Letters to the Editor: 05.03.12

Readers' comments

Amazing Tribute
    East Hampton
    April 23, 2012
Dear David,
    I am writing on behalf of my family to express our gratitude for the amazing tribute given to my father-in-law, Tony Cangiolosi, at his wake and funeral.
    The support of family and friends who showed up at the wake was tremendous. Tears welled in our eyes as we watched the virtually endless stream of firefighters march in pairs and salute Tony at his wake. It was a huge outpouring of support from our local firefighters.
    Thanks to the East Hampton Police Department for blocking the roads on Friday as our funeral procession made its way from the funeral home to the cemetery. Special gratitude to the East Hampton Fire Department and Fire Police Company Number 6 for escorting us and being present during both wakes. As we turned the corner from North Main onto Cedar Street we gasped as we saw the massive flag hung between two ladder trucks outside of the fire department. The firefighters were standing in salute as we passed under the flag.
    We would also like to thank the V.F.W. Everit Albert Herter Post, the U.S. Navy, Mark Sucsy and his circling doves, and the bagpipers who played so beautifully.
    No one will ever be able to understand the truth that East Hampton is a great community full of amazing and wonderful people. Again, thanks so much for providing support, food, and this tribute to Tony Cangiolosi during this tough time.

Thanks Again, Mickey!
    April 27, 2012
Dear Editor,
    Many thanks to Mickey’s Carting for once again supplying a free trash container for the Concerned Citizens of Montauk’s annual Earth Day Spring Cleaning effort. Every year, come rain or shine, Mickey and crew demonstrate how much they care about keeping Montauk clean and beautiful.
    On behalf of C.C.O.M. and the hardy individuals and families who came out in the wet weather to remove trash from our public beaches and land — thanks again, Mickey! We — and Montauk — really appreciate it.
    Concerned Citizens of Montauk

Join Us
    East Hampton
    April 24, 2012
To the Editor,
    Sincere thanks to Bridget LeRoy and The Star for last week’s excellent article on buildOn, its contributions to educating children and youth, and the excitement of bringing buildOn’s programs to East Hampton.
    Please allow me to clarify a couple of points mentioned in the article. The credit for buildOn’s success goes to Jim Ziolkowski and Marc Friedman, the organization’s chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively. Jim is the former employee of General Electric who persuaded the company to support the organization.
    All of us at Paddlers for Humanity are pleased we are able to jump-start the buildOn program with our donation. Ed Cashin, Scott Bradley, Lars Svanberg, Christine Moynihan, Dan Farnham, and I thank every Paddlers for Humanity participant and donor who makes our giving possible.
    It is important to mention the East Hampton School District’s Charlie Soriano, Adam Fine, Rich Burns, and the East Hampton School Board and thank them for their enthusiasm and support.
    All community members are welcome to join us in establishing this worthwhile program. Feel free to contact us at paddle@p4h.org.
    Paddlers for Humanity

Memorial Day
    April 23, 2012
Dear Editor,
    In the Montauk section of The East Hampton Star, dated April 19, Ken Walles of the Montauk Memorial Committee (a k a Montauk Veterans Association) issued a call for volunteers, veterans, and sponsors to take part in a weekend of remembrance to mark Memorial Day.
    The information I received was that the town board granted two permits for that weekend: One to the Montauk Artists Association and the other to Thomas Bogdan of the Montauk Veterans’ Association.
    The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 550 and the American Legion Post 419 are observing this very solemn time by going to all the cemeteries in town, including Montauk. In Montauk all the graves of deceased veterans will have flags placed on them and a ceremony held with rifle fire over the graves on Sunday, May 27. They expect to arrive at Fort Hill Cemetery in Montauk at approximately 10:30 a.m.
    On Monday, May 28, Memorial Day, these same organizations will be at Main Beach, in East Hampton, to honor those buried at sea at 9 a.m. Their parade will start at Guild Hall at 10:30 a.m. and end at the Village Memorial for the traditional Memorial Day ceremony, which has been done as long as I can remember.
    I knew there are many veterans in Montauk on the rolls of the V.F.W. Post and the American Legion. If they feel they should observe this solemn occasion in Montauk rather than with their comrades from Amagansett, Springs, East Hampton, and Wainscott, they have a right to their choice.

