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Letters to the Editor: 03.05.20

Wed, 03/04/2020 - 11:14

‘Hello, Dolly’
March 2, 2020

Dear Editor,

My husband and I had the chance to see “Hello, Dolly” at East Hampton High School this past weekend. It was a delight and pure entertainment. The students displayed their talents both in acting and singing, and the choreography, costumes, and sets were all terrific. We are always impressed by the professional level of the shows presented at the high school. If you’ve never been, do consider going next time there’s a show and support the students. It’s a great night out and guaranteed, you won’t be disappointed!



Story Time
February 26, 2020

To the Editor,

Would any of the parents whose children attended Sag Harbor Neighbors Story Time at John Jermain Library ease Mr. Pelosa’s mind? What kinds of questions did the kids ask when they went home? Did any part of the sky fall? Most of the children I know would have more questions about a spew of unabashed bigotry than about the fact that a storyteller was “a man dressed as a woman”! Appalling, really? In 2020? I thought we were safe for such things at least since “Some Like It Hot.”

What’s this world coming to? Let’s hope a place where as many generous, talented people as possible read and sing to children at the public library. Bravo, Star. Bravo, John Jermain. Brava, Naomi!



A Major Concern
    East Hampton
    March 2, 2020

To the Editor

Suffolk County Department of Health is in the process of testing private wells north of the industrial area and the East Hampton Landfill on Springs-Fireplace Road. To date, private wells have been tested at over 200 properties and initial results indicate a total of eight contaminants found in drinking water. Forty-two percent of the wells tested contain volatile organic compounds, which are considered harmful to human health. This is a major concern for all residents who receive their drinking water from private wells. All residents not on public water should have their well water tested regularly.

The information offered below comes from the Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Private residential well tests have detected five volatile organic compounds:
•   Chloroform results from industry activities. It is a probable human carcinogen.
•    MTBE is mixed with gasoline. Spills or leaks from storage containers can seep into deeper soil layers and pollute groundwater. According to studies, it poses an imminent threat to public health.
•    Toluene exposure can affect the nervous system (brain and nerves) and has the potential to impact immune, kidney, liver, and reproductive effects.
•    Tetrachloroethene is a manufactured chemical used for dry cleaning and metal degreasing. The EPA considers tetrachloroethylene likely to be carcinogenic to humans.
•    Cis-1,2-dichloroethene at low doses it has effects on the blood, such as decreased numbers of red blood cells, and also effects on the liver.

In addition to the five V.O.C.s mentioned above, residential private wells also found thre substances to be above New York State Department of Environmental Conservation drinking water standards: Manganese has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier and the placenta during pregnancy, enabling it to reach a developing fetus. Studies in children have suggested that extremely high levels of manganese exposure may produce undesirable effects on brain development, including changes in behavior and decreases in the ability to learn and remember; nitrates, and iron

The groundwater at the East Hampton Landfill is tested four times per year. Over several decades test results consistently found four V.O.C. above state standards. These V.O.C.s have been linked to cancer: benzine, tetrachloroethene, cis-1,2-dichloroethene, vinyl chloride. Also, groundwater test results at the landfill have detected manganese at over 40 times state standards at one of its test wells.

These groundwater and private well test are alarming, Residents who share these concerns should the East Hampton Town supervisor at 631-324-4140 or email [email protected].


Paying Tax
Bethesda, Md.
March 2, 2020


Although my septic system had not yet failed, in September I voluntarily had the 71-year-old cesspool replaced with a low-nitrogen system at my cottage in Springs. Giving credit where credit is due, I must say that the support, guidance and encouragement I received from everyone at the East Hampton Town Natural Resources Department and Building Department was outstanding throughout the 16-month planning process. Their efficiency and attention was most impressive. Most of that 16 months was spent trying to navigate the Suffolk County Department of Health system to get plans for the new system approved and assigning the available grant money to be paid directly to the contractors that would install the system.

Processing the amount of paperwork I received was daunting and confusing, with seemingly no coordination or communication between the people administering the county and state portions of the grant. Nonetheless, I felt it was worth the effort to make a contribution to improve overall water quality in our community.

I was aware of the controversy that arose in 2019 when people who were awarded grant money received a 1099 requiring them to pay tax on it even though that money was paid directly to the contractor and never received by the property owners. I was in attendance at the meeting that was held at Town Hall in the spring of last year. That meeting was referenced in last week’s letter by Kathy Havlik that detailed her daughter’s plight in having received a 1099 that requires her to report and pay tax on the significant grant money the contractor received and will also pay tax on those same funds.

