Meet the Needs
December 17, 2022
As 2022 begins to wind down, I want to say thank you on behalf of Meals on Wheels.
Thank you to the 75 volunteer women and men in our community, mostly retirees, who this year delivered more than 21,000 meals to housebound residents from Wainscott to Montauk. That’s almost 3,000 more meals than last year — the highest number in our history. But our volunteers do more than just deliver meals five days a week, because for many housebound citizens, our volunteers are the only human contact they have each day. We’re happy to look out for them and make sure they’re okay.
Thank you to the many hundreds of people and organizations who donate to Meals on Wheels every year. It’s through their generosity — and especially as our food costs continue to rise — that we’re still able to meet the needs of the housebound in our community. And while approximately half of our clients are able to contribute at least something to the cost of their meals, 45 percent cannot afford to contribute anything. Those costs are fully underwritten through the generosity of our donors.
Finally, a special thanks to Rudy DeSanti and the good folks at Dreesen’s Catering here in East Hampton. For decades now, and 52 weeks every year, they’ve prepared delicious and nourishing meals for our clients. They are as dedicated to our mission as we are.
So, in this holiday season, a heartfelt thank-you. We’re fortunate to live in a terrific community of so many caring people. It’s pretty wonderful.
With warmest best wishes for the holiday season and 2023.
East Hampton Meals on Wheels
Continue to Serve
December 19, 2022
My name is Donna Hitscherich and I was a candidate in the Dec. 13 contested election for a seat on the five-man board of fire commissioners in the Montauk Fire District. I would like to congratulate James Wright on his re-election to another five-year term on the board, and I stand ready to continue to assist the board of fire commissioners as they may request.
I thank The East Hampton Star and Christine Sampson for coverage of this rare, contested election. Most of all, I thank the Montauk community for turning out to vote, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have met and heard from so many members of the community during the campaign. I am proud to be able to call Montauk home and continue to serve the community as a paramedic and firefighter in the Montauk Fire Department along with my husband, Tom Barbieri, without whose support I could neither volunteer nor have considered running in this election.
I ask you as community members of Montauk to stay engaged in the discussion of the provision of our important fire and emergency medical services. The board of fire commissioners conducts public meetings twice a month at the Montauk Fire Department, and the minutes of the public meetings as well as the budget are available on the website of the District montaukfiredistrict.org.
You may also wish to consider volunteering for the Montauk Fire Department and can find further information on the website or call 631-668-5695 during business hours. I would be happy to hear from you and answer any questions you have or hear your suggestions on how we can work together to ensure the delivery of critical fire and emergency medical services in our community. I can be reached at [email protected].
Best wishes to all for a safe and healthy holiday season.
Giving and Good Will
December 19, 2022
December is truly the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you are observant or not, you cannot help to be overcome by a sense of strength, renewal, giving, and good will.
With the above in mind, we ask that you consider those who may be less fortunate and donate to the charity of your choice. The East Hampton Town Republican Committee will hold a get-together next Thursday at the Clubhouse from 6 to 8 p.m. to collect donations for the East Hampton Food Pantry.
On behalf of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee, we wish everyone a joyful and festive Hanukkah and Christmas full of family, good health, and prosperity.
East Hampton Town Republican Committee
December 14, 2022
When will our town leader realize that this is the United States of America. If a citizen is afraid of catching Covid, they have the right to protect themselves: mask, distance, etc. If a retail shop owner wants all customers to wear a mask, he or she has the right to refuse service to those who won’t comply.
Reopen the exchange table at the Montauk Recycling Center! Please, find a way for taxpayers to access this community asset. A simple sign saying, “Items may not be free of Covid” should protect the town from lawsuits.
December 19, 2022
Thank you for the article “Plume Looms in Springs” about the ammonium plume entering Accabonac Harbor. The article is a stark reminder of how vulnerable Accabonac Harbor is to human activities that contribute to pollution, including nitrogen loading. Those activities include the use of lawn fertilizer carried by stormwater runoff, as well as effluent from on-site waste systems.
