At a Crossroad
January 17, 2023
We have always been told that Spring is the most-densely populated area in East Hampton, but today, Jan. 17, the Springs citizens advisory committee met with only 12 of its citizens present. Soon, two of the most influential members had to leave to attend a Springs School Board meeting — this was before the C.A.C. could even discuss the most pressing and consequential issues for Springs residents.
How can this hamlet be governed in equal fashion with the other areas of the Town of East Hampton when its voice is only a murmur?
Citizens of Springs, hear my plea: Awaken and pay attention to the reality of the times. We are at a crossroad. The greedy are ready to take advantage of your neglect. In a year or so, you will be screaming, “How did this happen! How did we lose the charm of our underdeveloped part of the Town of East Hampton and find ourselves lost in a place we don’t recognize? The time is now.
Such a Bad Look
January 27, 2023
To the Editor,
It’s not often I feel like a third-class citizen but waiting in line for a local “deal” to get a nonresident beach permit was one of the more frustrating and depressing things I’ve ever done. And it was for a friend too! And I wasn’t the only one who braved this line who expressed a similar sentiment.
This whole process was beyond inefficient and truly, more than anything, archaic. How is it that you can otherwise buy a permit online, yet as a town resident you’re forced to wait outside in January for hours (it really was) with your photocopies in hand to obtain a permit to save $250? This really couldn’t have been streamlined where you simply upload your relevant documents and pay online? It’s honestly just cruel what happened on this chilly day and there was absolutely no reason for it. I would have rather paid a little more to not have to be subjected to this nonsense and have done it online, yet that wasn’t an option.
This was also a giant waste of resources for everyone involved: the police, the traffic control, the village staff managing the crowd, and the dozens of employees inside reviewing the paperwork.
The beaches may be beautiful, but honestly, this experience was such a bad look. Five hundred dollars is still not a deal in the real world to be subjected to a demoralizing experience like this.
Very, Very Wrong
January 27, 2023
To the Editor,
East Hampton Village will collect at least $1,950,000 for parking at the village beaches — 1,500 passes at $500 each for residents of the Town of East Hampton, if you were able to show up at 1 Cedar Street on Friday, and 1,600 passes for $750 for the remaining passes available starting Tuesday. That is a $400,000 increase over last year. Of course this doesn’t include the daily fees for parking without a pass. Inflation? Please. There is something very, very wrong with this picture.
January 26, 2023
To the Editor:
The Town and Village of East Hampton need to do something to fix two problems: The Post Office on Gay Road next to the CVS has become a homeless shelter. Almost daily there is someone sleeping inside in corners, often with blankets. The post office said they have called police; police say there is nothing illegal so they cannot do anything. It is uncomfortable for the customers and possibly unsafe. Help the customers, help the homeless.
Next, since part of Stephen Hand’s Path has been closed, traffic is detoured to Two Holes of Water Road, which should be renamed Many Holes of Water Road. Because of increased traffic, trucks especially, there are now numerous potholes. Driving has become dangerous. Patching should be done now — and repaving when Stephen Hand’s is finished.
With No Expertise
January 30, 2023
You are so right about this town board having harmful “consultitus.” They hire out-of-town firms with no experience or knowledge of our community to set standards and to implement expensive projects. And, it makes no sense because we have serious, trained professionals in many fields who live here, in almost every field.
It’s as if they don’t trust their own citizens — or fear them. They put people on committees with no expertise, but rather based on political expediency. They put well-meaning citizens on advisory committees who have no training or credentials on the subject.
I, as an example, have experience, training, and up-to-date knowledge about exterior lighting for energy conservation, preservation of flora, fauna, and to protect human health, and yet, I was denied membership on the energy and sustainability committee, even though I was a member of the first energy committee established (then abolished by Councilwoman Quigley).
We need a committee that draws upon the expertise in this town (and the village for that matter). And, only those without commercial interests should have voting privileges. Maybe in the next administration, I hope.
In Our Soil
January 30, 2023
To the Editor,
You may have seen the headlines and New York Times articles about heavy metals in baby foods. Industrial and automotive air pollution, stormwater runoff, and polluted irrigation sources are some heavy-metal culprits in this story. What we put in the air ends up in our soil, watershed, and food.
