Not One, Not Two
August 2, 2021
Why would any two governing bodies put stop signs where there was no huge problem before? Not one stop sign, not two stop signs, but three stop signs. It is not traffic-calming. It is an irritant to people and makes people ugly. Heavy traffic is hard enough, but obstacles in the way make it worse.
To the two governing entities: Get together and invent a unique solution to problems of traffic — solutions other then three stop signs in a little circle.
August 2, 2021
Sorry, but you can’t mitigate poor planning and bad location with a shiny object.
That is exactly what the town board is attempting to do by forcing the East Hampton Little League to move to Wainscott, compelling not just the East Hampton Little League to play there but the Amagansett, Springs, and Montauk Little Leagues to travel there as well.
In order to placate the teams’ obvious displeasure at being forced to drive across East Hampton Village during trade parade rush hour, the East Hampton Town Board has promised the Little League a shrine to baseball in the form of a new $2 million artificial turf stadium at Stephen Hand’s Path in Wainscott. No, no master plan for a beautiful new park included, they will leave that surrounding eyesore as it is — just two new artificial turf fields. Nice, right?
Who can blame the baseball coaches for yearning for the promised shiny new object? They have seen so many beautiful fields UpIsland while playing travel league baseball and they want the same for themselves. After playing on those fields they must return home to East Hampton to their badly worn out local park, a harsh reality indeed.
I encourage everyone to take a close look at what our local teams have been playing on for the last several decades and remember the immortal words of the incomparable Flip Wilson, who said, “What you see, is what you get”.
Pantigo Place is a recreational disaster, just like so many other town recreational venues. (Exhibit A, Pantigo Place ball fields and B, Stephen Hand’s path recreational dumping ground.) It is hard to believe that these recreational facilities exist in one of the wealthiest towns in the United States — a town so overly landscaped, meticulously maintained, and extraordinarily expensive that it defies comparison — but you wouldn’t know it by looking at East Hampton’s recreational parks.
Pantigo Place and Stephen Hand’s Path are an embarrassment and display vividly the level of caring this town has for its hard-working families and children. The condition of the fields speaks volumes about our town government and its Parks and Recreation Department. I have carefully observed the parks in our town for over 50 years and the existing conditions never improve. And therein lies the problem.
The same people who have created and “maintained” the fields at Pantigo Place and Stephen Hand’s Path have promised the Little League . . . Nirvana, at Stephen Hand’s Path. Hey, boys and girls, open your eyes and look at the town’s body of work. Hard to believe that they paid an engineering(?) firm to “design” the calamity that is called Stephen Hand’s Path “park.” Everyone involved in the creation of that hot mess should be apprehended, seized, and charged with misuse of the public trust.
Remember, we live in a town chock-full of some of finest landscape designers and contractors in this country. And this is the rubbish we are forced to recreate on. How do you say it? O.M.G.!
So parents and coaches, look around at our parks and see it for yourself. All you will be doing is giving up a superior location at Pantigo Place for a poor one on Stephen Hand’s Path.
As for the promise of a cathedral to baseball. Don’t count on it. If the recreational past is any indication of the future in this town you are fresh outta luck. Upgrading parks and rec just doesn’t come naturally to this town government. And once they bully you off Pantigo, you will quickly be forgotten. Outta town and outta sight, outta mind.
Thoughtful, collaborative planning, with an experienced landscape architect, and a carefully written maintenance plan are essential for a successful park project. You can’t just throw money at it.
It’s exactly like all the lovely homes we see every day in East Hampton. They are not beautiful by accident — and they do not maintain themselves.
Better for the Little Leaguers to stay at Pantigo (location, location, location) and demand that the town renovate the existing fields. That way you can have the best of both worlds: location and top-quality fields. And you can keep a close eye on the town board at the same time.
And if the town does have any questions about how to construct a first-class ball field, I suggest they go ask Springs School how it is done. They have just quietly installed two outstanding new athletic fields for their students, showing the community how much they care. And they didn’t have to go to Wainscott to construct them.
How about you, East Hampton?