Once nitrogen is in the groundwater or in the open water of the harbor, it is difficult to remove it or mitigate its effects. Given the increase in year-round population, the Accabonac Protection Committee is working to ensure that the best technologies are in place to reduce nitrogen loading and that our households have the information they need about landscaping practices.
It is sobering to note that although the Springs School has installed an low-nitrogen septic system, known as innovative-alternative, the ammonium plume in the ground will continue to move into the harbor for many years to come.
The Accabonac Protection Committee funded three studies in 2022 with Cornell Cooperative Extension, to characterize sites where large ammonium plumes enter the harbor. These sites may be ideal places to intercept the ammonium plume and convert it to nitrogen that can be removed by such devices as permeable reactive barriers. The protection committee-funded studies were conducted by the extension near the Springs General Store, the north part of Accabonac Harbor, and in the southern part of the Harbor. As a nonprofit, the Accabonac Protection Committee uses its donations to fund pilot studies to collect data that can be used to develop projects eligible for community preservation fund funding.
There are good reasons for homeowners to install innovative-alternative septic systems. See the town of East Hampton website for incentive details. ehamptonny.gov/584/Septic-Incentive-Program. The Internal Revenue Service will no longer tax the incentive payments. Christopher Gobler of the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology recently presented encouraging data on a nitrogen-removing bio-filter using wood chips that is being piloted. This innovation is very promising, although still in the pilot stage; it could bring the nitrogen considerably lower.
In 2022, we committed funds to the Springs Presbyterian Church to pay for engineering plans for a stormwater runoff project and an innovative-alternative septic system for the church. The engineering plans will support the church in its efforts to qualify for C.P.F. funds for these projects.
To address the nitrogen once it is in the open waters of the harbor, we funded last year’s sugar kelp project led by Barley Dunne of the town shellfish hatchery. We are hopeful that the town’s oyster projects effectively remove additional nitrogen.
Coming up in 2023, the protection committee will provide mailings to all households in the Accabonac watershed, the theme being “What You Do on Your Property Matters.”
Mitigating nitrogen loading works. There is hope. Together we can protect Accabonac Harbor.
Accabonac Protection Committee
December 19, 2022
To the Editor:
As you report in the Dec. 1 issue, the East Hampton Land Acquisition and Management Department is studying the effect of deer browsing on vegetation. It has installed an “ex-closure,” a fenced-off area, to compare places where deer can and cannot eat. The project has some enthusiastic support, but caution is in order.
Deer management agencies have often produced misleading results, especially when showing pictures of vegetation inside and outside a fence. On the surface, the contrast is striking: The deer have left little plant life outside the fence. Vegetation is richer where they cannot go. But the fence itself can disrupt their natural travel routes, forcing them to feed in an area they ordinarily would leave. In this way, fencing can cause artificial results. We will see if the East Hampton study avoids this problem.
In addition, it’s important to consider more than a species’ negative impact. Deer and forests have co-evolved over millions of years, and deer provide benefits. For example, they disperse seeds through their droppings, enabling many plant species to survive and thrive. Will the East Hampton study consider positive effects?
Finally, scientists have found that human activities, like real estate development, are far more damaging than deer browsing. I hope the East Hampton researchers, as well as the community, will keep this in mind.
East Hampton Group for Wildlife
Board Has Lost Sight
December 19, 2022
Since the first parkland was purchased in East Hampton Town in 1924 (Hither Hills and Montauk Point State Parks) and the town made its first park purchase in 1965 (Pussy’s Pond Park in Springs), no parkland in this town has ever been sold or developed. Until now.
The current town board proposes to ruin East Hampton’s admirable record. And they are not going to do it by half measures. No sir, not at all. The town board wants Suffolk County to swap them 14 acres of unspoiled forest in Montauk’s Hither Woods, which the town will then clear-cut to build a sewage treatment plant.
These lofty woods, cut by a deep ravine known as Laurel Canyon, were purchased by Suffolk County in 2000. The town now wants to pump contaminated groundwater from downtown Montauk uphill to a sewage treatment plant to be built adjoining Laurel Canyon. There, 150 feet above sea level, the treated wastewater will be discharged into Montauk’s principal drinking water aquifer.
