Only Sensible Path
April 25, 2021
The editorial “Saving Our Waters, Time to Get Smart,” (April 22) suggests targeting properties for new advanced septic systems, rather than scattered installations. All installations of systems to remove nitrogen and phosphorus before the nutrients reach groundwater are of value, but the best use of our generous incentives would be to see the placement of new septics in proximity to water bodies.
To accomplish the goal of perimeter installations, the East End towns must legislate mandates for installation on properties within a prescribed distance from the water’s edge, perhaps 300 feet. After those installations are accomplished, the distance can be increased to 500 feet. To leave improved nutrient-removing septic systems to voluntary homeowner action (even if fully reimbursed by municipal grants and rebates) or only mandating their installation for new construction or major renovations, will see our waters — already at or beyond the tipping point — continue to decline.
It will take political courage for our town boards and town trustees to propose any installation mandates (which should also include planting 10-foot buffers), but this is the only sensible path to remediation of our waters, which must include proper stewardship of our waterfront properties.
Mill Pond Association
April 25, 2021
This is a letter I wish I didn’t have to write, but I have to.
When I recently saw a poster in the bagel shop advertising a fund-raiser (for children) featuring a “Chinese auction,” I thought it was a joke. It’s a phrase I never heard. I looked it up. This refers to a type of raffle the name of which arose in the 19th century when Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Americans were subject to even more derision (and worse) than now. It comes from a stereotype that Chinese people are somehow “cheap,” hence the raffle, which is considered cheap. It may have also derived from the derogatory term “Chinaman’s chance,” where a person had no chance at all, like the Chinese immigrants who were subject to the Chinese Exclusion Act.
This kind of phrase is unacceptable. This is not about political correctness, cancel culture, woke ideology, or embarrassing anyone. It’s just about reality. It’s about what’s happening to Asian-Americans. And at the very least it’s about good manners and mindfulness for our children and community. I assume that the organizers were well intentioned but just still living in the 19th century.
SPENCER L. SCHNEIDER
April 23, 2021
Dear Mr. Rattray:
Just when I thought North Main Street was starting to spruce up with cute shops, lovely restaurants, a cool coffee bar, and the beautifully relocated and restored historic Dominy House and Workshop, I read in Jamie Bufalino’s feature (April 22 Star), that the East Hampton Village Board has North Main “eyed for a sewage treatment plant.”
Hardly makes sense. The residences and lanes nearby are quaint and charming. Why plop a sewage treatment plant in their midst? No matter how Mr. Lembo of the engineering firm Nelson, Pope and Voorhis says it won’t be noticeable, its very existence will be an eyesore and undoubtedly disrupt real estate values in the area.
When the Long Island Rail Road opted to raise the bridge on North Main I asked the village, why not lower the street to accommodate taller trucks without replacing the bridge, and was told the water table in the entire area would not permit any type of digging at all. But now, a sewage treatment plant — to be constructed partially underground — is possible.
The other option for the sewage treatment plant mentioned in the article is the Department of Public Works-owned parcel on Accabonac Road. This location can accommodate double the amount of wastewater per day as the North Main Street location. For long-range planning, this option seems best.
Hoping there are open meetings to discuss these sites. Are they truly the only options?
April 24, 2021
When did our venerable landmark Guild Hall lose its much-touted aesthetic values? When did it turn East Hampton into an eyesore? I recommend that the Guild Hall trustees rethink their misguided efforts to destroy our beautiful and historic Main Street with gaudy, tawdry, ugly street banners on lampposts, from Dunemere to Accabonac, mid-village to railroad station. Any disposable funds that they may have could better be used to provide our town with some decent, affordable theatrical productions or concerts. Forget the banners. This is East Hampton, not the Jersey Shore.
AVERILL D. GEUS
Former East Hampton
April 26, 2021
Twenty-five April, 2021, 1145 hours, Archilochus colubris has arrived in Gansett for the summer.
Made No Mention
April 25, 2021
To the Editor:
I was somewhat dismayed to see that all of the coverage about the low-flying plane incident of April 13 made little to no mention that the citizens of the Springs were also terrorized.
I live in the Clearwater Beach area and observed a horrifyingly low-flying plane coming toward my yard at approximately 5:50 p.m.
He was barely at the tree line. Then he started to descend even farther. It seemed he was going to crash in my yard. Somehow he managed to pull up and kept going between the trees toward Gardiner’s Bay. Then he kept circling around.
I called the police. As we were on the phone, the plane came over my yard again. I said to the officer, “He’s too low! Way too low!” That was followed by more than a few expletives. I offered my firm opinion that he was a madman who was fully intent on committing suicide and/or taking others out with him.