Special Venue
    East Hampton
    April 28, 2012
To the Editor,
    Saturday evening, Guild Hall presented a wonderful film, “Immortal Be­loved,” with Gary Oldman. Riveting! The chat after the film with Alec Baldwin hosting was very entertaining and informative. We are lucky to be able to enjoy such a special venue in East Hampton. Thank you to all for a most memorable evening.
    For those who felt compelled to leave before the end of the presentation, I suggest in the future to take a nap in the afternoon so you can stay in the theater till the end.
    Most sincerely,

Club’s Plan
    East Hampton
    April 23, 2012
Dear David,
    Thank you for the front-page article (April 19) introducing the Maidstone Club’s plan to irrigate its two golf courses. Including a scenic photo of Hook Pond highlights just how much a part of the golf course the pond is.
    Also a centerpiece for East Hampton Village natural resources, Hook Pond supports a community of native plants and wildlife contributing to a beautiful wetlands environment for all village residents and visitors to celebrate. The Star’s article on this proposed irrigation project concerns me because of the potential long-term environmental impact the expanded watering system could have on an ecosystem so vital to the village character.
    Like all East Hampton residents, I am a stakeholder in the village’s public natural resources. Thinking about the future, what is “small” today may have a more dramatic impact on Long Island’s aquifers in the future. This cannot be discounted as municipalities strive to better understand more challenged water supply scenarios.
    Linda Riley’s question on additional nitrogen-loading fertilizer flowing or leaching into the pond (or deeper) addresses my concern about the wetlands, and ultimately in the future possibly even of our drinking water. The pond’s water level and water quality determine the long-term health of the native plant vegetation necessary to maintain a vigorous and enduring wetland ecosystem, as well as encouraging a safe haven for the wildlife privileged to call this pond home.
    The East Hampton community needs to understand how the Maidstone Club, as owner of the largest section of the pond’s shoreline, and now, with the irrigation project’s additional use of 16 million gallons per year of water (above its current use of 9 million gallons per year), plans to monitor this project’s impact on the Hook Pond ecosystem now and in the future.
    The zoning board of appeals will continue its hearing on the Maidstone Club application for a special permit, freshwater wetlands permit, area variances, and site plan approval on Friday, May 11. I hope that many members of the East Hampton community will be able to join this meeting to speak of support for the preservation of our Hook Pond, the New York State designated wetlands, our wildlife, and the long-term well-being of our local environment.

Downward Spiral
    April 26, 2012
To the Editor,
    If you are going to use chemical fertilizers on your lawn or garden, first check out the new legislation regarding phosphorus in fertilizer. We have a new law in New York intended to reduce phosphorus input in our waters, and retailers are required to post signs to inform the public.
    Freshwater lakes and drinking water are negatively affected by excess phosphorus, so this new law is a very good thing. Next, you should check the weather. If there is heavy rain in the forecast, don’t fertilize. Stormwater runoff can wash the chemicals right off your property and into our coastal waters. Fertilizers do need a good watering after application, but it is best if you control the amount of watering in order to avoid harmful runoff.
    The new law mentioned above limits phosphorus, but does nothing to lessen the amount of nitrogen in fertilizers. The discharge of high levels of nitrogen into our environment is creating many problems. Synthetic nitrogen has been commercially available since 1913. In 100 years, we have increased the worldwide generation of synthetic nitrogen to about 210 million metric tons per year.
    One problem created by excess nitrogen in coastal waters is hypoxia (low levels of oxygen) or anoxia (no oxygen in the water). These areas are often referred to as dead zones. There are over 400 dead zones in coastal areas throughout the world. Fresh water is suffering from dead zones as well, but the culprit is predominately excess phosphorus. Almost half of the lakes in America have low levels of dissolved oxygen and over half of the lakes in Asia and Europe are suffering as well.
    So how do nutrients like nitrogen cause dead zones? Microalgae are tiny plants that live in water. Nitrogen fuels plant growth. With nitrogen, microalgae bloom and increase faster than they can be controlled through predation or natural mortality. The mass of cells eventually dies and settles to the bottom. Oxygen depletion occurs as the algae are decomposed by natural processes. The oxygen levels continue to decrease as the dying bloom decomposes, and hypoxic or anoxic conditions are created. Many organisms that cannot escape oxygen depleted waters die. In addition to algae blooms causing dead zones, we also have algae blooms that create biotoxins.
    A marine dinoflagellate in the genus Alexandrium that produces a neurotoxin, which can kill people, has been detected in the western Shinnecock Bay for the second year in a row. It was found in Mattituck Creek this year as well. This tiny critter causes paralytic shellfish poison and has closed shellfisheries. The toxins accumulate in filter feeding shellfish and can move through the food web and affect zooplankton, fish larvae, adult fish, birds, marine mammals, and even humans.
    Alexandrium was first identified in Shinnecock Bay three years ago. This is the second shellfish closure in Shinnecock Bay due to a marine biotoxin. This is a direct threat to public health. This alga is unlike the brown tide that has caused problems since the mid-1980s.
    Brown tide does not physically harm humans, even though it has wrought havoc on the economy and entire ecosystems. The red tide bloom is caused by nitrogen leaching into the coastal waters from groundwater that is contaminated with septic waste. Septic waste contains high levels of nitrogen, and it is harming our coastal waters. This is a very local example of the downward spiral our coastal ecosystems are taking.
    It is interesting to note that nitrogen is a requirement for life. Nitrogen is essential for every living thing. It is the most abundant element in the atmosphere and constitutes almost 80 percent of the air we breathe. It is in our DNA and by weight, 3 percent of our body is nitrogen. It is in every living thing — yet the growing global use of nitrogen is damaging the environment and threatening human health. It is a major cause of dead zones and is a killer.
    We have a brand-new dead zone in western Shinnecock Bay in the Town of Southampton. The cause? Again, nitrogen-loaded groundwater seeping into our coastal waters is the culprit. Not good news. We have enough problems facing our waters today. If you plan to add chemical fertilizer to your lawn and garden, please wait for a forecast of sunny weather. Better yet, don’t use it at all.

