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Letters to the Editor for May 23, 2024

Fri, 05/24/2024 - 10:23

True Message
East Hampton
May 14, 2024


I thought it was appropriate that East Hampton American Legion Post 419 publish our local Memorial Day events in preparation and observance of Memorial Day, 2024. Along with members of our partner, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 550, we will be participating in activities and ceremonies which we are truly honored to carry out — and felt it was important that we both inform and invite the community to participate. 

Our team kicked off our Memorial Day observances on May 19 by placing flags for our locally interred veterans at over a dozen of our local cemeteries. Following flag placement, our local chapter of the WHISKEY BRAVO student veterans-support organization was recognized for its contribution to the national “Carrying the Load” procession at the Legion Hall.

For this weekend’s upcoming events, on Sunday morning, our members will be traveling again to these same previously mentioned cemeteries to render military honors and 21-gun salutes. On Memorial Day, next Monday, our team will start our day at Main Beach at 9 a.m. to honor those lost at sea at a multi-organizational local remembrance ceremony (with a weather-dependent flyover). Immediately following that event, our Legion and V.F.W. members will be participating in East Hampton Village’s annual Memorial Day Parade (10 a.m.) and Hook Mill Memorial Green ceremony (11 a.m.). Following the ceremony, we invite all interested to the Legion Hall for a barbecue reception. All these events will occur rain or shine.

As always, American Legion Post 419 appreciates all the local support we receive throughout the year in all of our veterans and community-support endeavors. Please, let us not forget the true message of this holiday, which is to remember the sacrifice of our nation’s fallen heroes. 



American Legion Post 419


Hardly a Bargain
East Hampton
May 18, 2024

To the Editor,

I was, I guess, spoiled. I remember Gurney’s before it was sold by the Gurneys. It was, back then, a true asset to the town, its residents, and to residents of other towns on the South Fork. Family birthday parties could be held there without breaking the bank, and a variety of residents could afford a membership for use of the gym, the spa, and the pool. Local surfers could steam in the winter.

That was before a sale and the conversion of it into a “five-star international resort” and the yearly gym-and-spa membership soared to $18,000. That the current price seems to have been dropped to $17,000 will hardly seem a bargain to those who were priced out back then.

It remains to be seen whether new civic assets [the Montauk Playhouse Aquatic Center] will be a replacement for what Gurney’s once was. I understand they will bring many similar assets to the residents of Montauk. I’m not clear yet as to whether residents of the other villages on the South Fork will be able to join. I certainly hope they will be welcome there.




May 15, 2024

To the Editor,

Congratulations to the beach advisory committee for a distinct uptick in professionalism in its presentation to the May 14 town board meeting. It is the first year that the committee in its report has not gratuitously delved into a controversial political issue which I always thought was outside its brief. Instead, we learned about lifeguards, fires, digging holes, vandalism, beach hours, boat rescues, and upcoming events, in a pleasing level of detail and competence.

I have been very critical of various aspects of Kathee Burke-Gonzalez’s first months  as supervisor, so let me pay a compliment: I really do notice and appreciate the lack of drama and hysterics we sometimes experienced under her predecessor.

I can’t, of course, close out a letter without one (mild) comment. Isn’t the advisory committee subject to the open meetings law? If so, where are its meeting notices, Zoom invitations, and minutes? Just asking.

For democracy in East Hampton,



Really Listened
East Hampton
May 17, 2024

Dear Editor,

I want to thank Eric Schantz, the town’s director of housing and community development, for recommending to the town board that they craft legislation to allow increased density for senior housing complexes.

Eric hosted a meeting with advocates of senior housing that I attended, and he really took the time to listen and understand the complex issues that seniors on fixed incomes face who want to continue living in East Hampton. Eric’s empathy extended to brainstorming with an open mind the various possible solutions to the senior housing crisis. Having Eric’s perspective and good ideas as we navigate ways to provide housing for seniors is a valuable asset. We are fortunate to have him working for our town.




Incentivized Spending
May 20, 2024

To the Editor,

After much criticism, it is encouraging that the town board has made some common-sense changes to their plans for the senior center, which could reduce its cost from almost $32 million to a now-projected $28 million. Unfortunately, the town would be better off if it finally admitted a new design is needed to make the facility more functional and also cheaper.