This Moment in Time
July 26, 2021
To the Editor,
With the Cleveland Indians changing their name to the Guardians, it brings me fond memories of a life once lived. Being 21, arm feeling fully healed from prior injuries. The moment was here, the culmination and the fork in the road, trying out for Cleveland in Annandale, N.J., the warm afternoon rays beaming down, just enough westwardly wind and a haze of heat coming off the infield grass.
The catcher who they partnered me with had just flown in on a redeye from Tampa, Fla., then was going to be heading out that night to Kansas City, drawing a slot between a former draft pick of the squad, who himself was coming back from Tommy John surgery, and a 16-year-old flamethrower from the Bronx.
It was time to head to the hill. Don’t fail me now, pitches, as grips were shown to the scout at the mound writing them down: two-seam, three-finger slider. Walking back toward the first base foul line, a much older scout sitting at a table off to the side near the on-deck circle was presented the card. Then, yelling what pitch he wanted thrown, it all began, and 18 years since beginning this journey all rode on this moment in time. “Fastball, fastball, change, fastball, slider.”
Something was off, the feeling was one known a few years before. A sting and warm pain started in the shoulder, growing toward the elbow down to the wrist until fingers began to tingle. My tendons and ligaments, were they torn again? Is this something worse? Does one stop or continue? This was the curtain call never again in life going to be this close to a Major League team again.
The scouts were the most gracious that I’ve known of. They allowed the completion of all 25 pitches, each one getting slower, each one getting more painful. Most scouts give you seven — that’s all a lifetime, a career, seven throws off a mound 60 feet and 6 inches away to prove if you have it.
With the last one then stepping off to walk toward the dugout, the older scout gave a tip of his cap. I gave an appreciative nod back, given the opportunity, that last moment in the sun, before that chapter was closed for good. Life is full of experiences. It’s what each of us does with it that makes us better for having any and all opportunities each day. It’ll always be a memory and an experience well worth it. Yesterday’s gone but tomorrow’s just starting.
In These Woods
August 2, 2021
Thank you to all our neighbors to the north, south, west, and east of us who have expressed both the pros and cons on the erection of the town’s proposed cell tower across the street from my house on Norfolk Street. Many thoughts to be considered — as well as my family’s own, as we are the house solidly within the “double fall zone” and well within the 370-foot buffer.
We Hodgens have a unique perspective from watching generations of children happily idling away their time in these woods. Dickens said it best as “the dreams of childhood — its airy fables, its graceful, beautiful, humane, impossible adornments of the world beyond, so good to be believed in once, so good to be remembered when outgrown.” These are woods you cannot get lost in but in your own imagination. In “the Pit” children can safely be New World explorers, devout wildlife conservationists, frontiersmen, or champions of their own making without infringement. It is the only acreage left that is not fenced, paved, or otherwise regulated by restrictive ownership. The Pit is beautiful in its landscape in the way it sparks the imagination for everyone who walks by.
The town, in addition, also says it best as well: “When choosing lots as the board finds will best suit the purposes set forth, the board shall give due consideration in these cases to differences in community character or natural resources, or systems which respective zoning classifications were intended to foster and protect.”
I ask the board and the voters to consider fostering and protecting the community surrounding this last piece of open acreage here on Norfolk and Crandall Street. We are all dependent on those sitting high on the dais of Town Hall, and anyone’s neighborhood could be next, as ours is now.
ALEAZE HODGENS and FAMILY
No Cell Service
August 2, 2021
Having recently been involved with the Springs Park conflagration, I actually hesitate to get involved here, but I think that this is equally important. I go to the Springs Park every day, and there is no cell service. If something happens, we must be able to call for help.
My experience has now shown me that if the board decides to put the tower in Heaven itself, a huge group of people will complain and fuss. You simply cannot win out here, and I have deep sympathy for everyone involved.
I was recently in Greece and despite driving 45 minutes down deserted dirt roads, I always had full cell service. If a near-bankrupt nation can achieve this, we surely can do this in the Hamptons. Since apparently no matter where we put the tower people are going to hate, I urge the town board to act unilaterally for the safety of the entire district.
I am copying a comment from Christine Cleary, Springs School principal and, honestly, her cry for help should be all you need: “Reliable cell service directly affects safety in this community. . . . The lack of cell service in Springs makes it extremely difficult to meet those mandates and leaves us all vulnerable.”