Prohibiting Lawns
    April 30, 2012
To the Editor:
    I have several observations and questions generated by T.E. McMorrow’s report in the April 19 Star, headed “Napeague Homeowners Seek a Lawn.”
    First, as a 40-year resident of Beachhampton, I never cease to wonder why some people so utterly disdain the natural, unique, and irreplaceable dune landscape with lawns, the former presumably being part of what attracted them to the area in the first place. If a manicured lawn is what they are after, which is of course their privilege, it should be located outside the dunes. This is, among other things, a matter of respect, and I certainly agree with George Stankevich’s comment that “this is an area of extraordinary beauty and fragility. We are concerned about anything that may imperil these qualities in the future,” and with the Town Planning Department’s position in opposition to the application.
    Second, the suggestion by the owners’ representative Bill Hajek that the owner would accept a restriction on the type of fertilizer that would be used on the lawn completely misses the point and is hardly a meaningful concession.
    Third, I would like to see the zoning board of appeals demonstrate some consistency in prohibiting lawns in dunes; in fact, given a choice, I would prohibit new lawns in dunes entirely, such that every future Building Department permit and Z.B.A. determination responsive to a dune-area application would incorporate such a prohibition.
    Finally, I am puzzled by the following comment of Don Cirillo, a Z.B.A. member: “You’re ‘only’ asking for a natural resources permit, so I think you should be allowed to do what you ‘have’ to do.” What is more of a natural resource than the natural state of the landscape?
    If the Z.B.A. feels that it is beyond its power to enforce keeping the landscape in its natural state, then its powers need to be broadened or, alternatively, the planning board’s powers should be legislated to be more than advisory.

Important Decisions
    East Hampton
    April 28, 2012
Dear David:
    The recent forum regarding the scavenger waste plant was informative and, as you pointed out in your editorial last Thursday, raised serious questions about waste management.
    Thank goodness Bill Wilkinson and Theresa Quigley were blocked by the other board members from moving forward on their plans to sell the plant for $300,000. Given the vulnerability of the aquifer, our only source of drinking water, it would be beyond irresponsible to risk the health of our community by selling the plant to a firm whose main goal is profit-making. The current contamination occurred under the watch of a private company with little oversight by the town, and here we are with a major problem.
    The forum highlighted the need to address the many complicated problems and issues related to waste management both in the short and long term. The panelists advised the town to commence environmental testing to determine if the past operation left any long-term problems and if continued operation is environmentally feasible. They all advised thorough environmental testing in the future.
    Even more important is the fact that East Hampton must make some important decisions. There are basically three options: close the plant, make it a transfer station where waste is moved elsewhere, process the waste on-site, which could be done by town employees, or sold or leased to outsiders.
    Among the members of the audience who attended the forum were people who have both environmental and financial expertise and whose talents should be utilized by the town. Kevin McAllister, the Peconic baykeeper, pointed out the fact that rising sea levels increase the risk of well-water contamination by wastewater where septic systems are close to the water table. Zachary Cohen provided a handout listing the pros and cons of each option noted above including an in-depth financial comparison. This type of analysis could go a long way in the development of both long and short-term management plans.
    The experts at the forum recommended comprehensive groundwater monitoring on an ongoing basis. One can only hope that Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Quigley will abandon their position that no further study is required and that privatizing the plant is the answer. Privatization has not given us a better product or outcome and this might be the perfect time for the town to take over the plant and commit to doing it right.

Attempt to Legalize
    April 30, 2012
Dear David,
    Theresa Quigley’s and the Republican majority’s proposed “entertainment” law is nothing less than an attempt to legalize the very activities that have demonized Montauk. For two years now, citizens have complained that unmitigated overcrowding at the Surf Lodge and at Ruschmeyer’s has led to excessive noise, illegal parking, dangerous street conditions, and public drunkenness. The Republican town board has responded by crafting a law that will allow up to one person for every seven square feet of any outdoor space that forms a legal part of these business operations. Thus, a 20-by-50-foot deck could legally hold 142 people.
    There are two stated purposes of the law. The first is “protection of neighborhoods.” But there is nothing in the law that will require extra parking for all the newly legal customers. The second stated purpose is “safety and health . . . to prevent environmental pollution and degradation of whatever kind.” But there is no requirement to upgrade the septic systems of the already overcrowded bars that will have new, larger standards of occupancy.
    It is no wonder that the Ronjo owners are trying so hard to have unfettered ownership of the town-owned alley, and are trying to install a bar and kitchen without proper review. The alley alone will legally accommodate 596 drinking clients, and that’s a lot of dollars. In the meantime, I am scratching my head trying to figure out how there is anything in this proposed law that protects neighborhoods from noise and overcrowding, and attends to the protection of the environment. Instead, this law panders to business owners who have scoffed at the town’s code enforcements efforts for the last two years.
    Please speak out against this law at tonight’s public hearing and in writing to your town board members. Montauk deserves a thriving business community, but its residents, and its environmental fragility, must be protected. This law will do nothing but make conditions much, much worse.