Buried in the story, however, is the role plants can play in removing these contaminants from our agricultural soils, not to mention the soil that sits over our aquifers. In a story titled, “How Do Heavy Metals Like Lead Get in Baby Food?” The Times explains that “Farmers are . . . trying to reduce toxins by growing crops — such as sunflowers and poplar trees — that are efficient at drawing impurities out of the soil and then disposing of the plants.”
Well, there’s actually no need to dispose of the poplars, but this news reflects what’s well known in the environmental community. Here’s a brief summary from the scientific journal Soil Horizons: “In Indiana, poplar trees are helping soils reduce nitrate levels in rivers. Red oaks are doing the same along the Mississippi River. In abandoned gas station lots in Chicago, wild flowers such as purple coneflower and yarrow are cleaning soils of hydrocarbon pollution. Research is showing that soils and valuable soil microbes can work in conjunction with plants to reduce or remove contaminants, a process known as phytoremediation.”
Baby food and aquifers — it’s kind of hard not to want to keep them clean. Most of us aren’t farmers, but on Long Island we all sit on top of our sole-source aquifer. Planting the right native plant communities in our landscapes could go a long way toward cleaning our water.
What doesn’t help is, in development after development, expanding concrete and asphalt surfaces, as we would do if we allowed the Wainscott Commercial Center subdivision to go forward. Compacting soil damages the very ecosystems that, working with trees, long-rooted native grasses, soil microbes and fungi, filter our water, digest pollutants, and promote the biodiversity that accomplishes all this.
The Wainscott Hamlet Plan proposed a sensible option for this site, a mixed-use combination of affordable housing, light commercial service buildings, and an extensive green space revegetation, which makes far more sense than converting most of 70 acres, feet above a water protection zone, into impervious surface.
Ignores Town Plans
January 30, 2023
The proposed Wainscott Commercial Center is a throwback to 1950s land planning. Instead of looking forward to meet the 21st century challenges our town is facing, the subdivision proposal looks backward. It is land consumptive, car and truck-centric (implicating a massive increase in such traffic and proposing 874 new parking spaces), and it ignores approved town plans and climate resiliency mandates. As proposed, the commercial center will foreclose the implementation of the approved Wainscott Hamlet Plan and any future open space opportunities.
At 70 acres, this 50-lot subdivision will be more than twice the size of the Bridgehampton Commons shopping center and more than three times the size of the existing Wainscott business district. It would be the largest commercial-industrial subdivision in the history of East Hampton. We don’t need it.
It is in the wrong place, located next to the most heavily traveled part of Route 27 in town and far too close to Georgica Pond and its fragile ecosystem. During peak times, it will add 300 round trips per hour to Route 27 and undoubtedly divert considerable traffic to the residential streets both north and south of Route 27. We have all experienced the bumper-to-bumper traffic that exists already. It’s hard to imagine how it can get much worse, but it surely will.
The draft environmental impact statement has clearly demonstrated that all the groundwater under this proposed commercial-industrial subdivision will flow into Georgica Pond, which is just 300 yards to its south. Georgica Pond is a locally designated significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat.
Generations of East Hamptoners have grown up sailing, kayaking, and crabbing in the pond and have seen it being slowly returned to a hospitable habitat not just for crabs but for bald eagles and other birds and wildlife. We cannot allow that progress to be reversed.
The public has an opportunity to let their voices be heard by attending the public hearing on Wednesday. For more information visit stopwainscottcommercialcenter.org or buildinkind.com. The complete draft environmental impact statement can be viewed on the town’s website.
The planning board must require a better plan than the 50-lot subdivision submitted. Ask them to do so.
Increase in Threats
January 30, 2023
East Hampton boasts some of the state’s finest roads for cycling. Many take the iconic ride to the Montauk Lighthouse. I prefer the relative quiet of the hills of the airport road, the sweeping curves of Swamp Road, or the “rollers” of Northwest Road and beyond. The last decade has brought increased numbers of cars and trucks to these roads, endangering them as cycling venues and often scaring me and my spouse on our frequent rides. I fear that we will soon lose these roads for safe cycling — and what a shame that would be.
