‘Way It Was’
Bel Air, Md.
March 25, 2023
“The Way it Was” has always been my favorite section of the paper. East Hampton, despite its diminutive size and distance from the great metropolis, is steeped in a rich and vital history. Reading the snippets from papers long published and forgotten highlight a simpler way of life and the many changes that have transformed our villages to what they are today.
Over the past few weeks, I was personally reminded of “The Way it Was” in East Hampton during the prewar and postwar eras. Back then, the villager residents were the creators and active participants in the community’s social and cultural life. My family were prolific actors, artists, musicians, and civic leaders. Reading about my grandfather Carl Reutershan recruited as dance instructor to the “Jolly Crowd” 100 years ago and my first cousin Percy Schenck banging out the piano for a masquerade school dance at Guild Hall hosted by my second cousins Pat and Mary Louise Schenck McElroy 75 years ago both brought smiles to my face.
Growing up in East Hampton, I remember the importance placed on learning, the arts, and community service. Many thanks to you and your family for upholding and celebrating these sacrosanct principles.
Sea Spray Cottages
March 27, 2023
Thank you for the insightful editorial “No to Private Host at Main Beach Cottages.” I share the opinion that privatization of the Sea Spray Cottages will lead to new demands for expansion. And expansion in the broader context — structural improvements, new buildings, more amenities, and more exclusions — public exclusions, that is. In addition, any long-term agreement with a resort hospitality company will mean a stipulation the village will update and maintain the aging facility, a financial burden shouldered by resident taxpayers.
The legal processes assigned to the property regarding use and transfer appear clear-cut. Moreover, the notion that it’s okay for village trustees to broker away in-public-trust land to private business interests is just wrong.
Village trustees are urged to invite the community to offer perspective on the proposed use of the property through a public hearing. Memorialize public parkland or community asset giveaway to the most favored bidder? I’m confident community choice will be loud and clear if given the chance to be heard.
Refreshing to See
March 25, 2023
It was refreshing to see your story about the town getting behind the restoration of the Brooks-Park property. My wife, Meg Perlman, was the founding director of the Pollock-Krasner House, and during that era in the 1980s, she and I got to know Charlotte Park and Jim Brooks very well. Their studio at the time was something Jackson and Lee would have easily traded them for — not just larger but with high windows that had better natural light. She took great pleasure in connecting Charlotte and Jim to the Berry-Campbell Gallery in New York City, which represents their work today. In effect, the gallery resurrected interest in their work; several shows either sold out or did very well. If she were alive she would be smiling at the effort the town — and the associated groups — are making to preserve an important part of East End art history.
Reduce and Save
March 27, 2023
To the Editor,
Thanks for the article in the March 16 edition about the resident survey to help with sustainability planning put out by the town’s consultant. I’m glad the town is moving forward in this area — hiring someone to put together a road map to finally create a plan to start reducing the greenhouse emissions created locally.
I suggested this roughly three years ago after reading the previous carbon action plan that the town paid for in 2015 that was worthless. Unfortunately, they ended up paying three times as much for this new consulting firm than the one I had suggested that works with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and is based in New York.
More worrisome is that from the survey questions, it would seem that this out-of-state consulting firm doesn’t seem to understand that in a high-cost electric area like ours one would save by using solar whether for a residential, commercial, or community solar project.
Community solar in New York State has several benefits. The sponsor, hopefully the town finally, would get a 10-percent discount on electricity used, versus the local utility rate, and they could also potentially generate significant lease income if they, say, eventually leased part of the airport for a project as I have suggested multiple times in your paper over the years. Plus, both local residents and businesses that don’t have the opportunity to install solar could also garner 10-percent savings while going green — a win-win!
Given half of the town’s own emissions are created by its electric usage, solar would be the most obvious cost-effective way to bring this number down. After dragging its feet for the last five years in the solar arena, the town commissioned a solar survey from the New York Power Authority that long ago, it only has one small (75-kilowatt) political patronage project to show in that time. Unfortunately, the town itself uses 25 times that amount of electricity and they should finally use their own buildings or land to offset this demand — they could save taxpayer money to boot by doing this.
Another suggestion I will make again is that the town needs to offer incentives to local low and middle-income residents to upgrade to solar, heat pumps, and electric vehicles. Perhaps $4,000 local incentives could be offered for each of these types of expenditures by passing legislation to access 20 percent of the large community preservation fund that is running out of property to buy after more than 20 years. This is exactly what was done to fund the septic upgrade program that mostly benefits the wealthy who live near the water, so perhaps it would be a good idea to now help the other 90 percent in town to help reduce emissions?
