September 20, 2021
I am sure you are aware of the East Hampton Town Trustees’ biggest clam contest being held this year on Oct. 3 at their offices on Bluff Road. This year, as well as expanding areas and divisions, the chowder contest, free clam chowder, and clams on the half-shell, they will also be showcasing part of East Hampton’s culinary heritage, the clam pie. This is not a contest or competition — they are looking for people who make clams pies to participate by bringing a ready-to-eat sample of their interpretation or family recipe for people to try. Many people have never tried them; they only know about clam pies from the old sign in front of the Crystal Room.
I have heard from numerous sources that you make a delicious one yourself. I hope you will consider participating. Anyone interested should just contact the trustees’ office for all the details. It’s very simple. Hope to see you there.
Citing My Interest
September 18, 2021
On behalf of my wife, Loretta, and myself, I would like to thank Mayor Larsen and the Village Board trustees for presenting me with a proclamation at the Sept. 17 village board meeting, citing my interest in preserving the history of East Hampton. Looking back, there have been more than 50 individuals in the town’s history who have spoken and written about our history, starting in 1798 with John Lyon Gardiner’s “Notes and Observations on the Town of East Hampton at the East End of Long Island” to the historical walking tours recently conducted by Julianna Lester, an East Hampton High School senior.
Also having the alley adjacent to the former Odd Fellows Hall named in my honor reflects on the fact that I work at Home, Sweet Home Museum and the vote by the village taxpayers to buy Home, Sweet Home in 1927 took place at Odd Fellows Hall!
A proclamation and an alleyway — and I am still alive!
HUGH R. KING
September 16, 2021
To the Star:
After this summer’s digging and cleaning out of the bottom of the pond, this week I noticed the water level lower than I’ve seen in years? Was it evaporation or did we dig too deep?
September 20, 2021
To the Editor:
Those who treasure the beauty of East Hampton and its natural landscape should be concerned about the proposed tavern on Toilsome Lane. If the tavern is approved it will result in the destruction of a beautiful, 40 or 50-year-old maple tree, one of several lining Toilsome.
Question #8 under “Policies” in 17 Toilsome Lane Brewery’s application, filed with the Village on July 22, asks: “Have large trees and the unique natural features of the site been preserved?” The applicants checked “Yes.”
This is incorrect. The tree stands in the middle of the tavern’s proposed exit road. That road can’t be moved to the left, since it would impinge on the required 30-foot landscape buffer between the tavern and the adjacent residential property. It can’t be moved to the right because the parking lot of an adjacent commercial property is already there. Therefore, the tree will have to be cut down.
A few years ago the Ladies Village Improvement Society and others were angry when PSEG-Long Island was trimming back some trees in the village to make room for new utility poles. In that instance, at least, the trees remained standing. That will not happen this time. The tree will disappear forever.
Is this how we treat our “unique natural features”?
All About Self
September 20, 2021
Dear Mr. Editor,
I was thinking of you on the Sunday before Labor Day; I had a magnificent sail around Gardiner’s Bay aboard a friend’s Fountaine Pajot 40-foot cat, kind of a shakedown before heading south. It felt great. Wish I was going. Anyway, back to the real world.
Your Mast-Head “Respect the Neighbors” was good. Problem is that your thoughts are from the past. Nobody gives a shit about neighbors anymore! This new wave of folks and government is all about self. All concerned just want a feather in their cap or name on a plaque.
People in general are against anything that is new. New only brings uncertainty and usually, trouble.
Your friends mentioned the proposed beer barn on Toilsome Lane — what moron would welcome a beer barn next door to them or in their neighborhood, especially a residential neighborhood. You should have asked these folks how would they like it next to their home? It just reeks of noise, cooking odors, and parking issues. And, by the way, people buy a home based on current conditions, not hypothetical conditions from a crystal ball.
Case in point would be the airport neighbors. Thirty years ago we had single-engine planes, a few biplanes, and a few twin-engine craft owned by residents for recreational purposes. It was a country air field that is now a regional airport. I feel for them.
You would be hard pressed to show me a change that benefited the longtime local residents. I would be welcome to hear of any specific items of mention other than the community preservation fund! This is why you have the “knee jerk obstructionism.” I live on Breeze Hill Road; I don’t expect a bridge to be built at the end of the road over to Hampton Waters — get my drift? so, you can tag me as that “unicorn” till local government, village, or town, shows me wrong.
As always, best regards.
Yours to command,
Just the Beginning
September 20, 2021
To the Editor,
It’s a sad day to be a local.
Upon coming home from my community-based career on the East End, I was deeply saddened to read the lead headline of the local Star newspaper on Sept. 15.
On the front page was an article about how the lawsuit over Napeague beach was over, showing that the elite and wealthy won out against the public who make up the Town of East Hampton. Unfortunately, the courts have ignored the plans of the developer that developed the Napeague area. In the original surveys for the whole development, before it was split up for beachfront McMansions, the property from the dune line down to the waterline is clearly marked “For Public Use.” It is amazing how the courts did not take this into consideration.
It is so disappointing to me that a lawyer walking door to door promising people who reside along the stretch of Napeague Beach, stating that he can make the beach between their structures and the ocean a private beach for only them to use, has succeeded in taking that land away from 99 percent of the residents who make up East Hampton.
This is just the beginning. Whatever beach that you like to go to will surely be on the radar of a nearby homeowner who thinks that they have the right to be the only one there, and that the public use by the residents of East Hampton should be stopped.
