August 9, 2020
To the Editor:
It is with great sadness that we have to announce the cancellation of Calvary Baptist Church’s annual barbecue, which was scheduled to be held on Aug. 9, 2020.
The decision to cancel was easy, in doing our part to help keep others safe during this pandemic. We thank all of you for your support and look forward to coming together for our annual day in August of 2021.
Note to the Star Family: We hope you and your families will come through this healthier and stronger.
THE REV. WALTER S. THOMPSON
and CHURCH FAMILY
August 10, 2020
To the Editor:
Praise to The East Hampton Star, which featured three pieces in last week’s paper about family abuse. The pandemic has really impacted the lives of children of abuse. Schools are mandatory reporters of abuse and since children have not been in schools, children have lost access to important supporters/reporters.
There are challenges and uncertainties with school openings, and of course safety is the paramount consideration. Children will benefit on so many levels, especially silenced children who are neglected or abused. Education, socialization, meals, a return to the next normal, and attention to signs of abuse will be provided at schools. During the first six months of 2020, 67 percent of our shelter residents were children. They are at the shelter because they arrived with their family and a parent. Teenage victims of human trafficking come on their own without family.
We are thankful we can provide shelter, counseling, legal assistance. And yet, we are concerned about the children/youth who don’t know about our services and cannot reach out on their own. Schools offer a safe haven for children from troubled homes.
During the pandemic, our prevention education department has been offering Zoom presentations to schools and libraries on topics such as healthy relationships, boundaries, cyberbullying, red flags, and ways to end abuse. Children have been learning what is acceptable behavior, and how to reach out when there is abuse.
You may be feeling isolated but imagine a child who has no way out. Once in school, children can find an adult whom they can trust, and get help. The schools, like the Retreat, are lifelines to safety for children and youth.
You can help and support children. Speak out when you see something and let everyone know that the Retreat has mental health services available free of charge. Call the bilingual Retreat hotline, 631-329-2200, 24/7, or text our chat platform at www.allagainstabuse.org. There are no financial barriers to Retreat services. Thanks to The East Hampton Star for highlighting abuse so that we help and begin to end it in our communities. Schools are vital to children’s lives on so many levels.
LORETTA K. DAVIS
August 10, 2020
As the saying goes, It Takes a Village. AFTEE — All For The East End — is very grateful for the generosity of our wonderful community. When the pandemic hit and the food pantries were stressed by increasing numbers of people in need, so many made donations at all levels. That is exactly how AFTEE has been able to raise nearly $1 million and provide grants to food pantries and non-profit organizations across the East End dealing with food instability and other issues caused by this horrible pandemic.
Recently AFTEE hosted a series of drive-in movies called “Show Time in Southampton.” Some came for a date night, others a fun family outing, all in a safe, socially distant environment to benefit our community. While seeing a drive-in movie was a night out, it also allowed AFTEE to remind everyone that our challenges are not over, that we must stay vigilant and concerned about the impact the pandemic continues to have on our friends and neighbors, who struggle to make ends meet and to feed their families. More funds and resources will be needed as we move into the fall.
We want to publicly thank our “Show Time in Southampton” community partners: Audi of Southampton, BNB Bank, Corcoran, California Closets, Cook Maran, East End Tick, Emil Norsic & Sons, Enzo Moribito, Farrell Building, Fresh Direct, Inteltec, Lang Insurance, Myron Levine, Ocean Electric, Pilato PR+Marketing, the Sassower Family, Wainscott Farms, and all of our hard-working volunteers. You came through for AFTEE and for all of the nonprofits that receive AFTEE grants. And thank you to our media partners, print and broadcast, who generously helped us spread the word both about the movies and AFTEE’s mission.
AFTEE is here for the long haul, to help address the ongoing challenges that will face our East End community. Today, we focus on food instability but we will be ready, with your help, for whatever the East End needs tomorrow and into the future. Drop by aftee.org. Together we are All For The East End
August 7, 2020
We never received our census form in the mail. We have received them every time in the past. Is it possible 70 percent of East Hampton households also didn’t receive the form? If that is the case, how can we be assured mail-in ballots won’t be handled the same way, both in receiving a ballot and sending it back?
August 4, 2020
To the Star:
If you talk to parents it seems roughly half of them want their kids to go back to school full time and about half would like to do classes online. It seems like a simple solution. Send half the kids to school and the other half go to class online. That way everyone is “happy,” and everyone is getting an education.
It seems the Monday-Tuesday A through M, Wednesday off, Thursday- Friday N through Z would put some kids in an uncomfortable situation. Start up the sports too! These kids need to be active and going. A lot of these kids are hoping for a sports scholarship, and you are basically denying them an opportunity to succeed, just like denying smart kids the opportunity to learn. I know the decision is made but it seems no one is happy with your plan.
August 8, 2020
Excuse me, but did I hear a town board member accuse me of endangering the town’s deal with Stony Brook Hospital? Hold on there, I’m only asking that the young Little Leaguers and ballplayers of East Hampton Town be given a square deal. I didn’t make the bargain to send our young ballplayers to the recreational dumpsite on Stephen Hand’s Path on the outer limits of town. The town board did. I’m just stating that this is a rotten deal.
The ball fields at Pantigo Place have been there for decades, and been a wonderful oasis of recreation for our families and their children. The site is perfectly located between Amagansett, Springs, and East Hampton North, where the majority of players and their families live, and with police, medical facilities, and food and refreshments essentially on site. Additionally, it is purposely zoned for recreation, making it a rare recreational asset in East Hampton.