This is all the more necessary since the town has done next to nothing in the eight years since it pledged to reduce all of its emissions by 2030. The reality is that it produces more now given all the building since 2014. Hopefully this new survey will point out that this 100-percent goal is highly unrealistic. Both the federal government and the state are targeting 45-to-50-percent reductions in this time frame, which at the rate we are going won’t be met either.
As the signs of climate change become more obvious as every year passes, it is clear there is no time to waste, but to make any real progress we must stop talking and start spending some real money. Given the technology today, these types of investments would not only reduce emissions, they would also save taxpayers money in the long run.
The Real Danger
March 26, 2023
Whale deaths have been making the news lately, with accompanying human concern. Michael Mahoney’s letter last week, “Our Right Whales,” points to offshore wind activity as the culprit, but in doing so he is attacking what could help save these magnificent creatures. The real danger is the warming waters caused by climate change that are disrupting the entire marine ecosystem and food chain.
According to Doug Schmid, an environmental educator and whale expert in a letter published in Newsday on March 8, “I have studied whales on Long Island and from Alaska to Argentina, and I love these magnificent animals. I have been watching the North Atlantic right whale driven to near extinction as it flees its normal habitat for cooler waters, and humpback whales seeking food near shore.”
“[The recent] whale deaths are part of the unusual mortality event that was declared on the East Coast in 2016, before offshore wind was explored. There is no evidence that offshore wind farms, which have been operated and studied worldwide since 1991, physically harm whales. Of the whale necropsies on beaches this season, 40 percent showed injuries consistent with ship strikes or fishing gear entanglement. All recent Long Island whales necropsied showed evidence of vessel strikes. Our waters are increasingly trafficked with large freighters, the most likely vessels to cause harm.”
I respect Mr. Mahoney’s concern for whale deaths. However, I fear that these concerns will be used by opponents of offshore wind, including the fossil fuel industry front groups and self-interested property owners, as diversionary tactics to manipulate the news to suit their real motive, which is to continue to use fossil fuels as long as possible and to keep wind farms and their land-based infrastructure away from their properties (Nimby).
The plan proposed by Mr. Mahoney will take a very long time to execute. Creating an independent research body, finding the funding, conducting the study, evaluating, and reporting results (after likely lobbying and political pressure) will take years, if not decades. Meanwhile, the downward trajectory of our climate health continues, confirmed most recently by the United Nations climate panel, which projects that we have only 10 years to drastically reduce the burning of fossil fuels, or we will cross a warming threshold of no return. All living beings are in increasing danger. Comparing a real, scientifically proven and well-documented crisis vs. future speculative studies, I know where my preference lies.
We must keep moving forward with offshore wind development. Our lives and those of the right whales depend upon it.
Wrong About Whales
March 27, 2023
In last week’s Star, Michael Mahoney was all wrong about right whales. His letter was a model of false talking points designed to deny, deflect, and defuse the truth that the real threats to right whales, as well as all ocean life, lie in our continued dumping of pollutants, plastics (made from fossil fuels), ocean-acidifying greenhouse gasses, and “collisions with ships or entanglement with fishing gear,” as reported by CNN.
In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration and the Bureau of Ocean Management have stated there is no evidence that offshore wind activity has harmed whales. This should be obvious when one considers that, other than the tiny wind project off Rhode Island, no wind turbines have yet been erected off the East Coast and even the construction of the South Fork Wind farm has barely commenced, yet whale deaths off the East Coast have been going on for years — with those ship and fishing gear mishaps being the leading current cause (and climate chaos waiting in the wings).
Michael Mahoney and his fellow billionaires in Wainscott have been trying to stop the South Fork Wind Farm for years. (According to Google, he makes over $15 million a year in executive compensation, so I’m assuming that status for him.) They’ve lost again and again in court, where their specious claims about dire consequences if the clean energy project goes forward have been proven false. When climate chaos devastates our community, they will have the financial cushion to weather the storms, while most of us drown in loss.
If they really cared about the whales, they’d put their cash into renewable energy projects that would actually save the whales. And they would join me (and hopefully you) in urging Gov. Kathy Hochul not to cave to protests spurred by misinformation and speculation. We must keep New York on track to meet its goals for offshore wind power as quickly as possible, if we want the whales — and us — to survive.
