Money Is Hanging
December 5, 2011
To the Editor,
It emerges from news of a federal investigation that many paintings, that sold for as much as $17 million as the work of such East End artists as Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell, might well be fakes. If indeed they are fakes — and forgeries are hardly rare in art history — the $17 million work is possibly worth $1,700 or perhaps only $170 or even only $17 and only by false provenance is not in the company of works sold from benches at Saturday morning school-yard sales.
What a wonderful opportunity! People with homes in our town must have hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly billions, worth of masterpieces that could be sold to museums and galleries to raise money for people short on food, shelter, and dental care, and also to fill potholes, repair roads and bridges, and restore senior citizens program cuts and eroded beaches and community golf courses. Much more than enough money is hanging on our walls for stuff like that, stuff the community needs.
Will the paintings’ status be determined by their quality? Or by some expert who knows Jackson would never have hurled brown paint upon mauve or red to the left of green? No. In this case and others, disauthentication is dependent upon forensic analysis, involving such tools as spectography to locate a paint which did not exist until after the work was claimed to have been painted. Otherwise, who would know?
I once had the astonishing pleasure, while helping a friend of a friend move, to walk in on a Velazquez portrait of one of those recessed-jawed Hapsburg noblemen. Should I be less thrilled if this work turned out to be that of a pupil or forger? Is it fair to the many fine artists in East Hampton that their work is valued at one 100th of 1 percent of the $17 million “Pollock?” Why shouldn’t Frank Roth or Cynthia Knott or Christine Smith get $17 million?
Substance is irrelevant. It’s all brand.
Come on, collectors, be real. Sell your collections to museums where the public can enjoy them, and then give most of your proceeds to your community.
December 2, 2011
To the Editor,
Bravo to Serena Seacat, Debbie Mansir, and the entire cast of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” performed by East Hampton High School this weekend. With the challenge of 31 scene changes, lengthy dialogue to memorize, and a demanding rehearsal schedule, the impressively talented performers and remarkable technical crew did an amazing job under the leadership of two first-rate directors.
Please come and support East Hampton High School in its next production this spring.
November 29, 2011
To the Editor,
We are forever grateful for the tremendous support as the boys soccer team clinched the first boys soccer Suffolk championship, representing East Hampton School, their families, and the East Hampton community. The overwhelming fan support from the student body and community at large as they achieved one of the program’s goals was something that we and they will cherish forever. Thank you, thank you!
We are indebted for the amazing parade of trucks led by the East Hampton Fire Department as we drove back through our fantastic community in celebration of winning the Class A Suffolk boys soccer championship. The celebration the volunteer firefighters provided was an experience the players will never forget as they chanted and sang — with the sirens and horns — their cheers for Bonac! Thank you, thank you!
The players will work hard for continued success and dream about another celebration next year with the community as they reach for higher goals.
Thanks so much! Go Bonac!
For the East Hampton Boys
December 5, 2011
To the Editor:
A seemingly innocuous notice of public hearing in the Nov. 24 edition of The East Hampton Star advises that the town board will consider adopting a local law next Thursday to amend the Register of Town Nature Preserve Properties to remove three parcels “not owned by the town” that were “erroneously included.” Sounds like the mere correction of a minor clerical error. Things aren’t always as they first appear, and my curiosity was piqued, so I decided to review pertinent records.
The board is preparing to unilaterally abandon all public rights in the so-called reserved areas in the Beach Plum Park subdivision along the ocean on Napeague Beach. Reliance is being placed on a title report the town ordered in May. How could it be that these parcels duly registered as town nature preserves “have never been in the town’s ownership,” as stated in the resolution sponsored by Councilman Dominick Stanzione scheduling the public hearing?
The Beach Plum Park subdivision map was approved by the town planning board and in October 1989 became Suffolk County Filed Map #8834. It created a roadway, Beach Plum Court, and eight clustered building lots within the 27-acre tract located in an A-3 residential zone, together with 16.5 acres of reserved areas. It is a highly environmentally sensitive area located in the town’s flood hazard overlay district. Three oceanfront houses have been built so far.
One of the building lots at the end of Beach Plum Court was thereafter conveyed by gift to the town in December 2000 for open space preservation. The resolution authorizing the acquisition of this 1.1-acre lot noted it could provide “future beach access parking for public recreational purposes.” This lot is contiguous to the 14.4-acre nature preserve lot that contains a pre-existing “vital beach access road” from Montauk Highway to the ocean, just east of the Windward Shores Co-Op. Public beach access advocates should be up in arms.
During the lengthy subdivision review in the 1980s, every conceivable measure was taken by the planning board to protect and maintain a pre-existing public sand trail vehicle ocean access. At all times the developer agreed to dedicate the subdivision’s reserved areas to the town to achieve this goal.