Surf Lodge
    April 30, 2012
Dear David,
     A question for everyone in East Hampton Town who has ever received a ticket or a summons: How come the Surf Lodge, with almost 700 outstanding violations of town law since last summer, is still going on its merry way, busily preparing to enlarge its premises for the new season?
    Where would you be if you ignored your parking or speeding ticket or built a shed without a permit, or held a birthday party for 200 without applying for a mass gathering, okay? How long could you continue to stall, to poke your finger in the eye of town laws without having to pay?
    And would you be employing, not one, but two legal firms to further delay the payment of the accumulation of violations while, at the same time, challenging the decisions of the building inspector and pushing the planning board and zoning board of appeals to smile on your new plans to further enlarge an offending business?
    Do you still believe in fair play and equal justice for all?

A Misuse
    April 30, 2012
Dear David,
    The issue of appraising the Ronjo alley has put the cart before the horse. It is a misuse of town money to appraise the property unless the town has answered several important questions: Will the alley merge the two existing lots into one lot for Planning and Building Department purposes; will the fire department have free access over some or all the alley; will the public have easements to traverse the entire alley?
    Instead of seeking answers, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley have refused to discuss the effect of the sale on the public. They also refuse to research the history of the property as displayed in public records.
    For example, in 1999, in response to a renovation request at the Ronjo, Richard McGowin, the chairman of the Montauk Fire Commissioners, wrote, “the Montauk Fire Commission approves the plan as submitted with the stipulation that the fire alley be cleared and kept clear for firefighting purposes.”
    Also in 1999, the town sold a portion of the alley on the east end for $2,500. But the town took back easements which granted full access to the public and the other properties on the alley (which is one parcel).
    A 1978 survey recorded with the town shows that the Ronjo portion of the alley was open on both ends. People could walk through the entire alley from either direction.
    The 1982 deed for the transfer of the alley to the town said that it was “subject to the right of others to use said alleys for all lawful purposes.” These “rights” and these “others” are now being ignored.
    Supervisor Wilkinson’s lack of respect for the “others” of the public could be a serious violation of the New York State Constitution, which mandates that the public’s interest must be the primary beneficiary of any sale.
    Facts should not be “plucked from the air” any more so than should selling prices. The Republican statements that the alley is a paper road and that the town already sold the other half are simply false.
    The sham of the Republicans’ recent acquiescence to an appraisal is furthered if Councilwoman Quigley, who picked the appraiser, is the one who gives the instructions to the appraiser (who for some unexplained reason is located in New York City).
    The petition and the lawsuit to have the petition declared valid have as their primary goal that the sale, if there is one, be of public benefit. The proper sale price is important. But far more important is for the board to begin by honestly evaluating the public’s needs for the alley. The board needs to hear from the Planning Department, the Montauk fire chief, surrounding businesses, and the public. Only then can a proper value be established. Only then can we reach a decision on what is most beneficial for both the public and the new owners of the motel.

    Mr. Cohen is among a group of residents who led a petition drive to get the East Hampton Town Board to rescind a resolution of sale of a portion of an alley that separates the two Ronjo motel properties in Montauk. He ran unsuccessfully for East Hampton Town supervisor in 2011. Ed.

On Bad Advice
    Ama 30, 2012
Dear David,
    I understand that some people feel the lawsuit brought by Democrats and friends who joined us in the Ronjo alleyway petition is a “political” move. They think that a recent board-ordered appraisal has solved the problem. They are wrong. The matter has not been properly settled, and if it is not taken care of appropriately, the fault and expense will be on the heads of the town board majority.
    The lawsuit over the petition results from the town board majority’s continued refusal to correct its mistake in selling the alleyway without a proper appraisal. The mistake was serious: If the discrepancy between price and value is large, the sale was a gift of public property violating the state constitution.
    The majority’s actions and inaction in connection with the newly booked appraisal have not corrected their original error. They are still refusing to repeal the original sale. And while the petition suspends the sale pending approval by the voters, the majority are trying in effect to sustain the sale by invalidating the petition. Moreover, the new resolution for an appraisal says its purpose is to “confirm” the original price. In addition, the firm for this appraisal, a New York City firm not on any local, approved-appraisers list, was reportedly plucked out of the air by Theresa Quigley and never presented to the whole board for a vote.
    What, then, should we expect from the appraisal? Is there any chance it will depart from the original price? If it does, will the ultimate sale price reflect the findings? Or will the price reflect the findings only if they confirm the original price?
    The petition for a permissive referendum that the board majority is trying to invalidate is at this point the public’s only assurance that the majority, which has so far refused to follow the law, will do so in the future.
    The majority can assure the public of its good faith by taking the right course now and putting an end to the lawsuit. There is no good reason for the board to defend against our challenge to the clerk’s invalidation of the petitions. The town clerk acted on bad advice. His action was beyond the scope of his authority.
    Only by terminating the lawsuit and repealing their original resolution selling the alleyway will the board majority assure the public that the new appraisal will be fair, unbiased, and the basis for a sale of the alleyway at a fair and constitutional price. They should do so promptly and move on.
    Sincerely yours,
    Jeanne Frankl

