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Letters to the Editor for November 25, 2021

Wed, 11/24/2021 - 09:45


There are few that I could or would speak of
But I can and will speak of you.
It seems there was nothing you couldn’t do
Built and able for every occasion, any task,
Every conversation, every flight of fancy, any idea
Knowing how to take and give instruction,
How to give and accept respect,
How to offer and receive affection,
How to lead and how to serve, how to show love
Princely in your way, born to fine manners and speech,
A thinking man, whose incisive intellect recognized
The value of each of the several worlds
You walked through
With your solid steps, and your honest soul.
I will not say that I loved Nakia -- it wouldn’t be true
Because that’s the past tense.
I will always, always love Nakia.


Whine and Roar
        East Hampton
        November 18, 2021
Dear Editor:
        This is peak time for leaf color and also peak time for leaf blowers. The steady drone, whine, and roar provide the soundtrack for fall in East Hampton, but gas-powered leaf blowers are not only noisy, they damage the environment and the people who operate them.
        In this climate emergency, we can all do something (or many things) to make a difference. For fall cleanup and general lawn maintenance, we can go old school and use rakes, garden brooms, or leaf sweepers. We can take advantage of 21st-century technology and use quieter, cleaner, battery-operated equipment to mulch leaves in place, or blow them off walkways, out of rain gutters, etc. We can also support statewide actions. The New York State Legislature is working on bills to speed the transition from outdated and polluting equipment. One bill in the Assembly and Senate, A.8327/S.7453, would establish an electric landscaping equipment rebate program. Another bill under consideration, A.5375/S.1113, would prohibit the use of gas-powered leaf blowers between May 1 and Sept. 30. A Senate bill, S.7462-A, puts a deadline on phasing in "zero emissions" equipment; by 2027 100 percent of in-state sales of new lawn care equipment will have to be nonpolluting electric devices. All three proposals aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and reduce noise pollution by promoting the adoption of electric landscaping equipment.
        It’s clear we need a significant cultural shift along with education and safety training if we want to clean up the environment by reducing pollution and the health hazards that come from burning fossil fuels. Our East Hampton Town Board has taken a few steps in the right direction. I appreciate that and I want more. I hope other town residents do too.

Unanswered Questions
        November 18, 2021
Dear David,
        We understand that the town is leaning towards closing East Hampton airport for a short period of time, then reopening as a more regulated entity. But that proposition leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and offers no guarantee that pollution and disruption from the airport will resolve. Residents need more clarity, and more of a say, about the airport’s future.
        Even during slower periods, the reality of living near the airport is surprisingly noisy and disrupted, especially on Friday and Sunday afternoons. We recently sent the town board a video of helicopters hovering over our backyard in late October, and the noise is extreme -- even in the off-season. During peak season from May through September, it’s worse. It’s illogical that the town would ban backpack leaf blowers, yet permit hovering helicopters, which are much noisier and more polluting.
        For residents, the situation is unacceptable. We don’t know if new regulations would improve it when and if the airport reopens. Airports aren’t cheap to run, and the town would have to permit a certain number of flights to offset operating expenses and capital expenditures just to break even or make a small profit. Noise and exhaust pollution from the airport would persist to an unknown extent. Will the town regulate flight paths to minimize noise impacts on residents? If so, how will that be monitored and enforced? Will violations be penalized? Will the public be notified?  We don’t know. Instead of being kept guessing, residents need a say about whether the airport should reopen, and if so, under what conditions.
        There are good alternatives to reopening the airport. For example, it would be simpler, more equitable, and sustainable to use the property as a community park and solar farm, which would benefit all residents, not just wealthy commuters. Community solar has minimal operating costs, would bring the town a revenue stream with fewer headaches, and advance its position as a leader in renewable energy.
        Climate change is a direct threat to our community. The coastal Northeast is warming faster than other places on the planet. Climate scientists are predicting a minimum three-foot sea level rise by 2100, with a midlevel projection of four to six feet, and a high projection of 10 feet. Aviation is a major factor in climate change and on its present upward trajectory, it could emit a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We as a community should be doing everything we can to change these outcomes. Replacing a luxury airport with community solar is one of the most impactful things we can do.
        There is a range of views about the airport’s future, so let’s have the debate and decide the question together. We should register residents’ opinions with an online poll, and consider a referendum. East Hampton residents are a highly educated bunch. It’s not as if we can’t be trusted with a decision that directly affects our environment and quality of life. We should air alternatives openly, then let the majority view prevail.