It scared the living daylights out of me. I told the officer that I was shaking like a leaf, which I was. Sept. 11, 2001, definitely came to mind.
This was absolutely an outrageous act of reckless endangerment. As Sag Harbor Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said, “One miscalculation could have been a catastrophe.”
At any moment he could have clipped his wings in the trees. He was very close to crashing into someone’s house. This man must never be allowed to fly again.
The Daily Deluge
April 25, 2021
It’s a Sunday morning just after 7 a.m., and the fog is so thick you can’t see much past your driveway. The sound begins as a dull roar. A 12,000-pound, 16-seat Sikorsky helicopter owned by Ira Rennert of Sagaponack is approaching East Hampton Airport but is still four miles away. As it gets closer, the house shakes and the noise becomes terrifying. Through the thick fog the behemoth emerges just 200 feet above the roofs of local, taxpaying East Hampton residents. More often than not this blind-flying vessel is followed by others: the 12-passenger, 7,000-pound Sikorsky registered to Sikorsky Fractional Sales, the 8,000-pound Augusta Westland (a favorite of the Italian Air Force) registered to Rotorkraft Trust, the massive Sikorsky S76 registered to Heleflite Shares (which actually sued the town for the right to terrorize its residents), and a dozen or so others.
Last week when a tiny Cessna aircraft buzzed Sag Harbor and Springs it gave people a small sense of what hundreds of local residents are forced by the town of East Hampton to accept on a daily basis. It is my understanding that the local pilot allegedly responsible will be prosecuted. Perhaps he will be denied access to East Hampton Airport. What about the cowboys who buzz the East End daily?
The East Hampton Aviation Association has expressed about the proper level of righteous indignation at this “unfortunate event.” But they also like to paint it as an isolated incident, ignoring the daily deluge of far more dangerous, totally unnecessary helicopter flights drawing complaints from below everywhere they fly: Southold Town, Riverhead, Southampton Town, Shelter Island, East Hampton, Sagaponack, and all along Long Island’s North Shore.
East Hampton Airport remains completely out of control. The airport manager, a former helicopter pilot, is rarely there at the busiest and most dangerous hours. It is a major polluter to our fragile ecosystem. It sits on top of our sole-source aquifer. The volume of operations, the danger of a crash, and the possibility of a devastating brushfire in the thousands of acres of tinder-filled woods surrounding the airport are simply too much to ask those below to endure.
April 13, 2021
The perennial dance known as the Springs School budget workshop process is nearing its inevitable and predictable conclusion: an ever-increasing budget funded by ever-increasing property tax rates. The carefully choreographed aspect of this “dance” is that the administration always starts out with an extreme proposal. In March, a 6.91 percent budget increase and a 3.91 percent tax levy increase was requested by the administration. That resulted in the school board seemingly cracking the whip and clamoring for budget reductions and tax savings. As of this Monday’s budget workshop, with the advent of unexpected largess in the form of greatly increased state aid, the proposed budget increase has now been whittled down to “only” 4.12 percent and the required tax levy increase reduced to “only” 2.61 percent. Everyone involved in the budget workshop process then heaved a great sigh of relief.
However, what is absent from the conversation are the following relevant questions:
1) Why is the expenditure for salaries, wages, and employee benefits planned to increase by 2.6 percent, when the number of kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms and teachers will decrease by two, due to leveling off of student enrollment from prior years, and the non-replacement of two retiring teachers?
2) Why is the tuition expenditure (primarily for East Hampton High School) planned to increase by 2.5 percent, when the number of high school tuition-paying students is expected to decrease by 2.1 percent?
The ever-rising school budgets and tax levies continue to weigh heavily on owners of property in Springs, with no relief in sight. Our school board, on its own, cannot address the gross disparity in school tax rates required to be paid by owners of property in our school district as compared to all other school districts in the town. But, it can and must look for every conceivable savings in the school budget.
April 25, 2021
Many years ago I thought of the word labor as the tunnel of pain necessary for birth. After I started the Work Place Agency (a New York State-licensed employment agency) in 1982, I began to think of the word “labor” as people who choose to put in a full day’s work for a fair wage. During the 1980s and 1990s, the labor market in East Hampton was a crazy scene of huge demand and inadequate labor availability. American students were becoming particular about their summer labor choices and many had to leave for college weeks before Labor Day. My family went to Ireland to visit my husband’s family, and I passed my business cards around all the Irish universities, knowing that their school year did not begin until the middle of September or October. The next year, we began to see a trickle of J1 Visa folks who are allowed to work legally.