The proposed Wainscott Commercial Center would bring a quantum increase in threats to cyclists’ quiet enjoyment of East Hampton. It will add substantially to car and truck traffic on Route 27 in Wainscott and on the nearby secondary roads favored by cyclists like me. Many of these roads are narrow, have limited-sight distance and little or no shoulder. They can be dangerous today, but with the additional traffic that will come with the new commercial center, they will be fit only for the most intrepid, the most foolish.
The Wainscott Commercial Center will also make it more difficult to get to the roads of Northwest that we have so long enjoyed. The traffic light at Wainscott Northwest Road currently provides the only safe path across Route 27 in Wainscott to get to Northwest and Springs. The traffic circle proposed to replace the light will make it difficult if not impossible for cyclists to cross from the south. Traffic circles simply don’t work for cyclists wanting to cross the flow of traffic.
There are bike lanes on both sides of Route 27 in Wainscott. Truck traffic entering and exiting the commercial center will, unmediated, cross the westbound bike lane, making sitting ducks out of cyclists. The eastbound bike lane will be interrupted by a traffic circle at Wainscott Northwest Road and another planned farther east. There is every reason to think that these circles will create new hazards for eastbound cyclists.
The Wainscott Commercial Center will also increase the use of Wainscott’s Main Street and Wainscott Stone Road by drivers seeking to avoid the Wainscott center choke-point that will be burdened by more truck traffic and as many as 300 additional round trips per hour on Route 27. The diversion of traffic to secondary roads will exacerbate risks to cyclists using roads south of the highway.
These are all issues that should have been considered in the draft environmental impact statement required by law for the commercial center subdivision, but they are not even mentioned in the document recently approved by the town’s planning board. The failure of the impact statement in this regard is a good and sufficient reason to reject the developer’s subdivision plan on both procedural and substantive grounds. All those who ride bicycles in East Hampton should join the opposition chorus at the public hearing on Wednesday.
JOHN H. HALL
Public Health Hazard
January 30, 2023
East Hampton government and residents are facing a decision on the largest industrial subdivision project on the South Fork — the Wainscott Commercial Center, a 70.5-acre former sand and gravel pit that developers wish to turn into 50 commercial-industrial lots for warehouses, manufacturing, workshops, storage, distribution, etc. It runs from close to the airport on its north end and empties onto Route 27 in the south. The site is more than twice the size of the Bridgehampton Commons.
This property lies over the top of our-sole source aquifer, our water recharge area for all of East Hampton’s drinking water. The property also reaches close to the East Hampton Airport, a designated Superfund site, contaminated with PFAS from fire-retardant use at the airport. PFAS were found in test wells under the proposed commercial center site by a hydrology survey evaluating the proposal.
This sole-source aquifer already has steadily rising nitrogen content; Suffolk County water ranks among the highest for public drinking water nitrate levels. The potential for unsafe levels of nitrogen from 50 septic systems over the top of our sole source aquifer, even if they are the mandated new septic systems leaching minimal nitrogen, when added to an unknown array of chemicals and industrial pollutants, is a public health and environmental hazard.
Furthermore, the horizontal movement of underground water on this site moves from the Northeast corner near the airport to the southwest corner at Route. 27 and beyond, to the vulnerable and fragile waterway of Georgica Pond. Our bays and creeks are already suffering from high levels of nitrogen causing algae blooms with their consequent effects on marine life.
Another major environmental and social impact will come in the form of significantly increased traffic. One study determined that there could be 300 round trips of trucks, vans, and cars entering and exiting this site from Route 27 during peak hours, add this to the already overwhelming traffic problems of Route 27 and the congestion-causing traffic light in Wainscott. Some 20 percent of the traffic is proposed to exit the back way to Route 114, then through Sag Harbor. Beyond the pollution and congestion, the impact on passage for emergency vehicles could create life-threatening situations.
The developers have proposed they will build and pave some 75 percent of the property while planting rain gardens for water runoff. We need to think through the consequences of adding impervious, sealed surfaces to some 50-plus acres. In rainstorms producing heavy runoff, those rain gardens cannot absorb the chemical flow from the paved surfaces.
It is not enough, however, to stress the negatives here. We need to start imagining what could be developed on these 70 acres. Given East Hampton Town’s resolution and commitment to mitigate the climate emergency as a first consideration in its decision-making process, I would think we could be focused on remedial and restorative landscaping, planting keystone native trees, grasses, and plants that will do the hard ecosystem work above and below ground that we need to protect our watershed and drinking water to say nothing of nurturing our disappearing birds and insects including pollinators that our food supply depends upon.
