Vital to All
July 26, 2019
I am just reading your editorial in this week’s East Hampton Star about the poor customer services at Optimum during an outage and entitled “Optimum Outrage.” In it you state, “The internet outage also underlined how miserable cell service is on the East End, and how thin it is, stretched by the population explosion in the summer.”
I have lived in East Hampton since 1995. And before that in Sagaponack from 1977 to 1993. So much has changed since then on the East End, especially with the advent of the internet and cellphones. While many bemoan cellphones, we all must accept their usefulness and how they have transformed our lives, mostly for the better.
What is painfully obvious to all of us, locals and summer people, is the terrible cell coverage we experience on the East End. One can drive for miles with absolutely no coverage and many areas with spotty coverage. Cell towers are not pretty structures, but they are vital to all of us, and it is time to bite the bullet and install an additional tower/towers out here. Is it going to take the death of a prominent person who needed an ambulance but was denied help due to lack of cell coverage? Surely all of our workmen, police, fire departments, and ambulance drivers need this vital coverage!
It’s time to act and stop talking and debating this subject. It’s unacceptable that an area such as ours has dismal cell coverage.
Let’s build that tower now. Surely there is a spot for the new tower.
July 26, 2019
To The Star:
In this week’s editorial you mention the problems with Optimum and the internet. You also mention the problem we have here with cellphone use. You did not mention that many elderly persons who pay good money for medical alerts cannot avail themselves of this service most of the time because of lack of cell service, which is how medical alerts communicate with us and emergency personnel. In the end we have to give up our medical alerts and call 911, but 911 does not have our personal information, therefore cannot notify our friends or family. Why do we have such poor cell service here? Since I own a cellphone I have had to change service from AT&T to Sprint to Verizon, and even this last one does not work all the time; it works with my cellphone, but not with my medical alert.
Any suggestion about whom to contact about this problem and can it be fixed?
July 23, 2019
Having been one of the surfers that got sick from the sewage runoff from the Montauk Shores Condominiums earlier this month, I was pleased to see the front-page article in last week’s paper “Water Worries at Ditch Plain.” In my case, I was in the lineup slightly offshore and east of the jetty when I experienced a strong odor of sewage.
This was not just a foul smell from drainage runoff or animal feces; it was the unmistakable smell of raw sewage. It was so strong that I spit as much as possible, got out of the water and washed off, and that evening Googled ear infection remedies. A day or so later I wasn’t feeling well and after another day passed I went to the doctor and was treated with antibiotics for chest, sinus, and ear infections. Nice way to spend your 41st wedding anniversary.
To read Mr. Andriola’s (Montauk Shores Condominiums board V.P.) commentary was infuriating. Seems he was looking for any possible culprit other than the obvious. There aren’t enough animals to produce enough feces to cause a foul odor, and even if there were it doesn’t smell like sewage. To lay blame on the public toilets at the west parking lot is equally absurd; they are roughly 1,000 feet west of the jetty and complaints haven’t been coming from bathers at that end of the beach. In my specific case, it was either Thursday or Friday before the holiday week (June 27 or 28) when the beach wasn’t that busy, further discrediting that possibility.
While not an expert in sewage treatment or water pollution it seems obvious the testing is not being conducted properly. The current sewage system at Montauk Shores was installed years ago and from what I gather it was designed to process roughly 27,000 G.P.D. (gross domestic product). The population density there has grown significantly and estimates now place a roughly 43,000 G.P.D. demand on the system.
That’s not within parameters as Mr. Andriola contends, and I can’t imagine there are no regulations/laws being violated. I understand some of that excess is pumped and taken away, but it would be reasonable to assume that at times the demand exceeds the overburdened system and sewage leaches seaward. Perhaps a dose of dye on random days might shed light on the problem.
My guess is to properly assess the effects one would need to test on a regular basis for a period of time to understand the leakage profile, perhaps hourly over a week during peak season as that’s when it matters (the notion of an annual average as Mr. Andriola suggested is ludicrous).
As a concerned citizen and knowing this situation has been going on for some time without meaningful progress, I called the New York State Department of Environmental Services and learned responsibility for resolution lies with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. When I got through to the individual at the department, Mr. Craig Knepper, I heard a lot of process, procedures, and reasons why things were not progressing with any sense of urgency, but not one concern for the health of those who surf and bathe at the beach. Strange for a guy who works for a department responsible for the health of the public. Can’t help but wonder how influential the retired public servants and new moneyed condo owners might be.