I think this situation warrants emergency mandate to turn on the current tower, but if not, board must act quickly.
Just Make the Decisions
July 29, 2021
To the Editor,
I’m glad to see Congress may be on the road to pass a big infrastructure funding bill. I think everyone can agree this county is in need of it. But I have my doubts, based on observation, that much of the approved funding will ever be spent on infrastructure upgrades.
Consider the wind farm installation. Alternate power, good idea, wind turbines, proven technology, also good. Citizens, who will end up benefiting from it, endlessly delay the project, and luckily, didn’t shut it down completely. Now it’s a cellphone tower in Springs. Do we need it? Yes. Will anyone in business here — or emergency services — disagree? Doubtful. So what’s the problem? The citizens who will benefit from it.
This country was founded on the idea that the citizens would elect representatives to govern and make decisions for them (for a lot of good reasons). It would be refreshing if our elected officials would just make the decisions on infrastructure projects and stop asking everyone’s opinion. Sure we have a say — on Election Day — not on every public works project. Put up the cell tower, wherever it will work best. I think the elected officials, engineers, the environmental department, health department, etc., can figure it. If not, they need to move on.
If we can’t bury a cable or put up a single tower, how do you think we will put in the infrastructure to move to electric vehicles or high-speed rail? Elected officials, local and national, should stop asking and taking opinion surveys, etc., and get on with what needs to be done already.
August 1, 2021
To the Editor,
David Kelley’s tediously long letter last week about the cell tower in Springs was chock-full of legal mumbo-jumbo and lots of blah, blah, blah, similar to what our town board has been dishing out over the last few years. The purpose of all this verbiage is to distract us, to hide from us the one really salient factor in this whole drama, to wit: We already have a perfectly viable cell tower in Springs at the firehouse on Fort Pond Boulevard. The tower has been ready to go since 2015. It would provide the cell service Springs sorely needs, produce much-needed revenue for Springs firefighters and taxpayers, and it has built-in security measures in place.
The proposed Springs woodlands site at the other end of Fort Pond Boulevard has none of the above virtues, and would require lights, fencing, access roads for maintenance vehicles, and who knows what else. A tower there would needlessly disrupt a prime play area used by hundreds of Springs kids, as well as dog walkers and those just out for a stroll in the woods.
Our town board created this problem by dithering and dawdling, pandering to special interests, rather than to the best interests of Springs residents. They can fix the mess they created very simply: Permit the fire department tower to be turned on A.S.A.P., without any further theatrics.
Flip the switch!
August 2, 2021
No one is happy in (The) Springs. Everyone agrees that our hamlet needs reliable emergency communication and cellular service but the community cannot agree on where the dreaded tower should be located. The Springs Fire Department seems like a reasonable place until you consider the myriad political and legal complications. The town has proposed the so-called Crandall-Norfolk Woodlands, which seems to satisfy the political and legal requirements but falls short on filling the needs of the neighborhood. So, where are we?
I have always been told that the property known as Jacob’s Farm, property situated between Neck Path and Red Dirt Road (or any other town-owned parkland), was off limits to consideration for a tower, but I am no longer convinced this property cannot be used for our communication needs. I believe that through a state legislative process called parkland alienation we can carve out a parcel of roughly 100 by 100 feet (plus access to a town roadway) to erect a tower that will have minimal impact on the environment and maximum impact on our communication needs.
But this solution would take considerable time to be realized. In the meantime, let me once again suggest the Springs Firehouse as a temporary venue for a 100-foot-tall COW (Cell on Wheels) or the installation of cellular equipment on the already existing tower, a tower that has stood in place without incident for the past six years. Is there a lot of gobbledygook that prevents this from happening? Yes! But considering this is an emergency situation and this solution is temporary, I believe these impediments can be overcome.
During the 1980s
August 1, 2021
I am responding to your editorial last week that accused some elected officials and activists of just giving “lip service” to a pledge to limit growth. Lip service, David? When Judith Hope was elected supervisor during the 1980s to stop the overdevelopment proposals crashing into our town, it was obvious that the outdated comprehensive plan (a blueprint for future land use) and zoning code for East Hampton were inadequate.