Housing was my constant issue for dozens of students. We actually housed many in our home for weeks until we could find space for everyone. The trickle became a flood and in a couple of years, we had hundreds of Irish visitors, requiring me to become friends with the Irish Consulate in New York City, which graciously helped in times of emergency. The Irish were a wonderful solution to the service industries here, as well as to families who needed nannies, house cleaners, and lawns mowed.
The Irish labor story leads me to the reason for my letter. While growing up on a large potato farm owned by my grandfather Ferris Talmage I frequently came into contact with his labor source, which migrated north from southern towns without much work. Many of these folks settled in to live comfortably in East Hampton. Some local labor rounded out the year-round crew, but in season it was not enough. The year-round folks included Ross Fields, a foreman and my Grampa’s righthand man. Others were Junie Banks (a Montaukett from Freetown), Bob Collins (a Bonacker), and Henry Haney (a young arrival from the South who saw opportunity and settled in). These folks and more were my casual friends on the farm as a child.
Ross taught me to drive a tractor when I was 8. When Grampa was standing at the top of the potato house ramp and smelling the soil for acidity to know when to plant with Osbornes, Schwenks, the latest Polish farmers from Bridgehampton, and a couple of Jewish farmers from Sagaponack and Southampton via Germany, I was running around trying not to annoy the guys, but watchful of everything. My Grampa would shout to me to get up the ramp and stay out of the way from time to time.
I was intrigued by a working farm and how everyone was moving to get the job done. In planting season more labor was essential to get the crops in. A dozen or more men and women were needed to cut seed, bag seed, truck seed to the equipment in the fields, and plant when the time was right in the spring. Timing was everything to raising potatoes. The four essential pieces of a large successful farm operation were weather, market, labor, and your banker. In the spring, labor had to do the heavy lifting of getting the seed in the ground of 250 acres across East Hampton. In the summer, weeding, watering, insecticides, fungicides, and nutrients were laid down (no masks then to protect you). Then in the fall, the crop was harvested, bagged, and stored in the potato house ready to ship to market in New York, New Jersey, or south by train. Trucks, tractors, and equipment had to be maintained each day to get the crop to market to make your price per hundredweight bag. This was not a 9-to-5 job. If the market fluctuated downward, things got tense.
Migrant labor is now and has always been a controversial subject for left and right. My Grampa built a labor camp on Cedar Street that housed a dozen or more men and women from the South who came to East Hampton to work the potato season from March to Christmas. These folks were housed in a hostel-like building with basic needs of a minimal kitchen, a wood stove, small rooms and beds, an outhouse, and pickup in the morning and a ride home at night. Their salaries were handled in cash, and room was on top of that payment. They came and went as they wished, gambled upstreet, and naturally had disagreements which sparked violence with knives. A doctor stitched up the loser and kept a tab. The police were seldom called unless absolutely necessary, because there was some attitude and much paperwork.
Folks could request that their salaries be kept until they went home, or they spent the cash in East Hampton in one way or another. I am not condoning the way it was, only explaining what I saw then and now as the only way a farmer could answer the call of the country for more and more food after World War II. Cornell Cooperative was supplying arsenic, beryllium, and other heavy metals (you can only imagine how I felt when I took over the Cancer Task Force from Chris Sarlo in 1997 after my son Sean, and my godson, David Lys, had both been diagnosed with cancer, to learn how very dangerous these chemicals were to children’s bodies), and pesticides to constantly turn out higher yield. Working the fields was and is a long, dangerous day job. By the 1960s it was harder and harder to get labor of any kind who wished to do this work, and the local farmers either adapted with new equipment or retired, as did my Grampa at the age of 65, with health problems that killed him at 72, but not before he created the Preservation Society of the East End. But that is another story.
PRUDENCE T.H. CARABINE
April 26, 2021
As a follow-up to Christopher Walsh’s article in the April 22 issue of The Star, the East Hampton Arts Council is working with the town board and the land management committee to reconsider its decision to demolish the Brooks-Park House and Studio.
The Brooks-Park site exemplified the artists’ domestic and creative lives and contributes to the Town of East Hampton’s larger history as an artist’s enclave. This local historic landmark is just one shining star in what the arts council envisions as a “cultural constellation” of important landmark art studios of Springs, which include the Pollock-Krasner House, the John Little Barn at Duck Creek Arts Center, the Leiber Collection, the de Kooning Studio, the Costantino Nivola Studio, and extending further to include the D’Amico Studio and Archive, the Dominy Workshops, and the Thomas Moran and Mary Nimmo Moran House.
