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Letters to the Editor for December 1, 2022

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 09:55

Part of This Place
    November 26, 2022
To the Editor,
    Okay, Bess or  David or whoever also must be part of this accolade, perhaps it is because we got a small little space in the holiday East magazine that I paged through and read more intensely, but it is more likely that because the issue is such a work of art and so beautifully a statement of what is actually part of this place that I can't place it aside and remain mute.
    From Viktor Butko, his work of winter light and honest architecture, to Paul Davis and Suzie Zuzek, you have accomplished much more than sales. The style, the writing, the rhythm. Peter Spacek, who launches us into hope, and the acute photographic eye combining cookie cutters with festive gift wrap. But beyond these incrementals, it is the quiet foundation of history that holds us all together.
    Best to all.

More Grateful
    November 28, 2022
To the Editor,
    This Thanksgiving, we have more to be grateful for than usual. At the beginning of the month, a fire broke out on our roof in the early morning hours. First responders in our community -- the 911 operator, the East Hampton police men and women, and the team from the Amagansett Fire Department -- displayed skill, professionalism, and care in combating the fire. We will always be grateful to them for saving our house and protecting our lives.
    D. ELAM 

Call to Action
    East Hampton
    November 21, 2022
Dear David,
    We would like to call on the local communities on the East End and ask for undivided attention for the people of Iran, who are leading a revolution for women's rights, human rights, and freedom.
    For generations, women's rights and human rights alike in Iran have regressed, and the dictatorship and oppression have compounded to a pinnacle of no return: the face of Mahsa (Jina) Amini has become the face of the people's revolution.
    Due to misinformation, these atrocities are not because of the hijab. The mandatory hijab is one of many symbols that exemplify the brutality of the current administration. Hijab has always been, and will always be, a choice for women, and this is a basic right that has been taken away. The political leadership in Iran is not enforcing hijab for ministerial reasons; they are exerting this practice to have jurisdiction over women.
    The dehumanization of Central Asian, Southwest Asian, and North African people is diabolical. We have been made into political pawns, and this can no longer continue.
    We, as Americans, have continued to demand and work toward freedom: a more perfect union. Most recently, we have demanded change for bodily autonomy and freedom for all people. This will never be realized, for us and others, without global unity.
    Where has this anger gone for those who are marginalized, for those who are distanced by borders, for those who are not safe living in a society where they are stripped of their humanity, on their own land and abroad? How did this disappear?
    We, as descendants of the diaspora, are at a loss. We are depleted by continuous silencing and censorship. To our beloved community and institutions: We ask you to honor the ethos of the mission statement which you were founded upon. We are asking for you to stand with us, and use your voice.
    "The fragrance of freedom will rain upon us."
    Sincerely yours,

In Full Sight
    November 28, 2022
Dear David,
    As I was driving home on Springs-Fireplace Road, I listed to an NPR News report, in part saying that, despite the bomb and missile destruction of infrastructure in Ukraine, they have managed to restore and maintain 80 percent of their cellular service. And here I was, in Springs, practically within shouting distance of the firehouse and emergency medical services, in full sight of a standing but unused tower that remains safe from Putin's attack (I won't get into local combatants) with no cell service. 
    It's really disappointing that as a community -- not to mention a nation -- we can't work together to solve important quality-of-life issues that affect everyone.

Santa Comes to Town
    East Hampton
    November 27, 2022
Dear David,
    This year Santa comes to Herrick Park via helicopter? Next year, Santa comes to town via seaplane on Town Pond?

Keep in Mind
    November 27, 2022
Dear Editor,
    We are in a recession and facing some of the harshest economic times in over a generation. Fiscally, the country is a mess and current indications are it's not going to improve any time soon. As we begin the holiday season, we start with Thanksgiving. We should keep in mind those who are less fortunate right here in East Hampton and, if possible, be benevolent, understanding, and giving.
    Two wonderful causes come to mind. One run by East Hampton Most Holy Trinity helps families with difficulty paying for heating oil. Donations can be made directly to Most Holy Trinity in East Hampton at 631-324-0134.
    The second local charity is the East Hampton Food Pantry at 631-324-2300. Throughout town, you will see food collection boxes. Please, during your holiday shopping, buy something extra and drop it into the box. In many instances, your donation could be a difference between a meal for that day or none. 
    These, as in all charitable organizations, depend on your generous donations to help those in a tough spot. I know it can never be said enough: Thank you for your generosity. 
    On behalf of all the members of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee, we wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, full of good health and prosperity with family and friends, and God bless you.
    East Hampton Town Republican Committee

Has Anyone Thought?
    East Hampton
    November 25, 2022
To the Editor,
    Has anyone ever thought of not dredging for scallops for the next few years and letting them multiply?
    Has anyone thought about the banning of lawn chemicals that wash directly into the bays?
    Regarding the Stern's property: Wouldn't some two-bedroom apartments serve more people? There are so very few places for the not-so-rich to live.