The town board knows this and is capable of creating an equitable solution. The town has hundreds of acres of banked land available to keep both our ballplayers and the emergency annex in our community. And the town has ample knowledgeable planners at their disposal to correct the proposed plan. The Pantigo Place ball fields should stay where they are until a suitable alternative site can be found.
Please, let the town board know how you feel!
Defying Town Law
August 10, 2020
To the Editor:
From an online article titled ‘Hamptons crackdown continues with Marram hotel the latest target’ on pagesix.com: Stephen Meister, attorney for the hotel, commented: “The Marram Hotel has had a bar and food service since the 1960s, which the current owner has tastefully improved. This is brazen local politics — East Hampton politicians doing the bidding of entrenched Montauk residents — who resent anyone else enjoying the beautiful Montauk beach — instead of focusing on the great challenges we now all face, all while making up their own set of rules as they go. The hotel and its owners intend to vigorously defend this frivolous suit, and expect to be fully vindicated.”
As the residential community that surrounds Marram (Surfside Estates), we are offended, but not surprised, by its comments. Marram has been defying town law since it was purchased in August 2018, including the egregious act of opening its doors to guests in August 2019 prior to inspection and the receipt of a certificate of occupancy. It obtained a temporary liquor license based on an application stating that it had the required town permits to serve alcohol, which it does not, as evidenced by two objection letters sent by the town attorney to the New York State Liquor Authority. The letters strongly state that the establishment is “unlicensable.”
Marram’s snack bar, Mostrador, only has a permit to serve take-out food over a counter; no wait service is allowed. Specifically, the property’s certificate of occupancy dated Feb. 2, 2020 states, “snack bar for retail use only and a service counter attached to building #2.” As longtime residents, we know that there has never been a “bar.”
As part of its “tasteful restaurant improvement,” it rigged up a grilling station in its parking lot, which it continued to operate after being cited by the town fire marshall on July 18. It did not shut down until the Suffolk County Department of Health paid a visit on July 27 and issued a litany of violations.
It has permanently placed a chalkboard on the beach advertising food and drink to take-out from its counter to the beach, including “Rose,” (if wine) possibly a state Covid-related alcohol violation. It broadly advertised a four-day food event urging anyone within driving distance to descend upon its already cramped common area (per its 98 guestroom footprint), surely irresponsible in our time of “great challenges,” even if not illegal. And regarding “enjoyment of the beach,” it has raised the ire of local residents, who had coexisted amicably with the (former) Atlantic Terrace Motel for over five decades, by populating and monopolizing the entire public beach with chairs and umbrellas at dawn every morning. Anecdotally, Marram chased beachgoers off the beach for a weekend photo shoot last summer, for which it had no permit (furthermore, permits are not granted for weekend use).
It is blatantly obvious that Marram is the one making up its own set of rules as it goes. Marram’s comments are insulting to its neighbors and to town officials. Sadly, we have witnessed this type of bad behavior all too often in Montauk. We applaud the East Hampton Town Board for enforcing town code.
On behalf of the Surfside Estates Association,
DAN and ZULMA BOEREM
MITCHELL and JANET COHEN
CAROLINE ALIZA CORRADO
ANASTASIA BROSNAN QUIGLEY
JEFF and ELIZABETH ZACCARIA
August 7, 2020
My family and I moved into our Clearwater Beach house in late July 1980. We went for an afternoon swim and returned to the house when the weather became threatening. A short time later a storm came, and we lost electricity. Our new next-door neighbor, the late John Casey, came by and introduced himself. He brought a gift of much needed candles. The next week’s East Hampton Star noted that a tornado had probably hit the wires on Hog Creek Lane.
On July 28, a day or two before our 40th anniversary in this house, we had two minor blackouts, each lasting about an hour. I guess this was a warm up for Isaias on Aug. 4. A limb of a tree knocked down some wires on Kings Point Road and Pembroke Drive plunging a section of Clearwater Beach into darkness. The blackout lasted approximately 21 hours. The fact that we were better off than people who were still without electricity into the weekend and perhaps beyond is no consolation. This just shouldn’t be happening on a regular basis to anyone.
Would the power company have saved the money it has cost to repair outages over the years if they had started burying wires 40, 50, or 60 years ago?When we first bought our house in 1980 most of us had wired phone service through AT&T. Now the cable company supplies phone and internet service. When there’s a power outage, service is gone.
For those of us who live in Clearwater Beach cellphone service is, at best, spotty. Most days, Wi-Fi helps. But with electricity out there’s no service. On Tuesday evening, an electric wire was causing sparks and some flames when it touched a tree on Kings Point Road, a few blocks from Pembroke Lane. My son-in-law, a member of the Springs Fire Department, had to drive to the Springs fire- house to report it due to a total lack of cell and wired phone service.
This is an untenable situation. According to AT&T, the last time I checked, the nearest cell tower to Clearwater Beach is about seven miles away. It’s out of range. This presents a danger to all the people who live here. My understanding is that there’s a tower on Fort Pond Boulevard that could easily be used to provide cellphone service and enhance vital communications for our fire and police departments. It’s unconscionable that its use for these vital services is tied up in a bureaucratic dispute. How will those holding this up be able to live with themselves when a tragedy that could have been averted occurs?