The town’s sewer project would convert these woods into something unrecognizable. Fourteen acres of forest will be leveled so the town can construct a 22,500-square-foot sewage treatment building, parking lots, and maintenance facilities, and sink into the ground 150 cesspool rings 10 feet wide, 12 feet deep, and spread across the property. If all goes according to the town’s plan, in a decade up to 550,000 gallons per day of treated sewage will be discharged into the ground here — each and every day. And then the town will likely come back, saying it needs even more parkland for its sewerage needs.
Sewers will lead to additional growth and development in downtown Montauk. And they will cost the town, in ways large and small. Apart from destroying protected parkland for the first time in East Hampton’s history and fostering more development, sewers will have an enormous initial cost ($75 million for phase one alone) and a perpetual operating and maintenance expense. The phase one project will require trenching some five miles of streets and highways for sewer lines and mains. The main sewer pump house will be put at the entrance to downtown Montauk — in a flood plain. Lovely! An entirely new town department will be created to run the sewer plant and maintain all this sewage infrastructure.
This is the urbanization of East Hampton that local environmentalists long warned and worried about: Exchange parkland for a sewage treatment plant. Swap forest for more business growth. Isn’t this exactly what East Hampton’s citizens have so fervently opposed in modern times?
The legacy of East Hampton is that this proud place tries to hold on to its rural past. Sometimes we’re successful; sometimes we’re not. But we don’t sacrifice the people’s land for shortsighted business interests. We protect our parks and open spaces to hike, hunt, fish, and explore. We preserve the way of life that makes it worth living here.
Somehow the current town board has lost sight of these bedrock values. Let them know: In East Hampton we don’t turn our parks into sewer plants.
RICHARD E. WHALEN
The Coalition for Hither Woods
All About Growth
December 18, 2022
Dear David Rattray,
The only thing sanitary about the sewage treatment plant for downtown Montauk proposed by the East Hampton Town Board last week was the PowerPoint presentation. Otherwise, they would have presented a lot more than what they wanted the community to see.
I have read the synopsis of the H2M report acquired under a Freedom of Information Law request. It’s a fiction to say this is all about clean water for Montauk. If that were the case, alternative systems would have been proposed. The report states: “Use of innovative/alternative onsite wastewater treatment systems (I/A OWTS) was not considered for the Downtown Montauk Area since these systems are not intended to allow for any increase in sanitary flow density above what is currently limited under Article 6 of the Suffolk County Sanitary Code.”
Translation: This is all about growth, not about protecting the environment. Nobody in downtown Montauk drinks well-water; they’re all hooked up to Suffolk County Water Authority mains. And the report indicates the reduction in nitrogen loading for Fort Pond will be a mere 15 percent.
Need more proof?
According to the report the reasons for putting sewers in Downtown Montauk very clearly include “business development and revitalization.” Areas where sewers don’t exist, H2M cautions, “are losing value as they cannot be used to their fullest extent.” H2M also says, “incorporating additional capacity within the initial build-out plan [for the sewer district] will provide the town with flexibility to accommodate a range of growth and/or expansion opportunities in the future,” and will allow for “potential future expansion of sanitary sewer service to properties located outside the initial district boundary.” This is all about growth, growth, and more growth for an area of Montauk that will one day be underwater due to sea level rise.
As the former vice president of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, when Carol Morrison was president, and we fought so hard to save Hither Woods, I can attest to the fact that there is not one person on the East Hampton Town Board, or for that matter, on the staff or board of directors of today’s C.C.O.M., or the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, or the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, who had anything to do with saving Hither Woods — but they’re all only too eager to give it away and potentially pollute the aquifer that services hundreds of wells.
The truth is, with the exception of community preservation fund acquisitions, the only thing members of the town board have saved in Montauk is the Royal Atlantic and the other structures built on the primary dune. They put in $14 million worth of geo-bags — which the tax payers have had to pay $ millions more just to keep covered with sand. But that dollar figure pales in comparison to this $75 million gift, which only pays for phase one of three, plus, there’s an additional $2,850,000 in projected annual maintenance fees.