But the Wainscott community already made their voices heard in 2018 when they came up with the Wainscott Hamlet Plan (part of the East Hampton Town Comprehensive Plan) a proposal and design for this site that included affordable housing, a sizable park, and some commercial spaces.
I hope that your readers will speak at the public hearing at LTV on Wednesday and write a statement for the public record. For more information: StopWainscottCommercialCenter.org.
People can participate in the public hearing by attending in person at LTV Studio, 75 Industrial Road, or by watching the broadcast/live stream on LTV Channel 22 and dialing in with comments. Written comments should be emailed and/or delivered to the planning board office: ehamptonny.gov/365/Planning-Board.
This decision is about our future, the health of our community, our families, our loved ones who live, work, and vacation here. We need to speak up for what we value. And for a sustainable and resilient future.
Time Is Now
January 30, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray,
In your editorial “(Re) Building Wave” of Aug. 25, you point to the “wave of building that is coming, and in some locations in East Hampton Town, we haven’t seen the like.” Among several projects, you draw attention to the so-called Wainscott Pit, where there is a proposal for a 50-lot commercial — and industrial! — subdivision that would require “close to 900 new parking spaces” and add to traffic, “already at a crisis level,” in addition to environmental concerns. You call on residents and visitors to pressure elected officials to “put community before profits.”
In an editorial the next month (Sept. 15), you note, “. . . in recent months we have begun to get signals that some residents want big changes in land-use rules. . . . Oversize development has resulted in a growing sense that town and village zoning laws are not up to the task of maintaining the region’s character.”
In the absence of any changes to the zoning codes on the horizon, the time is now for residents, business owners, and visitors alike to step up to the plate and reinforce the importance of protecting community character throughout East Hampton Town.
On Wednesday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. at LTV Studios in Wainscott, the planning board will hear comments from the public about the Wainscott Commercial Center, the proposed subdivision at the Pit. The planning board wants to learn from the public in what ways the draft environmental impact statement is deficient.
Consider how a transformation of a 70-acre property that is now largely succession-old-field hosting only two businesses, the ready-mix cement plant and the tile and masonry yard, might have an impact with the addition of 48 new commercial or industrial businesses! Has the applicant addressed all concerns sufficiently? Get informed. There are alternatives. All documents are available on the Town’s web site: ehamptonny.gov/675/Wainscott-Commercial-Center. This is an incredibly important opportunity to shape the future of the town.
CAROLYN LOGAN GLUCK
Holding Back the Tide
January 30, 2023
Our Town of East Hampton and Village is teetering on a precipice with the current overdevelopment climate and crisis that we have been experiencing since the pandemic took hold in 2020. It reminds me of the book by Joan Powers Porco, “Holding Back The Tide: The Thirty-Five Year Struggle to Save Montauk. A history of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk.” It is a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is concerned about protecting our environment and natural resources from overdevelopment.
The book begins in 1970 when Hilda Linley and a group of her Montauk friends established C.C.O.M. to fight the proposed development of Indian Field surrounded by Big Reed and Oyster Ponds by damming the southern part of Lake Montauk and building a subdivision with 1,400 homes on 1,000 acres on what we now know as the Theodore Roosevelt County Park. It was a big fight that went all the way up to Albany but C.C.O.M. won, and we thank them for this momentous effort.
C.C.O.M. has continued to fight the good fight for the last 50 years to try to stop beautiful Montauk from becoming unrecognizable. The book continues up to the early 2000s, chronicling all the challenges they faced in holding back the tide of overdevelopment throughout the years.
I reference this because today is not so different for us living in East Hampton. The names and faces have changed but not much else. The story line is the same, with environmentally conscious citizens fighting the greedy developers who see dollar signs where we see trees and vistas.
As I write, there is a string of “Change to Commercial” applications hitting each hamlet that are in the pipeline at varying degrees of process going through the planning, zoning, and architectural review appointed boards. These proposed developments will affect everyone who lives here and calls this beautiful place home. If allowed, we will be sacrificing our environment, water and air quality, open space, wildlife and natural habitats, and quality of life. What we will get in return is more retail stores, oversize commercial and industrial development, an over-stressed infrastructure, more traffic congestion, and air and water quality issues.