State of Air Travel
        Sag Harbor
        November 21, 2021
Dear Editor,
        Since I first started working in 1960 I have seen much progress. I always assumed there would be much progress as I considered what the future would bring in -- virtually everything from services to products
-- and I was right. It has been amazing to experience how much change for the good has taken place in the name of progress. For the most part technology has been the driver but without a free society and creative people with new ideas who took risks, not much progress would have been made. Well, almost.
        In 1970 my life changed. After graduating from evening college I embarked on a new career involving much traveling. Much of this was done by air and in the early days it was wonderful. Over the years my air mileage grew and topped out at about 14 million miles. I was treated well by the airlines I frequently traveled. My trips took me across America and to over 50 countries. I could tell many great stories about my travels, but I am starting to digress from the point I would like to make.
        When I first started my travels, there were no personal computers to assist me nor were there any cellphones, but that did not hinder me. There were many things in the early days of traveling that helped me travel efficiently. I learned where every pay phone was in every airport I frequented around the world and in the U.S.A. as well. By sitting as close as possible to the front of the airplane, I was one of the first people to disembark so I could easily run to my favorite pay phone area to make much needed phone calls before I got into a cab to go to my destination. Additionally, I purchased an "O.A.G.," which came out monthly. The O.A.G., or Official Airline Guide, was my travel bible. It was a small book and had every flight by destination, time, and day, and I could figure out the best way to travel by air and make connections on multiple airlines. I could use it much faster than airline reservationists use their computers today. It was nothing for me to start out in Philadelphia in the morning, fly to Boston for a midmorning meeting, and then fly from Boston to Buffalo for an early afternoon meeting, and then fly on to Pittsburg for my final meeting. I would then take a flight back to Philadelphia and be home around 10 p.m. Try doing that today!
        Back then there was parking less than 100 yards from the terminal. Bags could be carried on board and for me this normally included a garment bag, briefcase, and usually a 35 millimeter slide projector for presentations. Of course there was no security, so I could cut my flights really close. I played a game to see if I could be the last passenger to get on the plane before they shut the door. After more than 10,000 flights I only lost once. My system worked and it was fun. I could phone any airline and reach a representative usually in less than 30 seconds -- what a luxury by today's standards.
        Why am I recounting my story? I am so fed up with the awful state of air travel and lack of progress since I started flying. It is stressful and usually a nightmare to travel. The airlines now want reservations to be made online, which sounds great but more often than not there is always some little issue that goes wrong necessitating a phone call to the airline, and this is where the real frustration begins. First, there is an automated greeting, which is anywhere from 30 seconds to three minutes, and finally after punching all the buttons on the phone, God forbid if you make a mistake and have to start all over, you are qualified to wait to speak to a human. Ugh. If you do not make a mistake you get a recorded message that goes something like this: "We're sorry, we value your business but due to the fact that we are busy, you will probably have to stay on the line for about 60 minutes until we can get to you." In some cases the airlines offer a few types of music to calm you down and, in the best case, their computer actually will note your number and call back in 60 minutes, but do not stray too far from your phone or you will miss their call and you will have to start all over.
        Today there is no longer parking less than 100 yards from terminals and the airlines have carry-on restrictions. In the old days, I could arrive at the airport and be sitting in my seat on the plane in less than 30 minutes. Not today. No matter how much is paid for a ticket, check-in is two-to-three hours before departure and then there is the nightmare of security. Don’t get me started!
        I probably left a few things out like changing flight reservations and being hit with an exorbitant "change fee." I guess everyone reading this can relate to traveling today, but in my case, I had the benefit of traveling in the good old days -- would you say this is progess? I don’t think so.