Reject the Hunt
March 27, 2023
To the Editor:
The East Hampton town board will soon decide whether to hold a new wild turkey hunt. It would be from May 1 to 25. I would like to say a word about ethical considerations.
For centuries, Western scholars generally believed that nonhuman animals were very different from and inferior to us. Moral philosophers rarely bothered to write about them, and the esteemed philosopher Immanuel Kant said that humans have no moral obligations toward them.
But in recent decades, scientists have discovered that humans and other animals have much more in common than most people imagined. For example, biologists have found that all species essentially use the same genetic code. Moreover, scientists have been astonished by the similarities between the genomes of humans and other animals. Other investigators have found that humans and nonhuman animals share many emotions. It now appears, as Charles Darwin speculated, that we are all members of one extended family. And it now seems quite appropriate to consider ethical principles when interacting with our animal relatives.
A major ethical principle is the Golden Rule, which asks us to consider how we would like to be treated. In the case of the proposed hunt, would we want to be the potential victims?
The hunt’s proponents point out that it will be limited. It will only occur between sunrise and noon, and each hunter will only be allowed to kill one turkey, a male. But imagine that our human community was subjected to a similar assault. Would these restrictions make it acceptable to us? Of course not.
I realize that ethical considerations can become complicated. But I believe they are pertinent, and I hope they will help motivate the town board to reject the new turkey hunt.
East Hampton Group for Wildlife
An Exclusive Use
March 24, 2023
To the Editor:
I was fascinated and appalled by the spectacle, during the public portion of a recent town board meeting, of a proposed new monthlong turkey season in May being presented by one citizen after another as a basic entitlement, and a failure to enact it as a theft of liberty.
I kept my ears attuned, and, sure enough, one incautious advocate mentioned those other people, like me, who weren’t born here, who have the strange idea that we should have a voice in town policy. After all, I have only owned my home here for a quarter-century, vote here, live here full time, and own property nowhere else. I was born in Brooklyn, but my reading of the United States and New York State Constitutions certainly suggest I am equal to you, ma’am.
Anyway, submitted for your consideration: As a hiker whose personal best was completing the Long Trail in Vermont a very long time ago, I lose access to all locally maintained trails for much of the year. I am a year-round hiker, and that is a major loss. Local sections of the white-blazed Paumanok Path and side trails are all posted for hunting. The signage gives the dates for deer hunting with guns and bows, and then adds a catch-all disclaimer: “Small Game and Waterfowl: Seasons vary according to species.”
The East Hampton Town hunting guide, available on the Internet, lists 23 separate hunting seasons for different animals, covering Sept. 10 to April 23 (I am not including the frog and snapping turtle seasons, which start earlier). I had thought that all the ruckus was about a second turkey season, but it is actually a third one (counting the turkey youth hunt on April 22-23).
Hunting is an exclusive use. Nobody I know puts on an orange vest to hike or bicycle in the woods; I sure don’t. Mr. Van Scoyoc, in classic urbane style, claimed that hunting is only available on a small percentage of town lands — and failed to mention that it is permitted on all the land nonhunters actually use. I remember a board member — possibly also Mr. Van Scoyoc, not sure — making the amazing statement that nobody hikes in May. Seriously?
March 27, 2023
To the Editor:
It is my understanding that on April 6 the town board will vote on whether East Hampton is to participate in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s new turkey-hunting season, from May 1 through 25.
Turkeys are, of course, the predators of ticks; Lyme disease took hold in this area when turkeys had been hunted practically to extinction (they were subsequently reintroduced by the D.E.C.). And turkeys are magnificent.
Last week, in a clearing in the woods on Old Stone Highway, my husband and I saw a quite large flock. They were splendid, and we stopped to look at them up close. Watching them, I felt a wonder and a connection with the natural world, and I believe that those of us who experience this wonder and connection will care about and want to protect our environment and the creatures who live in it.
With a larger year-round population, with weekend visitors, and with the arrival of spring, we should all be able to enjoy our beautiful natural surroundings in peace and quiet, and be able to walk in the woods without being startled by the sounds of gunshot, which can be frightening, especially to small children and dogs.
Wildlife want only to go about their business undisturbed. Contrary to what hunters assert, there is nothing “humane” about chasing, terrifying, harming, and killing innocent animals “for sport” — and encouraging young people to do so, too. Hunting, as is also asserted, is indeed a local tradition, but as we are seeing, many traditions, these days, are being re-thought and overturned.