How much of that $75 million is for the resorts on the primary dune, I’d like to know? I’ll bet it’s tens of millions for buildings that will be destroyed by either a hurricane or sea level rise. What as absurd waste of money. I assure you, Mr. Rattray, very few residents of Montauk will cry any crocodile tears when the motels are washed away and the dune is restored to its natural state. Nor should they. That’s because the property owners will ultimately be bought out at fair market value with C.P.F. money.
There is one area of Montauk that desperately needs sewage treatment, however. That’s the south end of Lake Montauk. It’s been the focus of C.C.O.M. since 1990, and the C.P.F. committee was told by the natural resources director, Kim Shaw, it should be top priority for the town. Which is why Scott Wilson, the land management agent for the town, sent outreach letters to the owners of all unimproved lots around the lake offering to buy their land. Many were acquired. Those purchases did nothing to clean up Lake Montauk. They just prevented it from getting worse. But somehow, sewage treatment for the lake is not phase one — it’s way down the road. And by then, if the septage from the source of the lake’s pollution, Ditch Plain, were somehow transported to the proposed Hither Woods sewage treatment plant, there probably wouldn’t be enough capacity to accepted it. The town would need to destroy even more of the woods to expand. And there will be on going infrastructure development year after year. It will be the end of “The End.”
I’m sure we’re going to hear people say, “It’s not your grandmother’s sewage treatment plant. Its clean water going into the ground. It’s fail-safe. State-of-the-art.” That’s what they said about the Boeing 737Max.
If they’re wrong, ultimately all the homeowners who depend on the Hither Woods aquifer for drinking water may be forced to hook up to county water causing millions more to be spent. And where does the water come from? It comes from Amagansett, Wainscott, and East Hampton, and doesn’t go back into the groundwater recharge. The drawdown will affect the water supply for the entire town!
Enough with this crap shoot. The land swap with the county must not go through. The sewage treatment plant in Hither Woods must not be built.
Mr. Freidel is the Montauk representative for the East Hampton Town Community Preservation Fund Advisory board. Ed.
Change the Model
December 18, 2022
Congratulations to East Hampton Town on the passage of the Peconic Bay Community Housing Fund. This clearly presents an opportunity to change the model for how affordable community housing is created throughout our towns, hamlets, and villages in an equitable way. The fund is projected to collect approximately $600 million between 2023 and 2050. With that comes great responsibility to use the money in ways that will best benefit our greater communities and community members while protecting our environment, natural beauty, and seaside character.
Today, there is great need and demand for affordable and secure homes throughout the East End. We will be challenged to quickly solve a crisis that has evolved over many years. That demand may significantly exceed what the towns can create using the housing fund for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, East Hampton’s “All Hands on Housing” has provided a great start!
The town will form a community housing fund advisory committee to evaluate requests for community housing funds and make recommendations to the town board on which requests to grant funds to. The committee should be made up of socially, economically, and culturally diverse full-time, year-round residents who understand and can speak to the needs of local residents. Coordination with major stakeholders, including business groups, civic groups, the health care community, environmental groups, volunteer first responders, public safety, and representatives from our heritage industries of fishing, farming, tourism, and the arts will be required to gain the support needed to address community needs.
We’re grateful to be beginning the journey on this new path for our beloved East End that will help protect our cultural heritage for years to come.
Close to Home
December 18, 2022
To the Editor,
As someone who recently renovated their property to enable my in-laws to move in, this article struck close to home. Those who know me or my in-laws know that they are amazing local people who have lived here over 40 years. I wanted to give some insight as to how the process has been for us. There have been challenges (parking places, recycling, and, more recently, a squirrel in the wall), but over all, it has been a great decision.
The process for us started as many great adventures do: a sewage backup in our basement. That summer saw us getting pumped out five times, as our septic system had failed. Thankfully, there were grants for a new system to help with the cost. Still, it involved a major engineering project: a 70-foot hole right in front of our house. It was a challenge, but the resulting system is not only less damaging to the environment, it also has the critical feature of actually functioning.