Unfortunately, this is what our future has in store for the beaches of East Hampton. If the homeowners down at Napeague Beach are successful with shutting this beach down, other wealthy and elitist will be sure to follow their lead.
This is the last stand for the rest of the people who call East Hampton their home. If this situation irks you, please speak up! The town board members must finish this fight by condemnation of the area for the public use of the residents of East Hampton. I urge all town board members to aggressively pursue the condemnation of this stretch of land — a stretch of land that is under water several times a year and is not zoned to have any structures built upon it. What could it be really valued at?
Some people are worried about the price of this land being way too much for the town to condemn. Why?
If this land is kept open to the public, will the wealthy landowner still not be able to get the millions-plus for their house if they decide to sell? I’m no expert, but I personally don’t think so. After all, just about all of the current homeowners purchased their houses with the public using the beach in front of them over the past two decades.
If the town doesn’t condemn this property, it is a slap in the face to the other 99 percent of the residents of East Hampton who can’t afford to buy the millions of dollar homes that litter the beaches of East Hampton.
Please, local and second-home owners, voice your thoughts to the town board that we all live out here for the enjoyment of our local shorelines and that it is a travesty if the town allows the ultrawealthy and elitist to just come in and use their money and connections to change this beautiful town of ours.
Write letters to the editor and call into the town meetings if you love to have access to all the beaches of the East End. Otherwise, I hear that Montana is a very nice option that has no beach access and a way-lower cost of living. Be well, everyone!
Access for All
September 20, 2021
The Citizens for Access Rights board and its supporters were once again utterly disappointed to learn of the final decision in the courts rejecting the appeal on the recent ruling privatizing the 4,000-foot stretch of beach in Amagansett.
For the past 12 years our group of hundreds of local citizens has worked hard to maintain public beach access for all. However, it was not enough, and the locals have lost again. Now it is time for our local elected officials to deliver on their word and pursue condemnation immediately to preserve public beach access for all and for future generations.
The privatization of this stretch of beach is only the beginning. If the town board does not condemn this stretch of beach, a very dangerous precedent will be set.
Public beach access for all has been the fabric of this community. Locals have been visiting this beach and many others for generations and it is what most local, year-round residents cherish most about our community.
We ask that the town board and town trustees fiercely defend public beach access to all beaches by all means possible. We are asking all elected officials and candidates to voice their support of the condemnation process.
It is election season and the hundreds of public beach access supporters believe that public beach access is of utmost importance and will be supporting candidates who support condemnation when they head to the polls this November.
And for those naysayers who argue that the condemnation of this property will cost the town and its taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars is simply ludicrous. If the town fails to vehemently defend public beach access to Napeague, it will be the first of many land — beach — grabs in our community. Even if you don’t utilize this beach, beware, your beach is next.
Board Member, Citizens for Access Rights
Leaving the Stumps
September 14, 2021
To the Editor:
The Town of East Hampton has issued a stop-work order for what looks like a major desecration of nature in Clearwater at the corner of Hog Creek Lane and Bon Pinck Way. I reckon that at least two acres have been completely cleared leaving the stumps of more than 60 trees sticking up from the ground, along with a hill of wood chips. It’s a sight to chill the soul.
I’d like to see the town take the land, one way or another, and maintain it either as is (as a cautionary example for this and future generations) or as an environmental restoration project in which local residents can participate. At the very least, folks, let’s keep an eye on this spot and hope something is done by the town to heal the wound.
September 17, 2021
As we all try to cope with our anxiety over succumbing to the deadly Covid-19 virus it is hard to escape these worries with daily reminders of the death totals, overcrowded hospitals, and the infection pockets in different parts of the country saturating our communication media. During the nearly two-year span of this anxiety-riddled age, a new industry has been spawned, allaying our concerns to test for the presence of the coronavirus. Perhaps most all of us have waited on a line to get a Covid test to take an airplane flight, to show wellness, to attend a ceremonial event, or to meet an employer’s request or for another such demand.
When our good friend returned from Florida, now one of the nation’s epicenters of coronavirus infections, we advised him to get tested before returning to East Hampton to stay with us and to take part in a holiday meal with 12 others to celebrate the Jewish New Year. (I should mention that all celebrants at this holiday dinner table, including our Florida friend, were vaccinated against the coronavirus.) Just before our Florida friend left, he took a rapid test at a nearby Florida walk-in wellness clinic, which showed him to be Covid negative, easing everyone’s worries of his being infected.
Then, after the dinner party, our Florida friend spoke to his next-door neighbor who alerted him to the fact that she recently tested positive for Covid, and he remembered hugging her just before he left for the airport. He immediately made an appointment to take a Covid test at the Medivolve facility, located on the grounds of East Hampton Town offices. It is one of two facilities in this region, with the other being in Montauk, dedicated exclusively to coronavirus testing.
The next day our friend reported that the overall result of the testing showed that he was positive for Covid and should remain at home quarantined for a period of eight days. The technician who performed his tests verbally told him that the deep and shallow testing of our friend’s nasal passages were negative but that the blood sample tests he took showed positivity and a need to be quarantined.
When we first learned of these test results they appeared to be at the very least ambiguous and inconclusive about his covid positivity given our own general knowledge of Covid testing. First, the Centers for Disease Control website says that antibody tests of blood samples should not be used to diagnose a current infection. Second, how could an authoritative positivity diagnosis be made in the absence of a P.C.R. test requiring a laboratory analysis?
