Skip to main content

Wainscott C.A.C. Takes on Gun Club

Thu, 11/10/2022 - 07:34

Members of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee are claiming that the Maidstone Gun Club, a private group that leases close to 100 acres of town-owned land in that hamlet, has violated multiple clauses of its lease.

During a virtual meeting on Saturday, the committee decided to write to the East Hampton Town Board, urging that it look into the alleged violations. The gun club’s lease is to expire at the end of October 2023, and the advisory committee has offered suggestions for what should be included if the lease is renewed.

The alleged violations, chiefly of an environmental nature, were listed in a presentation by a committee member, Anthony Liberatore.

“The gun club, in the lease, is not allowed to do any activities that could be toxic or contaminating,” he said. “This has been used as a gun club for 40 years — there is 40 years’ worth of shells, residue from the shot, which is probably the most toxic.”

Mr. Liberatore also cited the possible over-clearing of trees, “which I don’t believe has ever been approved or applied for,” he said. In addition, he claimed that club members have violated a clause in the lease that says noise beyond a 1,000-foot radius cannot exceed “normal background noise.”

Beyond complaints, Mr. Liberatore had some constructive suggestions, including that a full environmental study be conducted. “If we are wrong and there is no contamination, great, let’s find that out,” he said.

There have been a number of noise complaints from neighboring residents. Suggestions in mitigation included reducing the gun club’s operating hours, installing sound barriers or similar infrastructure, and keeping activity indoors.

Mr. Liberatore also suggested that both the club and its neighbors have their properties assessed, to determine what a fair-market rent would be. Currently, the club pays $100 per year for the 97 acres. He had studied the lease carefully, Mr. Liberatore said, and had concluded that the town was not obligated to renew it “if there are legitimate municipal uses for the property.” He suggested “reforestation, recreation open to all residents, [and] possible solar or other energy uses.”

Committee members acknowledged that at least one use of the gun club, training for law enforcement officers, could be considered an appropriate municipal use.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who is the town board’s liaison to the Wainscott committee, responded to Mr. Liberatore’s comments: “All of the suggestions are worthwhile,” she said, “and everything is on the table right now . . . I think we’re ready to at some point — probably not until the new year — start working on how to solve this issue.”

“That’s music to our ears,” said Carolyn Logan Gluck, the C.A.C. chairwoman.

Mr. Liberatore’s presentation was not met with unanimous praise from committee members. Dennis D’Andrea, a longtime member, has defended the gun club — whose administration did not respond to a request for comment this week — and he continued to do on Saturday. “They’re not bad, crazy guys. They are the E.M.T.s, policemen, they do a lot of good stuff in the community,” he said.

The committee’s next step, Ms. Logan Gluck said in a follow-up call on Tuesday, is to draft a letter to the town board summing up its suggestions. “The draft letter will get circulated to everyone on the committee. If it’s not unanimous, that will be indicated in the letter,” she said.

Thank you for reading . . . 
...Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.