September 25, 2022
Regarding your Sept. 22 front-page story on Handy Lane house building, we live on Cross Highway facing the Handy Lane "Levittown East" project. My wife's family bought the house in 1959, and through the years we've seen how things have changed. So different today.
Mr. Goldberger and The Star are correct about no concern regarding scale on lot size, and other issues that seem to have been ignored, but the real point is missed. The houses -- and others like them -- will be empty most of the time. This is the tragedy of the East End.
East Hampton Village
September 26, 2022
Committees are what you gaggle together when you can't make up your mind who to screw.
What was done to 81 Ocean Avenue was done for the people so that they could have a good open view of that area from the road as you pass to and from the beach. If trees are planted, there goes the view. It happened to our home when neighbors planted trees and our view of the corn fields was ended.
Now, the committee: This committee will take the place of the citizens who make their opinions known on subjects just like the one caused by Mr. Kuhl.
The committee is made up of some people who are there for the expertise they have on various issues. Some of these people may also have, from time to time, issues themselves that will come before the board or members of the board.
My proposal would be to appoint people from outside of the village who would also have the expertise but not tend to have issues of a personal nature heard by the board.
I know or know of all of those named by the village to be on the list. They are mostly all from the village. Perhaps half of them should be from outside of the village. There are plenty of people who would qualify.
September 25, 2022
To the Editor:
Once upon a time in Montauk, fighting for the environment wasn't a popularity contest. And the Montauk environmental group had no office, no $250,000-a-year payroll, no president who didn't live here -- in fact, the bylaws stated you had to reside in Montauk to be president -- and they turned out in force to fight the most powerful politician on Long Island. As a result, and reported in last week's "The Way It Was" column, from Sept. 25, 1997, the zoning board of appeals determined that, "There is no legally, pre-existing restaurant, indoor dining or outdoor dining at the Perry B. Duryea and Son Lobster Business on Tuthill Road in Montauk."
Those very same unpopular people fought to preserve Montauk's open spaces, against the high-speed ferry, against incorporation, and against the most litigious developer Montauk ever knew, Nicola Biase -- preventing him from expansion dredging at the Montauk Lake Club -- which has since occurred. (Ironically, even the East Hampton Town Baymen's Association, which benefited most from this, were so afraid of a Biase lawsuit that they refused to join the fight.) Mr. Rattray, I guarantee you that those long-gone environmental heroes would have fought a restaurant at Hero Beach Resort, all the way through the courts.
It so saddens me to see their legacy replaced by fair-weather environmentalists who crave popularity, at the expense of protecting the environment, hold elitist fund-raising events, allowed the downtown Montauk beach to be turned into Dirt Bag Beach -- costing the town and county taxpayers millions in sand replenishment with no end in sight -- and they dine at Duryea's Restaurant. And it sickens me to see today's organization use the names of the heroes from the past to raise money.
If the flourishing Duryea's restaurant, and now the Hero Beach Resort expansion, are any indication of the stewardship from the Montauk environmental group, I don't hold out much hope for the future. I do hope I'm proven wrong.
The Community Cares
September 24, 2022
In January, I started an organization I named Build.In.Kind/East Hampton, with the founding objective to build citizen engagement around what I believe to be the most critical issue facing our town: accelerating, unrelenting overdevelopment -- both residential and commercial.
The specific goal I set for the organization is to deliver to the town board a tangible set of proposals about changes to zoning code and secure their commitment to begin, with a sense of urgency before year's end, the serious process of rethinking and amending that code.
At that time, in a letter in your Jan. 13 edition, I wrote: "Over the last three to five years, owners and developers have slipped the bonds of rational self-limiting restraints. The shift in mind-set has been sharp and swift, and the voracious appetite of applicants to max out or even break through the dimensional ceilings has become the norm. That radically-altered mind-set is threatening to break our venerable and valid zoning code. We're at Code Red.
. . . Given these seismic shifts, our zoning code now seems underpowered relative to current dynamics as well as the fact that the town last year declared a state of climate emergency."
Build.In.Kind emerged from nearly two years of work in advance: studying building activity across the town, learning core principles of land use and planning, building working knowledge of East Hampton Town zoning and building codes, and, since mid-2020, watching nearly every session of the zoning, planning, and architectural review boards.