August 10, 2020
To The Star:
Do any PSEG Long Island customers remember the recent March 2020 “Dear Customer . . . Sincerely, PSEG Long Island” letter we all received? Well, I saved my copy (might even frame it, and will quote some of it for you now. (Try not to laugh or get even angrier than you probably already are.)
“PSEG is standing up to severe weather by strengthening the electric infrastructure powering your community. Since 2015, PSEG Long Island has . . . storm hardened more than 1,000 miles of electric infrastructure. . . . Storm-hardened circuits have seen a significant reduction in storm damage and 45 percent fewer outages. . . . We . . . will strengthen 50 miles of distribution lines per year for the next five years, targeting the most vulnerable circuits across Long Island. . . . Storm-hardening upgrades include stronger poles . . . capable of withstanding winds up to 135 miles per hour. . . . To help wires deflect falling limbs instead of catching them, PSEG Long Island will be installing shorter cross arms atop some poles . . . current wire will be re-conductored with more resilient and durable wire. . . . Trees growing near power lines pose safety risks and significantly increase the chance of power outages. We will trim trees when it’s necessary to improve safety and reliability. We follow . . . best management practices tree pruning . . . we are excited to bring you even more reliable power. . . .”
Does anybody feel better now?
August 3, 2020
One thing I find particularly worrisome about development out here is the increasing influx of suburban property design, along with all of its negative impacts to our culture, landscape, and resources. As more people move here from less rural areas, we see them bringing their suburban aesthetics with them, and forcing their out-of-place design demands on our rural landscape.
This isn’t a new threat, of course, but it’s more imposing than ever as wealthy people panic and scramble to grab their piece of our town in these desperate times. I worry that many may lose sight of everything but their most immediate and base desires, throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the tenet of good rural design that says building into the landscape is far preferable to building on top of the landscape. If this area is so attractive, why would anyone buy land and immediately replace that beauty with some contrived and foreign design?
Covid-19 is causing a sudden uptick in people’s desire to escape the city and build their dream house in “the Hamptons,” too often without respecting or even understanding the existing aesthetic of the place in which they want to build. Because of this, they risk destroying the very qualities that make this area attractive in the first place. This is not a suburb! This area is the last piece of rural resistance to the destructive sprawl of New York City that has already consumed far too much of this unique and irreplaceable island.
All of us that live here want to keep it wild and free, and all those who use this area as a rural escape would do best to help preserve it as such. It seems to me that the only hope in all of this, for those who want to keep our home recognizable, is for all the local people who work in land use to hold the line and convince those whom they work for to do what is best for this area and not merely for themselves. (The term “land use” is meant to be very general here, and encompass jobs such as: architecture, landscaping, land planning, real estate, tree services, pest control, engineering, general contracting, and property management, among many others.)
A lot of us can only continue to live in our own town by catering to the wealthy people who come here; but as sad as that is, it’s also empowering. Let’s use our knowledge and love of our home to provide the intimate experience that design companies in New York City can’t, while protecting the qualities of the East End that we know are intrinsically valuable and inherently priceless.
I work in land planning, and I see all the time that people do want someone local to guide them out here. They want to hire people with local knowledge, and if you project confidence you can often convince them to do what is best for the local environment and culture while letting them believe they are doing what’s in their own best interest; the best part is that if they believe those interests are aligned, they are actually right.
Here are a few practices I see nowadays that are not only bad for our town, but bad for the people who pay to make them happen, practices that are part of the suburbanization that is so important to prevent:
1. Removing native trees and other vegetation just to replace them with non-native plantings, as these new plants don’t have root systems that are integrated with the mycelium and soil organisms that form a productive ecosystem, like the established natives do.
2. Spraying synthetic pesticides on yards which end up killing more beneficial insects than they do ticks or mosquitoes, especially since the target bugs are more likely to come right back than the diverse and important non-target species.
3. Making hard property lines in the middle of forests by using fencing and landscape screening to isolate a property from the ecosystem around it, and obscuring the view of, and connection to, the actual landscape that was built into in the first place.
4. Unnecessarily regrading land instead of building with existing contours, thus disturbing the soil biology and the native seed bank, leading to a proliferation of invasive plants whose seeds are very prevalent in the fill used in most regrading.
If we want our rural character to survive the oncoming pandemic-induced wave of new property owners, we have to stand up and agree to speak our minds to our clients, to advise them to do what is best for the preservation of the culture and ecology of this area. We who are from here do indeed know better than those who move here, whether they are willing to admit that or not.
If we can’t stop people from buying land here, we can at least be involved in the process of what happens to that land by guiding and educating people, by teaching them that what is best for this land is best for them in the long run. We can work together to curb or prevent suburbanization, for the benefit of all that live and visit this beautiful and unique part of the world.
They Want Change
August 10, 2020
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the village residents, just under 300 of you, who signed my petition last month putting me on the ballot to become the next East Hampton Village mayor. It is eye opening to note that only 314 residents voted in the last village election.
When I started my campaign in April of 2019, I said I would try to meet every village resident, giving them an opportunity to make an informed decision when voting. Unfortunately, this past spring, Covid-19 struck our community and subsequently the election was postponed. In an effort to bring something positive to an otherwise sad and devastating time during this election, our team went to work. Sandra Melendez and Chris Minardi, candidates for the village trustee seats and I raised over $100,000 for the local food pantries and The Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center. We also raised additional funds to buy and distribute 15,000 free surgical masks to our community.
This campaign has been the experience of a lifetime. I have met and spoken to hundreds of wonderful residents and have learned that they want change. Our team will deliver the change that is needed and wanted!