Hopefully, the town board has learned from its recent hearing about changing residential zoning regulations for basements that this is something that is needed, too, at the proposed senior center. Not only do basements save the builder/owner significant money, but they are also more energy-efficient.

There is absolutely no reason to allocate 5,000 square feet of expensive, above-ground space (estimated to cost $1,000 per square foot, which should also be questioned) just for storage and mechanical equipment. Several million dollars could be saved if these were located below ground and it can be done without reducing any of the overall square footage for these needs. In an earlier, approved 18,000-square-foot plan for the senior center, there was a sizable basement, but what seems to have derailed that plan was the town’s over-the-top requirements for parking at new buildings – this is something that needs to be changed, too, if new zoning regulations are finally going to be put in place.

Another area where savings could be generated is the estimated $9 million just for site preparation. To put that in perspective, that is nearly what the entire budget was supposed to be just two and half years ago. The town has never broken out these charges, but the largest is likely around $3 million just in fees to the architects. Perhaps, instead of having two different architectural firms involved, only the one from New York City should be retained. The idea of supposedly having to go as far as Chicago to find a qualified architect for this project never made any sense and would suggest that there is some level of political patronage. Could the town get away with paying one architect just $2 million, or even less? The fees, though, for this project have to have a cap and not be based on the overall cost of the project, which only incentivizes overspending.

There is likely also an over-the-top budget for landscaping, as the town insists it is necessary to almost totally clear the seven-acre-plus lot and then replant 85 new trees. Could half of the existing trees not be kept? The argument that they are too sickly doesn’t make much sense, either. I would like to think another million could be saved with less grandiose landscaping.

While much is made about the need to have a 22,000-square-foot building, is it really not possible to build a facility with just 20,000 square feet? It was supposed to be 16,000 square feet just a few years ago, and I doubt the senior center really needs 1,600 square feet for a lobby/cafe (the size of an average house), or 3,600 square feet for a dining area. If 2,000 square feet could be shaved from those planned areas, the town could save another $2 million.

Lastly, more money could be saved if the entire parcel was not used solely for the senior center. Could it not be fit on just 4 to 4.5 acres, as opposed to the 7.25 now planned? If so, the remaining land could be sold to the new community house fund. Not only would this reduce the cost of the senior center, but that land would also be a great location for new affordable senior housing that is badly needed –- there are 600 seniors alone on the 3,000-person-long affordable-housing waitlist. I think if better analysis were done, it would be clear that the majority of those who use the current senior center most likely live in the two senior affordable complexes right next door.

If the town took these basic steps in a new redesign, it should be easy to save at least another $7 to $8 million from the current cost projections. The town board must also take into account that for every dollar they save on construction, they will also save another in long-term financing costs.

After more than six months of excuses, it is finally time to act fiscally responsibly and not needlessly waste $15 million of taxpayer money. The idea that a great facility can’t be built for around $20 million is odd, given the majority of the current town board approved a $10-million budget for this project just 2.5 years ago.



The Least Impact
May 20, 2024

To the Editor,

The Tenant Advocacy Group for Senior Housing at Windmill Village I is excited by what is happening with the proposed code changes regarding housing in East Hampton. We are particularly happy about the pending code change that would increase the density for senior housing units to allow 12 units per acre. Our group has had several meetings with Eric Schantz of the Housing Office and Jeremy Samuelson from the Planning Department, as well as various members of the town board for almost a year to make them aware of the pressing need for senior housing in East Hampton. It has been 12 years since the St. Michael’s Housing development in Amagansett was built by Windmill Housing Corporation. The total number of senior apartments in East Hampton is 127, and the waiting list for senior housing is over 400 for the three senior housing developments. This density change will enable Windmill Village Housing Corporation to build additional units on each of its three properties. Our advocacy group is made up of tenants already living in senior housing and local applicants on the waiting list.