Hate to Think
        East Hampton Village
        November 18, 2021
To the Editor,
        As a resident of the Village of East Hampton for the past 33 years, I'd like to add my voice to the many concerned voices that have objected to the apparent approval of a brewery pub on Toilsome Lane. I'm in deep agreement with the reasons concerning the access and traffic problems, as well as the pleas concerning its effect on a quiet and charming part of the village. The newish traffic circle leading from there to Route 114, which would also provide the quickest route to Route 27, requires everyone who uses it to be alert to whatever other cars are on it at the same time. It is effective for the amount of traffic it receives, but I shudder to think of closing time at a pub with a load of cars driven by the at least partially inebriated.
        The late Cyril's in Napeague was a dangerous blot on the entire East End; we have finally been rid of it for a while. I hate to think a pub in the middle of our lovely and peaceful village might well bring about a similar situation on Toilsome Lane.
        FRED KOLO

End the Madness
        East Hampton Village
        November 20, 2021
To the Editor:
        Here is a simple solution to end the madness of the possible construction of the 17 Toilsome Lane brewery in the Village Of East Hampton. I must assume that Christopher Diamond (Mill Hill Realty Corp.) has read all the editorials, articles, advertisements, and letters that have appeared in The Star giving many valid reasons why he should cancel his plan to build his 140-seat brew pub and beer garden in a quiet residential neighborhood.
        The arguments against this unwanted beer garden include an unwelcome traffic nightmare, its potential deadly location at a very dangerous blind curve, uncontrollable noise from outdoor events, unlimited outside capacity that can bring thousands of partygoers to a historic residential neighborhood, as well as the fact that building a brew pub on the Toilsome Lane commercial property violates the village zoning code and is illegal. A restaurant is permitted, but not a brew pub.
        On Nov. 11 The Star printed my ad, "A Special Message to the East Hampton Village Building Inspector and the Village Attorney." They have the power to deny the brew pub application.
        While I am waiting for their reply I would like to point out that errors can easily occur when things are done in haste. The 17 Toilsome Lane Brewery concept was done in haste. A project of this magnitude was not carefully thought out. The village zoning code was not studied and the impact on the residential neighborhood was not taken into consideration. Even the design review board's Aug. 3 meeting was done in haste!
        The brew pub site plan application was filed with the village on July 22 and the application was calendared, reviewed, and discussed without any public notice given, and a public meeting held a mere seven busness days after the filing of the application. That is unprecedented, especially for a project that will change the character of an entire neighborhood.
        The design review meeting was attended by the design review members, the building inspector, village attorney, Mill Hill Realty, and their attorney. My Toilsome Lane neighbors and I discovered by accident, only three days before the meeting, that it was about to occur. In spite of that, several of us were still able to attend.
        At the meeting the building inspector, Thomas Preiato, stated, "The application does not need a zoning variance; it is a permitted use." He added that, "There are no red flags." That is incorrect. In all fairness to Mr. Preiato, because of the haste of the meeting, he had little time to realize that there are, in fact, a lot of red flags, as well as a lot of unhappy neighbors.
        Now that Mr. Preiato has had time to study the consequences of issuing a permit to construct this out-of-place and illegal brew pub, he could simply inform Mill Hill Realty Corp. that its application is denied. Or even better, Mr. Diamond could withdraw his application, thus showing that he does care for the Village of East Hampton after all.
        Mr. Diamond and Mr. Preiato, let's put an end this madness,