During my career of 34 years with the East Hampton Village Police Department, retiring as chief, I am proud to say that I helped many people. As mayor, I will work hard for the residents and business owners and pledge to try and make life a little easier.
We have just over a month to go before the election on Sept. 15. Please join us for our next meet and greets on Wednesday, Aug. 26, and Sept. 8 and be a part of our movement. To R.S.V.P. and more detailed information, please call or text 631-445-9398.
August 10, 2020
The voters of East Hampton have an important decision to make in the upcoming mayoral election. The Fish Hooks Party will continue to draw distinctions between our approach and that of the other parties. Last week, we outlined some leadership philosophies that highlight the differences between our candidates and those of the Elms Party. This week we would like to differentiate ourselves from the New Town Party.
A review of the platforms of each party, as iterated in their printed election materials, reflect more similarities than differences, i.e.: Both parties support the Herrick Park renovation, the wastewater treatment plan, clean water, a vibrant commercial core, support for inns, code review, etc. As usual, the devil is in the details. It should be noted that many of the priorities that Jerry Larsen supports are projects that were conceived and advanced by Tiger Graham and Rose Brown including the wastewater treatment plan and the Herrick Park Renovation Plan. Mr. Graham is also spearheading the committee seeking solutions to the PSEG pole installation debacle and leading another committee seeking to provide support to the business interests of our historic inns.
Both candidates want a vital commercial core. Again, the devil is in the details. Mr. Larsen has verbalized support for food trucks along Newtown Lane and in the parking lot during baseball games and other activities in Herrick Park. Conversely, Mr. Graham and the Fish Hooks Party do not believe food trucks will add to the vitality of the village. We feel food trucks are appropriate at a fair or special event in the park, but otherwise they should be restricted from conducting business in or on the perimeter of the park. We feel that food trucks would work against the interests of our local village businesses who would have to compete with them. Our food stores and restaurants have deep roots in our community and face high overheads while struggling to remain open, year round. They should be our first priority and deserve our full support. No less concerning are the optics of food trucks conducting business in our commercial core. This would not be remotely consistent with the character of our village.
Mr. Larsen also promises to increase our “home and land values” once he is elected. This promise, on its face, is absurd. Home and land values have already enjoyed a surge as a result of increased demand for second homes due to the Covid-19 virus. Mr. Larsen seems to be blissfully ignorant of the fact that we are facing very uncertain economic conditions in both the long and short term. The pandemic will inevitably take its toll on our economy. No one, at this point, can predict the scale or scope of the harm to come but you can be sure East Hampton will not be exempt to the negative impacts of a damaged economy. While Mr. Larsen whistles in the wind and promises to single handedly raise our home and land values, the Fish Hooks Party will take the responsible path and institute cost saving measures across all departments, in anticipation of the fiscal challenges ahead. We will look to increase returns from existing revenue streams while searching for new sources of revenue. We will also promote methods of incentivizing performance, which will reward cost saving initiatives and efficiencies across our various departments.
Mr. Larsen has also proposed creating workforce housing along Railroad Avenue. Both the scale and location of his proposal are a cause for concern. The Fish Hooks Party believes that the population density within the Village has reached levels, which are testing the capacity of our infrastructure and negatively impacting our quality of life and the character of our village. We feel a project of this scale, particularly on the perimeter of the Village core, is ill advised, at best. We would be better served by providing incentives for landlords who make apartments above their stores available for the work force. The village should also partner with the town in a joint effort to increase the availability of affordable work force housing.
Recently, each candidate in the upcoming election was required, by statute, to gather voter signatures on nominating petitions in order to qualify to run for office and have their name appear on the ballot. It should be noted that this year Governor Cuomo signed an executive order, which reduced the number of signatures required on nominating petitions by 30 percent. The clear intent of the executive order was to reduce the number of face-to-face contacts with the public in order to minimize any possible transmission of the Covid virus. Two of the parties, complied with both the spirit and intent of the order and gathered only the required number of signatures with an additional margin to insure they could withstand any challenges. Mr. Larsen, on the other hand, inexplicably ignored the intent of the order and gathered eight times the amount of required signatures during the height of the pandemic.
Recommendations, and actions such as those cited above and others call into question the quality of Mr. Larsen’s decision making, judgment, and his depth of understanding.
We feel it is important for voters to look past the endless list of New Town Party promises. The reality is that the aspirations of any party will inevitably be limited by the constraints of the budget and the new administration will need to exercise disciplined judgments when utilizing credit instruments. It is more than likely that tough choices lay ahead and mature, deliberative and measured governance will be critical. We encourage voters to conduct a broad assessment of each candidate before awarding their vote. Factors that should be considered include the style of leadership, skillsets, history of performance, experience, foresight, intellect, and character among other dimensions.
Arthur (Tiger) Graham has a history of exercising sound judgment and a measured approach in his decision-making. He is a strong proponent of collaborative governance and is equipped to make the tough decisions as opposed to the “my way or the highway” approach. He is and has been a homeowner and taxpayer in the Village for over thirty-five years. He recognizes that even the appearance of a conflict of interest or impropriety is totally unacceptable for an elected or appointed official and acts accordingly. He will strive to always enjoy the confidence of his fellow board members and the public. He is a man of character who asks that he be considered for your vote on September 15.
The Fish Hook Party candidates, Arthur Graham for mayor and David Driscoll, for trustee are candidates of substance, and we who hope to earn your vote.