If there is such controversy around variances, setbacks, and complaints of foul odors by neighbors, might I suggest repurposing the condominiums pool area for sewage treatment. Why does anyone need a pool with a beach next door anyway? I also contacted the town, who are doing all they can but realistically are limited since this falls under county health services, which seems to have other priorities.
Ironic but the piping plovers have more protection than we surfers and beachgoers do: Crossing the fences on the beach around their nesting areas could result in a $10,000 fine. Dumping sewage at an ocean beach gets the sympathetic ear of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.
Cyclists Are Upset
July 29, 2019
Thank you for your strong editorial of July 18, “Bicycling Requires Safe Places,” which discussed many of the severe and dangerous problems of cyclists who bicycle in East Hampton. Most important, it expressed that the Town of East Hampton has done no work nor taken legal actions that would bring more safety and opportunities to cyclists.
The town first needs to analyze the situation for cyclists here, and then it can begin recommendations for improvement. Unfortunately, because cars have greatly increased in recent years, and because no action has been taken by the town to help the cyclists, a very large number of cyclists have either quit or reduced their cycling. These cyclists are upset because they know that cycling not only can benefit their own health and enjoyment but also reduces the town’s carbon emissions.
It is better to do one or two improvements for cycling very soon rather than do nothing other than research for several years. Then each year the town can do a combination of more research and more road/trail/preserve improvements. Ultimately, the town will produce a master plan, but it does not need the master plan before it starts to make improvements.
Three main types of cyclists include 1) The serious and active cyclists, 2) Modest cyclists who mainly ride for pleasure and usually take short rides, mostly on the weekend, and 3) people who cycle mainly as a means of transportation. The adults of the transportation group often have financial need and use their bicycles many days to reach jobs or shopping. The children of the transportation group use their bicycles to reach school, athletic activities, or even activities with friends.
The shoulders of roads in East Hampton are rarely properly sized or even maintained. The town, including the Highway Department and several committees, need to examine how to make physical improvements. However, shoulders must legally be able to withstand the weight of cars and trucks, so it is often expensive to revise or enlarge them.
Much of East Hampton has legal roadway widths of 50 or 66 feet but the paved width of the road might be between 24 and 30 feet. In many locations not only can there be improvements of existing paved shoulders, but there is a possibility to construct “trails,” three to six-feet wide, one-way or two-way, that go alongside the road but are not directly attached. Since cars or trucks cannot use them like shoulders, this strongly reduces the cost of constructing a “trails” route for bicyclists (and depending on size and location also for walkers and runners).
In some cases, the “trails” can be away from the public roads by being located on preserves owned by the town. East Hampton is already well known as one of the best towns for its extensive number of trails on an extensive acreage of nature preserves and community preservation fund preserves. Some of these trails can be surfaced in a way that better allows road and off-road bicycles to use them.
For East Hampton to best know what to do, and for citizens to force them to do what they should do, it is important to study what other towns and cities have been doing. In the last several decades, cities and towns of all sizes have made road and law changes that are tremendously positive for cyclists. There are many impressive studies of this progress available on the internet.
For example, the magazine “Bicycling” has produced a professional level review of the 50 finest towns and cities that provide roads for riding bicycles in the United States. I recommend this not only to be read by bicyclists, but also by East Hampton politicians and employees. This review covers both the positive aspects of why a town or city is in the top 50, but also gives the reasons of why and when construction or laws need changes. It is:
I will provide the town with another 6 to 10 studies. The town board should make an online location that will provide the town and the public with supplied information and references.
The town planner, JoAnne Pahwul, did a large amount of good research when I chaired the town’s bicycle committee in 2012 and 2013. Unfortunately, no town research has been done since then. Ms. Pahwul should be given recognition for her skill and work, and immediately put to work again on this subject.
There has been discussion by residents of Springs from about 2012 to around 2016 to do a first improvement to roads, farms, and preserves that will improve cycling and walking to the Springs historical center, including the Springs School. The town board should begin forward progress with true seriousness and at a rate so that the design of this first positive work is finished and funded by the end of this year.
July 29, 2019
To the Editor,
I have always enjoyed Laura Donnelly’s restaurant reviews, though I have had many instances in which I disagreed with her ratings, whether positive or negative, based on my own experiences. Our experience with our dinner with Paola’s was in total contradiction to her brutally negative review, as noted by others who took the time to send a response to her review. The food we ordered was delicious and the service gracious.