    Ms. Frankl is the chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee. Ed.

Easily Be Amended
    April 27, 2012
Dear David,
    The 2006 smart-lighting law works if you work it. I filed a complaint (I only submit a complaint when it affects public safety) about the new lighting at the Royal gas station on North Main. Had it followed the law to have its lighting reviewed by our Planning Department to secure a permit, it would have installed much less expensive lighting, as well as lighting that is less expensive to operate. Its lighting would have been more safe, more energy efficient, and more neighbor-friendly if it met our current code.
    Good news: A code enforcement official has informed me that the gas station will be following the law and will be changing its lighting to meet the current code. It will be a vast improvement for them and their customers, as well as the drivers traveling on North Main at a congested intersection. Our current code meets all professional recommendations for safe night lighting.
    In the lighting law being proposed by Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and her committee, new gas station lighting would not be required to be reviewed prior to installation, and it would be very difficult for code enforcement to determine if they were meeting the requirements. Ms. Quig­ley’s replacement law is unsafe, not energy efficient, and certainly not what needs to be enacted in East Hampton.    Our current law can easily be amended to allow extensions to the sunset provisions and updated for new technologies. We do not need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    International Dark Sky Association

Mortified Many
    April 26, 2012
Dear David,
    Recent behaviors of East Hampton Town’s supervisor and supervisorette have mortified many local Republicans who frequent the charity and fund-raising event circuit. My mother, a proud Republican, would have responded, if solicited, “Oh darling, I never donate to poops!”
    I attend a fair number of political fund-raisers and I know, firsthand. What an embarrassment the East Hampton Town supervisor and supervisorette have become. In a recent conversation with my friend Barbara, she opined, “Oh, just pour another bourbon, put on some Shubert, and remember Lincoln.”
    All good things,

One Possible Escape
    April 30, 2012
To the Editor,
    East Hampton Airport was started after World War II. The town was very small, and the planes were few and aircraft activity rare. Time passed, and the town grew and the airplanes multiplied. And then, what was once a novelty became an annoyance.
    Congress created the Federal Aviation Administration to promote aviation. East Hampton took F.A.A. money, and guarantees to the F.A.A. made the possibility of protecting the tranquillity incredibly onerous.
    The one possible escape from this dilemma is for the town to accept no further F.A.A. funding, making it relatively easy, beginning in 2015, to restrict aircraft activity. To do otherwise is to subject the inhabitants of and visitors to eastern Long Island to 20 years more of unwanted and increasing aviation noise and pollution.
    Promises of reduced noise and limits of aircraft at the airport have been made for decades and the only result has been more noise and pollution. It is time to try something different.