Accordingly, a declaration was recorded that requires the reserved areas to remain, in perpetuity, undeveloped, open, unimproved, and in a natural state. Next, a deed was given to the town conveying the reserved areas. When the town board accepted the proffered deed on Sept. 15, 1989, it noted, “said land has important scenic and ecological attributes and contains an important vehicular beach access to the Atlantic Ocean beach known as Napeague Station Road.” In November 2001 the town board added the Beach Plum Park subdivision reserved areas to the town’s register of nature preserve properties.
During a work session in May Councilwoman Theresa Quigley stated that a title search was needed. She opined, “our rights to the nature preserve may be in jeopardy” because the town didn’t get approval of a mortgage lender to the nature preserve designation.
The board’s resolution states the nature preserve properties were “affected by the foreclosure of certain properties within this same subdivision, and now title is uncertain because these properties were part of a mortgage default by the previous owner, and the three lots may have been given to a third party.”
Incredibly, the board is on the verge of unilaterally relinquishing town rights to three nature preserve parcels, one having a vital public beach access road, because of a convoluted mortgage foreclosure situation.
My Nov. 22 Freedom of Information request for a copy of the town-ordered title report has so far been ignored by the town attorney’s office. But from what has been discussed by the board in public it can be gleaned there was a mortgage default by the owner of the very lots that only came into existence through the subdivision approval process, a process that was conditioned upon the establishment of the reserved areas and required them to be deeded to the town. You just cannot make this stuff up!
I wonder who stands to benefit from the proposed action. If the town doesn’t own these nature preserve properties, then who does? When has any mortgage lender’s express consent been required for a land developer to be able to convey reserved areas to the town to satisfy a condition of a subdivision approval? Who in town government could have rationally recommended that the board unilaterally “correct” the nature preserve property list as proposed?
There is a distinctly malodorous aroma surrounding the pending action. Is someone trying to do an end run around the planning process that ensured continued public use of the ocean beach access road on one of these nature preserve properties? Is someone trying to put an end to the possibility of a new town-owned beach access parking lot at the end of Beach Plum Court?
Fortunately, the town code section 182 establishes major impediments to the disposition of nature preserve properties because they are held in trust for the benefit of all town residents. A majority-plus-one vote of the board is needed to act in this manner. The after-hearing resolution must recite a finding of “imperative and unavoidable public necessity” requiring disposition. And, any board decision to dispose of a nature preserve property must be confirmed by a mandatory referendum.
Unless, of course, a majority of the board simply concludes all this nature preserve nonsense and public beach access hoopla was all just a bad dream and then they simply do as they please. I hope not!
December 4, 2011
As we just saw, the Montauk club scene was a top issue in the recent election. In January, a plea-bargain arrangement between the Surf Lodge and the Town of East Hampton will be in town court for final approval. Apparently our town prosecutor feels it is appropriate to kowtow to this business by offering them a significant reduction in fines and penalties for their incredible list of code violations.
I respectfully request that the town prosecutor and judges remember they have a responsibility to the people of the Town of East Hampton in upholding the law and levy the maximum fines possible.
Enough is enough.
December 3, 2011
It is amazing to read the latest full-page ad paid for by the so-called Quiet Skies Coalition. They compare their fight to stop (or at least restrict) our airport with other “victories” they claim benefit the “environment” as opposed to “commercial interests.”
They (or their allies) proudly stopped the highway and thus created the traffic jams on Montauk Highway. They stopped the ferry proposals and celebrated as store owners lost millions of dollars in sales. The result is empty stores on Main Street and no jobs for many young men and women who graduate from East Hampton High and are forced to move away from their families, and more foreclosures, as workers and tradesmen are unable to keep up with the mortgages.
Our town is being strangled by well-meaning but shortsighted defenders of “what’s left.” These environmental extremists may save more trees, but what will replace Sam’s Restaurant and other landmarks? What will enable home contractors to build more and hire more citizens? What will create the jobs that used to be at Stern’s, or who now work at the airport? Maybe they should call themselves the Quiet Streets Coalition, and work with the dark skies princess of darkness to turn the lights out altogether.
These anti-commercial, anti-business forces are today’s true reactionaries. In their quest to “preserve” the past they are opposing civilization itself.
Worse Than No Law
December 5, 2011
The only verifiable issue that a small number of businesses expressed at a hearing last year on the outdoor lighting code was to be granted a longer sunset period to adjust their lighting in order to reduce glare, “up” lighting, light trespass, and excessive energy use. For these types of changes, most businesses can achieve a return on their investment within a few years. The board extended the sunset period one more year to a total of five years. Councilwoman Theresa Quigley took it upon herself to work these changes into the code. However, and inexplicably, she has thrown out the entire code.
