West Palm Beach, Fla.
February 13, 2023
Thank you for publishing Hugh King’s beautiful tribute to his late wife, Loretta Orion. I don’t live in East Hampton now, but I grew up knowing Hugh, and I was lucky enough to work with both Hugh and Loretta on their production of “The Little Prince.” I didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked, but I will always carry with me their kindness to me and their clear love for one another.
So thank you, both to Hugh for writing his wonderful tribute, and to you for publishing it. Columns like “Guestwords” are what make hometown newspapers special.
February 13, 2023
I am writing to thank all the friends and patrons of the Art Center at Duck Creek for enabling us to attract and present young performing artists of the caliber of Samara Joy, whose early debut in our community, free to all, contributed to her well-deserved Grammy Award as the Best New Artist 2023.
Without the support of the Town of East Hampton, the Willem de Kooning and HiLo Foundations, and you, all of our community who come together to attend our events, our commitment to bringing exciting young artists to the forefront would not be possible. We are deeply grateful for your help, and looking forward to another great season.
IRA M. BAROCAS
Founding Board Member
Art Center at Duck Creek
Praise of Libraries
January 31, 2023
I recently read your editorial “In Praise of Libraries,” and wanted to second the sentiment. This fall I had the unenviable task of composing my mother’s obituary. I drove to the East Hampton Library, close to closing, and was welcomed by Andrea Meyer, who guided me through the materials and provided an interview with my mother preserved and transcribed in the Long Island Collection.
Second, a thank-you to the dedicated volunteers of the Springs Library, which is a lifeline for the residents and where my mother found books every week throughout her long life.
May the value of libraries not be underestimated in today’s digital culture.
SUE ELLEN O’CONNOR
February 4, 2023
It has just been brought to my attention by a library staff member that the decision has been made by library management to no longer uphold the tradition of maintaining quiet in the Reference Room.
East Hampton is a public library. It has multiple purposes to meet the needs of the taxpaying public. No longer mandating that the Reference Room be a “quiet zone” for patrons who are researching and/or working there should be voted on by the public who make the library possible.
Working in the very few carrels is all but impossible, as they are “lived in” during the day by street people. Moreover, there are nowhere near enough computers for all who want to access the internet.
The library has become a cacophony of excessively loud voices by staff and the public; teenagers, who loudly play games with little to no respect for the public at large, and children, who race through the Reference Room toward the children’s area because their parents do not enter the building at the children’s entrance.
It looks like the East Hampton Library is going the way of American society: little to no respect for tradition or other people’s rights.
NANCY R. PEPPARD, Ph.D.
Is There a Plan?
February 13, 2023
In last week’s Star report about the Long Island Bikeway, two points caught my attention: “East Hampton Town made bicycling a priority going back to 2012,” and Nassau and Suffolk Counties “lead the state in pedestrian and bicycle deaths.”
For years I’ve lamented how many well-traveled links into town have almost no shoulder for bikers, creating a dangerous situation. The current drainage construction on Stephen Hand’s Path presents an immediate low-cost opportunity. Since the shoulder from Long Lane leading into Route 114 has been widened to install the drainage system, is there a plan to pave a bike lane there?
Researching the subject, I found a July 2019 Star editorial that ended with, “. . . we would like to hear what all the candidates would hope to do to make everyone safer, no matter where they drive, bike, jog, or walk.” Were the responses relevant to the current situation? If the obstacle is solely based on cost, I would remind town officials that last week’s Star also reported “More $$ for Airport Lawyers.” This suggests follow-up questions you could put to our town officials:
How do the number of town bike riders and the amount spent on bike paths compare to the number of people who use the airport and the resources expended for that facility?
Adding bike lanes should be an easy political decision.
I look forward to The Star’s continued reporting on this subject.
Made a Priority
February 10, 2023
It was refreshing to open up this week’s Star and read the editorial acknowledging my “worthy goals” to reduce taxes for East Hampton Village residents. Since I was sworn in as mayor, I have made this a priority, and as you noted, was able to ensure that the 2023 budget included the biggest tax cut of the last 20 years.
As you know, East Hampton Village residents pay both village taxes, as well as town taxes, which can be onerous, and has unfortunately been the cause of many long-term villagers being priced out and forced to move away. My fellow trustees and I are always looking at ways to diminish our residents’ burden, and this often means we have to be nimble and conceive of other revenue streams besides taxation.
One of the few perks of paying both sets of taxes is that village residents receive a “free” beach pass, although not sure you can really call it free when you are paying a separate set of taxes for it. (There is a village resident who pays $300,000 in village taxes; I would think he would argue that his beach pass was not free.) Although we did raise the prices for non-village residents this year, we received many accolades from the local population, which was able to purchase passes in person at a reduced rate.
I created the East Hampton Village Foundation as an organization to assist the village in promoting community and helping to fund major projects like the Herrick Park renovation and the sewer system, but I have no involvement in its day-to-day administration. This stand-alone foundation, modeled after the Mayor’s Trust in New York City (and as you know, many municipalities have similar foundations) files its own taxes, and the village board has no financial or organizational control over it. If it was a secret, well, the secret is out of the bag, just like anyone who goes to a concert at Main Beach in the summer, we all know that the East Hampton Village Foundation is the sponsor.