Around six months after septic completion, other big news. My wife’s parents wanted to downsize their Montauk home. We do not have a big lot, it is .39 acres (noticeably smaller than the proposed 20,000-square-foot limit for accessory dwellings). Our home took up about 22 by 30 feet. We worked with a great team of locals (Peter Joyce, John D’Agostino, Chris Gatti, and Jamie Walsh), to find a way to add square footage for my in-laws and improve our home to be more environmentally efficient.
Adding buildings, or square footage, is something I am wary of. Protecting the environment has to be a priority. I understand the reticence of those who feel that endless development risks ruining the very thing that makes this area so special. With that said, the housing shortage poses a different threat. Where are those with “everyday” jobs and income expected to live?
There is a third way: responsible, environmentally conscious building. Accessory dwellings, if built the right way, can meet this need, as can property modifications for multigenerational families. Will this change the area? Yes, undoubtedly. Will it mean that the local community can continue to live here and protect this environment? I would also argue yes. There is a danger that without such changes, the area will become a “husk community,” much like the elite and empty storefronts that occupy East Hampton’s Main Street — a museum that no one can realistically live in. It does require those designing, building, and planning to make environmentally conscious planning the gold standard.
For builders, designers, planners, and architects, I think this presents a unique opportunity. As sources of basic resources become ever more challenging, and threats to the local environment grow, the ability to build and renovate properties to be efficient and environmentally conscientious presents a fantastic opportunity for future business.
From a personal perspective, I can attest to the benefits of multigenerational family living. In many, if not most, parts of the world, this arrangement is the norm, and it is easy to see why. There are so many benefits: help for us parents with our children, a close relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, and support for aging parents when health crises arise. There will likely have to be future changes as we all get older, but it has been an amazing way for us to all stay here as a family. It is also a significantly better use of resources. I look forward to seeing how plans for accessory dwellings evolve.
December 18, 2022
If I were still teaching social studies, I would certainly use Political Transparency, Inc., as a great example of an oxymoron. Last week, this untransparent group or individual launched a smear campaign against David Lys. This week the target was Kathee Burke-Gonzalez. Both are democratically elected members of the East Hampton Town Board who have worked diligently to improve our quality of life and address the needs of local communities, civic organizations, historical societies, and school districts.
I occasionally write political letters to The East Hampton Star that some would agree with and some would not. Like all other letter writers, I have the courage of my convictions to sign my name.
Yes, I know Political Transparency, Inc., is paying for a full-page advertisement, and The Star does not engage in censorship. Political Transparency, Inc., obviously, is not writing a letter, but our readers would like to know who you are and what your agenda is. I would like to conclude with a repeat of a question that Joseph Welch asked of Senator Joe McCarthy in 1954: Have you no sense of decency?
December 16, 2022
The series of ugly, dishonest (and of course anonymous) full-page ads attacking our town board members is repulsive and degrades our community. Our elected officials undertook a process to regulate our out-of-control, lead-spewing, pollution-engine airport. Ninety-five percent of the nearly 300 participants in the September 2021 seminars favored either closure or serious restrictions. That is a fact. Must The Star publish these scurrilous debasing attacks?
December 19, 2022
I’m not alone in feeling disgusted by the new low of ugly attack ads targeting individual members of the town board. The consensus among many residents is that although the ads are attributed to a political group, the names behind the group would likely be recognized from the plaintiffs or their associates responsible for the spate of recent airport lawsuits against the town.
Whether from New Jersey, Miami, Manhattan, or Montauk, these folk appear to support a far-wider political agenda for the next election by trashing now any other than their chosen yet-to-be-revealed acolytes for the town board.
The vitriol of recent ads makes clear they won’t settle only for control of the airport. The ultimate goal seems to be to gain free rein by outsiders over the entire town and the waters and skies over the East End.
Over Our Property
December 16, 2022
My wife and I are not residents of East Hampton. We are residents of Noyac. Quite frankly, we are uninterested in concerns about inconveniencing wealthy helicopter riders — to our detriment. And, as a practical matter, we see no economic benefit to our community by having this airport open and in use, especially for helicopters. To the contrary, these commuter helicopters fly directly over our property and home, generating excessive noise and vibrations. So unless there are rigid flight plans that avoid non-East Hampton communities we cannot and will not be supportive.