Our friend was given this diagnosis less than a half-hour after his blood and nasal samples were drawn. Yet, despite feeling flummoxed by these inconsistencies, given our friend’s ambiguous positivity diagnosis, we were in no position to question it any further and prompt action had to be taken. All attendees of the holiday meal had to be notified right away. I also advised my Florida friend to get another nasal Covid test and to make sure it was the most accurate P.C.R. test requiring a laboratory analysis of his nasal swab.
In the coming days many of the party’s attendees and local relatives of our friend, more than a dozen in fact, took Covid diagnostic tests. Some took rapid antigen tests and others took the slower, more accurate P.C.R. tests requiring laboratory analysis. With the passage of several more days, all test results came back negative, including our friend’s P.C.R. test, taken at Southampton Hospital. All these results suggested that the Medivolve diagnosis was a charade and a false positive. Our friend never received any further laboratory results from Medivolve to his email or phone from the deep drawing of his nasal fluids.
Based on all this experience we think that local residents should avoid this Medivolve facility, with its lack of an attending physician at the site, and its reliance on collecting superfluous client blood samples, having no bearing on diagnosing current Covid infection status.
We looked at Google reviews of this facility and it garnered an anemic 2.7 (out of 5) score with nearly equal numbers of highly satisfied and greatly dissatisfied patrons, whose chief complaints, like our Florida friend’s, consisted in the unnecessary blood testing and the facility’s failure to provide follow-up lab results, resulting in missed flights and canceled medical appointments. Offering these unrequested blood analysis services seems like a scheme to pad client bills at governmental and insurance company expense, providing a colossal waste of everyone’s time, energy, and resources to obtain this unnecessary and superfluous data.
Operating this enterprise on town-owned property gives this Medivolve facility an aura of being a governmentally sanctioned enterprise, which it certainly is not. It is now time to recognize this facility for what it is, an unreliable provider of critical services during our Covid-anxiety-riddled era.
Too Good to Be True
September 20, 2021
I write to support the town board’s ongoing efforts to rein in East Hampton Airport and discontinue the use of federal funds there.
While I was on the town board, from 1980 to 1987, we often dealt with issues at our municipal airport. For several years I served as the town board liaison to the airport and became familiar with the issues and the characters involved. Though residential development around the airport and aircraft traffic have increased over the years, many of the issues regarding funding, noise, environmental protection, search and rescue and emergency medical users, impact on home values, and economic benefits of the facility are remarkably similar.
The Federal Aviation Administration gets a significant portion of its revenue from excise taxes on the aviation industry. The more airplane fuel, tires, and tickets sold, the more revenue the F.A.A. receives.
In the 1980s, we applied for and received funding from the F.A.A. and the New York State Department of Transportation to prepare master plans, resurface runways and taxiways, install runway lighting, and for a variety of other capital improvements. The funding seemed too good to be true: Over 90 percent of the cost of these expensive improvements could be paid with federal and State grants!
Before long, it became clear that the fine print in these grant contracts, or grant assurances, gave the F.A.A. a major say in what occurred at the airport for 20 years or more after signing. The town continued to enter into these grant agreements until 2000, I believe.
Decisions regarding staging for towing advertising banners, use of the land in the industrial park, and the type and frequency of aircraft using the facility would ultimately be determined by the F.A.A. — and not the town.
I came to believe the F.A.A.’s loyalty lies primarily with the aviation industry and not with the people of East Hampton and eastern Long Island. Many town boards have come to the same conclusion but have had to wait to separate from F.A.A. control until the grant assurance periods expired. As I understand it, this month the last of the town’s grant assurances with the F.A.A. will expire.
Once the grant assurances expire, the town can exercise more control over this roughly 600-acre town-owned facility. The town’s options range from closing the airport entirely to continuing to allow it to grow and become more of a hub for planes, jets, and helicopters and more and more of a nuisance to residents of the town and others who live under the flight path of the increasing traffic. In my opinion, the tipping point was reached some time ago: The detriment to the health, safety, and welfare for large numbers of people now far outweighs any benefit the airport may provide. I don’t think anyone on either side of this issue objects to air traffic for search and rescue and emergency medical transportation, so that is not the issue.
The town boards over the years have done what they need to do to switch to local funding for the airport, to the extent it remains. While I might allow the single and twin engine planes, the sale of aviation fuel, flying instruction, and, of course, search and rescue and emergency medical operations to continue, with limitations, as far as I’m concerned, it’s time for all those people who have suffered from the adverse impacts from the airport all these years to have their day. If the town board needs to completely shut down operations at the East Hampton Airport to rein it in, so be it. They have my vote.
Right to Vote
September 14, 2021
To the Editor,
I am writing this letter regarding the Town of East Hampton’s template for community input on the “upcoming” topic of opening or closing the East Hampton airport. The work sessions seemed like a viable format for getting people’s input, however, why would this be done in the middle of September 2021?
This exercise seems to be a venue for all to vent their frustrations, not truly a vehicle which will persuade the board one way or another on the airport, too late indeed!
Could it be that our supervisor and the board have made their decisions? A likely scenario. All the rhetoric about letting everyone have their voices, their opinions, and concerns is wasted.
The only real way for everyone to get their voices heard and make their opinion count is to let the communities of the South Fork vote. Why don’t we have the right to vote? This is a decision that impacts so many and voting would be the clear and rational way regarding this important decision.
The taxpayers need a true voice. Voting on this issue is the only true interpretation of the opinions of the people.