The year before launching BIK, I started speaking publicly about the need to address overdevelopment, commenting at town board meetings as an individual resident, and speaking monthly as a member of the Amagansett citizens advisory committee. But made clear to me by our town supervisor was that if I hoped for board action, it couldn't be based just on what were perceived as my personal pet peeves; I was told, "You're the only one I hear complaining about this."
But I knew then as I assert now, it isn't just me -- I am not "the only one." Build.In.Kind is a conduit to ensure the powers that be know it too.
I know there are hundreds, and believe there are thousands, of people across town who have real concerns about the pace, scope, and scale of what they see being built around them. Their feelings range from dismayed to distraught to disgusted as they watch developers and their enablers disrespecting and dismantling much of what we love about this place and most everything that supports quality of life. Many are realizing that this extractive strip-mining yields extraordinary profits for a few but undermines sustainable value for the rest of us.
Folks have asked me why Build.In.Kind isn't a ".org" and if I'll start fund-raising to further the cause. Maybe one day I might find the need to do that, but for now, my goal here is not to raise money. My sole purpose is to raise voices.
Anyone who reads the comments on town-related social media posts will sense the seething collective frustration. You can hear discontent all around town, whether you're at the supermarket or the salon, at the fishmonger or the farm, the beach or bagel store, in a neighbor's backyard for a barbecue or a bar for a beer, or just queuing up for a cup of coffee.
Mentioning coffee reminds me of that old "Saturday Night Live" skit "Coffee Talk" -- "I'm feeling farklempt. Tawk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic: 'Houses are too big. Discuss.' "
But we cannot continue to talk only among ourselves. We need to flip the conversation from horizontal to vertical. By that I mean people must speak up directly to our town board, the other boards, and the Planning Department.
Some people tell me they're angry that board members haven't already made changes, because "aren't they seeing what we're seeing?" But government officials do need to be persuaded -- and pressured. Just as we want to be informed by them, they need to be informed by us. Politics is often pragmatically reactive rather than creatively proactive.
Over the last few weeks, however, it seems the change of season has brought with it first hints of a shift in attitude at Town Hall, driven I think by public discourse starting to take shape -- more letters, editorials, and articles being written (locally and beyond), and even, as you reported last week, a petition in Amagansett that's emerged.
As you highlighted in your Sept. 15 editorial, recently The New York Times quoted Jeremy Samuelson, head of the Planning Department, "There's a broader question here for all of us who live in East Hampton. . . . If we as a community are not satisfied with what current code allows, then we should work together to come up with amendments to the code that align with our shared values."
Music to my ears; that quote sparked this letter. But as if Mr. Samuelson's words weren't inspiration enough, on Sept. 22 The Star quoted Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc at some length: "At this point in our history, the newer houses are being built to the absolute maximum allowable. . . . That's what is shocking. Previously, people didn't build to the absolute maximum allowable. They were more concerned about scale and compatibility with the community." He's quoted further about "having another look at maximum coverage and perhaps even clearing . . . given the speed at which this trend is expanding. It's time to have another look."
That the very two town officials who would lead any decision-making process to amend zoning code have gone on the record this way should not be overlooked or underestimated. These quotes should be viewed by all concerned citizens as a formal invitation; a welcome mat is rolled out and the door cracked open. I, for one, plan to walk through it and do everything I can to help ensure land use and development evolve to align not only with "shared values," but with imperatives of climate, coastal resilience, affordable housing, and protection of natural resources, quality of life, and rural character.
Our boards and departments do need to hear from many. They need to know that the community at large really freakin' cares -- only then will our priority become their priority. Now is not the time for cynicism or timidity. Don't hush, don't keep it down now, because, as the song goes, "voices carry."
No One Complains?
September 26, 2022
To the Editor,
As a resident from the Wading River area, I would like to add to the 7/28 letter from the president of the Wading River Civic regarding helicopters heading to and from East Hampton Town Airport, or JPX. I don't believe the founder and chief executive officer of Blade, Mr. Wiesenthal, when he stated three times during a 27 Speaks podcast that his helicopters never fly over the North Fork and he has asked his operators to follow the so-called all-water route to JPX.
I have seen the Blade name written on many Zip Aviation helicopters leaving New York City West 30th Street helipad providing their passengers a scenic flyover of Central Park (which many N.Y.C. residents have complained about) and into the North Shore helicopter route. Instead of flying the all-water North Shore route, they take a right turn at Wading River and travel over 20 miles of land to get back to the Atlantic Ocean.