April 26, 2021
To the Editor:
The Brooks-Park property in Springs is the location of the studios of James Brooks and Charlotte Parks, friends of the artist Jackson Pollock and two of the founding group of American Abstract-Expressionist artists. The town purchased the historic property in 2013 with the community preservation fund, appropriately designating it a landmark. The town committed to spending additional C.P.F. money to restore the Brooks Studio and other buildings onsite.
However, over the eight years since the purchase, the restoration project has languished. Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc apparently lost interest in the promised restoration, instead becoming a strident advocate of demolition of the studios. With virtually no evidence, a hurried application to destroy the Brooks studios was submitted to the architectural review board. Mr. Van Scoyoc continued to lobby for demolition.
Immediately before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, a group of activists attended one of the last live town board meetings to explain the importance of the site, and to offer help. Publicly, the town board unanimously expressed support, although Supervisor Van Scoyoc remained adamant for demolition, dismissively tossing the project to Councilman Jeff Bragman. Mr. Bragman bucked roadblocks and disparagement, and went to work on the issue.
Having taken on the task, Mr. Bragman conferenced with the National Trust, the agency, which confirms eligibility of historic places for the National Register. He discussed funding with the Gardiner Foundation. He researched the possibility of a public-private partnership. He encouraged public support and discussed the matter with Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who wrote the town board stating his position that demolition would contravene the purposes of a C.P.F. acquisition. Nonetheless, Mr. Van Scoyoc continued to use his bully pulpit to get his way on demolition.
An impending election seems to have expediently changed Mr. Van Scoyoc’s position on demolishing the Brooks studios — he recently delivered a liaison report implying that he had always championed saving the site, once it became clear that public opinion would not tolerate demolition.
Jeff Bragman delivers on his commitments to the people of East Hampton and has always put the town first, regard-less of political pressure. In my opinion, Supervisor Van Scoyoc, seeking the destruction of the site, placed the public interest second to his own inclinations, as he has in several other notable town controversies. We owe thanks to Jeff Bragman for standing up to the supervisor to protect and honor the Brooks studios.
April 26, 2021
To the Editor,
Greetings, fellow residents. My name is Joe Karpinski and I am running for town board in the upcoming election this November.
Napeague Harbor has been neglected for decades, much before I decided to run for councilman. In fact, Napeague truly came to light after the “Christmas” storm in 2010. Brian Frank, the town’s chief environmental analyst, even had stated, “The long-term solution may be at the inlet.” The west inlet needed to be addressed then; at that time, the east was not yet closed fully.
Over the years, the east has closed and the west has still not been properly addressed. The area is a known chronic problem — a direct correlation between erosion and the changes at the Napeague Inlet. I’ve been noticing what has happened as it was highlighted at the trustees’ meeting last week (April 12).
Dr. Gobler only pointed out what those of us who live here year round already know. It’s a harbor that is heating up, and needs to be circulated — the east restored as the major and the west the minor — not only for the flora and fauna, but specifically one of my concerns is for the clams and scallops.
March 2020: I called all resources possible. I had only learned about the Peconic Estuary Program the month before. I was told I was the first member of the public to reach out to them. That report was done and redone after Sandy (Dec. 2012). I wanted to start a grassroots movement.
Lockdown started; we all learned how to adapt.
October 2020: I called in on a trustees meeting, wondering when it would be addressed. We are now a decade later. The failed dredge of 2014 behind us, this is an all-or-nothing project.
January 2021, I reached out again, even having a productive hour-long phone call on a Saturday with Mr. Grimes. I found someone with the same common goal. I also began speaking with Congressman Zeldin’s office.
January to March 2021: As I sought nomination, I made it clear to pledge to protect our waterways. Isn’t that what we all learned in any teachings of Stuart Vorpahl? Conserve and protect. Work within our environment. Not willfully destroy or neglect it.
April 12, 2021: the town trustees have begun discussions on Napeague. Way to go, Mr. Grimes! Still potentially years away.
April 14, 2021: On my behalf, District Director Woolley from the congressman’s office reached out to the trustees, letting them know they are willing to assist not only with Napeague but with any other project.
Dredging should always be done perpetually, as in other locations such as the Carolinas and the mouth of the Mississippi.
I’d like to think I’m doing my part. I have no problem ever making the calls. I’ll be on the phone or email again today. Can’t stop until things get done. Talk or letters can only take you so far.
We must remember we are a republic. Within a republic the elected officials are working for us. This is where “we the people” control the government. In a democracy, the government controls the people. Speak up, elected officials work for you!
Take notice. We’ve been asking about Napeague and the town employees not having a contract. Where’s the senior citizens center?
Isn’t it funny that three things get mentioned and now three things are being speedily addressed?
