John Drew Theater
Pearl River, N.Y.
December 22, 2022
I first saw Guild Hall and its marvelous John Drew Theater some 68 years ago — they both needed renovation then. My congratulations to all those working on the critically needed restoration plan for the theater and the rest of the building. They have come up with an excellent compromise to resolve the objections to the project. Bravo!
December 23, 2022
I was pleased to see that the new Peter Pennoyer Architects design for the John Drew Theater preserves many of the beloved playhouse’s historic elements, especially the tent ceiling and balloon chandelier. It’s a stripped-down version, to be sure, but it does appear to retain the space’s essential character. I’m still concerned that the galleries will not be treated so respectfully, but I congratulate Guild Hall’s administration for their willingness to rethink the theater’s renovation plan.
HELEN A. HARRISON
Heard the Shots
I heard the shots
On Christmas Day
The old familiar
Sound did say
That “hate is
Strong and mocks
The song of
Peace on Earth
East Hampton Village
December 8, 2022
To the Editor,
Can anyone stop this insanity? At the end of November, Mayor Larsen ordered 50 trees in Herrick Park that lined the recently established arboretum purchased with the community preservation fund to be removed. He just cut them down — no community announcements, no transparency of government, no notice.
The arboretum was planted by Mayor Doug Dayton over the years, establishing peaceful respite. His son, Ralph Dayton, felt this land should belong to the village to be enjoyed by all residents. As such, he coordinated its purchase with the town C.P.F. and the previous village administrations. All seemed to be heading to the desired outcome, but wait. Walking across Herrick Park Tuesday morning I see 40 to 50 trees being cut down to their stumps with chain saws.
Why would anyone destroy our irreplaceable trees — 50 of them? Why would anyone intentionally disrupt the natural habitat of our birds and wildlife? Because he can and he believes he doesn’t need to provide notice of such a radical change. Is this part of his planned business expansion? What plans has he made for that area — an ice-skating rink, dog runs, pickleball courts, rock concerts? I wouldn’t know, since he refuses to communicate with village residents.
Jaine Mehring of Amagansett spoke about the park, “which appears to be being transitioned from a park mostly for passive enjoyment and casual recreation into a heavily used event venue, which I do not see is consistent with C.P.F. priorities.”
Mayor Larsen believes he must encourage thriving business development in our summer community and peaceful residential village. Has anyone shopped in Cartier, Chanel, Prada, Valentino, Manolo Blahnik, or the new ice cream store that is never open? Has anyone walked the streets of the village after 6 p.m. summer or winter? It’s empty. Mayor Larsen was not elected to develop the Village of East Hampton into a thriving commercial enterprise. He was elected to preserve the integrity and essence of this unique, residential historic village.
We can’t say we weren’t warned of this ongoing assault. Every night must be a party, an event, musical performances, automobile shows, and accommodating of a shiny silver bull from Mexico copied from the Wall Street bull of prosperity of the 1980s. It is time for Mayor Larsen to consider moving on. Clearly, he has his sights on bigger positions of political power.
All About the Land
December 19, 2022
Dear Mr. Editor,
Hope all is well and the boat is all tucked away. Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Last issue was informative. The headlines themselves spoke volumes. Let’s review: “Maidstone Gun Club Shuttered,” “An Overload of Events,” “Eye on More Accessory Dwellings,” “Pull Back on Parties,” “Time for a Tax on Short-Term Rentals.”
These headlines only enforce my last letter to you about putting the brakes on development or perhaps a building moratorium. All these articles just point to the fact that there are just too many people around here. Somewhere along the lines of, we need someone or some party with the balls and vision to see we are headed to the point of no return.
It can’t be the Democrats, as they are the party of density. Sure, they have made preservation efforts but nothing to slow or curtail development.
I understand that is not an easy or even a comprehensible task. But something has to be done or the reasons for living or visiting here will be gone.
