The Mast-Head: What 74 Letters Tell Us

A sense that the town is at an existential crossroads between those who live here and those who hope to cash in.

    From where I sit, something interesting is happening here in terms of political involvement. This week, The Star ran some 74 letters to the editor — plenty but not quite the record. This is astonishing when you consider that there is no contest at the top of the ballot to gin up excitement and that one party’s majority is already assured.

    It would be wrong to ascribe the heavy interest to the ease of submitting e-mails. That’s been true for years now. More, to my mind, the onslaught has its roots in a reaction to East Hampton’s struggles with uncontrolled tourism, weekenders, and the escalation of nightlife — a sense that the town is at an existential crossroads between those who live here and those who hope to cash in.

    Fascinating, too, has been the outpouring of smart and heartfelt support for Kathee Burke-Gonazalez. It was as if Springs rose up in her defense after a spate of caustic letters of opposition. Though she was not unknown to Springs School parents and district taxpayers, thanks to her nine years on the board of education, her emergence on the townwide scene has been quite something. 

    Notable, too, is a repeated sense that during the last four years the town has begun to turn rapidly into a place many residents do not like. In letter after letter, this community has spoken out about loud events, beaches overrun by share house renters, laws ignored and those deemed inadequate, and an airport for the very few that annoys the hell out of the very many. The fight is on, if these missives are any indication.

    Letters to the editor of any publication cannot not be seen as a representative poll. However, the preponderance of different points of view cannot be overlooked. A sizable and vocal proportion of residents think the town has been on the wrong track. Those who stand as winners in Tuesday’s election will do well to keep a close eye on these pages to see just how they are faring. I am sure there will continue to be plenty of voices ready to let them know.