September 17, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray,
With regard to the question of what to do about the airport — if anything — perhaps we (me, too) could all dial down the invective and histrionics a bit? The issue is complex and serious, reflecting legitimate concerns among East Hampton residents from every perspective. It deserves a balanced and comprehensive hearing. Instead, what we have, right now, is a lot of self-righteousness and an unwillingness to consider one another’s views. What we have right now is a constant drumbeat from one side or the other, but no honest effort among us to sort it out. We’re divided into armed camps and looking for a fight. That’s not good for anyone (except maybe a newspaper, if controversy sells).
The airport debate is emblematic of a broader philosophical and practical debate about the character and future of our town. In a very real way, it’s not much different from grumbling about hooligans and slobs descending on Montauk. It does get nuts sometimes, but mostly, it’s just good people on vacation and the worst of it is a very few jackasses who leave a mess behind or do worse. The griping is also really no different from arguing about where to place a sorely-needed cell tower in Springs. These are questions driven by change and, for some, progress. You can’t turn back time, any more than you can just stand athwart Montauk Highway or the airport runway and yell, “Stop.” It doesn’t work, even though it might feel good in the moment.
It’s great to live here, so more people move here. With so much demand, it costs more and more to live here, and people with moderate incomes increasingly can’t afford to live here. That has to be solved. We should be spending more time, collectively, sorting that out — but we’re arguing about the airport and a cell tower and a power transmission line and McMansions and a my-way-or-the-highway mayor. We need to solve the trade parade; certainly the noise, traffic, and pollution from that constant (and currently unavoidable) flow is at least as troublesome to the health of the town as conditions at and around the airport. Just bitching about left turns in the summer or the time it takes to get from the Milk Pail or from the Maidstone, it gets us nowhere and isn’t even all that cathartic.
As to the airport, it’s an important and valuable community asset. I use it very seldom, but it’s convenient when I do. Moreover, I live in Montauk and would hate to see even more summer traffic to and from Montauk Airport running through the hamlet, Napeague, Amagansett, and East Hampton Village on Montauk Highway (and Old Montauk Highway). Closing the airport will needlessly create other problems for a lot of people. At the same time, I understand why people living in the flight path or nearby object to the airport’s continued operation. Barry Raebeck wrote elegantly this week on exactly that point — thoughtful, dispassionate and fair-minded. He and I disagree as to our conclusions, but he showed how the debate should happen, and we would be much better off were we to follow his lead (if not accept his argument). It’s clear that a lot of people agree with me and a lot of other people see it as Barry does (and as you do).
Unlike Barry or me, The Star is uniquely positioned to present to everyone the full range of views, in a fair and balanced manner, as a matter of reporting while still expressing your honest opinion as to the ultimate solution. We should all focus more on the specific issue and refrain from taking the bait and making this a destructive barfight. We can leave that to the politicians and the hooligans. A little more listening, a little more honest debate and a little more fair-mindedness and good will we deserve at least that much, and The Star can set and maintain that standard. Will you — please?
No Way, Montauk
September 20, 2021
To the Editor,
When East Hampton Airport closes, as it must, and the residents of this town get actual benefits from the 610 acres of public land reserved for the 1 percent of visitors who use the airport now, what would be the results for Montauk residents?
Visitors through the airport were polled and fully 50 percent said that if East Hampton were closed, they would travel here by the same means everyone else does: car, train, and bus. Of those who may still wish to fly, according to the town’s recent diversion study, at least 40 percent would divert to Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, a far larger facility than East Hampton, as well as far more convenient for all of those going to points west of East Hampton Airport. That study also shows that many types of aircraft are simply unable to land at an airport with far smaller runways than East Hampton, such as Montauk or Mattituck, eliminating diversion by approximately 20 percent of current flights.
Thus, even a worst-case scenario as noted by the same diversion study indicates that, at most, 24 percent (half of the 48 percent who could go, but would choose not to) of current operations would actually go to Montauk. And that is a worst-case scenario, unlikely to occur. Montauk Airport is hardly the answer for the majority of current airport visitors for several reasons: It is a private airport and permission to land can be required. If the owners agree to accept fees for more aircraft that will be extraordinarily unpopular with their neighbors. As noted, it is far smaller than East Hampton Airport and does not have the physical capacity for larger jets and several other types of aircraft.
For those not going directly to Montauk, the extra time aloft, expense, discomfort, and the long travel time backward to the west is a huge deterrent. On a summer Friday, for example, it would take one hour or more just to come back to East Hampton, and longer still to Wainscott, Sagaponack, or Bridgehampton.
Montauk does not have extra parking for additional aircraft. Montauk does not have fuel available. Montauk does not have parking for cars. Montauk does not even have rest rooms.
It is fair to say that there is no way Montauk Airport will morph into another East Hampton Airport. That is a myth perpetrated by corporate providers, such as the notorious Blade helicopter outfit, and other aircraft interests.
Of course, in terms of our environment and quality of life here on the East End and globally, the goal is not simply to divert unnecessary luxury air travel, it is to eliminate it. The wealthy and powerful polluters are rather alarmed by such an eventuality. Don’t be fooled by their lies.
The best solutions are for the town, county, and state to purchase Montauk Airport (it was for sale just five years ago) and turn it into a wonderful waterfront park. The town has ample money in the community preservation fund right now. And upgrade the ridiculously slow and obsolete Long Island Rail Road with a modern high-speed rail link that is comfortable, fast, and green, such as modern nations have.
Call a Beekeeper
September 20, 2021
To the Editor:
As reported in your Sept. 2 issue, the Suffolk County Legislature has recently passed a law to support honeybee colonies. A major goal is to protect bee swarms, the clusters of bees we sometimes see hanging from tree branches or attached to buildings.
