Village to Hire a Second Full-Time Paid Paramedic

In its first meeting after Labor Day, the East Hampton Village Board addressed public safety and issues that affect the quality of life in a 30-minute work session on Thursday.

An expansion of the paid paramedic program,  the use and misuse of air-conditioning, and the scourge of gas-powered leaf blowers were topics, along with the construction of a roundabout on Buell Lane, for which a bid was accepted. The rescue of a person in distress at Georgica Beach, covered in a separate story on this page, also was discussed.  

The board looked favorably on a request from Michael Tracey, the provisional chief of police, that the village’s paid full-time paramedic program be expanded by hiring a second technician. The village added a paid first responder to supplement its volunteer ambulance association in 2015. “Right now, other surrounding municipalities, Sag Harbor, Amagansett, and Montauk, also have a second full-timer as part of their program,” Becky Hansen, the village administrator, said. 

Funding would come from the recently adopted budget, as there would be less reliance on part-time paramedics, she said. “The additional cost, of course, would be hiring another full-time employee, whether or not they are going to request health insurance, but that is also funded in the budget at this point.”  

“Your comments are falling on receptive ears,” Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. said. “The flavor of the board is to move ahead.”

The mayor called the common practice of keeping shop doors open in the summer when they are air-conditioned ineffective and inefficient and proposed a law requiring that they be shut.

“Many of our commercial business establishments have their doors wide open during the day, and the air-conditioning is running,” he said. New York City prohibited the practice last year, making an exception only for windows allowing direct service of food and beverages, such as drive-through restaurants. 

Although air-conditioning occurs in the summer, the mayor told Linda Riley, the village attorney, that “we have the same issue in the wintertime, where some of the storefronts, their door is open and the heat is running. . . . It’s an invitation to come into that particular retail establishment, but it’s not good policy.” 

Bruce Siska, the deputy mayor, agreed that any prohibition should apply to heating and air-conditioning alike. “I would recommend that we do both summer and winter,” he said.

“We may be at the cutting edge with respect to putting some restrictions in place,” the mayor said. He suggested that doing so might result in a legal challenge, “but I’m willing to take that chance.”

“I’m a little concerned about the pushback we might get from the chamber of commerce,” Arthur Graham, the board’s newest member, said. “But I don’t really understand why they have their doors open. They think by having a cold draft on the street they’re going to suck people into the store? I think people will go into the store to get cool in the first place.”

Ms. Hansen told the board that at the beginning of the summer she had tried, in conjunction with the chamber, to encourage shopkeepers to keep their doors closed. “Obviously, not all of them complied.” Ms. Riley agreed to draft legislation. 

As it has in the past, the board also considered legal restrictions on gas-powered leaf blowers, this time in response to “numerous inquiries,” the mayor said. The devices are ubiquitous, but some residents decry the noise they create throughout the day, along with air pollution. “I think the time has come for us to address that issue,” the mayor said. There is no time frame to enact restrictions, and we’re not attempting in any manner to suppress the way lawn management companies or contractors deal with their customers,” he said, but he went on to note that the industry has developed quieter models, “and we’re going to make that a part of the conversation.”

“At some point, when we have something that may be rough-draft copy for village resident consumption, we will have a public hearing,” he said. “This is another area where I think we should at least make an attempt to discuss the issue, and if we’re successful, maybe make it better.”

Mr. Graham, whom the mayor assigned to follow up on the matter, said residents were welcome to contact him through Village Hall. 

The long-planned roundabout at the intersection of Buell and Toilsome Lanes took a step closer to reality when the board voted to accept a $1.34 million bid from South Fork Asphalt to construct it. The roundabout, designed by the office of Drew Bennett, a consulting engineer, is intended to regulate traffic at what is commonly called the five corners. 

Approximately 3,800 square yards of roadway is to be relocated and realigned to accommodate the 100-foot-diameter roundabout, Mr. Bennett told the board in January. The project will include a landscaped center island, pedestrian safety islands, multiple crosswalks, the relocation of one utility pole, and new sidewalks, signs, landscaping, and drainage.