From the blatant developers, their lawyers, and representatives we hear of their need to “get a return on their investment” and, “my client is not interested in reducing the mass and scale of our application,” etc. It’s appalling, and the only way to try to pull this back is to rally and fight the good fight, as C.C.O.M. has for over the last 50 years — and to petition our town board elected officials to change and update our antiquated residential and commercial building and zoning codes. In closing, I would like to identify a few of these commercial proposals in each hamlet:
Montauk: Hither Woods water treatment facility, destroying 14 acres of parkland over a freshwater aquifer.
Amagansett: 136 Main Street, expansive commercial retail development compilation in the historic district sited just west and next door to an existing large commercial retail complex.
East Hampton: 44 Three Mile Harbor Road, a new commercial buildout of an existing 70-year-old one-story building converted into an approximately 12,000-square-foot two-story retail and commercial complex, in addition to a full subterranean level and two apartments, zoning board-approved 48 parking spaces housed in a lighted, paved parking lot in the residential and small commercial Freetown neighborhood intersecting the heavily traveled Oakview Highway and Jackson Street.
Wainscott: industrial commercial center, 70-acre abandoned sand pit converted into 50 one-acre lots with industrial warehouse and manufacturing structures not far from Georgica Pond water table and zoned in a water protection district.
Please note: On Wednesday, the East Hampton Town Planning Board will hold an afternoon, 3 to 5:30, and evening, 6:30 to 9, public hearing session for in person and/or call-ins at LTV Studios in Wainscott.
Lastly, I would like to share a John Sawhill (1936-2000) quote that’s located on the inside cover of the C.C.O.M. book: “In the end, our society will be defined not by what it creates, but by what it refuses to destroy.”
All the best,
No Signs of Stopping
January 26, 2023
I was amazed to read Manny Vilar’s letter in the Jan. 19 edition of The Star in which he would have us believe that his Republican Party would provide “a voice for unrepresented, struggling families, senior citizens, and [others] struggling to make ends meet.” Mr. Vilar needed to make clear that he was referring to the East Hampton Republican Party, lest one think that he was describing the goals that Democrats have for American society.
Local political parties hew to the same platforms, goals, and philosophies as espoused by their parent political parties. And unless you are rich, white, and Christian, Mr. Vilar’s Republican Party offers no home; it has become a bastion of bigotry, religious intolerance, and lack of interest in less-fortunate Americans.
There is no need to regurgitate the panoply of intolerance and antidemocratic tropes strewn by G.O.P. leaders over the past six-plus years, all to pay fealty to the most intolerant “leader” our nation has known. Now, one need only look at the House Republicans’ so-called Fair Tax proposal to see they show no signs of stopping. In short, this proposal would repeal all federal income taxes and abolish the Internal Revenue Service. In place of an income tax, the House G.O.P. plan would impose an across-the-board 30 percent sales tax! In Suffolk County, that would translate into a sales tax of almost 40 percent! This is one of the most regressive (impacts those most vulnerable) tax measures in the nation’s history.
And that’s just the start: The proposal would also eliminate payroll deductions that fund Social Security and Medicare programs. Without such funding, these programs would be starved out of existence, leaving tens of millions of struggling Americans and all senior citizens without a social safety net many most desperately need.
Over the past two years, the G.O.P. has vilified the Biden administration and the Democratic policies it has implemented — all of which had the goal of enhancing the welfare of all Americans. And on what did Republicans focus? The higher costs of stuff all Americans buy every day, and, now, one of the first things the G.O.P. wants to do is increase prices to Americans by 30 percent on everything they buy, especially hurting those Americans struggling to make ends meet.
It is a shame that Mr. Vilar cannot find the backbone to level with East Hampton residents. His party could not care less for those he would have us believe it would protect. While I am not a fan of one-party rule, given the present philosophical and political toxicity of the Republican Party it should not be allowed anywhere near the keys of any government.
January 29, 2023
To the Editor,
February 2 is groundhog day. Here it’s 197 weeks and 1 day since the town said the illegal structure in the middle of Bay View Avenue needs to be removed “immediately.” Good job, gang. But who’s counting?