December 19, 2022
To the Editor,
Remember, only one individual can make it possible to help orchestrate the halting of access to a nature preserve, destroy a beach, have geocubes placed to obstruct beach access, block a road, all while suffocating wetlands. He has now stated last week that those wetlands don’t exist; they are now “upland woodlands,” all because his clients have “a constitutional right to build.”
What constitutional right did you use to steal ours? I’ll remind you all he didn’t refute my statements. That’s still the current nature preserve committee chairman. At least until Dec. 31.
Pushing This Project
December 16, 2022
Merry Christmas and happy new year.
Very few people have noticed that there is no windmill off the coast of Wainscott. There is only a power line connecting a windmill, 50 or so miles away, to the onshore grid. How does that make sense? The actual windmill generating the power is closer to Massachusetts than New York. How can this be cost-effective?
Here is the answer: You can’t move the enormous heavy electrical transmission cables needed to bury the lines on land in enormous spools in the way you can do the same thing on water. You must use smaller lengths and splice them together when you bury these cables on land but can run continuous, long cable underwater. Therefore, it is actually cheaper to run a continuous cable 50 miles under the ocean water than trying to do anything similar with spliced cables on land. What are the implications of this?
A cable run offshore from a windmill farm to a major onshore distribution point will always be more cost-effective point to point offshore than any attempt to run that cable on land remotely into the grid. Even if the distance on land is shorter.
The Wainscott project is an example of designed obsolescence. Personally I admire the way our local political boss conned the town board lackeys into thinking that they were so environmentally correct by pushing this project.
As to the not-in-my-backyard objectors, all I can say is, “How did you make your money that you object to the hedge fund behind this project making theirs?”
In the end, this entire windmill project will be written off as just another Long Island Lighting Authority planning disaster foray into expensive energy right up there with Shoreham. Oh no, I forgot that we are now reviving nuclear power as politically correct. Long live being politically correct and scientifically obtuse.
Then again, if you can prove I am wrong on my basic premise on cable costs, I will admit to being wrong. This is something Boss Tweed would never do. He just filled his pockets with cash no matter what. I’m sorry to say that Scrooge is still alive, well, and unreformed here in Potterville.
Sad to See
December 17, 2022
To the Editor,
In God and country — really?
On occasion, I read the weekly Letters section in The Star, and I am really taken aback by how uninformed some of the authors of these letters are. While I can understand how people are consistently on the wrong side of the actual facts, it is very sad to see that a certain individual weekly expresses opinions of fear, anger, and hate. I hope that she has a vision this holiday season to see the better side of people and try to be less divisive and hateful.
New York City
December 16, 2022
To the Editor,
Just read an unusually stupid letter in today’s paper. Was about a “forbidden” word. Well, I guess there are many forbidden words in the woke states, of which Florida is not one. But there are no “forbidden” words in Florida, except for those who read and listen to the slanted and distorted media, etc.
The real fact is that Florida simply does not want 6 and 7-year-olds to be confused, maybe embarrassed, and possibly upset, by being informed of (and taught) a newly constructed sexual education, long before they are mature enough and ready.
Believe it or not, this has become for so many out there, that Florida is saying that gay is a bad word. It is not in any of the ways it is used or applied, and no one anywhere has said, “Don’t say gay” — a totally made-up leftist slogan, anti-Florida and its strong governor. Tsk, tsk, tsk!
December 19, 2022
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, another gem serving in Biden’s cabinet, caught a while ago driving his gas-eater sport-utility vehicle and parking two blocks from work, removing his bicycle from the back of the car, peddling off to the office.
Buttigieg likes to take an awful lot of time off, his latest for vacation to Portugal, as government and union negotiators worked to avert a nationwide rail-worker strike earlier this year. The strike threatened to cost the United States economy more than $2 billion daily. Department of Transportation reveals he is available on urgent issues, including multiple calls with staff. Well, thanks for that. The report states Buttigieg has used taxpayer-funded Cessna 560XL jets managed by the F.A.A.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I picked the wrong employment throughout my life. I should have gone into politics. Maybe not. I’m too much an honest person and don’t take advantage of anyone.
In God and country,