Ms. Quigley’s replacement law is actually worse than no law at all because it is so poorly conceived and drafted as well as rife with technical errors. It would be impossible to implement and enforce and would increase light pollution over time in the form of glare, light trespass, and sky glow.
I have read hundreds of lighting codes and helped write several dozen. I have never seen a code like this because it would be impossible to assure compliance, and it would not provide safe and energy-efficient lighting. Maybe she did this on purpose. But why?
I tried to figure out who would benefit from no lighting code, because it is neither the residents nor our visitors. I filed a Freedom of Information request to find out who she had conferred with and received only e-mail exchanges from a fixture salesman (who would be able to sell his full line instead of “dark sky” friendly fixtures) and the lobbyist for the East Hampton Business Alliance (who regularly works to deregulate zoning codes). The “consultant” Ms. Quigley said she worked with had no correspondence, and he is completely unknown by professionals in the dark sky community.
Our community goal, as stated in the town comprehensive plan, is to have better lighting throughout the town to make it safer and more attractive for residents and visitors at night and, as a side benefit, to reduce urban sky glow that obscures the stars.
The hearing for the Quigley law is Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. People who care about better visibility at night by reducing glare, providing a recourse for intrusive light trespass (according to Councilwoman Julia Prince, a former code enforcement officer, one of the easiest issues to address), and clearing the night sky of light pollution need to show up to voice their opinion.
Dark Sky Society
December 5, 2011
On Thursday evening I went with a friend to attend the public hearing on whether or not the town should accept Federal Aviation Administration funding for the airport in the future. We are against taking more F.A.A. funding at this time. The town should wait to see if the proposed control tower results in any significant reduction in the noise.
We arrived at Town Hall at the appointed time of 7 p.m. The meeting room was already packed and many people were standing outside and could not get in, nor could they hear what was going on. Many people arrived after we did, and either stayed to try to get in or left because they could not hear anything. I would estimate that 50 to 60 people who came could not get in.
We stayed for two hours standing in the back, finally reaching the doorway, so we could hear part of the comments people made.
I later learned that a request had been made to move the meeting so that everyone who wanted to be present could be accommodated, but the request was denied. In prior administrations, whenever a public hearing brought more people than Town Hall could hold, it was adjourned to the high school, so that all could be accommodated. It is most unfortunate that the request to move the public hearing on such an important subject was not granted. This is not the way the town government should operate.
December 4, 2011
I do not quite understand the fuss concerning the controversy over noise pollution at East Hampton Airport. Personally, I do not much like noise pollution from airplanes and helicopters landing or taking off. That is why I crossed off locations near Kennedy, La Guardia, and Islip airports while looking for a house on Long Island.
While searching for a house with a bucolic, beachy, and serene ambience in East Hampton Town, I never considered settling in a community adjacent to East Hampton Airport, even though real estate prices were significantly lower. I also looked at houses next to the railroad tracks in Amagansett but decided I do not much like noise from trains, although I probably would have enjoyed waving a Bud from my railroad-adjacent deck as the L.I.R.R. passengers passed by.
I finally found a great house in Montauk, where the people are kind and actually care about each other. I must admit though that I thoroughly enjoy hearing the three-horn blast, going-astern signal from the Viking Star at 7 a.m. in the morning while I drink morning coffee on my deck.
Happy holidays to all of my friends,
Just for Show
December 5, 2011
I cannot say that the airport hearing last Thursday was a disappointment because Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilman Dominick Stanzione had been quietly discouraging participation in advance by letting it be known in town that the decision to take more Federal Aviation Administration money for a deer fence and frustrate local control of the airport had already been made. The hearing was just for show. And a show it was.
The pilots who spoke shed many crocodile tears about the noise problem, expressing their sympathy for the community. Yet they continue, in fact, to do everything possible to frustrate effective noise control. Why? Because local control over noise means they would have to pay the costs of the airport rather than getting the F.A.A. to pay. With F.A.A. subsidies, aircraft based at East Hampton pay no landing fees — and they want to keep it that way.
One of the officers of the East Hampton Aviation Association, a resident of Southampton, put it best. She said, “If someone offered to pay for my fence, I’d take the money.” Sure. And if someone offered to pay for your fence in exchange for being allowed to maintain a nuisance on your property that imposes on all your neighbors, would you still take the money? I believe she would.
In the end, this is all about greed and money, not safety, not the enjoyment of the airport by those who want to fly — just money. Aircraft need airports as much as they do parts and fuel. Should the public pay for their parts, their fuel, their maintenance? The pilots want to live in the house, but they want the rest of us to keep it in repair for them. If we don’t want to subsidize them with our tax dollars, then they insist that they be subsidized by the F.A.A.
With F.A.A. money comes F.A.A. control, and the F.A.A. policy is unrestricted airport access. Thus, the cost of the cheap airport for a handful of pilots is extracted from the rest of us, the 99 percent who do not use the airport, in the form of uncontrolled noise.