We want to see more seniors enjoy living in safe, comfortable housing at an affordable rent. The Windmill Corporation approached the town board with the idea of building additional senior apartments at Windmill I. It is already an affordable housing district with acreage available for more apartments and the infrastructure is in place. Since the town agreed building more units on the existing property was a good idea, we are surprised that the town board wants more discussion on the change, as well as a public hearing. The Suffolk County Health Department already allows 12 units per acre for senior housing and New York State wants towns and cities to work to build more affordable housing. In fact, we believe they are providing grants for this purpose. I would think the town board would readily agree that this change is a good idea. Senior housing would have the least impact on our environment, schools, etc., than any other type of housing in East Hampton.

The town board has also indicated that they would be willing to sell or gift Windmill Housing the almost-acre of land at the senior center, as well as acreage in Wainscott, for the purpose of senior housing. Our group has also been meeting with ChangeHampton and ReWild for advice on planting native plants and pollinator gardens on the Windmill I property. The town board has indicated it would like to have all new properties as well as the new senior center do the same. Hopefully, we will see some code changes regarding plantings, density, and building size.

Our group will continue to work to ensure that more senior housing will be built.



Tenant Advocacy Group for Senior Housing


Gallons of Milk
May 19, 2014

To the Editor, 

Tom Mager, the Amagansett School treasurer, put on full display his feelings with his words (“A Look at the ‘True Needs’ in Amagansett,” May 16). They certainly echo the school board’s sentiments. You showed you did target the special education community. So much for that code of conduct, dignity, privacy, and civil rights.

His work was questioned by a parent on March 26, when his actions for the budget were described as “mismanaged.” For his presentation on May 14, he himself stated the district wouldn’t be able to “replace a lawn mower, computer,” etc., if it broke. If we were on a contingency budget, you would actually be able to repair and fix those items. Quickly the talk changed, as Richard  Loeschner butted in because of more Tom Mager scare tactics.

The school’s “savings” are the 4 percent the district is allowed to allocate from real property taxes. You don’t produce, you take.

Another thing Mr. Mager just learned is that it changes when a home gets torn down: You don’t get the same amount from that property. How many years have you been here? He also showed he has no understanding of supply and demand. Speaking of milk, I do see the prices, Tom. Dairy cows are at a historic low not seen since 1951. Your “only $13 dollars a month” is two and a half gallons, Mr. White Collar. Nor is he budgeting accordingly for future events the school is legally obligated to do. Misplacing his blame for his shortcomings.

This is also to set up Richard Loeschner, who is rumored to be lobbying to be a “consultant” for our new superintendent. Way to fire teachers (to get ready to pay extra administrators), school board. You gave us a true politician. He also seems caring because he knows first names. To him, I’m “Mr. Carpenter.” Oddly enough, that’s not my name, guy who doesn’t come to work on Fridays.

To remind you, it is alleged that the school board was actively looking for a new superintendent last July, the same month Loeschner put in a letter to “retire” at Brentwood with our attorney, Sophia Terrassi, also representing that school. Two weeks after, his new oath of office. What tangled webs we weave. Would that be a violation of open meeting laws?

Mr. Mager’s quotes are inaccurate, as the classroom he singled out existed with desks last year. The “aides”? I know we have assistants. By the way, the full-time ones aren’t in that classroom. You have substitutes and leave replacements. Are you underpaying individuals all over this institution? I believe you are, as the school board is now obscuring resolutions. Cronyism in full light.

Still here,



Awfully Generous
North Haven
May 20, 2024

To the Editor:

Brian Pope’s latest letter to The East Hampton Star (April 25, page B3) is a slick piece of work but, as with his prior letter, woefully short on facts and filled with redundancy. Mr. Pope, thanks for reminding all of us that it was through the United Nations that negotiations led to the creation of the State of Israel. You might have also pointed out as well, that at the time Israel was created, the Palestinians were offered their own homeland, which they rejected, and declared war with other Arab states against Israel. They lost. But on four other occasions, Israel renewed its agreement concerning Palestinian statehood that was rejected in favor of continued hostilities and terrorism. Mr. Pope, you must be smoking that funny stuff when you try to draw a parallel between acts of terrorism on the part of Jewish pioneers and the Palestinians. Perhaps you should be reminded that during World War II, Hitler found no better ally than the grand Palestinian mufti, who was only too happy to work with Hitler to assist in the elimination of European Jews. And finally, thanks so much for concluding your letter by stating that “no one should deny that Israel has the right to exist as a nation.” That concession is awfully generous of you. And it came just at the right time — when I was beginning to get the drift that you didn’t much care for Israel or Israelis.