Swarms provide thousands of honeybees with a temporary living site until they can find a permanent home. They are especially interested in finding a suitable tree hollow. When people see a swarm, they sometimes become frightened and contact an exterminator. The new law requires exterminators to call a beekeeper before applying poisons. The beekeeper may be able to place the colony in a safe place.
I would like to say a bit more about the swarms and why we must protect bees.
Bees typically form a swarm when their former residence becomes overcrowded. The queen then leaves the nest with about two-thirds of the colony. Among the swarm’s occupants are worker bees who search for a new nesting site. These scouts, who are all females, often travel several miles looking for a new home. When they return, they report their discoveries through remarkably informative dances. The scouts may initially disagree with respect to the best site, but the colony always seems to reach a consensus and relocates to a permanent residence. The entire process may take a few days. Back at the old home, a new queen is raised.
If we leave swarms alone, the bees are unlikely to sting us. They don’t aggressively try to protect their temporary cluster — not nearly to the extent that they defend a permanent hive.
The swarming process is vital for the survival of honeybees and the Earth needs them. They are great pollinators. They figure prominently among the insects that enable most of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce. And plants, in turn, provide animals with oxygen and food. Humans are no exception. One-third of the world’s food crops depends on pollination.
In recent years, populations of honeybees and many other pollinators have been collapsing. One factor is real estate development, which has destroyed the insects’ habitats. Another culprit is pesticides.
As pollinators are endangered, so is the planet. We need to urge all levels of government to protect them. Officials must rein in pesticide use and real estate development. Highway departments must stop mowing the roadside wildflowers that support bees. As individuals, we can help by giving special consideration to bee-friendly plants in our gardens. Our new county law protecting honeybees is the kind of action our ecosystems need.
East Hampton Group for Wildlife
September 13, 2021
To the Editor,
Joseph Karpinski’s recent letter to you regarding LTV is filled with inaccuracies.
Regardless of his desire to believe otherwise, LTV is not a government entity and not subject to the Freedom of Information Law, the so-called Sunshine Law. We are like any other vendor of goods and services to the town. We are paid a fee for service. The town is free to seek another supplier if they so choose.
Mr. Karpinski asked us to supply the Zoom IP addresses of the members of the town board. We do not possess nor have access to such information. This was explained numerous times via email to Mr. Karpinski.
His characterization of Michael Clark, executive director of LTV, as giving him the run-around, couldn’t be further from the truth. Because we are not a government entity, Mr. Clark politely and accurately directed Mr. Karpinski to seek a FOIL request from the town.
Mr. Karpinski referenced that we alerted Councilman Bragman to his request; as the town’s liaison to LTV, it was perfectly appropriate to apprise Mr. Bragman of same. How that constitutes “a contribution in kind,” is a mystery to me. Mr. Bragman, like any East Hampton citizen, is welcome to produce a program.
Not only is Ken Walles welcome to do the same, but Michael Clark has worked with Mr. Walles to help him with production and also designed his logo. But because Mr. Walles is unvaccinated, he is not allowed in the physical facility, but has been given the opportunity to create his program via Zoom. We have offered to assist him in that endeavor. This is the policy for all unvaccinated producers for the safety of our staff.
As far as I can discern, this whole thing concerns the whereabouts of Councilwoman Overby on a certain date. I suggest that if he really wants to know, he should just ask her.
Will Not Participate
September 20, 2021
To the Editor,
You may have heard of my refusal to participate in the upcoming debate of town supervisor candidates. I will not participate in a Zoom debate, for I don’t consider that a debate.
I had asked that they reconsider a live debate (even outdoors) considering many other venues are open and we are not under lockdown. Town offices are still open and even the Senior Center!
I feel the town board has used the pandemic to hide from the public by not facing them in person. A prime example was when they canceled the Montauk public hearing on airport closure due to the overwhelming response for attendance. How can you run a town from the basement? Besides, we are still awaiting Peter Van Scoyoc’s response to a Freedom of Information Law (now overdue) request as to Sylvia Overby’s town participation while allegedly living in Florida.
Mr. Walles is the Republican and Conservative candidate for East Hampton Town supervisor. The New York State Freedom of Information Law, or FOIL, does not require government to create a document if none regarding a specific subject exists. Ed.
No Zoom Debates
September 19, 2021
To the Letters,
Penning this letter is of the most importance. Debate season is upon us and we’ve been asked to partake. Excitement, as if you haven’t been reading the papers, Facebook, Twitter, websites, and blogs since March, I suppose you don’t know an opposition party exists.
As the debate managers have decided without discussion or conference, we can only do Zoom debates. Unfortunately, this brings up several issues. I have no reception from home, Internet is spotty, even our landline is horrid. I stated to officials, “I would prefer to be in person.” If not, would they be providing us a location to Zoom from? None of the debates are providing us with a spot. We have been told to find one on our own. LTV is streaming the debate. Why can’t we be there? We can’t social-distance? They can’t allow one or two of us on location? They can’t bring a tripod to the American Legion and certainly have enough space for us to be social-distanced there?
Are all these registered Democrat opponents not vaccinated? Can’t they wear a mask? They have an unwillingness to lead and be seen in public? I’ve already stated, “If elected, we will be at Town Hall for our constituents, for meetings, for the people’s work! We are the community.” Town employees are at work. Why not the town board and those who seek to be on the town board?
Blue-collar workers don’t get Zoom employment. I took 14 days off to “flatten the curve” and went right back to work. I see people daily, from all walks of life. It’s 18 months later, you either know how to wash your hands, or continue to live in fear. You may be driven by fear, I’ll be driven by my and our group’s work ethic.