With her new majority on the town board, a moratorium halted those inappropriate proposals from out of town developers. A new comprehensive plan and zoning code were adopted by the elected and appointed officials. Natural fragile areas throughout town were identified. The following overlay districts to reduce the impacts of harmful development were created:
Water Recharge Overlay — our sole source of drinking water in the groundwater beneath us was rezoned and reduced development by 40 percent. Fifty to 70 percent of any subdivision had to remain in its natural state. A vegetation protection law was passed throughout town so that lawns were reduced to prevent pesticide use and a fund was set up to install double-lined fuel tanks.
Farmland Overlay — 70 percent of our primary agricultural soils (the best in the country) were mandated (first regulation in New York State ) to require agricultural use and not development. The number of future homes was reduced by 40 percent. With the farmers’ permission, development rights could be bought so that our farmland could grow food and not second homes. Architectural review was required to keep the historically rural character.
Harbor Overlay — Before the efforts of the elected activists you denigrate, our harbors and bays allowed condos and motels along the shoreline. The town board eliminated that use, increased setbacks, and prevented hard structures that cause erosion. Development along our shoreline was drastically reduced when motels and condos were prohibited. This prohibition reduced harmful and unsafe development. For example, 1,000 units along Napeague were eliminated.
And there is even more. East Hampton has preserved 50 percent of our community in open space for the public on our beautiful 200 miles of trails that would have been fenced private homes. Before the elected officials you refer to as ignoring the pledge to limit harmful overdevelopment, our town was zoned for the potential of over 100,000 people at buildout. Now according to Suffolk County, our efforts have resulted in almost a 40 percent reduction in buildout.
But there is still more to do.
My next answer to your concerns will address infrastructure, affordability, and taxes.
August 2, 2021
Reading some of the letters, it seems that The Star’s argument, which advocates placing residents first, doesn’t sink in when it comes to the decision that is fast approaching.
We have the community preservation fund buying up small parcels in an effort to stop our transformation into western Suffolk County. We, the taxpayers, already own this land.
We soon will see the bucolic scene of the Schwenk parcel be developed with more megamansions as we leave the Sagaponack Village boundaries — a sad sight, with paved roads to gain entrance.
We have a chance to recover the molested land that is occupied by a pollution machine. All that space should be preserved. Out sole-source aquifer has been absorbing the lead, combined with years of unidentified petrochemicals, leeching into our drinking water.
Advocates of development seem oblivious or do not care about the vanishing way of life that was exceptional and is fast vanishing. They want to add to the destruction.
The infrastructure cannot handle it now. Try to get into town on Montauk Highway.
The airport property should be returned to its natural state, providing the residents with parkland, devoid of structures or anything that would threaten our sole supply of drinking water.
The Star has sounded an alert and should be commended for placing “residents first.” So the decision is simple. A handful of special-interest people should be in the rearview mirror. A good example was at 5:15 this morning, as two jets thundered off so some honchos could serve their own needs, and if [the jets were] empty, that makes it worse.
An airport doesn’t belong, so eliminate the health and safety threat. Close it down.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
Please Address Concerns
July 30, 2021
To the Editor,
It is extraordinary to receive a follow-up to the announced Aug. 3 town meeting saying, “Come,” but “don’t talk too much.”
Companies like Blade, Cessna Grand Caravan, Wings Air, Awesome Flight, and Zip Aviation continue to advertise increased shuttle service to and from East Hampton Airport, increasing their individual profits, not to the benefit of the East Hampton Township. I live directly under the flight path of the jets arriving nonstop Thursday through Monday. These services are fundamentally changing the living conditions of the residents of East Hampton. The so-called “pilots pledge” is not adhered to, with aircraft leaving as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 11:20 p.m.
It is not clear if these complaints are being heard nor what the town’s plan is for changing these conditions. Communication and town-elected official leadership is sorely lacking in addressing the noise pollution and gas emissions problems created by these businesses. For several years the “public has railed against helicopter and deafening jet noise, safety concerns, and quality of life concerns posed by the facility.” Many residents are livid and are demanding that the airport be closed. Many of my statements are not my own but quoted from previous submitted complaints. I hope the Aug. 3 meeting addressed these unbearable frustrations. I sat in the July 6 meeting and heard definitive rage from parents and families who have lived with these underlying conditions too long. Please, please address these concerns directly and clearly.