Back on Their Word
    East Hampton
    November 23, 2022
Dear David,
    You know when you're getting a con job because it feels oily and slippery and talks at you a lot but says nothing pertinent. Cons don't like the word, "no," either. The rules don't apply to them and those they represent. They use the back door and come in with complaints of unfairness and overkill and "hysteria." 
    No one is hysterical; least of all this town board and this community of citizens who have steadfastly gathered information -- cold, hard facts about how sand mining on Long Island is a pollutant and specifically on the East End, where the groundwater and our sole source aquifer are in peril. Not could be -- is. But when you don't like the facts and someone's paying you to say so, you object. You create a story and throw around buzzwords like PFAS, knowing full well the Health Department has identified and determined all of these chemicals are dangerous to the water supply. 
    But they go on and talk nonsense, like the Department of Environmental Conservation is doing its job. Wrong, right out of the box. They have not done their job at all concerning monitoring sand mines in East Hampton or anywhere on Long Island. Instead, they have been rubber-stamping mining permits for years. 
    File a Freedom of Information Law request? Been there, heard the lies and witnessed the disappearing paperwork. Enough. 
    To actually think that our town board is going to go back on their word and not pass local legislation to oversee the sand mines in their jurisdiction is beyond arrogant: It's ludicrous. Our town board knows better. 
    They went out of their way because it's their job and they're doing it. And they listened to the community that has been fighting for the monitoring and eventual closing of these mines for years. Precedent-setting, proven pollution of a local mine was enough to see the writing on the wall. 
    There is no way we're going backward on this proposed law. There are too many knowledgeable experts, and there's been work done to show that careful and stringent monitoring of the mines is a start. Reclaiming the land and closing them is the only future for the community. 
    No one in a neighborhood filled with children needs a dangerous nuisance of a mine or a mine-dug lake when you're finally done mining into the aquifer. It's insane. Take your dog-and-pony, big-money show elsewhere. We're over you. 