At times I feel like the American Indian in the middle of the great land grab of the 1650s through the 1850s. That’s a weak comparison but then again, it’s all about the land. And that’s all “they” want — the land — as evidenced by the loss of Truck Beach, the quagmire at Ditch Plain, the shuttering of the gun club (hopefully short term), the new debacle in Amagansett, and I could go on and on.
Other towns and villages are considering development moratoriums, and Greenport’s is expected by the month’s end. Why not East Hampton?
In one of your last issues you mentioned increasing code enforcement personnel. Current personnel, I believe, are doing an outstanding job. The problem with code enforcement is that the current laws have no consequences, no teeth in the rules. I have a party house on my corner and counted 16 short-term rentals may through September. My code enforcement officer is diligent about inspecting when alerted. Then I say to myself, “These people don’t care about a 1, 2, $3,000 fine when they make $5,000 to $10,000 a rental. As you mentioned, it’s a cost of doing business. And again, the Democrats (or the party of “Yes”) seem to have no intention of curtailing the invasion. Take a look at Biden’s border policy and El Paso. It’s no different east of the canal.
Yours to command,
Single Tiny Street
December 25, 2022
To the Editor:
At a town board meeting on Dec. 20, David Lys again mentioned the idea of putting beach-access parking on my street, Dolphin Drive. He did not add, as he should have, that this idea is controversial with the locals, who have raised some environmental concerns at which we need to take a hard look.
The most important thing for everyone to know, as David already does, is that the only access to the beach from the foot of Dolphin is via a legacy pedestrian footpath, not maintained by the town, which over the years has already caused savage erosion to the primary dune it traverses. This dune saved all of our houses during Hurricane Sandy and other storms.
Another question I have for David is why the issue is always raised in this way. An honorable approach and sensible use of political processes would be first to ask whether there are streets which culminate in the ocean anywhere in the town that can possibly support increased beach access parking. Instead, the issue is always raised by the bizarre approach of referencing a single tiny street in Amagansett by name. Why?
A third issue has to do with the history. David knows quite well at this point that the issue was previously raised circa 2014 in a campaign by private citizens with undisclosed motives, which utilized bullying, threats, and lies about local residents. Three other town board members, including the supervisor, were already in office during these events. This project culminated in a political dirty trick, in which the superintendent of highways was manipulated into pulling down the “No Parking” signs on Dolphin Drive, blindsiding the town board, which later voted to restore them. Mr. Lys, why are you ignoring this history in bringing this issue up, again and again?
I had hoped, after my last letter about it to The Star many months ago, that the subject of Dolphin Drive parking had gone dormant. Since he chose to put it back on the table (and right before Christmas, thank you), I will again start looking into, and calling out, the backstory to this apparently corrupt project.
December 26, 2022
I am a pilot, single-engine aircraft and hangar owner, and a longtime advocate for preserving East Hampton Airport as an invaluable asset and good neighbor to the community. More recently, in the face of what the court has now confirmed were improperly adopted measures to close, even if to reopen, the airport in modified form, I was compelled as an officer of one of the airport’s hangar associations, to participate in litigation to prevent those actions from wrongfully depriving it and others from their contractual rights and substantial investments, let alone long enjoyed and benign recreational activities.
Though I believe our members widely prefer a dialogue and reasonable resolution of the legitimate issues pertaining to the airport, not unlike those pertaining to compatible uses of marinas, beaches, parks, and other public facilities in the community, to the often blunt force of the courts, and though the Federal Aviation Administration has in its regulations a specific procedure I’ve been advocating for years to resolve those issues, much like the more familiar land-use variances, when stonewalled in our attempts to employ those approaches and faced with the imminent closure of the airport without any assurance it would ever reopen in any form, we were left with no choice but to seek the injunction, which the court granted.