Paola’s did not have their liquor license at the time, which surprised us, but they apologized for the inconvenience and proceeded to serve us wine at no cost, which was really appreciated. I can strongly recommend the meatball appetizer and the rigatoni and sausage pasta in particular. Maybe Laura should try them next time.
Any restaurant, no matter how highly rated, can have a bad day, but I think it would have been fairer to give Paola’s another shot before publishing that terrible review.
July 29, 2019
To the Editor:
This letter is with regard to Laura Donnelly’s review of Paola’s and the subsequent editorials that were in last week’s paper on her reviews. Laura Donnelly is a restaurant critic and says which she sees as fit for her experience with the restaurant. If you compare Paola’s New York City menu vs. the “local” menu, the average price for an entree in the city is $33.25 while the average price for an entree locally is $37.60.
With regard to Jerold Fisher’s comment that the “editor and Ms. Donnelly did a disservice to the community,” at a $37-per-entree price, I don’t think he is referring to the local community but probably to the New York City community that visits during the summer. The funny thing is that based on Ms. Donnelly’s review, I was not interested in visiting the restaurant, but based on the letters, perhaps I would now consider going. So despite a poor review, others, based on the editorials, may now go to check out the “local” Paola’s!
Response to ‘Fuming Farmers’
One hardly cares who brings it
Or what gender grows it,
Has no opinion about the equipment
Truck, tractor, mule.
Food brings us to the table to talk about
Dust, spray, property.
It also separates us from the details, as the sweet corn is served,
Or who else, uninvited, eats it.
Invertebrates, raccoons, rabbits, those damn deer.
Food provides succor for those who are hungry
And security, temporarily, for those who are starving.
Growing it, even serving it to enemies, the farmer
Is inclined to be thankful. Grateful?
There is, after all, a limit.
We Say Leave
July 25, 2019
I have been shopping at the I.G.A. in Amagansett, Cirillo’s Market, for seven years, well taken care of by the employees who are unfailingly helpful and polite.
Today, I was greeted by this new sign, affixed right by the front door:
NOTICE: This place is politcally incorrect. WE SAY merry Christmas, one nation under God. We salute the flag and give thanks to our troups. If this offends you LEAVE.
I learned that the owner had made the decision to place the sign in her store. While she clearly has the right to do that, the message makes me feel unwelcome, and I will not be shopping at the store anymore. I called the store chain’s main office and left a message on the voice mail of Lee Cirillo, who is apparently a point person for this store. That number is 631-751-4472, extension 1103.
I wanted to share this with you, in case you would like to follow up on this issue as a news item.
Thanks for your attention to this matter.
July 28, 2019
I thank you for letting East End for Opportunity shine a bit more light on a local crime wave that nobody talks about: wage theft. Our organization helps secure legal representation for members of our community who otherwise might not seek legal advocacy because of cost.
Wage theft is against New York State and federal laws. In 2018, New York State collected $3.5 million, which was distributed to 35,000 victimized workers. Employer arrears can very quickly become a felony, with jail time and severe financial penalty. Workers, whether undocumented or U.S. citizens, have the same rights.
EEFO is currently in process with charges against an affluent East Hampton resident who owes a former employee $10,000. The employer has acknowledged the debt, but as of this letter our client has yet to be paid. We have recently assisted with the case of an employee of a prominent local business that argued that they did not have to pay their worker because he left the job site early. We have evidence that our client informed his boss that he needed to leave early because his dialysis appointment had been rescheduled!
I wish there were a legal mechanism for outing this behavior. Obviously, besides fines and incarceration.
July 29, 2019
I am part of a nonpartisan group of volunteers who have been staffing tables around town for at least the last three years, helping people register to vote. We have applications to help those who are not registered, and we also show voters from elsewhere in New York how to transfer their voting place to East Hampton‚ where each vote counts a lot, particularly more so than in the city. Some candidates for office here have been known to lose by fewer than 20 votes. Thus, our logo “Vote Local,” which appears in blue on the T-shirts we wear.
Unfortunately, the so-called Reform Democrats, or fusion party, have taken on that motto as their own‚ including our blue color. We want people to know that in our volunteer work we are not affiliated with that group, or any party. In order to avoid confusion, we are going to have to buy new T-shirts next year and find another logo. I wish this splinter group had taken the time to be more creative and made up their own slogans.