At that meeting, I clearly recall, as Ms. Havlik stated, we were assured by Justin Jobin from the Suffolk Department of Health that the double taxation situation was in the process of being resolved and we were encouraged to move ahead with the project, and doing so would not cause us any financial burden. Together with many others, I was outraged to receive a 1099 this year from the county department of health for the grant money that was paid directly to the installing contractor.

The stated purpose of the state and county grant money being paid directly to the contractors was to minimize any financial impact on those who, voluntarily or by necessity, upgraded their aging cesspools and septic systems. The contractors who received those grant funds directly will pay tax on them. It defies any logic and understanding that the property owners will also be responsible for paying tax on those same funds.

Water quality both in our aquifer and coastal waters has been declining with increasingly frightening speed, and it’s to everyone’s benefit to act as quickly as possible to do whatever is needed to encourage as many people as possible to do whatever we can to protect our water quality.

It’s beyond understanding that the decision of one person, the county comptroller, will greatly impede these efforts by causing financial hardship to property owners who do what is necessary to benefit us all. East Hampton Town officials seem to be moving in the proper direction in considering payment of rebate money directly to contractors to further reduce the financial impact on property owners. It’s my understanding that Senator Schumer is appealing to the I.R.S. to reverse the double taxation situation.

It will benefit everyone to contact him and Representative Zeldin on their websites and make them fully aware of the number of people impacted by this ridiculous ruling and to let them know the importance that water quality has to all of us in the county. Additionally, the county comptroller should immediately issue a revised 1099 to remove the responsibility of taxation to all affected property owners and this needs to be applied retroactively for those of us who have been misled about this program over the last two years. There are tens of thousands of cesspools and poorly functioning septic systems in Suffolk County that need to be replaced now. Substantial improvements in the programs to encourage this work are necessary immediately.


Kathy Havlik’s letter, referenced above, contained an error in the print version: Her daughter’s cottage is 450 square feet, not 4,500. Ed.

Scoville Hall
March 1, 2020

Dear Mr. Rattray,

On a microscopically local note, I’d like to raise a couple of questions with regard to the application of Scoville Hall and The First Presbyterian Church of Amagansett before the East Hampton Zoning Board of Appeals. Let me first offer the specific reasons for my interest in this application: The property that Mary and I occupy at 374 Main Street, in the Amagansett Historic District, borders the Scoville Hall and church property on two sides, the south and the western boundaries. The zoning is residential, obviously.

When we first acquired the property six years ago, we undertook a faithful restoration of the 120-year-old house, per requirements of the architectural review board. And at that time we made a contribution to the rebuilding of Scoville Hall, which had been destroyed by fire in 2011. This had been a heart-rending loss to the church and the community. Scoville Hall had served as a meeting place for groups, causes, and organizations including “12-step groups, Amagansett Food Pantry, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, the Church of the Nazarene (a congregation serving the Hispanic community), the Amagansett Elementary School, two Masonic Lodges, and many more,” as noted in an article in

The application before the zoning board now asks for a variance for a 1,000-square-foot patio that would be used to “hold functions.” In addition, the application includes seven 10-foot light poles for the parking lot, a concrete pad for a Dumpster, and a large eight-foot deep pit to hold a generator. The church’s website at present advertises the hall’s availability for “parties, events, and weddings.” That language suggests something far beyond the scope of the uses listed above.

To us, this sounds like a significant expansion of the historically intended function of Scoville Hall, which would now move outside of the building itself and onto the residentially zoned outdoor property where our “quiet enjoyment,” as residents, could be severely impacted. Remind anyone of the battles that the Maidstone and Hedges Inn had with regard to holding wedding receptions outdoors, under tents, music playing loudly much of the night? It wasn’t so long ago.

The last thing we want is a battle with church neighbors over noise violations, “dark sky” violations, etc. So what we would strongly urge the town, and Scoville Hall to do is clearly define what the proposed uses of the outdoor space will be and in what way they serve the community. It’s one thing to have a summer fair, a bake sale fund-raiser, clothesline art, and craft sales (see also Village Fall Festival in Herrick Park) events that close down at dusk. Another thing to hold parties, wedding receptions, and other undefined “events” after dark — in our backyard.

In its “Vision Statement” on the same Amagansett Presbyterian website, there is a list of eight guiding principles “We dedicate ourselves to.” The last on that list: “offering hospitality to groups and ministries serving the needs of Amagansett and the surrounding community.” That sounds like the right idea to us. We’d just like to be certain that the proposed expansions do not violate zoned uses of the property, and fall within the stated vision of the church.