For the Fish Hooks Party
August 10, 2020
One has to scratch one’s head wondering why East Hampton makes rules it doesn’t enforce. To park at beaches one’s car to be legal should bear the beach sticker procured at the town clerk’s office. On Saturday there were 36 cars parked at an access point to one of our beaches in Springs. Among those cars, a scant six or seven had permit stickers on their cars. Cops were called. The cop car came, but eyewitnesses didn’t see even one ticket given. So why do we bother to follow the rules?
August 10, 2020
As a full-time Wainscott resident who has lived north of the highway (past the airport) for more than twenty years, I strongly oppose the incorporation of Wainscott. Contrary to the proponents’ vague assertions, a new village will undoubtedly saddle us with a substantial tax increase and an unnecessary and expensive layer of government ill-equipped to solve our hamlet’s complex problems.
At a time when more democracy, not less, should be our goal, those of us north of the highway will lose much of our current power to influence the hamlet’s future should the incorporation succeed. The impetus to create this village came — not from a grassroots effort — but a handful of Beach Lane residents opposed to the wind farm. In a small village, their power would be concentrated, and their views — which are unlikely to align with those held by many of us — will have an outsize influence.
Take for example, the deafening and incessant airport noise that north of the highway residents must bear. Would the proponents of incorporation — many of whom commute by helicopter and private jet — really be interested in reducing, if not eliminating, airport traffic?
Wainscott should preserve the power of all of its residents’ voices and reject incorporation.
Solely With the Town
August 10, 2020
I write this in my private capacity, and not as a representative of the town or the town planning board, which I chair. I write this as a resident of Wainscott for over 26 years.
In the Peconic Bay Region, perhaps the single most important means by which community character is preserved is the application of money made available through the community preservation fund. Money from C.P.F. — which is collected upon the transfer of real estate in the five East End towns — is used for the establishment of parks, nature preserves and recreation areas, as well as for the preservation of open space, agricultural lands, lands of exceptional scenic value, wetlands and wildlife refuges, as well as the preservation of historic places.
When considering incorporation, Wainscott residents should bear in mind that nearly every time a parcel of land is sold anywhere from Town Line Road to Montauk Point, the East Hampton C.P.F. increases its wealth and a good deal of that wealth finds its way to Wainscott.
Over the past 20 years, East Hampton town boards, through Democratic and Republican administrations, have utilized $52 Million in C.P.F. money and voted to preserve over 517 acres of land in Wainscott, including the historic Conklin House, the development rights for the Babinski Farm and the Dankowski Farm and, recently, the purchase of the former Star Room site, which will soon be re-invented as Wainscott Green, to be enjoyed by families in Wainscott for years to come.
Likewise, hundreds of acres of land within the area bounded by the intersection of Route 114 and Stephen Hands Path, and continuing west to Town Line Road and north to the border with the Incorporated Village of Sag Harbor, have been purchased with C.P.F. money and will remain as open space, never to be developed, protecting Wainscott’s ground water in perpetuity.
On their webpage, the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott argue that an incorporated village of Wainscott will “protect our unique agricultural heritage, better advocate for our local farmers, and preserve the unique, bucolic characteristics through more responsive zoning.” Leaving aside Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott’s failure to explain how they would achieve these laudable goals, the supporters of incorporation appear to be unaware that an Incorporated Village of Wainscott would have absolutely no control over the use of preservation fund money. As required by New York Town Law 64-e, the right and ability to disburse the vast amounts of money available from the C.P.F. resides solely with the Town of East Hampton, as well as the other East End towns. Incorporated villages can request that the town purchase property, but the final authority to decide on whether to make acquisitions with C.P.F. money rests exclusively with the town.
An incorporated village of Wainscott would have no legal authority to determine how this single most important source of money — the intent of which is, of course, to protect Wainscott’s “unique agricultural heritage,” and “preserve [its] unique, bucolic characteristics” — would be spent. That power would still be with the town, which, to judge by the quantity and quality of acquisitions made with C.P.F. money, has done pretty well for Wainscott.
Very truly yours,
August 10, 2020
Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott is leading the campaign to incorporate Wainscott as a village. As such, it bears the burden of making the case that Wainscott would be better off as a village than it is as a hamlet and an integral part of the township of East Hampton. That case hasn’t been and, indeed, cannot be made.
C.P.W. preaches from the gospel of local control, saying that incorporation will allow Wainscott citizens to “control their own destiny” and “preserve the special bucolic nature of Wainscott” and that it will thereafter be just like Sagaponack. These are nothing more than empty slogans. Wainscott is not now and will never be Sagaponack. Mayor Donald Louchheim made that point abundantly clear when he recently addressed the W.C.A.C. And “bucolic” Wainscott is an apt description perhaps for Wainscott on Main Street, but it ignores the bulk of the hamlet which stretches north to Sag Harbor and includes a commercial strip, a sand pit, a large commercial/industrial zone and an airport.
C.P.W. says that a Wainscott village will control what happens in the future to these non-bucolic areas. But when asked where it stands on the implementation of the hamlet study, on the proposed development of the sand pit, on the airport’s operation after 2021, on work-force housing, C.P.W. has demurred. Indeed, it even declined to tell a Star reporter whether it opposes the cable landing at Beach Lane. Really? These responses raise questions of candor and transparency, but more importantly, C.P.W.’s failure to articulate how it would propose to steer a new village though these contentious issues begs the essential question of why incorporate.