In any case, voting is very important, so please, readers, vote for the party of your choice — and please, if possible, register or switch your registration, if you have not done so yet. Look for us and ask us how to proceed.
July 29, 2019
A letter writer to last week’s East Hampton Star listed a number of claims made by supporters of the East Hampton Airport that seemed a bit of a stretch. Without listing them I’ll simply summarize his point: You don’t need an airport in a disaster. You only need a runway. You don’t need a tower, a fuel field, a pilots lounge, or anything related to unessential commuter operations. All you need is a runway.
The writer then went on to quote an airport puff piece that seems to state the airport is “bringing in approximately 100,000 visitors each summer.”
So here is the truly scary part that he missed: The Town of East Hampton, its town board, its police force, fire departments, its emergency services, and its code enforcement divisions have absolutely no idea at all who any of those 100,000 people are or what they are bringing into our town. Frankly, nobody does, and that seemingly small fact illustrates the need for a complete overhaul of how this airport is operated.
Consider this: If you’ve ever read a Nelson DeMille novel you know that when terrorists aren’t hijacking and crashing airliners they are flying privately to avoid security and detection.
Consider this: Accused child abuser Jeffrey Epstein was arrested last week at Teterboro Airport, perhaps the number-one origin of helicopter flights to the Hamptons.
Consider this: Our summer population with its major events, the celebs, politicians, and captains of industry present what one might consider both a target-rich environment and a welcome mat for some very dangerous people.
So I’ll ask again: Does anybody know who is entering and leaving HTO and why?
What’s in that suitcase sir? Is that soiled underwear or a dirty bomb? Who are you? How often do you fly in and out here? Do you live here or are you just here for your slice of a share house? Are you a pilot? A licensed one? A safe one? Or are you the guy they fished out of the Hudson last year? Are those a few dozen bagels and a pound or two of coffee or is that a pound of heroin?
Nobody knows. And it appears nobody cares. This is not good.
It’s time to stop protecting the deer from the jets and vice versa. It’s past time to start protecting our residents regardless of how they come and go. It’s past time for this town board to make their intentions for the future of HTO crystal clear.
Any future action the board takes regarding the regulation, downsizing, or even closing of the airport will require an accurate analysis of who is coming and going. May I see your passport or driver’s license, please?
Enjoy your day.
Should Be Banned
July 28, 2019
To the Editor:
There has been considerable interest in the young humpback whale that was entangled in a gill net off Sagaponack on Monday, July 15. Two surfers cut portions of the net, which probably helped the whale get free. The Star’s July 18 editorial pointed to significant gaps in gill netting oversight and regulation. Aaron Warkov, one of the surfers who assisted the whale, subsequently wrote a letter to The Star about his experience. The Harbor Patrol, he said, didn’t allow him and his helper to complete their net cutting, and the professionals who were supposed to assist the whale arrived very late. Although this whale got free, Mr. Warkov anticipates problems in the future.
I believe that gill nets should be banned. They are notorious for entangling “bycatch,” species other than the target fish. In addition to whales, gill nets frequently trap turtles, seals, porpoises, dolphins, and sea birds. Because these animals need air to breathe, they drown in the nets.
Coincidentally, I testified against gill nets at the July 9 East Hampton Town Board work session, a week before the humpback whale was entangled. I questioned the town supervisor’s earlier decision to oppose a legal ban on the nets. I realize that many people in the fishing industry support gill netting. But I wish they, along with our public officials, would take a fresh look at this practice.
East Hampton Group for Wildlife
Leading the Way
July 29, 2019
Governor Cuomo recently announced that Sunrise Wind, a new offshore wind project proposed by Orsted and Eversource, was selected to provide offshore wind power to New York State following a competitive solicitation.
We are incredibly proud of this opportunity to play an even greater role in achieving New York’s trail-blazing renewable energy goals, and to bring transformative economic opportunity to Long Island.
Importantly, the South Fork Wind Farm has been instrumental in driving the offshore wind industry forward, and the East Hampton community deserves immense credit for leading the way. Given the volume of news around offshore wind lately, allow us to clarify key differences between the two projects our team is delivering for New York.