I believe it was the East Hampton Community Alliance that helped developed this North Shore route and have stated they have a 99 percent compliance with operators, but I don't always see evidence of this. For example, using a tracking app, I have seen the same Zip helicopter go back and forth as much as three times in one day from JPX, which is six flyovers above my community from just one pilot. Throughout the summer, many Blade helicopters have been flying over the North Fork instead of following the all-water route but Blade and East Hampton Community Alliance still put out false information.
Furthermore, Mr. Wiesenthal stated no one complains about helicopters following the ocean route. So my question would be, "If no one complains about flying the ocean route why not ask all your operators to fly this route from N.Y.C. to JPX and back?"
On the positive side, there are many other helicopter and seaplane pilots who are following the correct all-water route to and from JPX and for that I am grateful to those operators.
Bay View Avenue
September 26, 2022
To the Editor,
Assemblyman Fred Thiele received an answer for us regarding Bay View Avenue. It is from the Department of Environmental Conservation's assistant Long Island regional director: "In 2018 DEC issued Tidal and Fresh Water Wetlands permits for placement of geocubes at both 114 and 117 Bay View Ave. As part of the applicants' submittal, both provided deeds demonstrating ownership of their respective parcels and purporting to own to the center line of the undeveloped road separating the two properties. Based upon the submissions, the permits provided for placement of the geocubes across the paper road. Currently, the Department has a permit application submitted for 117 Bay View Ave, to construct a revetment landward of the geocubes, remove the geocubes and move the single family dwelling landward. That application is currently under review."
If you don't understand what's wrong with this, you will next week. Until then.
Attitude an Insult
September 26, 2022
It has been four months since Guild Hall's administration decided to pause and reflect on the upgrades to the John Drew Theater and promised to share their progress. A recent bulletin announcing that the theater will reopen in winter 2023 prompted me to ask, for the second time, to have the revised plans shared with interested parties.
In her dismissive reply, Andrea Grover referred me to the website, which shows only the original rendering of the stripped-out Moran Gallery and no theater design. She describes the planning process as "transparent," when what she really means is "invisible."
This attitude is an insult to those who care about preserving the character of our beloved cultural center. What is happening inside Guild Hall that can't be shared with the community they purport to serve?
HELEN A. HARRISON
September 26, 2022
Dear Mr. Rattray,
Today's letter is occasioned by my attendance at the LongHouse Landscape Award Luncheon last Saturday and the letter from Anne Roos in last week's Star in which she aired her concern that LongHouse was being mismanaged. First, her letter and many others that have been in The Star since Jack Larsen died, have debated certain decisions made by the trustees. Whatever view one may have of these decisions, the letters clearly reflect a love and concern for LongHouse that is deeply rooted in our community.
By way of disclosure I have no knowledge of those decisions relating to personnel. I have, however, had discussions with Diane Benson, a co-chair of the board of trustees, and with Carrie Barratt, the new executive director, about their vision for LongHouse, Each told me the intent of the trustees is to carry forward the vision of Jack Larsen as they deal with the challenges presented by an ever-changing environment. Carrie has stated publicly as each new issue and challenge arises that she immediately asks herself what would Jack have done. Clearly no one can ever be certain what he would have done (further disclosure, I never met Jack) and those who did know him might respectfully disagree among themselves on what he would have done.
At the award luncheon last Saturday, Carrie explained a vision for making LongHouse gardens natural, sustainable, and biodiverse -- all necessary and important values in a time when our planet is undergoing significant environmental changes. LongHouse will now be a leader in Earth Equity, through which it will strive to implement the aforementioned values. This seems totally reasonable, as Jack's gardens were and are very natural, sustainable, and biodiverse. However, the world changes, and the trustees must exercise their fiduciary duties to ensure that LongHouse is sustainable and continues to be one of the great treasures of our community. This vision sounds incredibly exciting and I urge everyone to learn about the amazing things -- yes, even changes -- happening at LongHouse.
I must also address Ms. Roos's concern that it is inappropriate for the executive director to live in the residence at LongHouse with her family. It seems to me having the executive director on site (much like Jack was) makes very logical sense in that she can observe and relate to the gardens at all times of the day and the year. Moreover, it allows the trustees to hire exceptional people like Carrie (with her extensive background in aesthetics and horticulture) without subjecting them to the high residential costs of East Hampton.