As they have for years, the pilots falsely accuse those who just want to be left alone by them of trying to close the airport. In public and in private, I have never heard anyone discuss that as a realistic option. But, they say, without F.A.A. money, we would eventually be forced to close it. Not at all. Only 17 percent of the 20,000 airports in the United States are even eligible for F.A.A. grants. More than 16,000 airports, many of them private and with fewer and far less-well-heeled customers than East Hampton, somehow manage to support themselves.
The ability of East Hampton Airport to be financially self-sustaining is, however, an important question. That’s why the town code requires a cost-benefit analysis as part of any airport environmental impact statement. So far, the town board has refused to undertake that obligatory study. Quite clearly, they don’t want a reliable answer to the question.
Finally, the pilots and Councilman Stanzione claim that a seasonal control tower will solve the problem by ensuring 100 percent compliance with what are now voluntary noise abatement procedures. Not likely. A lot of the problem is at night when the tower will not be manned. And the airport impact statement says that voluntary compliance is already high. It is unlikely that going from high compliance to full (daytime only) compliance will make that much of a difference.
But let’s try it. Any rational person would want to see if the claimed solution works before tying our hands with F.A.A. money for another 20 years. What is clear from the hearing is that what the pilots, Councilman Stanzione, and Supervisor Wilkinson most want is to ensure that they have made the real solution — local control of the airport — impossible before everyone finds out that a seasonal control tower is a waste of money.
If anything is going to close the airport, it is the intransigence of the pilots. The Quiet Skies Coalition only started to organize politically in August. The result was a near political-death experience for Supervisor Wilkinson, who scraped back into office by 15 votes. Let me go out on a limb and predict that, from here on out, no one will be elected to the town board who is not firmly committed to airport noise control.
The unrestricted airport is antagonizing an ever-growing segment of the community, people who barely knew the airport existed until the helicopters arrived. The refusal of the pilots to cooperate in a solution — local control, particularly of helicopters, while we still can — will eventually lead to a political upheaval. The pilots think the F.A.A. will protect them. If so, they don’t understand the power of democracy and public opinion when fully mobilized.
And so the saga continues.
Regulate the Source
December 5, 2011
Speaking restrictions imposed at the recent airport public hearing — and a room far too small for the crowd — needlessly turned dialogue into three-minute sound bites. This misguided efficiency badly served the process and stifled public participation, formerly a hallmark of town government. It is a poor policy that will not tolerate discussion.
All but one speaker favoring new Federal Aviation Administration funding were pilots or persons with financial interests in aviation. They said they cared about noise — they omitted to mention that they pay no airport landing fees. F.A.A. money keeps airport use cheap. It also makes local control of noise impossible. In the last 30 years, has the F.A.A. controlled noise in any way? Clearly not.
Aircraft noise affects a broad public interest in maintaining our quiet, rural character. That concern should not be sacrificed to the narrow economic interests of the aviation community.
Local noise control is available if we decline new F.A.A. grants. We could then limit airport hours, set a noise-reduction goal, and even ban helicopters. For the first time, we could control the source of noise, not just rearrange whatever traffic comes our way.
Well funded and organized by powerful interests, the aviation association has obscured the facts. It falsely claims local control means airport closure. It does not.
It claims declining F.A.A. funding will cost taxpayers. Instead, it will cost airport users, who should pay but do not.
It calls local control, which is specifically authorized by federal law, a declaration of war against the government. Since when is following the law a disloyal attack?
The association also focuses on routing traffic with an expensive seasonal tower. It ignores the fact that it is the traffic itself that causes the noise. Re-routing simply inflicts noise impacts elsewhere. The real solution is to regulate the source of the noise with local control.
If a seasonal tower is the answer, shouldn’t we determine whether it works before we accept F.A.A. money? What is the hurry?
There is no risk in pausing. Test the tower. If it works, then take F.A.A. money. But if it does not, the option of local control should remain available. We cannot afford to risk 20 more years of F.A.A. control until we know.
Very truly yours,
JEFFREY L. BRAGMAN
December 5, 2011
After the sham session at East Hampton Town Hall last Thursday, there is some information taxpayers should consider.
Most dangerous to taxpayers: During the 1970s, because of the dangers of lead to human health and well-being, the federal government limited the use of lead in dishware and banned lead in toys and consumer paint and later in automotive gasoline. But aviation fuel like Avgas contains tetraethyl lead, a highly toxic substance that was phased out in automobile fuel during the 1990s.
The government informed us that there is no safe blood level of lead in children, yet, throughout the year, piston-propelled planes disperse this toxic lead substance over a wide residential area. Despite governmental and personal precautions to safeguard the health of our children and the environment, lead emissions from these planes pollute the air we breathe and wherever they land . . . on homes, decks, pools and gardens, schools and playgrounds, waterways and “protected” habitats.
