December 28, 2023
To the Editor,
Great article on what Mindy and Jonathan Gray are doing for Sagaponack, and Southampton, and the South Fork. Should be applauded and considered when any and all historic buildings are endangered. I was an early partner with Gil Shapiro, also a Sagaponack resident, in Urban Archeology, shortly after acquiring my home there 40 years ago. Urban Archeology, which specialized in preserving as much as possible from historic buildings, did just that for a New England post office. We preserved, acquired, and donated 100 of those great bronze boxes discussed in the article. Been getting my mail in one since.
Not long after, I acquired Uwe’s garage at the entrance to Bridgehampton, and selected James Merrell to recreate an updated version of it for Urban Archeology, now Collette Home.
Looking forward to getting my first letter as I open my bronze mailbox in the restored Sagaponack post office.
December 26, 2023
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I actually had meant to write these sentiments last year, but for various reasons, time got away from me. And it almost did so again this year.
Once again, I have been struck by how absent the holiday spirit has been in the streets and in the store windows of our East Hampton Village. Unlike neighboring Bridgehampton, Amagansett, and even tiny Water Mill, the trees on Main Street and Newtown Lane seem barely lit. The white lights on our village trees and light posts are so sterile and dull compared with the warm multicolored lights that festoon the trees along the main streets of our neighboring villages. Virtually none of the stores in East Hampton have seen fit to put even the most modest decorations up for the holidays. And even the blades of our village’s iconic windmill no longer shine merry and bright.
This was not always the case in East Hampton. In years gone by, perhaps before there were as many designer outlets lining our streets, it was the rare exception for a storefront not to display at least a large wreath, most adorned not only with lights, but also ribbons, red berries, and other festive adornments. The result was a sense of joy and festivity that neither favored (nor angered) any religion.
I am not sure what happened to all the festive warmth formerly on display. But perhaps if we plan now, The East Hampton Star could sponsor a villagewide decorating contest, judged by a jury consisting of perhaps yourself, Mr. Rattray, Mayor Larsen, and three to four other village influencers. If participation became a fun thing in which to engage and the lights on our trees, lampposts, and windmill returned to their former warm and bright color scheme, maybe there would be a better sense of joy for the holidays.
JAMES R. WELDON
December 31, 2023
To the Editor,
What a breath of fresh air to hear that Fran Levy, author of “Behind the Trade Parade,” in the “Guestwords” column (Dec. 21), volunteers as an English-as-a-second-language teacher at Ruta 27 (ruta27.org), especially after hearing that one of her acquaintances used the horrific phrase “parasite parade” to describe those who drive many miles each day to maintain homes in the Hamptons.
Height of Hypocrisy
December 29, 2023
I, too, have witnessed the bigotry described in Fran Levy’s “Guestwords” article, “Behind the Trade Parade.” That there are those who vilify the Spanish-speaking community in private, while relying on that community’s strong work ethic and skills, honesty, and good nature to support their own, personal lifestyles is the height of hypocrisy. We are all fortunate to have these good neighbors as part of our community.
December 28, 2023
To the Editor,
I’m reacting to the lovely “Guestwords” opinion piece by Fran Levy about a comment made by a fellow partygoer in East Hampton that the trade parade, in and out the Hamptons, was a parade of parasites.
I’ve been teaching English as a second language in Queens for almost 20 years. A great majority of my students are Hispanic and they’re all parents of children in New York City public schools. In addition to raising young children and studying English, almost every one of my students is working hard, part time or full time, day or night, weekdays or weekends, in the most menial jobs, cleaning homes and offices, washing dishes, caring for the elderly, etc., all the while trying to improve their economic situation. Over and over again they tell me how grateful they are to be in the United States, to be in a safe environment with opportunities for their children. They dream about buying a home and in some cases a business. The last thing they want is to be a burden to anyone.
Fran Levy is right to be offended by the remark. Behind the trade parade are fine people who will only contribute to our country.
The Drawing Board
December 30, 2023
As a longstanding member of our community, I wish to express my appreciation for the decision to construct a new senior center. However, as both an environmental advocate and a member of the East Hampton Energy and Sustainability Advisory Committee, I am compelled to voice my deep concerns regarding three critical issues associated with this project:
First, I am concerned about the excessive cost of $32 million allocated to the new senior center. What else could the money be used for? Could a more cost-effective design have allowed for energy-saving incentives to local residents? Or could funds be used to install microgrids, bolstering community resilience in the face of climate disruption? Or giving incentives to landscapers to switch to quieter, safer, nonpolluting landscaping equipment? Or habitat restoration? You get the idea.
Second, the clearance of seven acres of trees for the construction of this oversize building is heartbreaking. Given the ongoing deforestation in our region, East Hampton should aim to set an example rather than contribute to the depletion of our vital tree cover. Preserving trees is crucial for the health of our community, especially in the face of challenges such as the southern pine beetle infestation and the threats posed to our oaks by climate disruption.