Educate Yourself
East Hampton
May 4, 2024

To the Editor,

I would like to thank Claire Hunter for her letter regarding the deplorable rhetoric that spews from letters written almost every week from Bea Derrico. Over the last several years I have written letters to this paper commenting on the baseless information that Ms. Derrico cites in her letters. I finally gave up. It was making me crazy.

Whether Ms. Derrico is telling our readers only one person died following the Jan. 6 insurrection, which is untrue, or she is telling the reader that Sleepy Joe was told he could not forgive student loans, which is untrue — Ms. Dericco knows this as a fact.

President Biden is not spinning anything so that illegal immigrants will vote for him. You must be a citizen of the United States to vote in a national election. Maybe you didn’t know that?

I am happy to welcome immigrants to our country. Many of them are wanting a better life for their families, and they are willing to work. Ms. Derrico should spend some time driving around the Hamptons and looking closely at all the working people who spend hours on the road, morning and night, to get here.

I have no tolerance for what Bea Derrico writes each week. Try reading a reputable newspaper, or turning your TV station to something other than Fox or Newsmax. Maybe go back to school to better educate yourself.

Hey, here’s an idea: Try saying something nice.

How in the heck can you sign your letters with “In God”? I can only imagine that God would find your hateful messages deplorable.

Again, thank you, Claire Hunter, for standing up against lies and intolerance.




The Wrong Lane
May 20, 2024

Dear David,

Joe Biden ignored the counsel of senior U.S. diplomats, including Antony Blinken, our secretary of state, who urged Biden not to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan without certain conditions in place. This information came from Zalmay Khalilzad, transcribed in a House panel interview. Biden ignored all who negotiated a deal and did what he thought, as usual, the right thing. Biden has chosen the wrong lane for his entire career.

Biden could have stopped or altered the plan to remove all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by September 2021.

The secretary and State Department wanted a conditional withdrawal approach. The ultimate decision was, as we all know, to withdraw based on a timetable.

Biden could have demanded that the Taliban and the Afghanistan government reach a separate peace agreement, however, Biden opted instead for the pullout to avoid Taliban attacks on our U.S. forces. Thirteen U.S. service members died in the exit, and the sudden lack of U.S. support certainly helped the Taliban take over. All this was due to the stupidity of Joe Biden’s doings.

In God and country,


The Inverse Bar
East Hampton
May 20, 2024


When Russia attacked Ukraine, the conflict was an unambiguous attempt on the part of Russia to take over an independent country and subjugate it to its will. Not rocket science. No prefabricated deceptions. Pure aggression.

The war was expected to be short-lived and U.S. and NATO involvement, due to treaty obligations, would be too little, too late.

Remarkably, the Ukrainians held their own and did reasonably well. The U.S. and Biden stepped up and provided arms to Ukraine and the war turned against Russia. In short, this change in the war created pressure on the pro-Russia wing of the U.S. political system, who had amassed a significant debt around the 2016 election. In an attempt to limit potential assistance to Ukraine, certain Congress members, directed by Trump, tied Ukraine aide to border legislation. A surefire way to guarantee a Russian victory.

Months later, a group of bipartisan senators actually crafted a border bill that might help to solve the problem. Fearing that losing the border as a political advantage would be detrimental to Trump’s election, the bill was tabled. The last enacted border legislation was in 1986, 38 years ago. But tabling the bill unhooked the border from the Ukraine aid package. Several months later, the Ukraine aid finally passed. On the border: silence.

Betraying Ukraine, in truth, is business as usual. Usually less blatant, less obvious. “Aggressively criminal” would not be an unfair observation. While we turned the war in Russia’s favor, it may not have been enough to bring Ukraine down.

The border is another story. In a Vox article by Nicole Narea, “America’s Misunderstood Border Crisis,” she lays out the history and current disaster of our immigration system. It’s a mess. Too many changing parts, not enough people to sustain the immigrant load, too little money, by design, to allow it to function properly. No real plan based on a clear economic and political set of ideas around the needs of the country. Fitting a square peg into a round hole that is designed not to work.