Penalties and violations must be a suggestion in town code. Though I always had a liking to the idea of 15 days in jail for every week. For all people involved. No wonder the D.C. elites come here to summer. They are taking a crash course on deceit and deception.
On Fifth Avenue
January 26, 2023
To the Editor,
George Santos has claimed that during the summer of 2021 he was mugged and robbed of his watch, briefcase, and shoes by two white guys on Fifth Avenue. I don’t believe this congenital, compulsive liar’s story, but if somehow it were true, mightn’t one of the muggers have been a guy who in a Jan. 23, 2016, Iowa campaign rally bragged to his supporters, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters”? Isn’t it possible that five years later, while contemplating a 2024 presidential campaign, this same guy decided to test his theory — in a nonlethal way — right on Fifth Avenue ?
January 30, 2023
Well here we go again, classified information found at the home of ex-Vice President Mike Pence. This is getting out of hand. He should not have any classified material. It’s illegal. Mr. Pence states he takes full responsibility.
Information of classified documents being found at Biden’s personal library in Wilmington, Del., but there is a huge library of Biden’s documents sitting in the University of Delaware. When Biden contemplated in 2012 to make a run for the presidency, he arranged for the documents to be given to the university, locked away and claiming work is still being done to organize and catalog the documents.
Biden has refused to allow the public or the press to see the documents. Is there classified information in notebooks found at his residence? And now the status of the university documents is becoming more and more troubling for the White House. Biden has yet to come up with a plausible reason why he is using the university to prevent review of the documents.
The F.B.I. doesn’t need permission to demand access to said material in light of the president’s serial violations. New interest in searching his other residence. There has been little talk of the largest amounts of documents sitting in the bowels of the University of Delaware.
Never in my lifetime would I believe the world of today. Crime is running rampant and district attorneys looking the other way. Jails being emptied, marijuana out there for adults, Russia invading Ukraine, and the world sits back. Protesters burning cities down while being reported as peaceful. Dear God, put a stop to this craziness. Peace be with you.
In God and country,
January 28, 2023
The Florida weirdness around an Advanced Placement course in Black history should boggle most normal analysis, if such a thing actually existed. United States history is filled with so much distortion, exaggeration, and outright lies that it is virtually impossible to not question its validity. Consequently, anything that opens the minds of young people to analyze and understand our history is a good thing. We avoid making the same mistakes over and over by understanding that we made a mistake in the first place. It’s not rocket science.
Neither Governor DeSantis nor his supporters actually believe that a problem exists, so it would be a disservice to the people of Florida to not identify their behavior as repugnant racist idiocy.
A conversation about the Vietnam War and how it is reported in our history books started the analysis. The war in Vietnam was an atrocity perpetrated on the Vietnamese people, Laotian people, Thai people, Cambodian people, the American people, and all of the U.S. soldiers and their families.
We destroyed a country. Killed a million people. Destroyed the water supply and much of the agricultural base with chemical weapons. We created a generation of mentally and physically damaged people from contact with Agent Orange and other chemical weapons.
While all wars are atrocities, this one didn’t need to happen. The civil war in Vietnam started more than 900 years ago. Our short-lived presence was based on a fabrication of democracy and freedom, which we rarely supported anywhere in the world. We completely misunderstood the political reality of the country and of the relationship between communism and democracy.
We were misguided and miserably directed by our government. We caused substantial damage in Asia and at home. We fabricated a scenario and then made it happen. Would we have allowed this to happen if we had been honest about our history? Is human nature a blockade to applying past lessons to the present?
There is no longer a debate about the Vietnam War, yet we refuse to include a critical analysis of what went wrong and how to avoid similar mistakes in our history of the war. If we had approached Vietnam honestly 25 years after the war ended, would we have done the same things in Afghanistan and Iraq? Would we have tempered our egocentric war mentality to a more reasonable, logical, and possibly winnable approach?
Is it wrong to assume that Russia’s attack on Ukraine has some connection to our recent wars?
Florida’s approach to its rampant institutional racism is not simply to deny it but to attack the messengers. It’s the struggle between ideas that illuminate and liberate and those that subjugate, imprison, and perpetuate.
We often talk about the light at the end of the tunnel. Florida’s tunnel has no end.