Most outrageous to taxpayers: Aircraft based at East Hampton Airport are charged no landing or parking fees. They have free use of the airport without charge — not a single fee. Southampton Town residents, like the many members of the East Hampton Aviation Association who base aircraft at East Hampton Airport, get the same free ride at East Hampton Airport, thanks in part to East Hampton Town taxpayers who, until recently, were supporting the airport through town taxes, and likely will again. The airport tax is currently suspended — there is a $1.5 million surplus — but suspended for how long is the question?
Locally based pilots at East Hampton Airport pay nothing to use tarmacs and runways, pay nothing for their many toxic lead and jet fuel-emitting, touch-and-go practice sessions, or other landings and departures — all are 100-percent free, thanks in part to taxes previously paid by East Hampton taxpayers. Not surprising then that, when urged to attend the Thursday hearing about new F.A.A. money, pilots from near and far attended in droves to protect their interests in continuing the free ride on the backs of East Hampton taxpayers.
Most unfair to boat-owning taxpayers: East Hampton Town discriminates against local boat owners as, unlike aircraft owners, boat owners must pay fees at private or municipal marinas to berth their watercraft.
Most fiscally irresponsible to taxpayers: Landing fees for itinerant aircraft using East Hampton Airport appear not to have increased since 2008; they’re posted on the town’s Web site. Marina fees are not; is that also discrimination against boaters?
East Enders are accustomed to paying high prices, and over the past three years we’ve seen large increases in the cost of food, as well as in other items. But, at East Hampton Airport, there have been no increases in landing fees for corporate, or revenue-producing aircraft, or private aircraft — not since 2008 or possibly earlier!
That seems fiscally irresponsible for an airport whose income is supposed to cover its maintenance, the same way reputable airports pay for their upkeep — without the need to beg for Federal Aviation Administration handouts, so a few can continue to shamelessly abuse federal and town taxpayers to help pay for their hobby.
If East Hampton property owners won’t pay more taxes to support them at the airport, they squeal for F.A.A. funding. (The F.A.A. is also funded by us — federal taxpayers.) These people can afford to own and operate aircraft, like a single-engine Cessna, at a cost of around $10,000 to $20,000 per year, but they expect you, the federal taxpayer, to fund the F.A.A., then they want the F.A.A. to fund the costs of their recreational pastime. This is outrageous, and will likely happen again, being taxed twice to help fund someone else’s hobby!
Most deceptive to taxpayers: Many pilots attending the Thursday hearing about F.A.A. funding were not local residents; they came from elsewhere and departed soon after. To observers, many appeared not to know one another or the other groups; others appeared to personally know no one in the entire audience. Locals? Don’t think so. Fair to East Hampton taxpayers? Definitely not. Air-busing? Probably.
Such was the “open and fair” hearing arranged by Bill Wilkinson and quislings in a poor choice of venue, one far too small to hold the anticipated crowd at a hearing about such a contested issue. When asked to relocate, Mr. Wilkinson refused. Many residents were prevented from entering the hall itself by the standing-room-only crowd, many likely not East Hampton residents, effectively blocking the two hall entry doorways. Speakers could not be heard by those standing in the lobby, and many who arrived shortly after 7 p.m. simply left, stating it was “. . . same old, same old.”
Apparently in recent years there have been widely alleged hints of something not quite right surrounding this airport; I believe I detected a whiff of it Thursday night. It does incite one to continue to research the issues even though it is too late to stop the decision they have admitted taking well prior to the Thursday meeting — to take F.A.A. money.
Driven By Fear
December 5, 2011
It is unfortunate that the East Hampton Town Board is going forward with its resolution to close off local options for protecting the community from airport noise and pollution by accepting financing from the Federal Aviation Administration — particularly right after the recent election. The vote made clear that support for this and other of its policies is at best no more than 50 percent.
Instead of trying to bring our community together, the board is delivering a big segment of its citizens a slap in the face.
At the hearing on this measure the other night, it was apparent that the avid positions for and against were driven by fear: fear among pilots, plane owners, and commercial airline and facility operators that if control were left to the town the airport would be closed, or operations greatly curtailed, and fear on the part of the neighbors that, absent local control, the airport would expand its operations and with them, the current, greatly disturbing level of noise and air pollution.
Facing such deep anxieties, one would expect a narrowly elected board to struggle in collaboration with the parties to determine how both sides’ needs could be met. Instead, they hastened to push through a one-sided position.
As Democrats pointed out in the recent campaign, there was no urgent necessity to do so. Current fee structures and the airport surplus could fund an immediately needed deer fence while other planned improvements could rationally be postponed.