The inverse-bar method: Our methodology is to set the bar for border reform so low that virtually anything that sticks to the wall is acceptable. Like building walls, detaining children, busing migrants all over the country. Yet, the group of senators — Lankford, Sinema, and Murphy — proposed a fairly comprehensive, rational first step that would have alleviated a good amount of the pressure while they figured out the next steps. Pretty terrific, given past performances.

Which created an enormous problem for Trump and his pro-Russia gang. Killing the border reform meant detaching it from the Ukraine aid bill. Allowing aid to Ukraine pissed Putin off, but a border fix took away a major — and perhaps the only — Republican talking point for the election.

A no-brainer. Once elected, Trump will be able to screw Ukraine. Russia would have to wait a little longer. Screwing up the border situation was out of the question.

Sidebar: There is no question that the rise in migrants desiring to enter the U.S. poses a problem to our political and economic systems. Yet, while it is painful to many people who deal directly with the problem, it is significantly, almost extraordinarily, less painful than what the migrant peoples are experiencing. There is no imaginable false equivalence. The agony and terror and fear generated by the migration process is staggering. Not to us. Furthermore, we have a long history of embracing killers, rapists, and drug dealers. Where is Manny Noriega when we need him?

The inverted-bar analysis: When the involved parties have an intellectual capacity that is a step below remedial, we are forced to lower expectations. At what point do we surrender and give up the senseless pursuit of inadequacy? Trump is more incompetent, as proven during his term in office, than any previous president. He is essentially useless in running the country. Biden is dithering and painfully slow, yet more than a little competent. Democratic. We complain about the choices.

We always get what we deserve. Raising the bar isn’t that scary a proposition.



Smaller Homes
May 23, 2024

Dear David,

I am writing to support the crucial adjustment in the regulations governing the construction of houses in East Hampton proposed by the East Hampton working group on building code amendments. This adjustment would exclude basements from the calculation of gross floor area — a measure essential to controlling the size of new houses so as to preserve the unique character and environmental health of our community.

East Hampton prides itself on its picturesque landscapes, charming neighborhoods, and commitment to sustainable development. But the trend towards larger homes threatens these qualities by consuming excessive land, straining infrastructure, and exacerbating environmental impacts. By excluding basements from gross floor area calculations, we can effectively limit the scale of new homes without imposing undue restrictions on homeowners’ ability to enjoy their properties.

Moreover, this adjustment aligns with broader sustainability goals by encouraging efficient land use and reducing unnecessary resource consumption. Smaller homes consume fewer materials during construction, require less energy for heating and cooling, and have a smaller ecological footprint overall. By promoting modest and responsible development, we can ensure a more resilient and harmonious future for East Hampton.

I encourage community residents to support this proposal so we can preserve what’s left of the natural beauty and character of our town. By excluding basements from gross floor area calculations, we can strike a balance between individual property rights and the collective interest in sustainable development.



Divide and Conquer
North Haven
May 20, 2024

Dear David,

Trump remains an active, dangerous virus threatening our sanity, wellbeing, and democracy. He and his MAGA movement are, in my opinion, actually worse than was Covid-19. Nobody wanted Covid, but voters actually elected D.J.T., and threaten to do so again this November!

We know Trump and his sycophants are a coalition of the weakest and the worst, and also knew where they came from. We didn’t know anything about Covid-19 when it hit us hard.

We already knew the incompetence and serial failures of Trump before MAGA 2016, but we were blindsided with Covid-19.

Scientists developed vaccines for Covid-19, but Trump promoted dangerous misinformation and alternative treatments causing thousands of avoidable deaths.

Covid-19 may now be a background medical issue, but the aggressive MAGA movement continues unchecked, and is supported by rogue congressional leaders. Some, including the House speaker, actually left their duties in Congress last week to rally in New York. They wore the symbolic MAGA leash, a dangling red necktie, to protest the lawful trial of their Dear Leader, repeating shopworn lies, and demonstrating how bonded they are in this unified attack upon our democratic process.

