Letters to the Editor - 06.16.11

Mess Remains
    East Hampton
    June 10, 2011
To the Editor,
    Shame on East Hampton for allowing its beaches to deteriorate.
    I went to the beach on Memorial Day weekend at Beach Lane in Wainscott. Walking barefoot on the sand is a thing of the past. Litter was everywhere. I counted the remnants of 15 fires — burnt wood, charcoal, cigarette butts, clamshells, chicken bones, corncobs, and broken glass. Broken wood was scattered all around; some of the wood was “hidden” under a thin layer of sand. Big, huge burnt logs remained on the surface. The litter is dangerous as well as ugly.
    One week later, the mess remains. Now I noticed and counted five Christmas trees that were tossed near the fence. The fence protecting the dunes was broken for use as firewood. The slats were tossed all over the beach, most burnt.
    The dog issue on the beach is unclear. The sign says no dogs allowed between certain hours. Yet dogs roam the beach at all hours; dog poop is everywhere.
    If people do not clean up — and they obviously do not — then ban fires from the beaches, especially populated swimming beaches. Enforce the dog laws and the leash laws. Every year the problem gets worse. Wise up, Town of East Hampton, before it is too late. Keep our beaches safe and clean.

Swim Carefully
    East Hampton
    June 9, 2011
To the Editor.
    Swimming season is upon us, and the practice of swimming with fish on the beach continues. If you go to the beach, you’ll be swimming in fishy urine — with your mouth open.
    In a couple of weeks, school will be out and children will be swimming in urine. We’ve learned to swim carefully to avoid big piles of poop, but by now all of the ocean has been tainted.
    People who swim in pooped-in water and track urine-soaked feet into their cars and plant fecal-fouled fannies in them will wonder why the car takes on a funky smell each summer. If they’ve had a particularly active day at the beach, they’ll go home to find salt in their hair and have to wonder: Is it salt or the dried, crusty remains of un-policed fish poop from a season ago?
    We can all do our part to battle this horrible problem. For instance, I have recently patented specially designed waterproof fish diapers, because no matter how many times I chase down and call the police on these finned violators, nothing ever seems to be done about it.
    Some people have even had the gall to tell me that this disgusting activity is “natural.” Similar prototypes are also under way for sea gulls, plovers, deer, squirrels, pigeons, rabbits, and about 12,657 other careless animals who have no respect for the obviously more important human being.
    Bottom line, Matt Norklun is indeed right: East Hampton Town needs to do whatever it takes to stop all of this animal poop-instigated insanity before our world all goes to . . . well, you know.

Complain They Do
    East Quogue
    June 12, 2011
Dear David,
    Presummer doldrums are harsh this June. Only a few days of waist-to-chest-high waves so far, and those few days weren’t even that great. Even the longboarders are getting antsy.
    I’ve been hearing complaints about stand-up paddleboarders from longboarders, but that just seems way too ironic for me. I mean, longboarders have been annoying shortboarders for de­cades now! Seems only fair and just that a bigger, longer, fatter, wider chunk of foam would come along and up the small-wave ante.
    But complain they do. Shortboarders complain about longboarders. Longboarders complain about paddleboarders. People used to complain about boogie boarders, but there are hardly any left. In the end, it’s just a whole lot of whining.
    The fact is the waterways are overcrowded, at Ditch Plain especially. So if you are having issues at Ditch, then forget it, because that place has been overcrowded for a very long time now. Find someplace else and enjoy the hunt looking for uncrowded surf.
    As for me, I’ve finally caved in and started hitting the bay on my 11-foot Laird Hamilton stand-up paddleboard. I go whenever I get up early enough to catch the sunrise. Early, the winds are light and the birds are still all over the place just happy to be around and eating and lolling in the waters and unafraid due to lack of passing boats or other people or windiness.
    I still don’t really understand all the grumpiness surrounding the different watercraft. I mean, in Hawaii everyone and their mother is out there on paddleboards, logz, shortboards, sponges, whatever, and no one really cares unless you get in the way or cause a danger. Here in New York, where almost everyone is a bona fide kook, everyone is grumpy. But as soon as the waves are head-high-plus, there’s almost no one out! Huh?
    Bah! N.Y. surfing? Whatever. At least it’s fun and uncrowded nine months out of the year. So what if all the aspirant Hamptonites are out in full force, do any of them really surf? Do any of them even really matter at all whatsoever in terms of your personal favorite local surfing spot? Is it not a fact that 90 percent of all the N.Y.-area wankers converge on Ditch Plain, which is the most gutlessly lame and slow wave in all of the Hamptons? Yes, by God, that’s the way it is. So quit yer bitchin’ and go find your own little hideaway spot.
    Best of luck,