The Democratic candidates had suggested a compromise procedure: postponement of the decision for two years pending a study to determine both whether it would be possible to finance the airport adequately in the long term without the F.A.A. contract and whether we could adequately curtail noise and pollution via the planned seasonal control tower and other measures permitted by F.A.A.
The postponement sought by the Democrats would have been consistent with current plans to do a comprehensive study of the airport, as described at the hearing. It would not have closed off either the possibility of local control or the option to make a contract with the F.A.A. at a later time. It could have allowed members of the community to get together, as they did in working out the town’s comprehensive plan in 2005, to reach common ground on issues of importance to all. With effective leadership, this could surely have been achieved. For in reality, having a functioning airport that brings second-home owners and affluent tourists in and out of our community is important to an economy that serves all of us. And excessive airport noise and air pollution are detrimental to all.
Ms. Frankl is the East Hampton Democratic Committee chairwoman. Ed.
November 17, 2011
To the Editor:
A request to the East Hampton Town Board: Please don’t fence in our future. As 30-year residents of the East End, we have been dismayed to experience the erosion of the very qualities that brought us here, especially the peaceful enjoyment of our home, and the opportunity to experience the tranquillity of our region’s woods, wetlands, beaches, and fields.
We currently reside in Sag Harbor. Friday and Sunday evenings at home are punctuated by the roar of low-flying aircraft, as are walks through the Long Pond Greenbelt. Like most taxpayers on the East End, we are not now, nor have we ever been, in a position to utilize the services of the airport. But we are constantly reminded of its presence.
We urge the East Hampton Town Board and residents, out of respect for the commons and the community we share and out of love for the qualities we all treasure about our region, to retain local control over the airport which so deeply affects our daily life, and make noise mitigation a number-one priority in planning for the future of East Hampton Airport. Don’t accept Federal Aviation Administration money for a deer fence at the expense of our local prerogatives. Please don’t fence in our community’s future!
DEBORAH and BURT COHEN
December 5, 2011
I attended the “hearing” addressing the issue of taking Federal Aviation Administration money for the study and construction of deer fencing at the East Hampton Airport. I consider the hearing a dog and pony show for the purpose of legitimizing an already-made decision. The whole affair was and is a disgraceful reflection of back-room politics. The East Hampton Town Board is rushing to judgment on a subject that transcends East Hampton Town borders.
East Hampton Airport is located on the western edge of the Town of East Hampton and the eastern edge of the Town of Southampton. Planes take off into the prevailing westerly winds at maximum power and noise. The impact of this noise is borne mostly by Southampton residents and others to the west.
As a resident of Southampton, I experience the negative impact of the airport, yet I (as well as are other non-East Hampton residents) am disenfranchised from one of the basic features of democracy: having a direct vote on important decisions regarding control of the airport that affects my life.
Had I and others in my situation had the right to vote in the last East Hampton election the present board would have been voted out of office. The margin of victory was only 15 votes. And yet, the board is intent on ramming through a commitment to take F.A.A. money for a trivial endeavor (for which the dedicated airport account has more than enough to pay).
However the legal arguments vis-a-vis grant assurances would have played out, this action will foreclose any possibility of local control of noise and pollution caused by the existence of the airport. The reality is that the airport will experience increased traffic without anyone’s being able to intercede. Noise and pollution will increase. A control tower’s only ability will be to localize the noise, not decrease it. (An unheralded consequence of the tower will be to increase the capacity of the airport — hence increased noise and pollution.) All of this a consequence of a politically expedient action!
If the town board acts as intended it will assume complete responsibility for a shameful legacy that will follow its members for 20 years.
What’s the Rush?
December 1, 2011
To the Editor,
Tonight’s public meeting at East Hampton Town Hall was taken over by pilots. One after another they encouraged the board to accept Federal Aviation Administration money for airport repairs. In fact, the only people who encouraged the board to act immediately to apply for F.A.A. money were the pilots.
Several East Hampton residents presented reasonable arguments for studying the situation before rushing to a hasty vote, but they were far outnumbered by pilots.
I attended the meeting to sort out the facts. I thought the discussion would clarify the questions I had. It did not. The pilots were well organized and basically took over the meeting.
I have a few questions:
1. What’s the rush? If the board takes a few short weeks or months to sort out the facts, will we lose our chance to get F.A.A. funding?
2. If the F.A.A. is an ally of the community, why is the airport noise out of control? We have F.A.A. funding now; why would the F.A.A. turn around all of a sudden and restrict noise (according to the pilots) if we accept more funding?
3. Why not use the $1.5 million airport surplus to construct a deer fence and control tower and take some time to study the matter?
4. Again, what’s the rush? We need to carefully consider this matter before we relinquish control over the airport.
MARY E. McDONALD
Huge and Unnecessary
December 5, 2011
It was clear at Thursday’s hearing regarding the Federal Aviation Administration funding issue that intelligent and well-informed citizens are looking at the same data and coming up with exactly opposite conclusions. What is more, no one yet has been able to articulate a compromise position.