Divide and conquer is an old military strategy, and works for these people. Meanwhile, advocates of democracy include Democrats and some Republicans, but they continue to be divided, scrapping with each other. The defenders of democracy must join forces with each other to be able to win the critical elections in November.

Democrats locally should not waste time, money, and effort bickering between ourselves over candidates for the House of Representatives seat CD-1. We need to immediately back one clear candidate, with full vigor, to avoid tearing each other apart for the amusement of the republicans.

Voters east of the Shinnecock Canal, versus those to the west, seem to disagree with each other significantly. One democratic primary candidate seems strong here in the east, and we should note the other made significant inroads last election into the more challenging population west of the canal. Perhaps they could work out an agreement to actually support whichever one can actually win this challenging and important seat?

This is of critical importance. We need to do what the opposition does, which is to stand together, but loudly voice the clear and honest facts, if we expect to win.



Rudderless Ship
East Hampton
May 19, 2024

Dear David,

Many of you have asked me, “How do you start planning a new senior center? How do you determine what should be included and/or omitted?” In this letter I outline the process that municipalities use throughout the nation in accordance with standards established by the National Council on Aging and its subsidiary, the National Institute on Senior Centers. They are membership organizations. East Hampton Town does not belong to either organization nor are they aware of their existence. Why? Because no one in East Hampton’s Human Resources Department is qualified as a professional in the field of aging. Without following long-established national standards, East Hampton’s proposal for a new senior center is like a rudderless ship commanded by an unqualified captain. Example: the selection of the blatantly inexperienced firm in design for older adults 2RArchitects where “Bigger Is Better” is the driving motto on its website.

The first step in exploring a project as important to a community as a new senior center is to conduct a professional feasibility study. Instead, the East Hampton Town Board jumped the gun and forged ahead with a bidding process among unqualified (in design for older adults) architects. The result: the biggest proposed senior center in the nation which is grossly inappropriate for its intended participants to navigate, function, or to feel at home using. It will drive town residents away rather than attract them.

The town chose to accept an in-house report comprised of outdated statistics and unsubstantiated anecdotes. An unidentified employee in the Burke-Gonzalez administration produced a 10-page, sophomoric paper designed to please rather than guide the town board. It reflects the 12-year unproductive and wasteful process that Kathee Burke-Gonzalez is responsible for leading. It is a roadmap to nowhere. If you want to read it, go to the town website where it is inconveniently buried. Compare East Hampton’s excuse for a comprehensive study to a typical 100-plus-page professional feasibility study.

How should a feasibility study be conducted? The first step is to hire an outside civil-engineering firm who are responsible for all research as unbiased arbiters. They perform everything from a needs assessment to design recommendations to natural resource/site inspections, factual demographics, professionally organized and administered focus groups, projected usage versus gross demographics, and much more. Their reports are unbiased and based on hard evidence. Once a qualified architectural firm with credentials in designing environments for older adults is selected, they should always prepare and present a 3-D model of their proposed building so that community members can actually see close up how it will function.

In the case of East Hampton’s current senior center, an interim center must be quickly designed to facilitate community use in a safe, clean, nontoxic environment. I recommend prefab buildings at the existing location. This discussion is for a future letter.

There is a plethora of professional feasibility studies conducted by communities throughout the United States. No one in the Burke-Gonzalez administration even bothered to research them as prototypes. My personal favorite senior centers and the most advanced are those in the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries. Those senior centers are lightyears ahead of our own in America. Why? Because those countries revere aged adults! We should look to them for state-of-the art recreational/nutrition centers inclusive of adult day care, which would help working families who are caring for an elder at home.

Most feasibility studies include over 100 to 150 pages of factual information. If you would like to see a feasibility study for a senior center, please email me and I will send you an assortment to review along with information from the National Institute on Senior centers. My email is: [email protected].

Educate yourself about the senior center development process. Stop the town from hemorrhaging more and more of our tax dollars on an ill-conceived monstrosity supported by the town board’s gross ignorance. I provided one 150-plus-page feasibility study to Councilman Tom Flight. I trust that he circulated it around the board. Now there are no excuses.

Demand that the town board work for you!


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