Airport Initiatives
    April 27, 2012
Dear David,
    Reading last week’s letters in The Star in response to special counsel Peter Kirsch’s April 17th presentation on airport noise abatement and Federal Aviation Administration funding brought to mind the Tower of Babel. There were so many conflicting opinions about and reactions to what he said. Perhaps I can simplify the issues.
     First, I applaud the town board for allowing Mr. Kirsch to air this important and contentious subject in public. By contrast, the McGintee administration buried and ignored Mr. Kirsch’s advice. Second, Mr. Kirsch’s advice on the feasibility of helicopter restraints, with or without F.A.A. funding, has been consistent since his Jan. 8, 2008, memorandum, which can be viewed on the Quiet Skies Coalition’s Web site.
    Mr. Kirsch’s presentation was good news for anyone concerned about helicopter noise. He made it crystal clear that the town has the right, with or without grant assurances that accompany federal funding and without obtaining F.A.A. permission, to restrict helicopters.
    Mr. Kirsch also outlined the steps the town is taking to alleviate helicopter noise in 2012 and beyond, including a seasonal control tower, F.A.A.-mandated helicopter routes over the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound, data collection for a Part 161 Study, all as recommended by the Airport Noise Abatement Advisory Committee.
    In addition, the airport team is reviewing 44 other possible helicopter noise-abatement initiatives, far more than the committee ever considered. Many of these, including curfews or other restrictions on helicopter traffic, cannot be implemented without a definitive noise study demonstrating a clear relationship between the restriction and the magnitude of the problem it addresses. On April 17, we learned that that study is under way.
    Two additional initiatives should be under consideration, if they are not already. First, “night flights” should be defined as those between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. rather than 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. This is consistent with the town code (community standard) relating to noise and would encompass a much larger volume of flights than the current narrower time slot. Second, the town should look for ways to create incentives for helicopter companies to retrofit their aircraft with quieter five-bladed main rotors, shrouded tail rotors, and other quieting devices as is being done at Grand Canyon National Park.
    For those who wish to restrict fixed-wing aircraft the news is not so good. As long as grant assurances are in effect, F.A.A. approval of any restrictions on fixed-wing aircraft is required and unlikely. And even without grant assurances, curfews and other restrictions on fixed-wing aircraft would be harder to obtain than on helicopters.
    Several positives offset the bad news, however. Noise from fixed-wing aircraft represents less than 40 percent of all noise events, is less obnoxious than helicopter noise, and has been improving. Touch-and-go practice landings have declined by 70 percent since 2005. Jets can only use the main east-west runway (10-28), and their flight paths cannot be moved around like those of helicopters. But jet flights have declined by 26 percent since 2007. And even Ed Gorman, the anti-airport crusader, admitted before he passed away that jets are getting quieter.
    Without F.A.A. funding, the town cannot afford to pay for noise abatement and recommission runway 4-22. Prior to 2012 the airport had been running an operating surplus of $300,000 to $500,000 a year, which could easily pay debt service on $3 million to $5 million of tax-exempt bonds. But the operating costs of the control tower and other noise abatement initiatives will eat up most of the operating surplus going forward. So issuing revenue bonds is out of the question unless local residents are willing to pay the debt service on them. And this begs the question of how the town would finance the cost of defending itself from any litigation resulting from restrictions on aircraft, which could cost millions.
    It comes down to this. We can have helicopter noise abatement and F.A.A. funding. But if the town forgoes federal funds to attempt to further reduce noise from fixed-wing aircraft, we cannot afford to fix runway 4-22 and make other repairs.
    Is the declining noise from touch-and-go practice landings, jet flights, and other local aircraft so egregious that we should risk (a) sacrificing any cooperation from the F.A.A. in reducing helicopter noise and (b) allowing the airport to continue to deteriorate until it is eventually closed?

Assure Continuity
    April 26, 2012
To the Editor,
    I am a full-time Amagansett resident, parent, the Amagansett School SDM representative at the East Hampton Middle School, an Amagansett Library Board of Trustees member, a businesswoman, and an active member in the community.
    On May 15, we are faced with important decisions regarding our Amagansett School and the election of one member to the Amagansett School Board. These are challenging times for the educational system.
    It is with great honor that I fully support Mary Lownes for re-election to the Amagansett School Board.
    Her expertise, commitment, and knowledge of the educational system can’t be matched, both as a parent of three children who attended the Amagansett School and in business, finance, and organizational structures.
    Mary Lownes is a compassionate, experienced community member and a parent. She has served on the Amagansett School Board since July 2002. She has focused on the quality of our school’s educational programs while, at the same time, she has been fiscally vigilant and prudent. Our Amagansett students excel at the elementary level as consistently shown in the district’s New York State school report cards. Our students excel at the middle and high school partly because of the foundation they receive at the Amagansett School.
     I believe it is very important to assure continuity of the Amagansett School Board, which has proven to be a successful leadership team. In addition to the devotion of parents and family members, the positive and supportive Amagansett School environment is the product of the professionalism of many individuals within the school and of our Amagansett School Board.
    Public education has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, with the costs falling squarely on the taxpayers of school districts. New mandates, such as new common curriculum standards, changes in testing, including new and costly technology requirements, and new state teacher evaluation systems, not to mention the federally imposed requirements of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, have impacted and continue to impact our Amagansett School. These overwhelming requirements are time consuming and costly. It is crucial to assure that we have knowledgeable board members with ongoing involvement in, and familiarity with, these matters and who have worked with our superintendent and administrative staff to assure compliance while maintaining an educational environment supporting the continued success of our students. I compliment this Board of Education for supporting the continuation of the important educational programs including pre-K to third grade that have fostered our district’s children’s growth over the years.
    Mary Lownes is the candidate who continues to have the expertise, experience, and knowledge to help guide us within these challenging times. I support her 100 percent.
    I ask that all Amagansett residents vote to re-elect Mary Lownes. Additionally, vote yes to the Amagansett School budget and yes to the tuition agreement referendum with the East Hampton School District.
    Thank you,