Control doesn’t come without costs. The more things subject to local control, the higher the tax bill to support it. The $250,000 to $300,000 budget presented by C.P.W. would not allow for control of much of anything. Dealing with the sand pit alone is likely to cost a substantial multiple of that amount in legal fees alone.
C.P.W. presents itself as a grass-roots organization that has taken up the cause of local control on behalf of all Wainscott residents. Is it really grass roots? C.P.W. is the successor to Save Beach Lane, which had one goal — to oppose the cable landing at Beach Lane. S.B.L. was neither grass roots nor representative of greater Wainscott. When I recently asked Gouri Edlich, one of the organizers of C.P.W., for a list of the contributors to C.P.W., she told me that no law required her to disclose that information. C.P.W. is a 501(c) (4), so Ms. Edlich was technically correct, but she missed the point. Wainscott’s citizens have a right to know the identities of those who initiated the proposal for incorporation and are now seemingly putting themselves in a position to run the new village. C.P.W. cannot call itself grass roots and wrap itself in the mantle of citizens of Wainscott without being obligated to open that mantle to the scrutiny of those citizens.
This raises another point. I asked Ms. Edlich if C.P.W. had identified those whom it would put forward to fill the positions of Mayor and trustees of the new village. I specifically asked Ms. Edlich if she planned to run for Mayor. She replied that C.P.W. “was not considering any specific candidates for office [and that] any discussion of candidates at this point is premature.” [Emphasis added.] Actually, it is perfectly timely. The decision of Wainscott residents of whether to support incorporation should turn on who might seek to run things and whether they are qualified or representative. And if the Sagaponack experience teaches us anything, it is that it’s not easy to find someone who will agree to serve, and continue to serve, as mayor of a small village. Citizens of Wainscott deserve to know C.P.W.’s slate now.
No actual value proposition for incorporation has been presented. C.P.W. has failed to make the case that local control will do anything but raise taxes for Wainscott residents and put them in a weaker position, making them less able than as a part of the township of East Hampton to deal with development and other issues that Wainscott will confront over the next several years.
I plan to vote no on incorporation.
August 5, 2020
The Maidstone Gun Club operates on public land in Wainscott, and does so for a nominal fee. The community is subsidizing an activity that is engaged in by a very few but negatively affects many others. As one who loves the outdoors, and lives about one mile from the club, my family and I are frequently in hearing range of shooting at all hours, day and evening.
When approximately six weeks ago I requested club members provide me with basic information about the club’s operations, I received no response, other than the club’s secretary finally informing me that the hours for shooting are “seven days a week from 9 a.m. until sunset.” This strikes me as excessive. I suspect I am not the only one impacted by the relentless fusillade who may feel this way. In a time and place where the vast majority are against gun usage, feeling that it is entirely unnecessary, it is ironic that the Maidstone gunners disregard the welfare of their neighbors. Just because you can do something does not mean that you should.
August 9, 2020
Are you familiar with the “Echo Route?” In the dark days of winter 2020, before we faced the Covid-19 pandemic and the social protest movement, our town board, without much public discussion or formal resolution to my knowledge, determined that the best way to handle the problem of airport noise pollution from helicopter traffic was to burden only a select group of East Hampton residents. So it essentially established two helicopter routes — a southern route, the Sierra Route/November Route, and a northern route, the Echo Route — to fly into and out of the East Hampton Airport. The Echo Route was to be the primary route from New York City, as well as northern New Jersey, Westchester, Connecticut, and New England, the bulk of the helicopter traffic.
Why did the town board adopt this plan? For many years, most of the helicopter pilots who flew from New York City to East Hampton would fly the northern route over Long Island Sound until they made a turn to go southeast to get to the airport usually at various points over the North Fork and then North Sea, Noyac, or Sag Harbor. As one could imagine, these residents were furious since they believed that almost none of their neighbors used the northern route, and they were suffering from the barrage of helicopters. They wanted more traffic going over the southern route, but more importantly, they wanted the helicopters flying the northern route to go out to the Plum Gut off the end of the North Fork and then turn and come into East Hampton from the east through Northwest Harbor and then the Northwest.
Due to an active citizens movement 40 years ago coalescing in a group known as the Northwest Alliance, past town boards had preserved approximately 3,000 Northwest acres to protect the environment and provide for open space. So this town board made a policy decision, that given that preservation has arguably created less density, let’s spare our northern neighbors and burden a group of our own town residents and create a single route from the north for helicopters into and out of the airport.
Now, this year, due to the pandemic, we, residents of Northwest, have been pared the worst of the incessant airport traffic from the helicopters. However, even now on a pleasant afternoon, the traffic from the helicopters, props, and jets can be overbearing, making one think that the Echo Route has become the primary route for the props and jets as well. Next year, as one member of the Airport Management Advisory Committee, which had no role in this decision opined, Northwest residents in the Echo flight pattern for the helicopters will get “hammered.”
So, now is the time to organize a resistance to the Echo Route and form the “New Northwest Alliance” so that we can gain a seat at the decision-makers’ table for next year and for the future of the East Hampton Airport. Federal Aviation Administration restrictions are to expire very soon.
Back in 1936, Jeannette Edwards Rattray, then the publisher of this newspaper, wrote a series on the history of Northwest titled “Northwest-Our Deserted Village.” It’s time to show the decision-makers that it is deserted no longer. It is time for a New Northwest Alliance ([email protected]) to protect the peaceful enjoyment of our homes against the coming onslaught of the airport noise pollution.