Our Own Backyard
    East Hampton
    June 13, 2011
Dear David,
    Sometimes you have a day that makes you darn happy to live in this town. I had one of those last week when I took a sightseeing tour and interview excursion right here in our neck of the woods.
    I started in Amagansett at the Community Boat Shop on Bluff Road. If you haven’t been there, what are you waiting for? Go down and have a gawk. They build boats there, really. It’s fascinating. Take the kiddies; there is an outdoor area at the Marine Museum nearby, made just for little eyes. They can learn about their town or the one they are visiting. It will make a good school report come September!
    I went down the road apiece to Atlantic Avenue Beach to see the old Life Saving Station. Did you know there is a community effort to save the building and restore it to its former Life Saving historic look? Yes, the local people are raising money, and that brings me to my next visit.
    Home, Sweet Home Museum, located on James Lane in the village. Hugh King, the town crier, is your guide. He will tell you the history, and you will love hearing his knowledgeable talk. Stop in to the old Mulford house nearby and have a chat with the gal dressed in Colonial clothes. She’s real. She’s there when the museum is open, and you can have a trip to the past. Take the kids this summer. They will love it.
    I had the icing on the cake this past Saturday at the Mulford Barn right there on James Lane. The “Nazi Invasion Of the Hamptons,” a screenplay by Peter Koper of Springs, was put on in a staged reading. Eleven actors read the screenplay, and I felt like I was there, in the summer of 1942, when the saboteurs landed near the Atlantic Avenue Beach. They made it that real.
    Kent Miller of the boat shop I mentioned was there with large photos of the old station, so one could just imagine the young coast guardsman running back from the beach to tell his superior the Nazis were coming!
    The night of the reading was a miserable, rainy one, but inside that barn in the village, we were sheltered and warmed with good wine, courtesy of Michael Cinque and Amagansett Wine and Spirits. Ditto shrimp from Charlotte Sasso of Stuart’s, and cheese and crudités from the Amagansett Farmers Market.
    I am very lucky to call East Hampton home. Go have a sightseeing-playing tourist day next time you have a day off (I know, rare for all of us in our busy season!) There are so many beautiful places right here in our own backyard. I intend to remember to visit each one and be grateful I live here.
    Thank you to Richard Barons of the East Hampton Historical Society for the background of the Mulford Barn. Evan Thomas, a local actor and woodworker, did a great reading in all his parts Saturday. It was a most enjoyable night. Thank you all.

Springs School
    June 9, 2011
Dear David,
    During the excitement of the Springs School budget and board voting we became very aware of the academic programs and policies of the school. Now that the voting is over, I think that we in the community might want to appreciate some of the other aspects of the school.
    I, for one, like that the Springs School is always working to improve the children’s educational experiences beyond the classroom. The building of a school spirit through athletic and other means (congratulations to Andrew Wilson and Tyler Chittavong on winning the school’s “Springs Idol” competition), the benefit to the children of seeing a very active PTA working to enrich their lives, the greenhouse, and garden are just a few examples.
    Additionally, I like that our local school strives to serve the whole child. There is the alliance with Project MOST and the school breakfast and lunch program despite no school cafeteria, as some examples.
    These musings were sparked by this morning’s casual interaction with three Springs School students. I walked over to Barnes Country Market later than usual. Some of the customers were Springs School students. One thanked me for holding the door for her and waited for me to pass ahead of her once in the store. Another was coming into the store as I was leaving and held it open long enough for me to take it. But that was not to be for a third student hurried on his way in to hold the door as I walked out.
    Small things. Big difference from being practically run over by so many youngsters that age in some other areas of the country. We should all be proud to be part of a community whose school develops such thoughtful youngsters.
    Yours truly,

Springs Bees
    June 13, 2011
Dear Editor,
    We would like to take this opportunity and thank Shannon Anderson for the wonderful pitching clinic she did with our 9 and 10-year-olds’ softball team, the Springs Bees. She came to our end-of-season picnic showing the girls the correct way to pitch and introduced them to the “windmill” style of pitching. She was very patient and gave the girls some great insight on what needs to be done to be a good pitcher. We hope a few of our girls really listened and will practice so next year they can show their stuff. We had a great season, the girls just got better and better and ended our season with an impressive 7-4-1 record. We are so proud of them.
    Thank you, Bees, and all the helpful Bees parents!