I very much hope that the town board will vote “no.”
Stop the Slaughter
New York City
March 27, 2023
To the Editor,
Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and members of the East Hampton Town Board are poised to do it again! And it’s enough to make hard-core, fed-up Democrats consider voting for wildlife-friendly Republicans next time.
As a longtime homeowner and taxpayer in East Hampton, I continue to be appalled by the never-ending maiming and slaughter of innocent wildlife that is repeatedly proposed, condoned, supported by an out-of-touch, self-serving town board. The tired, worn excuse of “tradition” is pathetic, as it no longer carries weight and is rejected by people of sound mind and conscience who are aware that as societies evolve, so do customs and traditions that are no longer aligned with knowledge, available information, and values. Under what rock have these board members been living? Have they no conscience, no compassion, no shame, no concern for the well-being and safety of residents and visitors to our beautiful town who are endangered by the bloodshed and violence taking place around us? It would seem not.
Turkeys are beautiful creatures, admired and enjoyed by those of us who get the chance to see them wander by with their babies in tow and they serve a valuable function in helping to control ticks. Did you know that turkeys enjoy hearing music and sometimes chirp along, that they are highly social and very affectionate, create lasting friendships with each other and have unique voices, which is how they recognize each other? Turkeys have great geography skills and can learn the precise details of an area up to 1,000 acres, and they can run up to 25 miles an hour and fly as fast as 55 miles an hour.
The senseless killing of these birds for ego, for so-called “tradition” or amusement makes a mockery out of efforts to bring back endangered animals from the brink of extinction only to make them available to hunters so that they can be killed. It’s surely long past time for the members of the town board to evolve! As gun violence on the streets, in schools, and just about anywhere that people gather continues to grow along with the proliferation of guns, it’s clear for all to see that the time has come to say enough, no more killing.
More than 650 residents and visitors to East Hampton have already signed a petition asking the East Hampton Town Board to opt out of the May turkey hunt (bit.ly/3TuCxY2). They vote at the meeting on April 6. Please sign the petition and show up. Ask the board to do the right thing and stop ignoring pleas to stop the slaughter.
Ask a Plumber
March 26, 2023
To the Editor,
In regards to Hither Woods, no one once pointed out the fact you don’t push excrement uphill. Seems like logical plumbing. Must have been using an engineer. Next time, they should ask a plumber. Then again, this is East Hampton: Plan for today because foresight into the future is too hard. The affordable housing crisis just hit 40 years after all.
No New Savings
March 27, 2023
How serious is the White House about reining in inflation plus deficits? The Biden administration has gone to the Supreme Court to defend its illegal (not to mention, inflationary and deficit-financed) attempt to unilaterally forgive $400 billion in student loans.
The president brings nothing toward the deficit reduction, no actual new savings proposals. It’s a public stunt from an administration that thinks their lying can help their outlook for votes.
Biden drastically hiked the 2021 deficit with his American Rescue plan, then took credit for deficit reduction when his spending spree expired on schedule. Then the president signed more legislation, leaving deficits $400 billion higher than before the pandemic.
Do you realize that if the student loan is forgiven, that student must pay taxes on the forgiven loan?
With all said and done, what about all the student loans that were paid in full by the parents or the students themselves? How fair is that?
In God and Country,
Please, Just Relax
March 24, 2023
To the Editor,
Marjorie, Marjorie, Marjorie, please calm down, there is growing concern about the word salad you posted last week. You might want to consider doing some deep breathing, or maybe have an adult beverage, and even consider smoking a joint while you watch more FOX News but, please, just relax. It is very obvious that when you start ranting about liberals and Hillary, you ultimately end up in Benghazi blaming George Soros for one thing or another, please relax. Now let’s get back to your studies.
We all had a pretty good idea that your continuing education at Sesame Street was going to be a challenge for you, but you would eventually apply yourself and be more “open minded” with your thinking. Everyone realizes how difficult and extensive your course load is. There is a question that many of us have which is, “How are you fitting in and socializing with your classmates?” The word is out that you have been spending an unusual amount of time with Oscar the Grouch; understand this might not be good for you. The last thing any of us would want would be to have you in a position of being mocked by your classmates.
The word is out that Big Bird spoke to you about applying yourself to the letters B and D rather than interjecting politics into your Sesame Street workload.
P.S.: You might want to check your spelling.