On Top of It All
    November 28, 2022
Dear David,
    Back in June of this year, Lou Cortese of Montauk wrote a letter to these pages titled "That Freak Giant," referencing the house under construction at 40 DeForest Road, a one-acre lot abutting the public parking area at iconic Ditch Plain Beach.
    Writing to make the L.L.C.-obscured developer aware of the impact of what they've done by building a "profane mega-mansion in a hallowed location where human beings have been enticed by nature to commune with it in its untarnished beauty," and hoping to discourage this from being repeated on any of the other three contiguous lots, Mr. Cortese implored: "That freak giant of a house you built is a blight, a stain on everything that we all love about Montauk and, particularly, in one of our most-cherished spots . . . "
    I've visited 40 DeForest several times over the last six months, and to my eyes, the impact of that build is entirely out of scale with, and destructive to, the irreplaceable and idiosyncratic natural-resources-based character and cultural context of the surroundings.
    And now, it appears a Freak Giant II of sorts is coming to loom over another of our most-cherished spots in East Hampton -- Amagansett is on the verge of being "Ditched."
    On Tuesday, there will be a public hearing before the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals to consider an application to redevelop 175 Atlantic Avenue in Amagansett, a half-acre corner lot abutting the entrance and public parking lot of beautiful Atlantic Avenue Beach.
    The speculative-developer and Hamptons-juggernaut Farrell Building, according to published deed transfer records, purchased the lot for $2.3 million in 2017 and is marketing the project with renderings on its website as a "pre-completion home with ocean views" priced at $19.995 million.
    Though 175 Atlantic, at just over half an acre, is a relatively small plot of land, the impact of anything even close to what is being proposed will be giant indeed. So, I am writing to encourage East Hampton citizens to participate in this process if they, like me, have concerns about this aggressive development and what will be its irrevocable impact on the surroundings. Robust and reasoned public participation is critical at public hearings such as this one. It can and does make a difference.
    The 175 Atlantic parcel is significant, not just for its relationship to the largest of the public ocean beaches in East Hampton Town, but also because of several other contextual facets. It sits within an East Hampton Scenic Area of Statewide Significance, and directly across the road from the important and sensitive Amagansett National Wildlife Refuge. As well, it's located across the road from the boundary of the Amagansett Bluff Road Historic District, and importantly, diagonally across the road from one of Amagansett's and the town's most valued historical resources, the Amagansett Life-Saving Station.
    In terms of current conditions at 175 Atlantic, the lot contains topography, extensive dune vegetation, and wildlife habitat that warrant clearing and development only at the most minimal level. As I understand it, just 16 percent of its area has been cleared, and there is a longstanding 1,400-square-foot, three bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom house, as well as another small cottage-style accessory structure on it, both quite authentic to the surroundings.
    In comparison, the application includes a 3,790-square-foot residence structure built to maximum allowable height. But the mass and scale will loom much larger when taking into account what looks like another 2,000 or so square feet of attached, covered, outdoor living spaces and decks, 1,200 square feet of pool and pool-patio structure, and a potential full roof-spanning outdoor living and entertaining area on top of it all.
    Like Ditch Plain, Atlantic Avenue Beach is an iconic and beloved location where thousands of residents and visitors come not just to access the ocean beach, but also to experience the beauty and wildness of the duneland and what East Hampton and Amagansett are all about. If approved as planned, or anywhere close to it, a significant swath of beauty and wildness will be wiped away. This development will dominate the lot and its surroundings, irrevocably spoiling a public beach frequented by an array of people who go there to be part of nature unblemished.
    And here's the thing: A prior version of this application had a public hearing in front of the Z.B.A. on Oct. 23, 2018. The board voted unanimously to deny the application in a decision published in January 2019, finding the applicant did not meet the well-defined standards to secure a natural resources special permit. Among their conclusions, they found that the proposed development "would cause undue disturbance to fragile and important natural features," that the lot area was "not sufficient, appropriate, or adequate" for the proposed construction, and that it "would be out of character not only with the historic district . . . and would negatively impact the character of the neighborhood."
    Rather than taking into consideration the zoning board's response and guidance that any development and natural resources disturbance on the property should be the most minimal necessary, instead, the applicant brought an Article 78 legal action to cause the denial decision to be overturned. However, the court upheld the validity of the zoning board's decision. And, rather than take the court's ruling under advisement by rethinking and rescoping the plans in order to meet code-based standards, the applicant has appealed the court's decision and is returning to the zoning board with a revised set of plans, which, as I read them -- with the exception of an adjustment to the size and sprawl of the pool patio -- are substantially similar in mass and scope as their first go at this.
    David, much as you wrote in a recent editorial, "All hail the wild places; we can never have too many of them," this southern section of Atlantic Avenue, and this half-acre slice of it, is something of "a wild place." I hope we can all come together to protect it.

A Suggestion
    November 28, 2022 
To the Editor,
    It seems the town code has become only a suggestion. Refusing to follow it has become the norm. Perhaps everyone just feels emboldened to go rogue. Then again, you only notice these things if you care. 
    Still here,  

Misuse of Funds
    Sag Harbor
    November 21, 2022
To the Editor,
    I write in response to recent articles published in The East Hampton Star on the proposed Marsden Street athletic field. While this has been viewed simply as an addition of a sports field, the far-reaching consequences have not been addressed.
    If the Marsden Street properties are acquired using community preservation fund money, it will become a landmark case study for future generations, an example of misuse of funds for development and expansion across the entire East End; of bending interpretations of Southampton Town Code to serve a relatively small group of athletes; of acting against the interests of young people in Sag Harbor and across the East End who overwhelmingly support environmental preservation over development of any kind, and of approving an expensive project that has not properly communicated the long-term cost implications to taxpayers.
    From a legal standpoint, there is nothing in the code that supports the development of artificial turf and sports facilities over more ecologically-minded projects that would benefit the wider community. From an ethical standpoint, it is now clear that the Sag Harbor School Board is playing the role of developer, only sharing the palatable parts of their plan, and putting taxpayer money at risk.
    If this sounds dramatic for one sports field, it's because it is. All this will be a very steep price to pay, by the Southampton board and the Sag Harbor community, for the sake of one additional sports field.
    Is this additional sports field worth all the legal battles ahead? (Especially when the school has access to an abundance of fields at Mashashimuet Park, a short walk away?) Is an artificial turf field worth the unraveling of the good will and vision the preservation fund was founded on?
    "Do it for the kids!" is the catchphrase we've heard often from supporters of the Marsden Street development. Any Google search will tell you that the kids (right across America) want their leaders to do what's right for the environment and to make the most of the beautiful nature we have right on our doorstep.

