Restoring Old Views

    Looking at old photographs of East Hampton Town, you are struck by a nearly complete absence of trees and other tall vegetation. In part, this is due to the long history of grazing animals on the South Fork, as well the use of wood for cooking and heating. The practice continued here until the early 20th century and even later in some households.
    One man, at least, would like to return the landscape, at least on some public land, to the windswept prospects of old. East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione is the main backer of what he calls Project Open Vista, and he said he has had favorable responses from other board members.
    Mr. Stanzione would like the town to clear selected acreage of invasive plants and other brush tangles to bring back views of land that in some cases cost millions to preserve. He argues that there has been unconscious acceptance of the loss of some of the town’s valuable public vistas. In his opinion, neglect by successive town administrations may have cost this community emotional and spiritual visual sustenance. He said taxpayers have a vested interest in preserved lands, and, at the very least, should be able to see them. A pilot program on Bluff Road, Amagansett, was the subject of a recent meeting with the town architectural review board.
    For talking about such a program when East Hampton is struggling to pay for a sharp property tax cut through hiked fees, layoffs, and other measures, Mr. Stanzione has taken some criticism. However, his response is that the costs of restoring certain views could be funded creatively and spread over many years. One could envision tapping the community preservation fund for clearing some properties acquired through the fund and perhaps public-private partnerships on others. If the money cannot be found, so be it. But the idea, at least, should not be dismissed out of hand.


I think this is a great idea. For once, Stanzione is really right. The visual clutter of suburbia has completely obliterated the old views to the horizon. You used to be able to see dunes from Main Street!! (Driveway gates, ornamental shrubs everywhere, and, worst of all, those tall stands of out-of-place evergreens -- cedars, etc -- that people use to blot out the view of eveything and anyone outside their own yard.) Even if only a few public places could be returned to their old vista, it would be brilliant. GOOD IDEA! And it shouldn't be such an expensive project. This Republican administration is so into the idea that volunteers should be taking over tasks that used to be done by the town, maybe they can round up some of their ranks to clear some trees and brush ;-). BUT: Note, please don't ask the highway department to do it; after all, despite their having a budget surplus in that department, they "don't have enough money for leaf pickup," so surely that department doesn't have enough money to restore old vistas. ... (Tho personally I think both projects should be affordable. Fire the town PR department and start hacking at vista-blocking invasive underbrush!)