Concerned resident of East Hampton,
August 2, 2021
I commend your recent series of editorials calling for the logical closing of the airport pollution machine. As it serves less than 1 percent of the population here, provides negligible economic benefit, seriously disturbs hundreds of thousand of local and regional residents and pollutes everyone’s environment, closing it is common sense.
In a related matter, Jeff Bezos, Richard Brandon, and Elon Musk flying into space is impressive, especially to them. The carbon, kerosene, liquid nitrogen, and hydrogen emissions generated by the flights (lift-off, construction of the rocket, travel to the launch site, recovery, etc.) are stupendous.
In “The Conversation,” Eloise Marais, an English research scientist, notes that, “These gases and particles have many negative effects on the atmosphere. In the stratosphere, nitrogen oxides and chemicals formed from the breakdown of water vapour convert ozone into oxygen, depleting the ozone layer which guards life on Earth against harmful UV radiation. . . . CO2 emissions for the four or so tourists on a space flight will be between 50 and 100 times more than the one to three tonnes per passenger on a long-haul flight.”
This extraordinarily wasteful and harmful practice is akin to billionaires flying into East Hampton in their abominably huge jets, overpaid 20-somethings helicoptering in for a wild weekend, and pilots of small planes still using leaded fuel, the impact on other people and the environment be damned.
August 2, 2021
According to Google driving directions, if a straight-line drive were possible from Miami to Nome, Alaska, the distance one-way would be around 4,481 miles. Driving at average speed of 60, our small S.U.V. could carry four people and the dog and average 28 miles per gallon. At a countrywide average of $3 per gallon (not on the East End), the trip would use 160 gallons of regular gas and cost $480.
Compare that to the amount of jet fuel guzzled by a large twin-engine helicopter of the type used to ferry people on nonessential trips to and from New York City. According to the manufacturer’s specifications, an Agusta Westland AW139 cruises at 172 miles per hour, and has fuel burn rate of 150 gallons per hour. Such helicopters can carry 12 passengers but, outfitted for luxury and comfort, seldom carry more than a few passengers and some make multiple trips to KHTO daily, slurping 150 gals of jet-A fuel on just one daily round-trip! That’s almost the total amount of gas we will use driving from Florida to Alaska.
In a time of climate emergency when the Earth is cooking from greenhouse gases, glaciers are melting, and millions are already fleeing their homes due to sea level rise, how can such profligate burning of fossil fuels even be considered? And how can the Town of East Hampton continue to be a purveyor of around one million gallons of fossil fuels each year?
KHTO airport brings nothing to East Hampton and its neighbors but increasing levels of carbon, air, noise, and visual pollution. Close it.
August 2, 2021
To the Editor,
The Department of Homeland Security is releasing migrants into our country, many with Covid. We have to wear masks, get vaxxed, no more masks, what happened to that?
Millions upon millions taxpayers’ monies used, to have democratic mayors and government officials across America have cops providing them with personal security. This is the same ones that cut budgets for police, $385,000 shelled out for do-nothing DeBlasio’s bodyguards.
Thirteen percent of 50,000 illegals released in the United States with a court date and ordered to report have bothered to show up. Those who don’t report are here illegally and subject to removal. Go get them.
Biden and Harris have allowed over 1 million to enter our country and no stopping in sight.
Blame everybody. Blame Trump. Blame Covid for your non-planning or foresight as to those policies you ordered in place.
In God and country,
July 30, 2021
To the Editor,
President Biden’s and Mayor de Blasio’s well-intentioned plans to reward pandemic-of-the-unvaccinated hold-outs with $100 bribes to save their own lives may backfire when greedy anti-vaxxers further postpone getting jabbed until the “jackpot” is desperately raised to $200, $300, or even $1,000.
Meanwhile, public-spirited Americans who once spent weeks online (sometimes in the middle of the night) trying to obtain appointments to get vaccinated — often driving hundreds of miles to help the country begin to reach herd immunity — were only rewarded with “I got vaccinated” stickers for their patriotic efforts.