But optics are as they are. Napeague will supposedly be years away. Our town employees are probably still going to be underpaid. The senior center is going to be on land they haven’t even yet purchased.
Pipe dreams should have been addressed already. Shouldn’t have even been a discussion at this moment in time. No timeline has been given on the new center. I guess it’s always “someday” with this town board. Never today! They are a democracy. They’ll let you know when you can have it.
We are part of the republic. Let’s go get things actually done. We’re only getting started. Imagine now if you put us in office!
“The tides are changing . . .”
Republican and Conservative
Candidate for East Hampton
Calculating Cell Time
April 26, 2021
To the Editor,
The only true justice in this case would be if victim George Floyd were alive and conscienceless murderer Derek Chauvin were dead. But we could approximate justice if Chauvin were required to actually serve the 40 years, plus 25 years, plus 10 years of maximum prison time he was sentenced to for the three charges he was found guilty of — consecutively for a total of 75 years. Short of that, he should be made to serve one month for each of the seconds of the 9 minutes and 29 seconds we’re now told he kneeled on George’s neck — which would be 569 months, or 47 years and 5 months.
But for almost a year now, we’ve been repeatedly told that Chauvin mercilessly kept his knee on George’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, while the actual time was 9 minutes and 29 seconds — that’s an “extra” 43 seconds of torture! Just think about the most painful or frightening 43 seconds of your life, and how agonizingly and excruciatingly long 43 extra seconds of that would have seemed. So I propose that to whatever prison time Derek Chauvin is finally sentenced, we add an extra 43 months — or, for more “justice,” an extra 43 years!
April 26, 2021
Every day, without a break, there is someone getting killed by guns in our country. If its not Black men driving on the wrong street or people working in the wrong place at the wrong time or kids going to school or someone deciding that life has lost its meaning and value. Every day, relentlessly. We count the senseless deaths. Sometimes it’s one person, sometimes eight people, sometimes 40 or 50 people. We react with shock and horror but it’s really with indifference. We take a deep breath and wait for it to pass over. Which it always does. We are inured. Practiced in the art of not feeling. No one is responsible, it’s just life in our world. Suck it up and shut up.
We are the people of endless wars. Wars we prosecute. Wars we fabricate. So war-brained that we have wars on drugs, poverty, terror, organized crime. So war-brained that we can rationalize every police shooting, every parkland, even Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Attacked once in the past 200 years we think we know about war but we’ve never once been invaded or occupied.
We sell guns to almost anyone anywhere in the world. When we can’t prosecute we use proxies. We rationalize, rewrite the laws, pray relentlessly when we conflate pray with prey.
Ted Cruz is right. It isn’t the millions of guns in circulation that pose the problem. (They don’t help.) But it’s not the mental health of the killers but of the country. Of Cruz and his associates. Of everyone who doesn’t realize that the problem lies in our national ethic. In our core beliefs. In our denial of who we are and how we have behaved and continue to behave. In our totally deranged political universe that has turned “neofascist” and is bloody proud of it.
There is not a single positive gesture out of the Republican Party. No one willing to solve any problems that don’t somehow make then richer. Endless voting restrictions when no problems are identified. Mindless anti-protesting laws that allow police to violate First Amendment rights. Enormous support for distributing arms to everyone and anyone who can pay for them. Not a word on justice and race, especially on the absurd trial of Derek Chauvin (which never should have taken place except that his obvious guilt might somehow have gotten turned around because of the color of the victim’s skin). Negativity and mindless fabricated bullshit about making D.C. a state, basic fascism.
The violence around D.C. statehood is not the physical killing and beating of people, but in the deprivation of basic rights that all Americans are supposed to have. Representation. Taxation without representation used to actually mean something. We went to war based on that idea. We continue the war but reverse the charges.
The D.C. issue is crystal clear. There are no real issues. Just fabricated bullshit about political advantages between Dems and Repubs who along with D.C. didn’t exist when the Constitution was framed. Do we accept the D.C. garbage as we do with the killings and the wars and the constant violence we perpetrate?
The deranged, ahistorical lunacy around the Republican pursuit of Anglo-Saxon values removes all pretense that they are anything but white scum. With its four key components of colonialism, imperialism, racism, and genocide, these values are the essence of human retardation. Ask the Irish, Indians, Chinese, Native Americans, Scots, Welsh, etc., about Anglo-Saxon values.
David Brooks, of The New York Times last Friday wrote about how sick and deranged and violent his Republican Party has become. He seems to question whether it’s time to put the rabid dog out of its misery or allow it to continue staining what’s good and healthy in our universe.