Greed Over Need
        East Hampton Village
        November 18, 2021
Dear David,
        We once read that village life has 10 essential elements separating it from urban life. Some of the highlights of that list included: living a peaceful life, enjoying fresh air, exercise accessibility, spending less, affordable housing, never feeling alone and having a clear sense of community. In the decades we have been coming to East Hampton, we mostly found this to be true but lately we are wondering, is East Hampton really a village? It surely was formed as one hundreds of years ago with the full intent of giving its residents a safe, beautiful place to live, learn, and grow. But now, it does not appear to be.
        Surely, we all are aware that we spend more to live here, the summer is anything but peaceful, and the lines of a sense of community are blurred. We have witnessed the turnover of village shopping to too-many- to-count art galleries, overpriced boutiques, and many empty storefronts due to increased rents and unaffordable sustainability. Main Street has become a destination for tourists and selfie takers. Traffic overflows the streets for months on end with people flooding in to be seen and compete for much-needed resources; business interests and their development and growth have taken precedence over village residents' basic needs and environmental concerns.
        The Toilsome brewery serves as a perfect example of this greed-over- need phenomenon. Why would a brewery and gathering establishment even be considered for a quiet, historic residential area that already endures tremendous traffic flow from tourists and contractors alike? A stone's throw from East Hampton's train station, this will most certainly become a destination for crowds arriving from N.Y.C. and other South Fork towns to gather, drink, and party, and in their wake, taxpaying residents will suffer the sounds of loud music, brewery smells, and trash. While zoned for light manufacturing, this area is not suited for large crowd gatherings. So, why not say no? Why not protect the surrounding residents' sense of village life? Why put business over residents' interests?
        We don't take issue with the concept of a brewery and a restaurant; it sounds like fun. We take argument with its placement and the ever-growing outcry to build bigger and ignore the tenants of small village living. Remember when Montauk was a quiet fishing village? Not anymore.

        Spring, Tex.
        November 18, 2021
To the Editor,
        As an avid proponent of saving and investing for retirement, I would be excited for the employees who choose to participate in New York's new auto-individual retirement account plan ("Employers Without Retirement Plans Must Opt Into N.Y. State I.R.A.," Oct. 28) if it weren't for the inevitable and exorbitant management fees that will get passed down to the very people the law is claiming to help.
        Looking at other states that have implemented similar laws, we can reasonably expect the management fee paid by employees participating in the New York plan to be anywhere between 0.75 percent and 1 percent (the rates on similar auto-I.R.A. plans run by Illinois and Oregon, respectively). And while paying up to 1 percent a year in management fees may seem like a small price to pay, a 1 percent fee compounded over 40 years could amount to a 25 percent loss in value, translating to tens of thousands of dollars for the average retiree.
        Although auto-I.R.A. laws in Illinois and Oregon have proven to be effective in increasing retirement saving participation, and New York's law will probably do the same, it's a shame that these states couldn't have learned from the successes of the Thrift Savings Plan, a federal government-sponsored retirement plan with annual fees of just 0.06 percent. If the federal government can offer fees this low, we should also expect states that mandate auto-I.R.A.s to do the same.
        In order to avoid high fees associated with auto-I.R.A.s, employees who qualify for New York's auto-I.R.A. plan would be better off opening their own I.R.A. and paying mere hundredths of a percent for access to some of the best mutual funds and exchange-traded funds available. The savings in fees over the course of one's career could mean the difference between a retirement spent constantly worrying about expenses and a retirement where money is not a concern.
        To empower its citizens to create their own I.R.A.s and to avoid the compounded erosion that high management fees have on total return in state-run auto-I.R.A.s, I propose that the state of New York instead create a law that mandates that a certain percentage of each taxpayer’s New York tax refund be allocated to an I.R.A. account with the brokerage company of the taxpayer's choosing, though taxpayers should still be given the freedom to opt out without consequence.

November 20, 2021
To the Editor,
        Even if Kyle Rittenhouse had walked down one of his own hometown Antioch, Ill. streets carrying his AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and, unprovoked, pointed it at a 99-year-old great-grandmother (who somehow grabbed it and momentarily pointed it at back at him in her own self-defense), I bet that if Rittenhouse managed to grab it back and shoot her to death, Donald Trump would still support his acquittal and again say, "If that's not self-defense, nothing is"!

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