Can Work Together
    April 30, 2012
To the Editor,
    I first met the indefatigable Mary Lownes when she and the late John Sheehey were hosting coffee hours to raise awareness of the needs of the Amagansett Library. Those efforts and that of others resulted in the little treasure that it is. My two sons, Tommy and Vinny, who attended the Amagansett school, were two of the many beneficiaries of Mary’s enthusiastic orchestration of the Christmas pageants at St. Luke’s Church. For a long time she and her husband, Brock, have been advocates and generous supporters of John Ryan’s remarkable lifeguard program.
    But Mary Lownes is best known to me through our work on the Amagansett School Board on which we served together for seven years. Her institutional memory, insight, and expertise on numerous school board issues, especially financial matters, have been a significant contribution. Of particular importance, Mary is most familiar with the bewildering and often arcane, unfunded educational mandates emanating from Washington and Albany.
    The Amagansett School is widely believed to be an exceptional one. I believe that is because the school has enjoyed widespread financial support from the community and has an excellent faculty, a talented and dedicated superintendent in Ellie Tritt, a superb staff, and a respected and knowledgeable board president in John Hossenlopp. But for a school to be successful it also needs a board composed of dedicated individuals who can work together in a cohesive manner for the common good.
    Therefore, because of my firsthand knowledge of Mary Lownes’s contributions to the Amagansett school board over the years, I believe she deserves and has earned the right for re-election. Please join me and my wife, Patty, who will be voting for her on May 15.
    Thank you,

Educational Budget
    April 30, 2012
Dear David,
    It is so disheartening to witness the trends in education. We have been slipping for many years (not so much on the college level as witnessed by the many that come to our shores for a quality education). In an attempt to boost our decline in the worldwide standing the Bush administration instituted the infamous No Child Left Behind law, which has worked to leave behind many in failing schools and classrooms.
    One of the reasons the law didn’t work was, like other Bush assaults, no money was behind the law. The states had to design expensive testing programs, since testing was the main tenet for improving education. Of course, it didn’t work. In New York when a child scores below passing levels, that child is mandated to receive academic intervention services, for which districts are not given extra funding. It is almost laughable, if it were not so tragic. Then the state cut the educational budget one year, but subsequently restored some of the funds in another year, only to slap a burdensome 2-percent cap on school budgets.
    It’s not rocket science to realize, even if you know nothing about educational practices, the best way to improve education is to demand more of all stakeholders, including parents and students, and to lower class size. Only a fool would think that there is no difference between 16 or 17 students in a class as compared to 25, especially in those crucial elementary years. But when it comes to education, most Americans are fools. They think because they went to school, they are experts. Well, let me tell you, education has changed radically. We start to teach them now the minute they walk through the door, and, if I had my way, I would start them at 3 on the socialization aspects of the classroom culture. Unfortunately, the world has become more competitive. What you learned in third grade is now taught in second grade.
    We in Springs bear the heaviest tax burden based on the density and the high cost of high school in East Hampton. The necessary movement to consolidate the schools in East Hampton will alleviate some of that, but that is the least important reason to consolidate. Consolidation will be more efficient and cost-effective for everyone, and will actually allow for richer opportunities for all. One East End district will offer more variety and choices in so many ways, besides just the shared services of special education and teacher training.
    Imagine the savings when there is one union for teachers who share a welfare fund fashioned on the likes of my former district, Yonkers Public Schools. I pay into the fund twice a year as a retiree for dental, eyeglasses, hearing aids, benefits, and a pittance more for legal fees, which I have used about six times in the last 10 years.
    There are people who insist that consolidation will never happen because Amagansett won’t agree to it. (Another example of the rich paying the least!) But one hopes that if the grant that Michael Hartner spearheaded to study the ramifications of consolidation becomes a reality, we will be able entice all to get on board. There are some who say that individual schools will lose their identity, which is simply not true.  All schools in larger districts are unique, each possessing their own cultures. Consolidation won’t change that.
    This country, this state, and this area need to be equal in education to the likes of Finland, Canada, and South Korea. Support schools and pass budgets on May 15.

Right Decision
    East Hampton
    April 26, 2012
To the Editor,
    I think the board made the right decision in appointing Richard Burns as the superintendent. He knows the faculty and students as well as all the other people at the school. I am sure they will all work together to make East Hampton High School perform well. We now have one of our own in charge.

Best and Brightest
    East Hampton
    April 27, 2012
Dear David:
    Last night at East Hampton High School was such a treat. The school’s new superintendent, Richard Burns, the high school principal, Mr. Fine, the leaders of the East Hampton National Honor Society, Mr. Naglieri and Mr. Fromm, the directors of the band and chorus, Ms. Van Scoyoc, Mr. Douglas, and Mr. Grindle, and the veteran members of the National Honor Society led a celebration of the induction of the 52 new members.
    The high school honored its best and brightest: those students who demonstrate scholarship, leadership, character, and service to their community.
    What a testament to the students, to their families, to the school, and to our community, to see the young men and women who are working hard to make a difference, who are committed to being a positive influence in their homes, school, and greater communities. Congratulations to all the newest members, the young men and women who have focused on bettering themselves and their school and who have earned this honor.
    Congratulations too to the wonderfully talented members of the band and chorus whose talent made the evening not just entertaining but also showed the depths of the talent in our school community. Congratulations to our school administration and teachers who work hard to give our students opportunities. Congratulations to the families and the community to be honored with such fine young men and women, and may they find a future bright and filled with the promise they demonstrate, and may that future include East Hampton.