The South Fork Wind Farm is a 130MW project that will deliver power to the local grid in East Hampton. Located more than 35 miles east of Montauk Point, this project comprises 15 turbines and will produce enough clean energy each year to power 70,000 typical homes. The South Fork Wind Farm is the result of a competitive solicitation by PSEG Long Island to identify the most cost-effective solution to a specific power supply need on the South Fork. Power from the project will be purchased by LIPA.
Sunrise Wind is an 880MW project that will deliver power to the local grid in the Town of Brookhaven. Located more than 30 miles east of Montauk Point, this project comprises 110 turbines and will produce enough energy each year to power 500,000 typical homes. To be clear, no portion of the transmission line for Sunrise Wind will pass through the Town of East Hampton. Sunrise Wind was selected through a competitive solicitation issued by New York State Environmental Research Development for offshore wind energy, the entity that will also purchase the power it produces.
Both wind farms will be located in an existing offshore wind lease area that was developed through an extensive stakeholder engagement process designed to minimize conflicts with fishing, marine mammals, migratory birds, and other maritime users. Additionally, the turbines will be virtually invisible from anywhere on Long Island.
Orsted is a renewable energy company and the global leader in offshore wind. Eversource is New England’s largest energy company and premier transmission developer. Together this is a world-class team with the talent and resources to deliver both projects successfully. We are honored to be working with the East Hampton community to deliver the best possible project.
Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind
Orsted North America
Executive vice president
Enterprise Energy Strategy
July 25, 2019
One of the very vocal adversaries of the proposed wind farm is the fishing community. I sympathize with their concerns and agree that the noise during construction could be very detrimental to marine life in the vicinity. One important issue is whether the ecosystem can recover once the farm is functioning. The wind farm near Block Island could be examined. It has been functioning for several years, and one study of its impacts has been published by Wilber and colleagues. They found flatfish varied in abundance, size, and condition over time and space, but this variation did not indicate positive or negative effects of the wind farm. Winter flounder were less abundant during pile-driving and more abundant during cable-laying, but this was seen in both the reference and wind farm areas. Abundance of other flatfish was not lower during pile driving. Over all, no negative impacts from construction and wind farm operation were seen.
This is the only study that has been published from our area. However, wind farms have been functioning for many years in the waters around Europe and many scientific studies have been done. A Swedish study “revealed no large-scale effects on fish diversity and abundance after establishment of the wind farm when compared to two reference areas.” These investigators (Bergstrom and Bergstrom) found “increased densities of all studied piscivores (cod, eel, shorthorn sculpin) close to the foundations in the first years of operation.”
Lindeboom and colleagues expected to find impacts from the new hard substrate, the moving blades, underwater noise, and the exclusion of fisheries, but their results found no short-term effects on fish living on the bottom sandy area and found that the new hard substrate of the piles attracted new species and new communities.
Raoux and colleagues examined populations near a farm and at two sites distant from it and found only minor differences. There was some indication that the attached organisms on the pilings attracted fish, birds, and marine mammals.
A Danish study by Stenberg and colleagues of a wind farm that had been functioning for seven years found overall fish abundance increased slightly at the wind farm. None of the key fish species showed signs of negative long-term effects. Fish that prefer rocky habits were most abundant close to the turbines and species diversity was likewise significantly higher close to the turbines.
The authors concluded that the wind farm functioned like an artificial reef that attracted fish species that prefer rocky habitats and did not have negative effects on species living on the sandy bottom. Another Danish study investigated an area before and after a wind farm was built and found no general changes in the abundance or distribution of pelagic (water column) and bottom-dwelling fish, between the control site and the wind farm site, or in the area between foundations.
I hope the results of these published studies (of which there are more, but these are representative) should allay fears that the construction and operation of offshore wind farms will destroy or have permanent negative effects on fish populations in our waters.
JUDITH S. WEIS
July 29, 2019
To the Editor:
Your editorial “Crying in the Wind” set me to thinking about the very same thing: Why is this being such a divisive issue when other utility issues tend to be mostly routine? I wonder if it is simply the monumental scale of the issues that face us and the inevitability of major changes in our lives? I think we have now passed a turning point in that climate change is now clearly upon us. My garden soil did not freeze solid in the last two winters, something it has done every other year for 30 years, just to name one obvious symptom that I have experienced myself, without even citing our warmer and less tranquil weather both in this area and worldwide (110 in Paris!).