Kathleen Cunningham immediately moved the dates, after stating she only had two available, to a third for her newly formed Democratic forum. The wish seems to silence the opposition party for the favorites. I did not say I wouldn’t participate, I tried to negotiate; someone else gave you an answer. I suppose that was good enough for you. You didn’t confirm with me directly.
No Zoom debates. There we have it. The unwillingness to lead in front, to be seen, to debate, while hiding behind a screen. I’m off now (Sunday morning) to go help our fire department direct traffic as the Red Knights come through outside, in public, no mask, not afraid, living life, seeing people!
Nov. 2: Walles, Aman, Karpinski. We are the community. The tides are changing.
September 20, 2021
Summer is over and election season is here. Plan to vote on Nov. 2, or during the two weeks of early voting prior to Election day. The slate of officers nominated by the East Hampton Democratic Party, led by Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, has demonstrated strong leadership representing all the citizens of our town, supporting affordable housing, protecting our environment, and assuring that free Covid testing and vaccinations are available, while maintaining a AAA credit rating.
To learn more about the full Democratic slate and their accomplishments, all are available at EHDems.org. Voting is the responsibility and privilege that we’re all so fortunate to have, so learn about the candidates and plan to cast your vote this fall.
DAVID K. HILLMAN
Gets Things Done
September 20, 2021
Our current East Hampton Town Board is like other boards. It has members who are not there for the prestige but to make contributions and get things done. One of the hard workers on the town board is Kathee Burke-Gonzalez. She was first elected to the board in 2013 and is now finishing up her second four-year term. Her background in business and public service has prepared her well for the job. She has 30 years as a marketing executive and served nine years on the Springs School Board, serving two years as vice president and two more as president.
Her dedicated and persistent involvement on the town board over the last eight years resulted in her appointment in January as deputy supervisor. Kathee’s practical approach to the large variety of issues facing the board has made real contributions to its success over the last few years. During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic she assisted with the town’s response of initiating Covid testing and arranging for delivery of the Covid vaccine to town residents.
Kathee is deeply concerned about the environmental issues which we face today and is trained as a climate reality leader. Kathee is an active participant on the senior center building committee and supports the town’s purchase of the seven-acre lot at 403 Abraham’s Path. Planning is now underway for the new senior center, which is easily accessible from Montauk Highway and by back roads.
Kathee’s list of contributions to East Hampton is long and impressive. She is a thoughtful, dedicated public servant who does her homework and then does the hard work.
Please vote for Kathee Burke-Gonzalez in the upcoming election. Early voting starts on Oct. 23 at Windmill Village.
JEREMIAH T. MULLIGAN
East Hampton Town Democratic Committee
September 20, 2021
To the Editor:
Election Day is less than 40 days away, and I was flooded with messages, texts, and phone calls after my letter in last week’s East Hampton Star. Republicans, Democrats, Independents all had the same basic message: The town no longer represents the local community. What I find so troubling is that so many feel and believe this to their core!
The comments range from, “They have to be on the take,” “grossly incompetent,” and a lot of comments I can’t repeat in this letter. People ask how it could go almost 10 years and yet nothing is accomplished.
The airport, the senior center, the emergency communications, the septic pollution of our waterways, the drunkenness and spring break chaos in Montauk, the disrespect of the town employees, the nasty treatment of citizens at town board meetings, the lack of leadership by town board members during the pandemic, a town board that operated more like a shadow government of unseen elected town board members, failure to promote environmental conservation policies instead of destroying communities in Montauk and Wainscott, the inability to find the balance to save Little League ball fields over better more suitable locations for emergency medical facilities, and now the loss of Truck Beach.
If I heard it once, I heard it 100 times: This town board works for the 1 percent, the second-home owner, the summer crowd, the Hollywood crowd, anyone who is not local but has the money to spend on an expensive, connected law firm.
Every person who contacted me agreed this election needs to be decided on the local issues and not political party enrollment. No one cares if you voted for Biden, Trump, Clinton, Obama, or Bush. We all agreed that the town government has failed, not a little bit, a lot, and there has to be change. We need a town board that respects diversity and differences of opinions, a town board that is open and wants to work with the community instead of dictating.
This year the choice is clear: Bring integrity and ethical conduct to East Hampton Town Hall by voting for Kenneth I. Walles, supervisor, and George B. Aman and Joseph B. Karpinski, councilmen.
East Hampton Town Republican Committee
Preserve and Pre-Empt
September 15, 2021
To the Editor,
The East Hampton Town Board held a public hearing on Aug. 19 to discuss the recently released East Hampton Town Community Preservation Project Plan 2021. This document, produced by the planning and Land Acquisition and Management Department, updates the last comprehensive C.P.F. plan published in 2011, and it re-establishes the fund’s priorities and criteria for land acquisition activities, including conservation of open space, agricultural land, natural resources, historical/significant structures and vistas, public access, and water quality.
As required by statute, the document enumerates the list of specific “target” parcels across each of the five districts of Amagansett, East Hampton, Montauk, Springs, and Wainscott to be preserved either by outright purchase with the public C.P.F. funds, the securing of various types of easements and development rights, or through activity by private conservation funds, such as the Peconic Land Trust. The 700-plus individual target parcels cited in this new document range from as large as a single 170-acre property in Springs to a material number ranging between 30 and 65 acres each, and many, many others at an acre or smaller.