Last, the proposed building is excessively large. This raises significant worries about the amount of embodied carbon emissions associated with such a massive structure. This not only contradicts the town’s Climate Emergency Declaration but also conflicts with the objectives outlined in our Climate Action Plan. It is disheartening to consider that the clean-energy components of the building might be overshadowed by its substantial carbon footprint.
The magnitude, cost, and environmental impact of this project appear disproportionate to the genuine needs and environmental aspirations of our community. I urge the decision makers to reconsider and revisit the drawing board to formulate a more fitting and environmentally friendly plan that aligns with the true essence of our community.
December 30, 2023
To the Editor,
I appreciate the extensive coverage of the proposed senior center over the past month, since more detailed costs have come out about this project. After 10 years, it would seem many missteps have been made and the town should go back to the drawing board for a variety of reasons.
The first is that some components of this project are being grossly overcharged for. The most glaring is the projected cost of solar canopies in the parking lot — $3 million for something that if put out for a competitive bid should not cost more than $1 million. Also, the $9 million projected just for site preparation is more than the entire original budget!
Second, this is not a green building. It probably needs 20 percent more electricity than if it had been designed properly, nor does it use recycled materials. It is evident from the architect’s own presentation from over a year ago that this was not the best choice from the four alternatives that were offered. In the Dec. 20, 2022, report, the section titled “Concept Evaluation Matrix” has 19 different factors, which show that the linear option of two barns side by side is the best option.
If this is going to be redesigned, as it should be, maybe just one large barnlike structure with a smaller second floor for administrative purposes could not only be more energy efficient but also significantly less costly — something like this was actually suggested in 2016.
The third and perhaps most important reason this whole concept needs to be redesigned is the affordable-housing crisis our community faces. This new senior center, no matter what shape it takes, should not require seven acres of land — four acres should be fine, and if this parcel were subdivided, then part of this valuable and scarce property (three acres) could be sold to the new Community Housing Fund.
It could then be used to create new affordable apartments specifically for seniors, something that hasn’t been done in three decades. Also, this property is directly adjacent to a town-owned park that also has four-and-a-half acres of undeveloped land. If three acres of that were also sold to the C.H.F., they would have a combined six-acre lot to develop for a much-needed senior housing complex right next to the new senior center. These two future projects could even be connected by a nature trail.
Given that the huge cost overruns of this project were just recently announced (up over threefold from the original budget), the town board should take a pause and not rush to clear this property as planned. Also, they shouldn’t try to circumvent normal zoning regulations to speed up this process after neglecting the poor condition of the current facility for a decade.
With better oversight, it should be possible to create a more user-friendly, more energy-efficient, and less costly facility that hopefully could be 25-percent to 30-percent less ($8 to $10 million) than the almost $32 million currently budgeted. One reason to show some fiscal discipline is that just the interest expense to fund this project may now be approaching $1 million annually. With a new supervisor and two new board members in a few weeks, this would be a great time to demonstrate that concerned citizens’ voices will be heard and taxpayer money won’t needlessly be wasted.
The Kathee I Know
December 31, 2023
I am writing in response to a letter in last week’s Star critical of new town supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez. I will ignore the many contradictions in the letter and get to the point of this response.
Over my 40-plus years of government service I have worked for congressmen in Washington as well as five town supervisors in Suffolk County and numerous town board members — including Kathee (I was a town board member myself in East Hampton for four years). I can say that Kathee is one of the most engaged public servants I have ever worked with or for in those decades of public employment. The Kathee Burke-Gonzalez portrayed in the letter (“Inappropriate Design”) is not the one who has spent the last 10 years working diligently and passionately for the Town and people of East Hampton.
With respect to her role as town board liaison for the Department of Human Services, Kathee has been an advocate and strong voice for the delivery of quality services to seniors and all those who benefit from the Town’s Human Services programs.
As town budget officer and finance director for most of her tenure as a town board member, I can say Kathee fought for Human Services funding year in and year out and formed an effective working relationship with the director of the department. I personally received many a phone call from Kathee over the years with funding requests and ideas on how best to deliver Human Services programs — this included funding for the senior nutrition, senior transportation, and in-home-care programs, as well as capital projects and financial support for many local nonprofit agencies.
During a 10-year roller-coaster ride trying to get a new senior center built, Kathee was the constant that pushed forward despite objections by someone to almost every proposal brought to the public. When several other town proposals fell by the wayside over the years, the senior center survived. Is the location perfect? There is probably no perfect location. Is $32 million too much to spend? We have private single-family homes that sell or are built on the East End for almost twice that amount (without all the expensive requirements for the construction of public facilities). Should the current price tag be a surprise after what in my opinion has been a 10-year battle during which property and building costs have skyrocketed? I think not.