Perhaps the very act of taking these long-term threats to our lives and livelihood seriously is to admit to something we would be more comfortable by not facing up to. Every shovelful in that pipe ditch that gets opened along public roads in Wainscott would be an unwelcome reminder. And the monumental aspect of the threats may in themselves make any solution seem like spitting into the wind. Fisheries may change, yes, but they have already changed and whether that change will be beneficial or not is probably impossible to accurately predict.
Our lives as they have been seem threatened by these changes in our procedures, yet to not undertake them may ensure the worst case scenario. What is local in these issues is also national and worldwide, and even so perhaps nothing that we can do will ensure that the world as we know it will survive. Sometimes the easiest thing is to fall back on denial.
Out of Order
July 29, 2019
Would somebody please, please fix the broken wind turbine adjacent to the Amagansett firehouse? It’s been out of order for months.
July 29, 2019
To the Editor,
I had hoped the malicious letters written to the editor’s page during the recent primary for East Hampton Town justice were a one-off. The attack letter against David Lys, a Democratic candidate for town board, written by Phyllis Italiano and published in last week’s Star, showed me I was mistaken. The letter was a cruel attack and an attempt to belittle a fine man who is guilty of nothing more than trying to serve the citizens of East Hampton.
Lisa Rana is a good and fair judge. As an attorney, I have appeared in her courtroom many times since she first took the bench. I assumed she would easily win the primary because of her experience. Although I am a lifelong Democrat, I have always supported Judge Rana and contributed to her campaigns.
I can only assume that the overwhelming victory in the primary of her opponent, Andrew Strong, was due, in part, to the repulsion many voters experienced after reading the malicious and ignorant letters written in support of Judge Rana. Unfortunately, the vile letters were never repudiated by the Republican Party or by Judge Rana.
Now, once again, we are subjected to a vicious and meanspirited attack against David Lys, a father, husband, and an overall great guy by a woman who seems to know nothing about the privilege of living in a free society where we are entitled to criticize another person’s ideas but not expected to attack them personally.
Given the last few years and the lies and vulgarities from the current occupant of the White House, I should be used to such tactics by now, but I am not. It is one thing to see morons on the national stage savagely attack members of the opposing party, but it’s quite another to have it happening in our small town.
Democrat or Republican, we, as citizens of a small town, are able to get to know our candidates for public office. We can examine their plans for the future and question them face to face. More important, we are able to judge their character because if we don’t know them personally we can always find someone who does.
I know Andrew Strong and David Lys, and am proud to call them my friends. However, that doesn’t mean they automatically have my vote. I vote for people who stand for values shared by myself and my family, and for candidates who will contribute the most to the town I love.
East Hampton would go a long way to find two individuals smarter, kinder, and more devoted to East Hampton than Andrew Strong and David Lys. They will both have my vote — a small way to protest against the politics of hate which have no place in a civil society.
July 28, 2019
Many of us remain troubled by the Trump administration, but perhaps we should also be paying more attention to the community’s town board. Their recent actions appear to be fly-by-night, without any real consideration of the community who elected them. They are supposed to act with honesty, productiveness, openness, and clarity. Indeed, we have quite the opposite.
The latest in their series of imperial actions is the effort of David Lys to push through another possible disaster, wanting to put a huge fishery right in the middle of a residential area. Perhaps David should consider putting this hatchery next to his home. In reality, is this kind of building so important to the Springs and its residents? Or is it just important to a couple of fishery people and something David can trumpet as another of his great contributions to us all? Does this project “help” anyone? Does it help the poor, the ill, the homeless in our area? I think not.
We still haven’t seen the end of the Duryea/Marc Rowan fiasco. The board kept a long-term attorney, who has failed us in a number of cases, apparently signing documents on behalf of the town board, which he had no right to do. Of course, there is also the fact that Mr. Rowan, the new owner of the restaurant, stated that supposedly the town supervisor had suggested that he file a suit against the town because politics and public pressure prevent the town from negotiating a resolution. The supervisor denied this.
With their great concern about pushing through purchases with your taxes and a lack of legal procedure, why isn’t this board concerned with our senior citizens? Where is the Department of Social Services? It was disbanded as if the seniors and poor of our town had somewhere else to go for help. They don’t.
I have heard the most horrifying stories of seniors who are demented and homeless being told they have to go to Riverhead for aid, seniors who are so far gone that the police have been called to rescue them. Aren’t the taxpaying seniors of this town entitled to a Department of Social Services? I realize it’s not a fish hatchery, but maybe it would have some importance to the community.