Last week, I joined elected officials and members of the fire and ambulance departments from several different hamlets (Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Montauk, and Springs) in a packed room at the Amagansett firehouse to learn more about the potential of charging insurance companies for patients’ rides in ambulances, a practice that is done all over the United States, including in Suffolk County and New York City. While no decisions were made, my fellow trustees and I think it is crucial to research and understand all options that are available to our community, particularly ones that alleviate the taxpayers’ fees.
I’m humbled that your headline suggested that I was some kind of magician for coming up with the myriad ways to lighten my taxpaying constituents’ loads, but it really is just responsible government. Although the next mayoral election is not until 2024, I certainly hope that village residents will agree with your conclusion that “one way politicians get re-elected is to keep taxes low or reduce them.”
February 12, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray,
If you like what the town did to the downtown Montauk beach, just wait to see what they do to Hither Woods. The East Hampton Town Board and the wastewater committee would have you believe the $75 million sewage treatment plant they’re proposing will be pouring Perrier on the ground and smell like roses.
They’ll have you believe this isn’t about expansion for the resort community, but rather that Montauk is awash in human waste. The nonresident head of Montauk’s environmental group is calling this “a crisis”!
But so far, what we’ve learned is this: In exchange for eight years of construction and annexing Hither Woods parkland, the July 2022 H2M report, Figures 2 and 3, Appendix A, shows we’ll get, not a 15 percent reduction in nitrogen loading in Fort Pond, as we were originally told, but 2 percent. And we haven’t a clue about the ocean. That’s because the town hasn’t performed the first water quality test on the ocean. They don’t even know if it’s polluted.
However, on the east side of downtown, the Surfrider Foundation tests 12 times a year and its results show 96 percent of the samples meet water quality standards set by the New York Department of Health. And on the western end of downtown, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation certifies ocean-water quality, and says it’s very clean. Some “crisis.”
To add insult to injury, I have two more damning pieces of information regarding the town’s proposal. First is a slide that was withdrawn from the town’s December PowerPoint presentation on their scheme. The slide shows downtown Montauk in 2050, with many motels underwater. Why would the town want to conceal that from the public? It’s simple. Nobody in their right mind would agree to putting in a $75 million sewage treatment plant for buildings that will be underwater. And that’s what the slide shows. The resorts will be gone. Moreover, the green-washers on the wastewater committee, which, by the way, contains many of the very same people who sold out the beach, knew about this and were complicit in this shameful sham. So much for transparency and trust.
The second, and even more disturbing, is the amount of wastewater being generated by downtown Montauk. According to information provided by the Suffolk County Water Authority, over the last five years, the amount of daily wastewater in downtown Montauk couldn’t possibly be 173,000 gallons, as the consultants contend. Because the Water Authority only delivers around 100,000 gallons per day — the town’s consultant overstated by 73 percent. And the Water Authority information shows that almost one-third of the wastewater is generated by five resorts, four of which were built on the primary dune. And none of which, based on the missing slide, will survive the rising sea.
There is a solution. Offer the resort owners fair market value, with community preservation fund dollars, to leave right now. Millions saved. Pollution solved. Hither Woods preserved. Sanity restored.
February 13, 2023
To the Editor:
It has now been 2,520 years since ancient Etruscans first introduced a centralized, underground sewage system in Rome.
We now move on to the year 1945, when an elaborate, centralized sewer system in Vienna serves a backdrop to Orson Welles’s Harry Lime as he tries to foil the Allies in their attempt to shut down his fake-penicillin racket. The benefits of the system are still obvious, both to the city and the Allies, who effectuate the timely demise of Harry Lime.
But somehow, Montauk in the year of 2023 still grapples with the idea of whether to have a centralized sewer system. Special-interest groups are finding lofty reasons to block East Hampton Town in its idea to start moving toward something which has been a benefit to the civilized world for the last 25 centuries.
Now, I would like to move from a very broad to a very narrow perspective. In the Montauk community, where we have resided since 1964, locally known as Leisurama, or Culloden Shores, there are about 200 homes. Very few have modern septic systems and do present a serious danger to water quality. The proposed individual household solution is very invasive and expensive. Typically, an owner of a quarter-acre lot is supposed to dig up about one half of the lot and install leeching fields and miscellaneous devices at a cost of over $40,000. Granted, the town offers to absorb half of said cost through a grant program, and the rest of it should come from Suffolk County and New York State, if there is money left after every other county in the state grabs its share. (Due to the total collapse of Suffolk County’s administrative services since August of 2022, we are left at the end of the line of the ever-dwindling county and state-allocated funds. But that’s another story.)