Three things are clear to me:
1. The Quiet Skies Coalition does not seek to close the airport, thus the pilots’ stated fear of that outcome is irrational.
2. Our concern is over jets, seaplanes, and helicopters, not single or twin-engine planes, thus, again, the pilots’ statements were essentially irrelevant.
3. It is likely that noise and other pollution from aircraft here — pollution already at unacceptable levels to the many people directly impacted — will increase next summer and beyond.
Taking F.A.A. money now for a “deer fence,” when there is ample money available for that project in the airport account, is dangerously shortsighted. It may also be seen as irresponsible — when so many intelligent and informed people (our membership alone is now at 340 and growing) see it as a huge and unnecessary mistake.
The responsible thing to do is to strike a balance by taking a moderate position: Build the necessary fence with money from the airport surplus, place the control tower at the airport for a season, do a study, involve all concerned parties, and then make a decision based on reality, not supposition — on what we know is happening, not on what we hope, or fear, might happen.
The airport upgrades that are obviously at the heart of the F.A.A. money issue would just have to wait another year or two. If the pilots really care about East Hampton half as much as they claim, then they can delay their gratification a bit longer in order to be sure that airport decisions are truly in the best interests of the entire community.
Finally, the proposed fence shown in the Peter Kirsch presentation at the hearing is itself an awful, imposing, metal, chain-link urban structure that will visually despoil miles of rural roads in East Hampton. When such a fence is in place, it will clarify all the more that the airport has already become an urban metastructure in what was intended to be an essentially rural setting. Its style should be seriously altered, lest it be a visual abomination in perpetuity. Welcome to Islip MacArthur East.
Quiet Skies Coalition
Officials Do Nothing
December 5, 2011
There have been three or four reported collisions between deer and airplanes over a 10-year period, and town officials are rushing to build a million-dollar fence around the airport. There are hundreds of deer and car collisions each year resulting in substantial property damage, injury, and sometimes death, and town officials do nothing.
Councilman Dominick Stanzione’s heralded deer management committee has been meeting for two years with absolutely no results. Over that period the deer population has nearly doubled.
We all know that culling is the best and only solution to our community’s deer problem. We can discuss the merits of birth control strategies after the herd has been reduced. I’m tired of dodging deer on our roads, picking ticks off my children, shoveling deer scat off my lawn, and spending hundreds of dollars to replace plant materials eaten by deer. It’s time for town officials to show some leadership and solve our deer problem now.
Do we all need to trade in our Chevys for Cessnas before the town takes action?
December 5, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray,
Friday morning I visited Mary’s Marvelous in Amagansett to purchase a small gift certificate for the editor and minority owner of The Independent newspaper. So he can now stop by Mary’s any time to claim his tasty holiday stocking stuffer!
At the same time I decided to pick up three scrumptious cupcakes, take them to the office of Bill Wilkinson, and offer my congratulations on his re-election as East Hampton Town supervisor. Luckily, Bill was at his desk, so I was able to just barge in, present the cupcakes, and shake his hand.
The supervisor seemed befuddled at first, happy to see me on the one hand, confused on the other. “What are you doing, Lyle? I just read your letter saying congratulations on the election, then saying you didn’t vote for me. What do you want? What are you looking for?”
And I said, “Bill, I’m just trying to show that, no matter the outcome of the election, I still wish you well and hope that we can all move forward together. That’s all there is to it.”
“But I don’t understand why you didn’t vote for me,” he replied (I’m paraphrasing). “I supported you on that Life-Saving Station thing.”
And I said, “Look, everybody in this office pushed me off the rails on the Life-Saving Station matter, but that’s old news, and I’m over it.”
“Then what’s the problem?” he wanted to know. I replied, “It’s a much longer conversation, and I’ve gotta catch a plane, now let’s have a hug and don’t forget what I said over a year ago: I’m here to help, so let me know how.”
God that sounds self-congratulatory, doesn’t it Mr. Rattray? Say it! “Yes, Lyle, it does, you schmuck.”
Fine, I’m glad you could get that off your chest. Now let me finish. It has astonished me to observe the level of anger and hatred that folks in our little community could harbor for those on the “other team.” You’d hope that the discussions and debates might be more civil on the most basic issues, but they heat up quickly, voices are raised, the name-calling begins.
I suppose every community in this country could be considered a microcosm of the larger union. And on the national level the bitterness, hostility, hand-wringing, and mud-slinging just seem unprecedented. I don’t think it’s healthy for our society, for our political system, for our economy. In our American universe, you should be able to walk across the field and congratulate the winning team. Not throw your helmet on the ground and storm off to the lockers to pout.