Fact-based content that helps educate residents about the impact of changes to the airport is appropriate and useful. I write this now because I and all of the airport supporters to whom I’ve spoken are appalled at certain ad hominem attacks on the court and members of the East Hampton Town Board that have been appearing in the local press. To the best of my and my colleagues’ knowledge, no one associated with us is responsible for such reprehensible publications. In fact, the first thought that
came to our minds was that it was a “false-flag” operation placed by anti-airport fanatics trying to make the airport supporters look bad. Anyone who knows me knows that if I have something to say, you’ll hear it unvarnished and without being hidden behind an alias. The anonymous personal attacks are not advocacy, do not advance the necessary dialogue to resolve the issues, and have no place in our community. We must all focus instead on addressing the issues and consequences of the proposed actions.
I am hopeful that there is now an opportunity, as the town takes to heart the court’s admonition that it must comply with proper procedures, for those procedures to serve their intended purpose of providing a superior forum than that of a courtroom for all interested parties with the honest intention of cutting through the propaganda and distracting sideshows to preserve the airport as a valuable facility that serves the entire community while minimizing any adverse impacts it produces.
Lose Three Feet
December 26, 2022
To the Editor,
If Napeague Harbor was last fully dredged in 1989, everything that has happened since makes sense. If you lose three feet a year here, an anomaly was created.
If globally only eight inches of sea rise has happened, and, at 12 inches, you lose 100 feet of shoreline, why has that occurred here already? Man makes the change that does us no good.
Happy new year, dredge Napeague.
December 19, 2022
Two stories this week reinforced the theory of expendability, the classification of groups of people as commodities.
One story was about the city of Milwaukee being ravaged by fentanyl. The other was the refusal of every Republican senator to include funding for Afghans (our allies) in the omnibus bill.
Both groups have been deemed expendable and don’t merit our government’s intervention in their problems, which we, as a government, are totally responsible for creating.
Afghanistan is really easy to get. They didn’t ask us to come and destroy their country. We needed to beat the crap out of someone after 9/11. There is no moral or legal issue here. We do what we have always done.
The fentanyl epidemic in Milwaukee relates to people who are no longer essential to growing our country. When we switched from manufacturing to finance in 1980, we disenfranchised millions of workers who had spent their lives building the country. They were no longer essential as workers nor as consumers to create wealth. Their “use by” dates had expired.
Expendability is the commodification of people in economic and political terms. It’s about obsolescence, diminishing returns, and use by dating to ensure quality and freshness.
Part of our political mythology centers around a classless society. Unlike
European cultures, we had no classes and none of the limitations that a class society imposes on its citizenry. We never had a caste system, as in India, where untouchables, as the lowest caste members, provided fodder for everyone else.
Our country was founded on indentured servitude and slave labor. People were more or less transactional. If they couldn’t perform, they were discarded or traded. This concept wasn’t unique to the world but it was very much ours.
Expendability in its simplest terms is a gentler kind of genocide (killing with compassion). It’s not the mass killings of Armenians, Jews, and Indigenous peoples. It is a measured, slow-moving institutional process that destroys people’s lives in the normal course of their existence. It doesn’t require genetically fractured leaders like Hitler, Trump, or Mao. It’s simply business as usual.
There are political groups that are appalled by social programs like Medicare, welfare, and Social Security. They believe that these expenditures are neither productive nor necessary. That they distort our gross domestic product bottom line. Limiting profits. Wasting opportunities. Inflating taxes.
The entire New York Times magazine was devoted to kids killed by gun violence this year — expendable children to pacify the problems of male self-esteem and sexual inadequacy. We are relentless.
People of Donald
December 25, 2022
To the Editor,
Donald Trump sarcastically calling the Jan. 6 House select committee the “unselect” committee virtually proves my contention that if he could rewrite our Constitution’s marvelous Preamble (“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”), he would rewrite it as this Trump “carnage” version:
“We the people of Donald Trump’s United States, in order to form a more imperfect union, establish injustice, insure domestic instability, provide for the January 6 Capitol Building uncommon offense, promote the general welfare of my immediate family, and secure the blessings of libertinism to myself and my posterity, do ordain and disestablish this Constitution of the United States of America.”