August 20, 2020
The term affordable housing in East Hampton has to be one of the most hypocritical words used by opportunistic elected officials and political activists.
Every so many months, we read a story about an affordable housing project that will help our local residents — well almost! When the town accepts federal Housing and Urban Development funds, the housing has to be open to more than town residents, and invariably, a few locals will be able to squeak in.
Let’s be honest; there is nothing affordable about East Hampton. There has been a housing crisis for as long as anyone can remember. Town boards through the years have struggled and stumbled through trying to do the right thing. We have hamlet studies that were nothing more than a flop and regurgitated the same old failed ideas. In addition, these studies cost taxpayers a lot of money!
Our elected officials do not want to admit the real problem for fear of upsetting their voter base — second-home owners, who are blessed with earning capabilities in New York City that far outstrip our local residents and drive up prices of homes and just about everything else in East Hampton.
Making matters worse, the pandemic, double-digit increase in violence, rioting, looting, and incompetence of Mayor de Blasio has unleashed a flight from New York City, and for good reasons never seen before. Sadly, an undesired effect is a demand on our housing market, further driving up the cost. This is nothing new and no stroke of genius to figure out.
The solution is equally easy to figure out. We need to build a local economy and the infrastructure to support that economy to enable our local residents to raise their income potential. One of the best ways to start is with our grossly underpaid East Hampton Town public employees. These dedicated employees, who we depend on during the pandemic, natural disaster, and other emergencies are paid so little (somewhere in the range of 50 percent of other employees)they are considered low income by federal poverty standards. Yet the town board refuses to negotiate in good faith over their expired contract. Town employees have not had a raise since 2018. With all this going on, one has to ask why is the town board so uninterested and disengaged in solving the affordability problem?
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 New York City political doctrine. Let us work together for a better East Hampton for all.
August 10, 2020
Remember back in February when Mr. Trump promised that he was “not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid?” Well, on Friday, he showed us all how empty that promise was.
On Friday, Mr. Trump issued an executive order that would suspend the payment of payroll taxes from September through the end of the year. Then, during a press conference on Saturday, Mr. Trump promised that, if re-elected, he would waive those taxes and permanently scrap the payroll tax altogether.
So what does this have to do with Social Security and Medicare? Mr. Trump dishonestly led us to believe that suspending the payroll tax would provide economic relief during the pandemic. This lie was laid bare during his Saturday press conference when Mr. Trump exposed the real purpose behind his plan. Scrapping the payroll tax scheme formed the means by which Mr. Trump openly — and brazenly — vowed to permanently terminate the funding mechanism for both Social Security and Medicare.
Payroll taxes are paid by both employers and employees. Most of this tax revenue goes to fund Social Security, and helps fund Medicare. So Mr. Trump’s scheme would weaken both programs, with the goal of ultimately bankrupting them. Current projections indicate that without funding, both programs would be bankrupted in this decade. The cruelty of Mr. Trump’s “governance” is astonishing — in the midst of a pandemic of national scale with an unprecedented death toll, he would bankrupt Medicare. In addition, some 58 percent of senior Americans, who depend upon Social Security for a major source of their income, would see that income stream disappear.
Mr. Trump lacks the authority to implement his executive order. The power to eliminate taxes or change the tax code rests with Congress. This likely means that employers would still need to withhold payroll taxes until Congress eliminates the tax; so the “economic relief” imagined by Mr. Trump is just an illusion.
So far, Mr. Trump’s payroll tax scheme has met with bipartisan reproach in Congress, and one would hope that congressional action to curb the payroll tax and cripple Social Security and Medicare is unlikely — but it may spur action to decrease benefits under these programs.
So I urge you to write to as many G.O.P. congressional representatives as possible, but certainly our congressman, Lee Zeldin, and urge them to stand up to Mr. Trump and save Social Security and Medicare. This being an election year, he might just pay attention.
August 3, 2020
To The Star:
I cannot stand by while people still question the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s birth certificate and citizenship. Haven’t we put this to rest? What do you mean when you say there is absolutely no information anywhere about President Obama? Are you searching by micro fish? These statements are inflammatory and downright racist. I don’t care about people’s political views. Vote whatever way you like. But spreading lies is hurtful and just down right wrong.
August 9, 2020
To excuse his vote against the removal of statues of Confederate soldiers from the Capitol, Rep. Lee Zeldin claims, “never to have heard from a constituent that they were concerned about statues in the Capitol”— statues honoring the men who fought to protect slavery. Well, Mr. Zeldin, I am a constituent, and I am deeply concerned.
Those eight statues were sent to Washington by Southern states between 1908 and 1931, decades after the Confederate defeat, to honor “the Lost Cause” and to celebrate the triumph of white supremacy through the Jim Crow laws that oppressed and terrorized Blacks in the backlash to Reconstruction. They were installed despite a public outcry by, among others, Union Army veterans and a congressman from Kansas who refused to “sanction an official honor for a traitor.”
Mr. Zeldin is evidently okay with honoring traitors because, he says, “The war is over and the Union won.” Imagine if Germany were to sanction statues honoring Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels in public squares because, “Hey! World War II is over and the allies won!”
We can, and we should, choose which parts of our nation’s history to remember with pride. The statues Mr. Zeldin has chosen to protect represent the worst of America’s history. I hope others of his constituents will join me in choosing to stop being represented in Congress by Lee Zeldin.