God bless Scoville Hall,


Remains Silent
March 2, 2020

Dear Editor,

I read with interest the responses to my letters on the Democrats’ disastrous provisions of bail reform in the Criminal Just Act.

Many years ago, during PBA collective bargaining with the governor’s office, a ridiculous proposal was given to us, which included a detailed financial justification. The numbers in the financial justification were silly at best. As I expressed my disbelief, I was reminded by a veteran union official of collective bargaining, “Figures lie when liars figure.” Now do not get me wrong: I am not calling anyone a liar.

My point is simply the racially charged narrative put forth in support of the Democrats’ radical bail reform fails to address the one class of people most disenfranchised: the victims. The Democratic Party has chosen to support criminals over victims despite the fact that violent crimes are often [committed] by someone the victim knows, such as a family member, neighbor, or friend. In other words, in the majority of violent victimizations, white victims’ offenders were white, and black victims’ offenders were black. Yes, that is correct. The majority of black offenders committed crimes against black victims. These are stubborn facts that have been vetted many times over many years of data.

Instead of pandering to those that push racial politics and division to let criminals free, we would all be better served to address the real issues that drive crime. Regardless of race, we know youths that are victims of violent crime have significantly higher and are more likely to be victims of child abuse, robberies, and homicides. Children who witness and are victims of violence are more likely to internalize trauma and engage in the types of risky behaviors that can lead them into criminal involvement. The overwhelming majority of criminals often report histories of family dysfunction, being victimized by childhood abuse and sexual assault, and having close family members involved in crime. Additionally, most are undereducated, have substance abuse and mental health problems.

Yet Democratic socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweets support for the radicals and extremists in New York. Congressional candidates Perry Gershon and Bridget Fleming also support these radical extremists’ views that put criminal rights over victims instead of addressing the tough issues of undereducation, economic empowerment, personal responsibility, and mental health services. Despite the importance of the issue, the East Hampton Democratic Committee remains silent rather than cross the radical extremism of the Democratic socialist politicians and candidates.

If you believe in supporting law-abiding citizens, the victims of crime, and addressing the real issues that plague our community, then let’s work together.

The East Hampton Republican Committee is the local party dedicated to working families, a living wage, environmental conservation, equality, diversity, and economic development for all. We believe in bipartisan solutions regardless of financial status or political party affiliation. Access to the government should not be based on what you can afford or how much you donate to a national or local political party. Town government should be fair, equitable, open, and transparent to all.

Come and check us out at our next monthly meeting. We will not judge, nor will we demand that you follow a national, state, or N.Y.C. political doctrine. Let us work together for a better East Hampton for all.



East Hampton Town

Republican Committee

Following My Lead
East Hampton
March 2, 2020

To the Editor,

I am writing in response to the article in last week’s paper about the village board making changes to allow seating at retail food stores. As a candidate for East Hampton Village mayor, I believe this change is certainly a good one. In fact, these are the code changes I have been campaigning about. I can see that Barbara Borsack and Richard Lawler are following my lead. This is a good start but we must continue to update the entire zoning code, which should have been done many years ago.

I do however find it ironic that Barbara Borsack and Rick Lawler would even consider this change. After all, Barbara and Rick voted against it in 2008 when they and the board at that time tried to stop Dylan’s Candy Bar from serving ice cream. Barbara Borsack and Richard Lawler again refused to change the law in 2018 when the definition of a retail food store was modified. Barbara Borsack and Richard Lawler have proved time and time again that they are not concerned about supporting business and they are the founders of the village of no — no to live music in restaurants, no to outdoor seating for restaurants using public property, no to bringing attention to your business (an actual law — Petit Blue and Jerry Della Femina), no to keeping our beaches clean (refusing to remove garbage cans from the trustee beaches, 2015 to present), no to recycling receptacles on our public streets (resident asked, June 2019), no to changing parking restrictions (businesses have requested for years), no to any type of additional services for our historic inns (spas, outdoor seating, etc.), no to a farmers market, no to a “green” police vehicle (when I was chief in the police department), no to mobile parking enforcement (when I was in the police department).

One thing they did say yes to and that was erecting enormous utility poles on King Street, McGuirk Street (2013), and then a monster pole on Cooper Lane (2019), now pitting neighbors against each other.

Borsack and Lawler can change their political party name and try to blame former Mayor Rickenbach for all the negatives, but they can’t change their true feelings, lack of ideas, or how they have voted the last 20 years.

You can’t cause the problem and then pat yourself on the back for fixing the problem.

The only thing transparent about Barbara Borsack and Richard Lawler is that they are racing against time, June 16 (Election Day), to try to repair as much of the damage they have caused during the last 20 years.