The introduction of a centralized sewer system for Montauk, and not just for the motels, is a civilizational necessity. Furthermore, it will probably cost much less, both short and long-term, than the currently-mandated individual system for every home and every business. We also know that it is not even physically possible for all homes and businesses to accommodate an individual modern system. To that effect, we plead to the various special-interest groups to quickly agree on a location for one or more Montauk sewage treatment plants and proceed to belatedly catch up with the ancient Romans from 2,500 years ago.
Will Affect Us All
February 13, 2023
If you are reading this letter, pretend that you are appointed to the planning board — you take a pledge to protect the health, safety, and quality of life for our residents.
The biggest industrial subdivision in East Hampton has come to you for development. The proposed plan is at the entrance to our town in Wainscott. At 70 acres, twice as big as Bridgehampton Commons, 50 industrial lots are proposed.
This industrial complex is located on the dreaded Montauk Highway, with an estimated 600 extra vehicles per hour piling into the trade parade and residential roads, so the tremendous traffic will affect us all when we leave or enter East Hampton.
Some of those industrial uses are air terminal, fuel-storage tanks, and many more industrial uses that could be harmful if placed in this vulnerable location.
Good news: The zoning code gives the planning board the power to “avoid” those potentially harmful industrial uses, under a special permit, before they can come in for individual site-plan approval.
This special permit acts like a traffic light. If an industrial use is near Georgica Pond, over our drinking water source, or causes an unsafe traffic impact, the planning board can push a “red light” and should bring those potentially harmful industrial uses to a full stop.
Bad news: A special permit requirement gives the teeth in our zoning code to reject uses that could be harmful in certain locations. But the developer does not think he has to do this. The professional Planning Department is not taking a stand. The attorneys and planning board members are confused and tossing their power to the zoning board to decide. The result? When you enter East Hampton, you will not even recognize the town we love.
Keep a close eye on the appointed people who have taken a pledge to protect our health and safety and the character of East Hampton as they struggle over our future. Their choice is clear.
February 12, 2023
To the Editor,
David Filer is running for town justice? Really? Does he believe in justice, since his firm is denying 30,000 people rights to access the beach on Bay View Avenue?
It’s just another day here in the corrupt Town of East Hampton. As of this Thursday, it will be 199 weeks and one day since his firm was sent letters from the town to open the road “immediately.”
After 1,394 days, the town board continues to do nothing, did nothing, does nothing, has done nothing; they all work for him. No wonder they appease him. No one works for us.
February 12, 2023
Kudos to Carol Dray for calling out and exposing the weekly hate-spewing clown.
February 10, 2023
Watching the State of the Union speech by Joe Biden, I must say it was excellent, well written, and delivered in good form. If you believed the subject matter in this speech, I have an ocean off Ditch Plains Road I could sell you. This speech was ridden with so many falsehoods, you couldn’t miss his Pinocchio nose growing.
I can attest to the lie pertaining to medication: For the past four years I have been paying top dollar for Trelegy and Prolix, exactly $354 for a 30-day supply, and then a small drop, and $395 for six months. Eventually I go into the doughnut hole and the price is beyond my paycheck.
The Republicans took the bait in reference to Social Security and Medicare. They booed and answered him. No plans to sunset either one of them. Biden claims he created a record 12 million new jobs, more created in two years than any president has created in four years. Truth: No jobs were created after the vaccine was developed and Covid lockdowns lifted, businesses sprang back and rehired many who were laid off. Biden has nothing to do with it.
Fact-check the rest of his speech. It’s loaded with lies.
In God and country,
February 10, 2023
To the Editor,
George Santos’s “unwanted sexual advances” accuser, Derek J. Myers, is apparently as big a proven liar as George Santos himself. But even if Mr. Santos never “placed his hand on the groin” of Mr. Myers, who can believe the denials by this “Boy Who Cried Wolf” congressman?
Mr. Myers refers to their “unfortunate series of events,” but I’d assume that anything either of these proven liars says is every bit as fictional as the tales told in the Lemony Snicket best-selling children’s books titled, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
February 13, 2023
The near-total collapse of our political system would normally provide a great deal of delight and comfort to our adversaries. That we are moving down a dark hole of blind stupidity, manipulation, and ignorance, in truth, makes us a scary option for world leadership and conflict resolution. Not to understand that the world is in daily conflict with competing sources that threaten our existence?
Perhaps the only relevant moment in Biden’s State of the Union came when he mentioned that Trump had run deficits during his entire time in office and that the Republican Congress had raised the debt level three times. Screams of “liar” rang out in the hall, and one woman appeared to be foaming at the mouth. The significance of the moment was not that the debt ceiling was raised, as it always is, but that Trump’s economic performance during his time in office was piss-poor pathetic. See the numbers; they are absolutely for real. In truth, Trump performed slightly better than Jimmy Carter but behind Obama and every other president of the past 50 years.
The lesson is about believing your own bullshit. Truth is real, measurable. It doesn’t matter how often or how loudly you scream something. Doesn’t matter if you are white, brown, black, or green. What puts our democracy and the world’s at stake is the willingness to lie and misinform without consequence.
James Carville had two words for the behavior of the Republican opposition during the speech: “white trash.”