Instruction to Kill
    North Haven
    November 21, 2022
Dear David:
    When will it stop? When will the radical right stop their constant stream of dangerous lethal lies, and other destructive B.S.? How much more of this warped behavior must we tolerate, as more and more people are viciously murdered?
    People like Lauren Bobert use guns in their flamboyant ads, promoting gun rights and arrogant gun-use behavior. They don't pull the trigger on people directly, but they knowingly incite others. They all share credit for creating circumstances that lead to nutjobs committing mass murders.
    This recent shooting in Colorado Springs, Bobert's own backyard, left five more people dead, and 25 others wounded. That's 30 lives changed forever, plus the lives of their friends, families, and associates. 
    Let's think about just a few of the other recent mass shootings in Colorado in recent years: 1999, Columbine High School, 15 dead; 2012, Aurora movie theater, 12 dead; 2015, Colorado Springs, four dead and three dead at Planned Parenthood; 2021, Boulder, 10 dead and Colorado Springs, seven dead, and 2022, Colorado Springs, five dead at Club Q. That's just a sample. All those people dead, injured, and otherwise affected, likely amount to far greater than the measly margin of victory Bobert claims in the midterm elections. Is winning by her standards of behavior and rhetoric really worth it?
    An investigation will drag on, but we already know why this happened. Colorado used to be known for its wonderful scenery and bountiful, healthy outdoor activity. World-class skiing, fishing, mountaineering, and many other healthful activities always drew a population of accomplished and kind people, as I recall from the days I had vacation property there years ago. What the hell happened to that state -- and to the rest of our country?
    Politicians' standards have degraded to lies, wielding guns, and spewing hate speech. They actually threaten their own constituents! Today, it's Bobert in Colorado. Other days, it's other right-wing flaming zealots from other states.
    After the midterm elections we still see poisonous rhetoric throughout the media. Even this paper shows some remaining nonsense. Although Manny Vilar still claims to represent all Republicans, his pre-midterm flaming accusations have become almost believably conciliatory. Not true for Busy Bea though, who goes on fact-free, as usual. Please understand that the horrible crime statistics she rails about actually apply throughout the "red states." She should check her facts. Let's not slip into madness, as has Colorado. The Washington windbags haven't cleaned up their act much either. Shame on them all.
    Some of these awful politicians actually win elections based on their foul-mouthed rhetoric. Bobert of Colorado seems to have narrowly won office, and I guess she is satisfied with herself. It's obvious these mass killings, with weapons that have no business in public hands, are the result of ugly political rhetoric. It's hard to figure whether they really believe their own B.S., but one must understand how dangerous it is, and how people of weak mind take those words and read them as instruction to kill.
    When will it stop? When will election deniers and gun addicts stop their lethal nonsense?

The Automat 
    East Hampton
    November 28, 2022
    Last week, we had the fortunate pleasure to watch a film on Turner Classics,  "The Automat," directed by Lisa Hurwitz. The film was about two guys, Horn and Hardart, who put together a concept for serving inexpensive quality food in a beautiful setting. 
    The restaurants were first class, the service impeccable, and the food good. For a nickel (they only used nickels), you could get a coffee or a dessert or a plate of vegetables and chicken. It was all self-service and fast food. 
    The owners believed that everyone should have a place to eat that they could afford. They refused to discriminate against anyone -- not women or kids or people of color. They treated their workers as family. They created a big food-service business in a way that had never existed. They created a model that was perfect for feeding large groups of people with dignity. At their peak, they supposedly fed 10 percent of Philadelphia every day. They also made out pretty well. 
    When one contrasts the automat with what exists today, it is easy to realize that we've been substantially dehumanized by our obsession with money. The bottom line is the only line and it's hardly a straight one. 
    Maybe the model of the automat is no longer possible in our dysfunctional world but it needs to be revisited, if only because the people in the film represent a spiritual and human awareness that we seem to have left to previous generations. 

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