Not Doing Enough
February 10, 2020

To the Editor,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has committed to a virtually carbon-free economy by 2050, but he is still not doing enough to electrify transportation. Take the multi-state Transportation Climate Initiative. New York is sitting on the sidelines, when the state should be taking a leadership role.

Currently there are 10.5 million fossil fuel-burning vehicles on the road in New York. These typically last over 15 years. Transportation is the largest source of climate-altering emissions. Seventy-five per­cent of New Yorkers believe air pollution is a serious problem. We need to completely electrify almost all transportation in New York by 2050 to comply with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

This isn’t just important for the environment, however; in many cases, local, state, and federal transportation policies have left communities of color with inadequate access to public transportation, divided by highways, and polluted air by congested highways to serve suburban commuters. In rural and suburban communities, public transit systems and alternate mobility infrastructure leave residents with no choice but to drive a car.

Emissions are also a cause for concern in regard to health as well. Tailpipe pollutants have been linked to increased rates of asthma and heart disease. Across New York, people lack access to clean, reliable, affordable, and safe transportation options. This impacts their ability to participate in other aspects of community such as health care, education, recreation, and food access.

We know the benefits of safe bike lanes, walking paths, expanded rail lines, affordable housing near transit hubs, and community design that prioritizes people over cars. The technology exists for zero-emission vehicles, buses, trucks, and port equipment. We need bolder and more aggressive policies to make electric vehicles and public transportation the obvious choice for New York commuters and businesses.

Committing to better, more eco-friend­ly, more accommodating, and healthy transportation is not enough. We need Governor Cuomo to step up and follow through now for the sake of our environment and citizens.


March 2, 2020

Dear David,

I made a typographical error about wind farm pricing in my letter that was in last week’s Star. Though megawatt is the correct measure of the output of a wind farm, the cost of sales is for each kilowatt that is sold.

Here is the corrected sentence from the second paragraph where the reference to “new large wind farms” is to the two approved wind farms, each of which will supply Long Island with over 800 megawatts: “The new large wind farms will be selling their energy at about 8 cents per kilowatt which is one half of the 16 cent price demanded by Deepwater Wind South Fork’s 90 megawatt wind farm (why is that original 90 megawatts even being considered when on the same Deepwater Wind South Fork farm there will be 40 megawatts produced with the same construction and same owner who will charge only about 9 cents per kilowatt).”


Most Active
East Hampton
February 29, 2020

To the Editor,

A Star headline of Feb. 20 caught my eye. It spoke of an overflow crowd here in East Hampton at an event for the now three candidates who are aspiring to take away the congressional seat currently held by Representative Lee Zeldin. I opine that they are facing a steep uphill battle. Lee retained his seat by a wide margin of almost16 percentage points in 2016, while President Trump rode to victory here in Suffolk County by an equally substantial 12 percent.

I had previously in my now long life been only a casual observer of politics both local and national. But ever since the 2016 election I’ve taken a keen notice due mostly in part to finding myself on Lee’s email list. I have been living here on the East End now for 40 years, and he seems to me to be the most active and prolific congressman I can recall.

After reading the article it seemed to me that the aspirants’ main complaint was “all he does is spend all his time on Fox News.” Well, I would too if I were invited onto the highest-rated prime time newscast. And in my imagination I would be proud to defend my president and his recent tremendous accomplishments. And then back home to my district I would suggest to the candidate who gets the nod to consider civil discourse and keep the name calling to a minimum. Then maybe he or she might catch the ear of a voter here in the First Congressional District.


Killer Drivers
February 28, 2020

To the Editor,

Having just read a New York Times story headlined “7-Year-Old Boy Is Second Child in Three Days Killed by a Vehicle in Brooklyn,” I’d like to compliment East Hampton and other East End drivers at the opposite end of our geographical Long Island, for not themselves being such killer drivers.

After this most recent case (in a never-ending series) of speeding, red-light-running, drunk, texting, eating, or otherwise distracted driver killing a pedestrian crossing a street (rarely considered a punishable crime), I reread the First Amendment of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and discovered that in the phrase “Congress shall make no law prohibiting the reckless driving of horseless carriages,” the reference to “reckless driving of horseless carriages” is fake news!

In other words, Congress and 50 state legislatures are constitutionally permitted to pass laws holding killer drivers criminally responsible for the virtual murders they commit to the nationwide tune of about 40,000 traffic deaths a year. If only our state and federal legislators had the guts to lock up for life people who abuse the privilege (not constitutional right) to drive a car, bus, or truck.



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