over Mr. Schiff.