Lastly, there is the “mystery” of what ever happened to the plan to build a new senior center? Of course, there was controversy when the site was introduced. That’s bound to happen. But for at least six months since then, it appears to be a dead issue. Are the plans in a vault at the board, in a garbage can, or in someone’s pocketbook? Where the hell are they? And why hasn’t this board proceeded with this project of great importance to the increasing numbers of taxpaying citizens who require a decent new building for seniors. This deficiency of action shows that the board lacks character and honesty. Give us back this plan. The present center is an outdated one where there isn’t even a large tree or umbrella for seniors to sit under outside. Give us back this plan.
Unless you watch the board meetings regularly on TV, or better yet attend them, you will not know how your taxes and board’s secretive actions are affecting your life!
July 29, 2019
With its plans for a new shellfish hatchery at Gann Road, the town board manages to display all of its failings at once. With the exception of Councilman Bragman, who has properly raised environmental and other concerns, they are making all of the same mistakes that they make over and over again from one problem and project to the next:
The town board does not understand how to plan properly. It inappropriately engages in direct management that should be the responsibility of management professionals, not of elected legislators. It fails to consult and involve the community in planning in a timely and meaningful way. It evades the State Environmental Quality Review Act. It engages in public display that contributes nothing to solving problems but appears only to gratify the vanity of town board members.
We have had a functioning, successful town shellfish hatchery in Montauk for 30 years. The shellfish hatchery and nursery program seed millions of clams, oysters, and scallops into town waters annually. To my knowledge, having listened to multiple presentations before the town board, no one in the shellfish program has represented that moving the hatchery from Montauk to Gann Road is going to increase the biological yield of shellfish in our waters. If not, a new hatchery will have no beneficial effect on water quality.
Rather, the justifications for the new hatchery are that it will be more convenient for the hatchery’s five or so employees by consolidating operations in one place and that it will save $23,000 per year. Ten thousand of that is expected by avoiding losses of juvenile shellfish when moving them from the hatchery in Montauk to the nursery in Three Mile Harbor. Thirteen thousand of very recently discovered savings are expected in the time and money that employees spend traveling between locations.
The new hatchery will cost more than $5 million, approximately $1.5 million of which has been taken from the water quality part of the community preservation fund, approximately $1 million of town general funds, and more than $2.5 million of grants anticipated from the State of New York.
The annual rate of return on just the town’s investment will therefore be less than 1 percent. In the real world, this would not be considered nearly sufficient reason to spend $2.5 million, ignoring completely the state funding as if it were “free.” The town appears to think that at least the C.P.F. money is free. True, it doesn’t increase taxes to spend this money, but if the money does not actually improve our water quality, because it does not physically change anything in our waters, it is wasted and unavailable for any useful water quality purpose.
Despite Councilman Lys having worked on plans for the project for a year, the town board apparently failed to consider and work within New York State grant funding timelines. Thus, Supervisor Van Scoyoc and town board members Sylvia Overby, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, and David Lys claim abruptly to have found themselves facing a grant application deadline that required the town board to comply with SEQRA on very short notice and immediately approve funding for the entire $5 million project if the state grant is not forthcoming.
As a result, the town board’s SEQRA compliance is a fake. Because it had not left itself adequate time to declare itself the “lead agency” on the project in compliance with the procedures set forth in state law, it simply ignored them. As well, it has declared that there will be no significant adverse environmental impacts of the project although, among other things, it does not yet have a design for a septic system that complies with Suffolk County Health Department regulations.
Councilman Bragman properly asked, in public, why he was sent the documents for the project only three days before the SEQRA resolution was to be adopted. The community in Springs, presented with the plans at the citizens advisory committee meeting that very evening, had the same question. Why and how was it being asked to bless this project immediately upon being presented with the plans?
If a planning professional had backed the town board into such a corner with millions of dollars at stake, failing to understand the planning and grant time requirements, that would have been reason for at least a severe reprimand and possibly for firing. However, the planning for this project was not overseen by professionals. It was overseen by Councilman Lys.
Time after time, the town board fails to staff planning projects properly, to engage and provide for proper supervision of consultants when necessary, and injects itself inappropriately into processes that require expertise the town board members themselves do not have and will never have. Does it make them feel important to pretend to do things they don’t know how to do?