For anyone not familiar with the C.P.F., in short, its mission is to contribute to preserving community character through the acquisition and preservation of land, and to help protect and improve environmental integrity in ecologically sensitive areas in the Town of East Hampton. As the document states: “This is significant progress toward our goal of protecting the town’s agricultural, scenic, natural and historic resources for the public. However, many sensitive and important parcels remain. We also have the potential to restore the integrity of some of our important natural areas that have been damaged by unwise development.”
More in-depth background on how the C.P.F. came to be more than 20 years ago can be sourced from The East Hampton Star and the Peconic Land Trust. In short, it was established in 1998 by a voter referendum across all five towns on the East End (North and South Forks) approving a new real estate transfer tax of 2 percent on each purchase of improved or vacant property occurring in these towns. At the time, C.P.F. revenue was projected to be about $15 million per year, but the fund has generated multiples of that, averaging about $70 million annually.
According to reports from Assemblyman Fred Thiele’s office, so far the entire region has raised $1.6 billion in C.P.F. monies and preserved 10,000 acres of East End land. Annual collections for the entire region reached an all-time high in 2020 of $139.42 million — a 79 percent jump over 2019. So far in 2021 collections have remained very robust. Focusing just on our Town of East Hampton, 2020 C.P.F. revenues grew 80 percent vs. the prior year to $41 million, and In the first seven months of 2021, our C.P.F. revenues jumped nearly 160 percent year-over-year to $44.7 million.
So, when we see the C.P.F. coffers brimming with cash and consider the breadth of the C.P.F. agenda and recommended preservation list, it is easy to feel downright giddy when contemplating the wonderful impact it would have on this town should all, or even half, of this plan be realized over the coming years.
I’m not looking to splash cold water or to minimize the importance of this long-term preservation work. As we saw in the important and hard-won preservation of the open space vista of the “555” property in Amagansett, even a single parcel preserved can yield a dramatic positive impact for our community. But the reality of the current real estate development situation in East Hampton creates concern and likely means that we cannot rely on preservation alone.
Even with all the money that will be spent and all the effort that will be expended to execute this plan over the next 5 to 10 years, and even if the town is able to preserve all these parcels and do all the water quality projects listed, if real estate development continues to run amok at the current blistering pace and scope, then we are not just running on a treadmill, but we will be thrown backward off that treadmill and really hurt ourselves.
C.P.F. preservation is a slow and often painstaking process: Acquiring an individual target parcel can take years or even decades to negotiate and complete. The annual revenue intake is cyclical. Moreover, though C.P.F. revenues have surged, so too has the cost of acquisitions. The price tags on the two most recently announced C.P.F. acquisition deals — for a sizable swath of agricultural land just north of the center of town in Amagansett and for two contiguous undeveloped parcels on the Bell Estate — ranged between $795,000 for development rights and $915,000 to $2.6 million for outright purchase per acre. The town board has scheduled a public hearing this week regarding the approval of a proposed C.P.F. acquisition of a .33 acre parcel in the village for a dollar amount that would equate to a per-acre price of more than $8 million.
To put it all in perspective, consider the following summary passage from the new 2021 East Hampton C.P.F. document: “The Town of East Hampton has preserved 2,223.8 acres of land to date. . . . Included are more than 285 acres of farmland and 400 acres along our shorelines. We have also protected nine historic sites.” For context: East Hampton, which spans 25 miles from Wainscott to Montauk, encompasses 70 square miles or about 45,000 acres and has 70 miles of shoreline. In other words, over a two-decade period, just .5 percent of town land has been preserved via the C.P.F. in East Hampton. (Note, it is a bigger proportion of “developable” land, but I don’t have enough data to do that calculation.)
Based on comments I’ve heard in a few town meetings, it appears that less than 10 percent of currently unimproved but developable property across East Hampton remains.
Not only is the pace of development and redevelopment continuing to accelerate, but the scope and size of building is exploding, bringing tremendous increases in the density and intensity of use of parcels. For every C.P.F. acre acquired, for every parcel protected, and for every easement established, dozens more acres are excavated, chewing up massive amounts of natural resources, and developed or redeveloped with ever larger houses. A combination of seemingly unlimited wealth, the insatiable American appetite for supersizing, and speculative building activity fuel a current trend to max out properties relative to our current dimensional building codes.
Meanwhile, it is becoming clearer that when it comes to essential services, East Hampton Town has become under-resourced relative to all this development. The town’s infrastructure — including our roads, cellular service capacity, our supermarkets, our local businesses and services, our critical teams including police, Marine Patrol, code enforcement, building and natural resources field inspectors, and even litter control — is groaning under the weight of the explosion in development, the surge in occupancy, and the rapid expansion in population (full-time residents, part-time residents, renters, vacationers, and day trippers).
So, bottom line, I have to ask: What sense is there to spending tens or hundreds of millions of public preservation fund dollars to try to restore and undo the damage done by previous “unwise development” if that unwise development is allowed to continue unchecked at ever increasing orders of magnitude?
A committed group of preservation-minded and environmentally aware land management and land trust groups are no match for today’s profligate hordes of speculators, developers, and new homeowners who seem to have no understanding, or perhaps more likely no regard, about how to balance what they consider their inalienable lan d ownership rights to do whatever they want on the parcel they just bought, with their responsibilities to protect the community character and the fragile natural resources of the land on which they intend to drop a dozen thousand square feet of residence and accessory structures, a country-club-size pool, a soccer field’s worth of driveway and hardscape, and enough irrigation dripper cable to stretch from the Shinnecock Canal to the Montauk Lighthouse.