I am confident that the trustees and executive director will make the important decisions about the future of LongHouse consistent with Jack's vision to the extent possible in meeting the challenges of our ever-changing world.
Vote for Democracy
September 26, 2022
Everything is a scam? It seems there is a lot of truth in that caution seen in the last "Mast-Head" column in The Star. Talk is cheap, as is social media, and con artists take full advantage of it.
Politics has become a scam target as well. In fact, our country is clearly in a vulnerable economic and political state. We are in conflict between law and order, as established in our constitution, and "law and order" as preferred by bigots, insurrectionists, and the authoritarian remnants of the last administration.
Our community reveals its own fear and desperation heading into the midterms, with obvious bias and outrageous B.S. in the press and ugly campaign rhetoric. We now see groups of right-wing, fact-free letters to The Star by the usual zealots, claiming to represent Republicans, or even country, or God him/herself!
Credit must be given to Busy Bea, for stating a near-truth about the dire condition of our economy. Unfortunately, as with other zealots, the blame is typically dumped on Biden, Dems, libs, progressives, socialists, etc., etc. It seems these folks are so star struck by their favorite criminal-element politicians, still led by the disgraced ex-Potus and his power-hungry sycophants, that they want to revisit that disruptive time. It was a scam then, and still is a scam. Continued allegiance to this bunch, who have utter disregard for the truth and established laws and standards of decency, is to continue destroying democracy rather than protecting it.
The pre-midterm campaign resembles dealing with rabid animals who are beyond control or polite discussion, obviously sick and dangerous, and a danger to anyone who gets in their way.
This noxious effort to subsume our civilized, inclusive democracy into a regime of authoritarian bigoted aristocracy did not end on Jan. 6, or Jan. 20 of last year; this is an ongoing, powerful movement that needs a cohesive and powerful response at the polls in November, and ultimately in all the appropriate courts of justice. Please vote for democracy.
With all the best wishes,
September 23, 2022
It is possible that one or the other political party may benefit from these ideas in the short term. However, long term, both parties and the citizens of the United States of America should all benefit.
Term limits for Congress, I suggest 12 years for each house. This will increase the turnover and make both houses more closely reflect the will of the people.
Term-limit the Supreme Court justices to 20 years.
All federal elections should require voter identification at the polls. Those requesting an absentee ballot must apply in person or if medical conditions prevent in-person voting then a physician's letter or proof would be required. Both would help elections to better reflect the will of the citizen voters.
We have all seen advertisements on TV for prescription drugs. They always include a lengthy list of cautions and side effects. This is a waste of time, since it is the job of your physician and pharmacist to advise you. A universal statement to that effect would be as helpful and shorten airtime.
Abortion on Ballot
September 26, 2022
By now, it's obvious that abortion is on the ballot in November. Either you believe in the basic right of women to control their bodies or you don't. If you believe women have that right, then vote for Bridget Fleming to represent us in Congress. If not, vote for her opponent, Nick LaLota. It's as simple as that.
JAMES G. LUBETKIN
Mr. Lubetkin is a member of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Ed.
September 25, 2022
The last thing New York needs is a governor the likes of Lee Zeldin. In the age of Trump, voters now realize that honesty and integrity should matter above all else.
For months, we have heard screed after screed from Zeldin attacking Governor Hochul as soft on crime and anti-law enforcement, all in an effort to tag her with the lame, "defend the police" moniker.
So, one would think that, given the chance, Mr. Zeldin would jump at the opportunity to showcase his law enforcement chops by supporting legislation that would strengthen local law enforcement.
Well, he had exactly that chance -- and blew it. Last week, the House Democrats introduced a series of bills designed to strengthen, in various ways, local crime-fighting efforts. One bill, the Invest to Protect Act, promised to invest in officer training efforts to make them more effective in high-risk incidents and minimize unnecessary violence and, most important, authorized $60 million over five years for local police departments like those in our area.
This would be a no-brainer for Mr. Zeldin, right? Not so fast. One of the most obstructionist congressmen to anything initiated by Democrats, Mr. Zeldin sat this one out. Given the chance to put his money where his campaign mouth was, he did not even think this bill was worth voting on. More than 150 of his fellow Republican representatives, including almost all his New York colleagues, voted for the bill. But Mr. Zeldin sat it out.