And, oh, yeah . . . with respect to design . . . maybe a building that is fresh, modern, and with great spaces that people want to spend time in just might be attractive to many like myself (67 years old). Have you been to a casino lately? Seventy percent of the people there are probably over 60. Maybe casino architects are just what we needed to design something that will attract 60-year-old-plus residents who don’t want to be locked in a closet.
A Hundred Acres
December 29, 2023
I recently read with interest your front-page article concerning the gun club in Wainscott and the renewal of its lease with East Hampton. On what basis can the town board refuse to accept the exercised option of the gun club to renew its lease? My limited understanding is that if the Town of East Hampton has a better use for the 97-acre tract of land, it is not required to negotiate with the gun club to renew its lease.
Undeveloped land, as we all know, is difficult to come by in East Hampton. We are talking about almost 100 acres in the vicinity of residential neighborhoods. There is such a dire need for moderate-income housing for the local work force in our community. The continued operation of the gun club will not only be a potential danger to the homeowners who live nearby but the noise from the gunfire alone is a constant irritant. I know the local police departments have enjoyed using the shooting range for practice in the past. However, the police realistically only need a pistol range, which can be located somewhere indoors. A new location can certainly be found for outdoor rifle certification. I would urge the town board to make better use of that large tract of land, preferably for moderate-income housing development.
December 29, 2023
To the Editor:
Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1999. But unfortunately the cassette tape with Prince singing is broken. Actually, it’s just day 1,999 that Bay View Avenue still has an obstruction. Happy New Year.
January 1, 2024
To the Editor,
I write regarding Congressman Nick LaLota’s interview in The East Hampton Star (Dec. 23). I certainly value our Naval Academy and the congressman’s service to our country. He states that this is the perspective that guides him.
I wonder, then, if he ever provided such a lame, blame-shifting excuse to another naval officer as he did in the following: “The eight Republicans and 200-plus Democrats who . . . put the House in paralysis for three weeks are to blame and ought to be held accountable.”
Were Dems dysfunctional for voting for another Dem? Was it their responsibility to elect a Republican leader?
Dems make enough mistakes to criticize without making stuff up.
Congressman, please stay true to your training and talk to us straight. Then, you can’t go wrong.
Lame and Impotent
December 30, 2023
When Trump beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, people wondered how a bumbling, incompetent buffoon could beat a smart, competent female opponent. The ridiculous outcome was substantially reinforced by the near-total failure of Trump’s presidency, due primarily to his lack of understanding of and interest in governing. Yet, we are incapable of coming to terms with the underlying causes of Clinton’s defeat. Essentially, because Trump is so totally sexually flawed that he represents that quality of sexual dysfunction that is highly prevalent in the United States male population.
Trump’s racism, antisemitism, and general disregard for most human values were not the hook to 70 million voters. His bullying, meanspirited character didn’t titillate the masses. His political views were little more than hot air. Yet, he won.
What pulled men and women to Trump was his sexuality. For men, the indignity of underperformance with inadequate equipment was, before Trump, something shameful and debilitating. Knowing that you were sexually dysfunctional by most standards left an enormous chasm in the male ego and self-esteem. The feeling that everyone knew it was devastating. The blame naturally fell on women.
For women, knowing that you were an object of flesh to be fondled and discarded, and that your pathetic partner was no worse than the president of the U.S., provided a sense of relief from an endless discomfort that poisoned your relationships.
Trump’s moment of truth was when he let the public in on his sexual persona. He never really liked women but he was programmed to pursue them. Which he did with a perverse vigor. His relationships were store-bought. Buying and disposing of wives who found him repulsive but liked the notoriety. Bribing and buying sexual favors was more his norm than not. See the Steele report for a bit of kinkiness.
Trump, instead of being embarrassed by his sexual dysfunction, flaunted it. His response to Me Too was to lawyer up.
While he lied about almost everything he was honest about his sexuality.
The rise of Nikki Haley in the polls has brought out the true nature of Trump’s allies. Haley is now getting blasted on many fronts by conservative white men for being a woman. As she moves from a disregarded annoyance to a credible opponent, all the misogyny and women-hating vitriol comes pouring out of the Republican Party. Haley is no better than Clinton (the crooked one).
Yet, Haley has seen it before. She observed the debasement of Clinton. She is way more prepared than Hillary. She has an arsenal to use if she dares. Little men, cowed by their impotence, embarrassed by their inability to perform like real men. Men who are never comfortable in the presence of women but thrive in a group of “pussy-grabbers.” Disrobe these sexual plebeians, Nikki, and let the world know that they are lame and impotent. And she isn’t.
So, if Haley steps up, American manhood will take a hit. But the country will survive the indignity of its impotence. Maybe not this generation but most definitely their kids. We pray Nikki will step up and do the right thing. Save our Constitution. Save our Democracy. Save American manhood from itself and, hopefully, this problem will peter out in the near future.