Therefore, the C.P.F. and other preservation activities, while absolutely essential, cannot be considered in a vacuum. The goals as stated in the plan cannot be achieved by preservation purchases alone, no matter how big the fund or how ambitious the target list. Retaining a sense of open space, maintaining the special character of our communities, realizing our environmental, energy and natural resources imperatives, and ensuring that our housing stock fully addresses the yawning affordability chasm are a function of both parts of the equation: land preservation purchases and rational restraints and improved oversight of the scope and scale of real estate development going forward.
While we are preserving the good, we need to be pre-empting the bad.
The way I look at it, a preservation mind-set needs to begin the minute someone puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to fill out a building permit application and should continue across the entire set of review and approval processes. It is my hope that a preservation thread can be woven through the fabric of our land-use regulations and building code.
September 16, 2021
A.O.C. is a hypocrite, wearing her unfashionable dress to the Met Gala. How dare this socialist and member of Congress behave this way? I wish someone would define the word “rich.” I wish someone would tell me why the government allows 61 percent of Americans to pay no taxes and then penalizes at every opportunity those of us who worked hard all our life, to pay even more taxes. I find it disgusting to find increasingly the hand of government going into our wallet to take more of our hard-earned money.
Today the government is working hard to enact new tax laws that will further penalize hard-working Americans and those of us who after many years of work have accumulated savings and investments that augment the meager Social Security payments that are doled out. The changes they now want to make are draconian. Chances are they will get their way by using the reconciliation process in congress.
I get the feeling that no one is paying attention as to what is going on in Washington. The Biden administration is in the process of wrecking our country, and my future to enjoy my retirement. Does anyone care?
Needs a Rest
September 20, 2021
Isis, China, Russia, climate, coronavirus, the border crisis, mask mandate, vaccine mandate, and so much more sitting on Joe Biden’s plate and he decides to go to his beach house for vacation. I can only guess that he needs a rest after putting America at risk for another attack, or is he getting ready to send billions to Afghanistan for the return of our citizens and those who helped America when we truly needed them. Instead it seems that we gave the Taliban the names and addresses of the Afghans who helped us.
Gen. Mark Milley called China with information he would forward any and all of Trump’s ideas that he himself is spying on. This is treason; remove him and the idiot Anthony Blinken, who surely doesn’t know which end is up. General Milley was very busy getting paperwork ready for teaching our armed forces critical race theory, never looking over his shoulder to make sure America was safe.
The drone which Biden lies about — eventually had to tell the truth — did kill children. Even though the C.I.A. warned that this was not a suicide bomber in the car, the order went out to bomb it. Who’s in charge, Milley or Nancy Pelosi, the screaming bitch who gives a lot of orders?
Mandates, mandates, and some more of the same for citizens of America but not for the 13,000 illegals sitting under the bridge, some with covid, some with AIDs, some with tuberculosis, and so many other outbreaks. Nothing, nada, no rules for the crisis at the border. Pray for the Border Patrol, they’re under the gun.
Enough for now, so much more to come, I’ll sign off with I pray very hard that the Durham report nails the dishonest politician, the most crooked politician, Ms. bitch Hillary Clinton.
In God and country,
P.S. This administration blamed Trump for all their failures.
Are We the Problem?
September 20, 2021
In the simplest of worlds, the United States excluded, the relationship between cause and effect is substantially clear. Things don’t happen out of the blue but are a function of other things that happened before. If you were abused as a kid there’s a strong chance you will abuse your kids, not necessarily, but possibly. Conceptually it is a linear and direct connection. If we don’t understand the connection, we never solve problems.
Politics is rarely as linear, cause and effect-wise, as the health care problem between Idaho and Washington State. Idaho is being overwhelmed by Covid cases because it has refused to vaccinate and wear masks. Washington, a bordering state, has more extensive health care facilities and has been taking Covid patients from Idaho.
The problem for Washington is that it has its own Covid issues and because of the overload from Idaho has been unable to provide other essential surgeries. Does Washington refuse to treat Idaho patients and take care of people from its own state or does it open its doors to everyone?
In March 2020 President Trump told every state to fend for itself with personal protective equipment and respirators. The pandemic wasn’t a national problem but one for each state to solve. (Perhaps the dumbest subhuman statement in our history.) He wouldn’t wear a mask. He wouldn’t push the vaccine. He protected himself. Individuals over community.
Eighteen months later in Idaho, Trump’s words are echoed over and over. In Washington, Trump was mostly ignored — they believe in community over the individual. Life over death, compassion over stupidity. The question raised is, are we our brothers’ keepers?
The nature of any pandemic is the uncertainty of the situation. The problem is relatively uncomplicated, the solution more so. Because the virus and its variants change so rapidly, epidemiologists are obligated to react to the changes and create new policies that are relevant. What they have established is that it is a deadly problem and that solving it requires vaccinations and mask wearing.
The risk of not getting vaccinated and not wearing masks has no reward. It negatively impacts solving the problem. Being our brothers’ keepers is supposed to be a two-way belief.
The issue is simple enough for a 5-year-old to understand. If we don’t vaccinate, the virus will flourish and transform (see Delta) into something even more deadly. We’ve already experienced firsthand how it works. Our rights, our masculinity, our sexuality are not being threatened, only our lives and our kids’ lives are at stake; 670,000 examples exist.
So, what does Washington do about Idaho? In a normal world there wouldn’t be a question. Yet, the MAGA code is to let them die. Are we better than that? What does it take to convince people that we have a pandemic problem? Are we part of the solution or are we the problem?