I have often written during his congressional stint that voters needed to focus on not what he said before his constituents but on what he did when it mattered most. His Washington career has so often resulted in votes that betrayed promises made to or were detrimental to the interests of his constituents. Now, he has pranced around the state barking about crime rates, promising action if he were to be elected governor. But, as before, when it came time to walk the walk, Mr. Zeldin let us down again.
Voters should find this latest betrayal as all they need to realize that it is time to send the deceitful Mr. Zeldin home.
September 21, 2022
To the Editor,
Nothing built back better, nothing done for America for the last two years of the supreme drooler's presidency. Open borders, wars waged with Russia and China, Russia is in a full-blown war with Ukraine, and Putin threatened Ukraine last week with nukes. "Trump is going to start a war. Trump is going to start a war," can you repeat that another 100 times? I believe that was the theme when Trump was elected.
Our gross domestic product is .03. Seven billion in military might was left in Afghanistan. I guess you forgot Sept. 11, 2001 with the last mail-in election. The supreme drooler on primetime television called me a threat to democracy, which included the police, the fire department, the military, talk about dividing a country.
Fentanyl killed 112,000 Americans last year. Most of the fentanyl comes through our open borders. One point six million migrants have come across the borders, paid for with the free money that Democrats think falls from the sky.
I have not heard America comes first since our economy was booming. Trump had no wars for four years of his presidency. Booming economy, fuel independence, all that was done while the Democrats waged war on Trump. We now beg Venezuela and Iran for oil. After two years of the supreme drooler, nothing was done for America, zero, nada, nothing. Great vote, Democrats were doing just great (sarcasm).
I would like to thank Bea Derrico for taking the time for posting here in this uber-left-wing forum. Keep the faith. God bless America.
We Need Protection
September 26, 2022
I am so lost over the thought of the way people here in America are thinking. Crime is running rampant, and yet we hire and keep prosecuting district attorneys, such as Alvin Bragg, George Gascon in Los Angeles, and more.
Police are being killed on the job. Criminals are out with no bail. Rapists are caught and shown the front door, again, no bail, only to rape again. When will these liberal governors put our citizens first and fix this broken lawmaking? It seems this administration is so concerned with power that illegals entering our country have more rights and privileges than we, the American citizens, have.
Please keep in mind when you vote this November, we need people elected to work with each other. We need protection in our homes, businesses, and the streets we walk on. We need laws to be obeyed, not ignored. We need to remove the pork from bills that need to be passed so all will benefit.
In God and country,
September 26, 2022
Watching the Ken Burns and Co. documentary on America and the Holocaust leaves little doubt as to the state of the nation in the first part of the 20th century. Burns details the racism and antisemitism that was the norm in our culture and then explains that the Nazis based their oppressive racial and antisemitic programs on the models they found in the United States. The similarities between Nazi Germany and the U.S. today are difficult to exaggerate. Fascism is, and has always been, alive and well in the U.S.
There were three stories this week that had the bells going off in my brain. An Op-Ed in The New York Times that made the case that people who believed in democracy and freedom couldn't vote Republican was the most distressing. Democracy requires more than one party. Excluding one, however right it might seem, destroys the democratic system.
The second was the Trump speech in Ohio supporting J.D. Vance. Anyone who watched the Burns documentary understood the connection between Trump and Hitler. The speech made the case for not voting Republican or, conversely, for voting fascist.
The third was an interview with a group of Republican candidates who stated that they would not accept the results of the 2022 elections. They, along with the 180 or so elected congressmen who believe Trump won the election, are a conundrum. They will only accept the results if they win. So, are they sore losers, spoiled sports, or fascists? Why play if you don't respect the game or the system?. Why does white male whining always sound like, "oink, oink"?
Which almost brings us back to the Holocaust documentary. Except for the Florida law prohibiting talking about L.G.B.T.Q. issues in public schools, seemingly innocuous, relating to first and third grades, it raises the specter of deviance. Pretending that they don't exist. Hoping they will go away. Talk about a full-fledged Nazi shit-storm.
So much empathy for young kids experiencing sexuality and gender issues. Make them feel understood, warm and cozy like there's something wrong with them because they aren't perfectly white heterosexual Christians? Jesus only loves the chosen ones as long as they have a credit card.
America was blessed with incredible space and wealth and oceans of protections. We were cursed with a form of deviant Christianity, obsessive greed, and a political system where only money counts. Burns and Co.'s documentary exposes the nasty, meanspirited underbelly of our culture. The connection to today is obvious. Stop it before it's too late.