Five Rosettes
    East Hampton
    April 30, 2012
To the Editor,
    Thursday evening we paid a visit to Sotto Sopra in Amagansett. What a surprise! This restaurant was bustling for a weeknight out of season. The decor and ambience could not be more welcoming. The staff made you feel as though you were a regular customer for years. The food was exquisite, starting with a fig salad appetizer served with mini cheese toasts with an orange vinaigrette was delicious and generous enough to share.
    The main courses were unbelievable. Their roast chicken with corn was juicy, tender, and did not have a vein or gristle in it. The grilled branzino was very special, served whole on the bone, moist and delicious and served with string beans and potatoes. The pan-fried halibut, served with a red pepper aioli in saffron orzo, was to die for.
    They have a very good wine list, and we ordered a beautiful pinot grigio for $40 from their bar list of wines by the glass. Their pricing is average for a restaurant of this caliber.
    Over all, the meals received from our group a rating of five rosettes or stars and Josh Savi, the chef, is definitely a very fine Michelin chef. I am sure we will hear more about Mr. Savi in the future. And there is nothing upside down about this restaurant.

Student Loans
    April 30, 2012
Dear David,
    East Hamptoners have a lot at stake in the upcoming Congressional elections. The issues that are polarizing Congress go directly to local pocketbooks. One example is the college student loan program. Under Democratic leadership, Congress passed a law in 2007 to cut the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans to low-income and middle-income families from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. The measure was accomplished by eliminating private middlemen, who were pocketing the profits from student loans while the federal government guaranteed them. It saved thousands of dollars for recent graduates.
    Due to a public outcry and pressure from the president and Congressional Democrats, Republicans have very reluctantly agreed to support the renewal of Stafford. But what they have been forced to give with one hand, they plan to take away with the other. Pell grants are the primary federal higher education grant program. Students in East Hampton rely on Pell grants to help them attend college.
    In our Congressional district 18,301 students attending college receive Pell grant aid totaling nearly $70 million annually. The Ryan budget recently passed by Republicans in the House would change eligibility for Pell grants, cutting the program by more than $104 billion over the next decade.
    Going to college during a recession is a good way for young people to make the best of a bad job market. Support for students who can’t otherwise afford to take this opportunity is a national investment, helping to ensure that we have a self-supporting work force qualified to compete in the global economy.
    It should be a nonpartisan no-brainer. But it’s not. We need to elect Demo­crats, and most especially our Congressman Tim Bishop, to keep the country on a sound economic track — for America and for us.
    Sincerely yours,

Money Rules
    Sag Harbor
    April 30, 2012
To the Editor,
    Most adult Americans are aware of former president and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower’s warning of the military-industrial-Congressional complex. He described it as humanity hanging on an iron cross. The cross we still carry to this day. It’s time we acted upon the message as we head toward self-destruction. Eisenhower empowered us.
    Since the end of World War II, war has become our largest institution paid for by our taxes, 50 percent of which is spent on the military and a mere 4.7 percent on our children’s education. According to author and 20-year war correspondent Chris Hedges, “War is the force that gives us meaning.” Examples of this are given to us every day in the war we can’t seem to end. Just one.
    Headline on the front page of The New York Times, April 23: “Afghan Pact Vows U.S. Aid for a Decade,” namely for security forces to protect corporate interests, social and economic development, institution building, and regional co-operation paid for by us. How dare they extort out hard-earned money. Slaves of war.
    Meanwhile, our regime at home is being devastated; most states and local communities are bankrupt. Our citizens are demonstrating across the nation against injustices of every kind. Do the powers that be even know we exist? Money rules. We are taken for fools.
    In peace,

Radical Fast
    East Hampton
    April 27, 2012
Dear David,
    I rarely take glee in the misery of others. Perpetrators of massive frauds are the exception. Particularly the ones actively and knowingly engaged in stealing the well-being of our future generations — the progressive Left, in other words.
    Imagine my delight upon reading the following AP headline: “Swiss woman dies after attempting to live on sunlight; Woman gave up food and water on spiritual journey; Documentary film ‘In the Beginning, There Was Light’ gave her the idea.”
     Here, from the article (it gets better):
“. . . the unnamed Swiss woman in her fifties decided to follow the radical fast in 2010 after viewing an Austrian documentary about an Indian guru who claims to have lived this way for 70 years.”
    “Tages-Anzeiger says there have been similar cases of self-starvation in Germany, Britain and Australia.”
    Therefore, I proclaim the anonymous woman (probably at the insistence of her family, who do not want to be labeled as associate Luddites) the winner of the 2011 Darwin Award by acclamation.
    I have a parallel suggestion for the local Mercedes Marxists/dark skies loons: Sunlight probably has the wrong wavelength; try living on moonbeams and starlight. That will work, trust me.
    There is still plenty of time for you to be the 2012 Darwin Awards winners.