The town board also hobbles our professional staff by attempting to do these jobs themselves. When a project is headed by a town board member directly, what professional employee is going to have the courage to tell that town board member that he or she does not know what they are doing and is making a mess of it?
We see the dismal results in the glacial pace of construction of affordable housing, the ongoing mess on the beach in Montauk, years spent botching the upgrade of emergency communications, and failing to finding a solution for Springs, even buying emergency communications equipment before hiring an engineer, the delay of more than a year in responding to poisons in drinking water in Wainscott, and the failure to this day to engage the professional assistance the town board needs to protect East Hampton’s interest in the Public Service Commission review process for Deepwater Wind.
Are they never going to learn? I see no reason to think so. The people of East Hampton will therefore continue to pay the price for one botched job after another.
July 25, 2019
Bravo Arthur French, but you certainly did tread much too lightly!
Thanks to Mr. Rattray, at least it is always relegated to the last letter!
July 26, 2019
Now it is the poor and hungry who will suffer under the bullying thumb of Mr. Trump.
The Trump administration says it wants to close a “loophole” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that allows states to extend benefits to those otherwise ineligible by raising or eliminating income or asset limits. Some 40 states (including New York) have used this option for many years.
This option allows states to alter eligibility limits to help low-income families who work but have high child care, housing, and other expenses that leave them with insufficient money to buy food. States have the flexibility to not cut off SNAP benefits once a family’s gross income crosses the eligibility threshold but, instead, slowly phase out benefits as the family gets onto its feet. Under the current SNAP program, some 265,000 schoolkids qualify for free lunches; this benefit would end under Trump’s proposal.
This is just the latest gambit the Trump administration is imposing on the poor that would make their lives more difficult. Experts estimate that more than three million Americans will lose SNAP benefits under the Trump program. There are some 65,000 recipients of SNAP benefits in Nassau County and more than 100,000 recipients in Suffolk. Surely, some of these recipients will be impacted if Trump’s proposal becomes effective.
Given the potential for a significant impact in our neighborhoods, especially in light of the high cost of living here, one would think that our congressman, Lee Zeldin, would have raised his hand in objection. Not only to protest the impact upon his constituents, but also because Trump’s proposal would circumvent Congress, which on a bipartisan basis has rejected harmful changes to nutrition assistance programs. And yet again, one would be wrong. Trump’s most loyal sycophant would rather side with cruelty than compassion.
So let us think about those less fortunate among us and reject the inhumane treatment of Americans by the Trump administration and punish Mr. Zeldin for turning his back on us. Next November, let’s vote them out.
July 29, 2019
To the Editor:
Hidden away on Page 6 of Thursday’s New York Times is an article of Trump vetoing a bipartisan measure to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Bypassing the Congress by invoking the Emergency Powers Act, Trump agreed to sell $5 billion in arms to the Saudis to prosecute the war in Yemen. With this act he redefines the definition of fascist moron. A dumber, less-informed decision emanates from two possible motivations. He is either getting kickbacks from the Saudis or he is a genetically challenged cretin. Probably both.
Yemen. Do any Americans know what Yemen is? Not a candy bar. Not a soft drink. It’s a country in the Middle East that 9 out of 10 Americans could not identify on the map. It has almost no resources, no army, no strategic value. No terrorists, food, etc., etc. It does have the best honey in the world, which would be of no interest to a country that swears by NutraSweet.
The war in Yemen is killing hundreds of thousands of people and has almost completely destroyed the country. Iran supports one side, the Saudis the other. Why we shouldn’t be helping the Saudis to prosecute this war?
1) We don’t give a rat about Yemen. They are Arabs and not white. We would send them food packages and powdered milk.
2) The war is unwinnable.
3) The Shia/Sunni conflict destabilizes an already unstable region, and we are pouring kerosene on the fire.
4) Saudi Arabia is the source of Islamic terrorism in the world (see 9/11). We could be selling advanced weaponry to Al Qaeda.
5) Our Middle East policy borders on village idiocy. Its only claim to fame is that it has been a 100 percent failure. Almost impossible to attain such perfection
Yet, even with our Congress recognizing the idiocy of this arms deal (a minor miracle), Trump insists on forcing it through. When we ask ourselves why, we wind up with the only possible conclusion. The leader of the free world and president of the United States is a complete and absolute moron.