Free Books
    June 8, 2011
Dear Editor,
    “Free books? Really? We get to keep ’em?” the students asked, incredulous. What a joy it was to answer, “Yes! Free books! You get to keep them. Forever!”
    Due to the generosity of the Greater East Hampton Education Foundation’s Author in Hand program, each student at Montauk School had the pleasure of selecting a free book from a book fair in our school library media center.
    As stated on its Web site, “The Greater East Hampton Education Foundation seeks to enrich the academic lives of students in the East Hampton Town public schools by supporting superior educational programs. Through its work, the GEHEF helps students broaden their educational experience, widen their perspective on the world, and deepen their connection to the community.” Literacy and a love of reading is a fundamental objective of the foundation.
    Numerous businesses, organizations, and individuals provide financial support to the Greater East Hampton Education Foundation to make the Author in Hand program and other initiatives possible. Students from every school district in the Town of East Hampton benefit from its generosity.
    On behalf of the Montauk School, I would like to express our deep gratitude to the foundation and its supporters for this truly wonderful gift. Thank you also to Susan Nicoletti, the Author in Hand program chairwoman, for her tireless efforts to put a free book into the hands of each and every student in our town.
    It is my hope that the students will use the free books made possible by the foundation to kick off a summer vacation filled with reading for pleasure. I encourage all families to continue the summer reading habit by visiting their local libraries and bookshops. Happy reading!
    Montauk School Librarian

Leveling the Field
    June 10, 2011
Dear David,
    In your editorial titled “Too restrictive for small timers” (June 9), you miss the point of the law. This proposal is about leveling the field for all contractors and was proposed by a group of local contractors both large and small.
    I’m going to give you a simple example. My company employs between three and four people. I have a town home improvement license. To get that license I must carry liability insurance and compensation insurance. All employees are on the books (payroll tax, unemployment insurance, Metropolitan Transportation Authority tax, etc.).
    In order to make ends meet and have some money left for my family I need to charge $50 per man-hour, on average. On the other hand, a black-market contractor working for cash can charge $25 to $30 per man-hour (40 percent less) and make more money than I.
    We should not be punishing the by-the-book guys to subsidize the black-market guys. By subsidizing the black-market guys, honest contractors look like thieves when estimates are compared. I’d like to see you do an article about this after interviewing both honest small-time contractors and black-market guys. I believe after investigation your opinion will change.
    Thank you,

Vistas Program
    East Hampton
    June 13, 2011
Dear David,
    I thought I should put my own spin on East Hampton Town’s vistas program, now merely in its infancy, looking for a path to travel down.
    James McMillan in a letter to The Star last week suggests that by implementing such a program much of East Hampton’s rural landscape would be sacrificed. In fact, just the opposite is true. Rural and historic East Hampton Town had views across fields, meadows, wetlands, and other open spaces that stretched for miles. Rural and historic East Hampton didn’t have a zillion invasive plants from Eurasia and tropical America that do spectacularly well on our scenic byways and coastal strands to the detriment of the native vegetation.
    Rural and historic East Hampton didn’t have phragmites, Asiatic bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, mugwort, garlic mustard, trees-of-heaven, Tartarian honeysuckle, Japanese black pines, multiflora rose, autumn olive, Russian olive, and a host of other alien species that have prospered mightily here and subdued much of the native landscapes that were prevalent in the early 1900s right up to the 1950s.
    Take Bluff Road in Amagansett for example: As late as 1950 one could ride along it, walk along it, or bicycle along it from Indian Wells Plains Highway to Atlantic Avenue and see the ocean clearly beyond the dunes.
    Take Accabonac Harbor’s tidal marshes: They used to provide grazing land for cattle and other livestock into the 20th century. The salt marsh hay was gathered for over-wintering livestock. The seascape could be clearly viewed without having to climb a tall ladder from any number of spots around the harbor. Phragmites and a plethora of invasive plants have taken over much of it. The high marsh has suffered, the meadowlands behind it have suffered.
    Rural and historic East Hampton didn’t have to chop down foreign trees and hack down bittersweet and knotweed to see over the marsh to the water. If all of these foreign plants were to miraculously disappear, then the rural and historic landscapes would re-emerge and there would be no need to cut away.
    The vistas plan, as I envision it, is the selective removal of invasive species presently strangling the native ones. Yes, at the same time it would provide views of this and that viewscape now almost completely inaccessible to the human eye, but it would be preserving the rural and historic past — that portion of Bluff Road which would be so treated is part of a historic overlay district as well as much of the land adjacent to Accabonac Harbor in Springs — not destroying rural and historic values but nurturing and furthering them.
    East Hampton Town
    Director of Natural Resources and
    Environmental Protection