Kept the Memory
August 9, 2020
To the Star:
This week is the 75th anniversary of dropping the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Japan, the recipient of the bombs, the country stops and remembers the event in a nationwide retelling of what happened, keeping the memory alive as the last survivors disappear from the earth. The reasoning behind the process is that war is evil, and we need to be committed to peace in the world. In the U.S., we do little more than recognize the Japanese effort.
There are substantial arguments on both sides about the need to have dropped the bombs. Yet we seem light years away from an action that transformed the world in a way that will never be recaptured. In a war of extraordinary cruelty and death, this was the most extreme and horrifying. Killing 200,000 people, mostly civilians, in less than two days and introducing the most lethal form of warfare that ever existed. We seemed to do it with an ease and determination that minimized the horror. We have since normalized, if not forgotten, what actually took place. Fortunately for us and the world, the Japanese people kept the memory alive.
How we were able to normalize Hiroshima and Nagasaki provides a window into Black Lives Matter, the pandemic, and the horror of Donald Trump.
The question for us and for the world is what are our capacities to absorb and normalize horrific behavior. Wars are, by definition, insane. So do we rationalize using atomic weapons in the war context and cross it off the horrific behavior list? Or do we look at the results of the bombing and the spread and threat of nuclear weapons and say that this action was simply disturbing. Equivocating the reality of what we are capable of doing with our behavior.
For Black Lives Matter, 400 years of this extraordinarily cruel treatment, doesn’t allow us to equivocate. The evidence, the witnesses, makes an irrefutable case. The history, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is written in blood and stone. For the first time, a majority of the population has accepted the problem as real. The question we still refuse to ask is how could we have behaved this way given our political, moral, and religious underpinnings? The question is about our soul as individuals and as a nation — our predisposition to violence.
For Trump, we have normalized his aberrant behavior in the form of racism, misogyny, fascism, and distortion of truth. Knowing full well this behavior to be true, we will still give him 45 percent of the vote in November. Our capacity to tolerate and even adulate this behavior is perhaps the strongest statement of who we are as a people. There is little subtlety and no ambiguity about Trump. His piggery has no limits.
So we return to our Covid-19 universe and are asked to identify who we are as a people: To think and analyze things both past and present and future. No one expects perfection or fully grasps the totality of who we are and how we’ve behaved. But there are no solutions without conversations, and understanding how little we know should bring a certain level of humility to the process.
July 19, 2020
To The Star:
In 1852, a ride from Orient Village to Southold would take an hour and a half by stage. Pete and Laura, Emma and Addison, and a cousin ventured off to visit a rich politician who was a close friend with former President Van Buren. What would normally take about 10 minutes by car today was seemingly never-ending.
A Sunday ride from Orient to Southold never seemed over. They would get halfway there and wave to a pleasant farmer holding a pitchfork on the side of the road.
The dialogue of the chattering cousins went like this: “That farmer isn’t waving to you, Addison, Emma. Only Peter and Laura.” Addison would answer, “He likes us!” The cousin would challenge it. Addison would come back and answer, “He likes us!” Then he would laugh, roll on his seat, and kick up at the sky. So animated and happy as a lark, he would punch out at the sky.
Emma would say, “When are we going to get there? It is takin’ too long,” and Addison would say, “Soon!” He would brag to his plain, brown-eyed cousin that the people of the house they were going to were very rich politicians and closest friends to the former president. They arrived at the house, which had a screened-in porch area, which was like a porch you would see in a future home, 1950, not 1850. It had overstuffed pillows on wooden garden lounges of various sizes.
The hostess of the house cheerily greeted Pete and Laura, and told the children to stay out on the porch and she would bring them lemonade. They all started to jump on the lawn furniture. Emma, tired of it, walked into the dining area. All the furniture, table and chairs, were highly waxed. Emma could see light reflecting on the table, the top of which was eye-level with hers.
The cheery hostess and cousin to the Terrys got highly worried by Emma being in the living room, afraid she would put her finger marks on the furniture. She ordered her to go back on the porch, pleaded, “The furniture, please, go out on the porch, now!” Emma answered, “I will not touch the furniture!”
The hostess turned and went back inside, not saying a word, leaving Emma alone. She stood there five minutes. Emma was tempted to walk in farther, hearing the chatter and loud laughter. Instead, she was scared of her father’s wrath and went back out, hurt. She said to her cousin and Addison that she wanted to go. She sat stiff on the edge of the lounge, hurt. Addison wanted to know why. When she replied, he answered, “So what, I’m having fun here. Come on and jump, jump!” She wouldn’t and sat there the rest of the long afternoon. When it was time to go, Pete would say, “Next life, I’ll be the politician, you do what I do for a living.” The words echo in memory.
The stagecoach ride back that night was so exciting. A rugged man with a grizzly beard came riding up to us as we boarded. The coach was parked smack in the middle of the main road of pressed dirt. He told us to ride back to Orient fast as we could. There were wild Indians in Mattituck, pretending to sell pots and pans. They scalped a white man! I thought it was an exaggeration, but when everybody got on the stage so fast, I got scared they would not pick me up off the, and I couldn’t get up on the coach myself. I reached up, petrified, and yelled. The bearded cowpoke turned back, passing arid empty fields dotted with burr bush, miles of emptiness.
I would try to joke or try to make witty conversation, to find out if my father was scared. He would not turn or answer at first, but soon did and smiled that he understood my joke. When we got back to the house in Orient, we wondered, as we told our usual stories under the table, did that really happen? If it had they wouldn’t tell us!