Here’s what I think is going on: I think we’re becoming negative news junkies. Pain’s addiction is what we’ve got. Nothing is good. The updates are coming hourly, not daily or weekly. They’re streaming live, right now, so stop reading this letter and go online. The job outlook has improved — but it’s still not healthy. Consumer optimism is on the rise — but it’s not where it should be. American manufacturing is up — but if the Euro fails it could all fall apart. Retail sales have been strong — but it’s probably just seasonal demand. We’re leading from behind. Our kids aren’t excelling in school. We’re losing ground to the Chinese. It seems like the country’s going through menopause — we’re sweating, we’re shivering, we’re edgy.
In other words, every hopeful sign is followed by a caveat. “Yes, but” is our mantra.
It’s time for a digression. A few days before visiting with Mr. Wilkinson I ran into Tina Piette, and we immediately leapt into one of our animated conversations about the state of the town. I asked Tina if she’d taken advantage of my special gift subscription to The Star waiting for her in your office, Mr. Rattray. She said, “I do not and will not patronize that paper, and I will never give them my money.”
And I said, “Well, it sounds like you’re reading the paper if you’re writing letters to the editor.”
“That was one time,” she replied, “and I read it online!”
She did ask me if the money I left for her subscription could be given to charity, and I said of course.
“How about the Don Sharkey Fund?”
Initially I said no, that would be a poke in David Rattray’s eye. But now I figure, sure, why not? Do it, Tina! (I assume you’re reading this letter online!)
Almost 3 years ago I canceled my subscription to The New Yorker to demonstrate my disgust with a cover they ran depicting Barack and Michelle Obama as terrorists in Muslim garb. I found it disrespectful and arch — as opposed to cleverly subversive. A year and a half later I started my subscription again. I got over it. It’s still a great magazine.
The country is exhausted with its own negativity. We’re ready to take some deep breaths and celebrate what’s good, fix what’s broken, and create the framework for a brilliant future. We each get one lifetime for that mission. (And I’m wasting mine writing this letter!)
As you may have recently read in The Times, planetary astronomers feel they are getting closer to identifying several planets roughly 20 light-years from Amagansett that may, just possibly, be orbiting their sun at a distance that could foster the atmospheric and surface mass conditions conducive to the creation and sustenance of life — though probably not anything with feet, wings, shirts, hats. More like slime, they speculate.
And according to a Dr. Brownlee, our own beautifully unique planet will one day no longer be hospitable to life. According to the article, “A billion years from now, there will not be enough carbon dioxide left to support photosynthesis, the oxygen we breathe.” Thus, in about 1 billion years it will all be over for animal life on Earth.
By my calculations, Mr. Rattray, that gives us humans less than 4 million more generations to get it right before our face time here is up. I hope that answers your question, Bill.
To our better elves,
December 1, 2011
Now that the local election for town supervisor if finally over, I want to thank everyone who was smart enough to vote for Bill Wilkinson. Of course, I am somewhat disappointed that he was not re-elected by the landslide he deserved, but no matter. On Jan. 1 Bill will be sworn in again for two more years and that is all that really matters. Now Bill can finish what he started.
However, I think you and your readers should be made aware that the election was almost stolen by various UpIslanders, mainly Democrats from Manhattan. Yes, it is true. Few people are aware of it but our Democratic congressman, Tim Bishop, sent out a number of mailings to selected property owners encouraging them to relocate their voting addresses from New York City to out here. Mr. Bishop even enclosed an absentee ballot application to help these people make the switch!
I believe a couple of hundred people took the congressman up on his offer and switched their voter registration so they could vote out here absentee, while mainly living full time elsewhere. Sad to say, this type of voter registration switcheroo is now perfectly legal because the Democratic majority in our State Legislature changed the rules. Now any state citizen over 18 years old can vote wherever he or she owns or rents property as long as they do not vote in two places. So, obviously many of the votes that went against Bill Wilkinson were not by locals from here in East Hampton but came from people living on the Upper West Side or East Side and who want to tell us locals what to do.
As a final point, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank Len Bernard, our budget officer, and our full town board for helping shepherd us through the minefield that was left behind for us by the Democrats and Bill McGintee. How soon people forget! Am I the only one who remembers the improper movement of money from one fund to another, the abuse of the community preservation fund to buy islands that are useless and parcels that belonged to Democratic friends? Or how about the budget-busing overruns that led to huge tax increases? How anyone in their right mind who actually lives here could support people who approved of this by their silence is just astonishing and disgraceful.
December 4, 2011
I had the good fortune to attend a kickoff meeting of the Peconic Sustainability Institute at the State University at Southampton on Nov. 30 led by our two representatives to Albany, Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Kenneth P. LaValle.
The room was filled to capacity, a surprise to the assemblyman and senator and probably everyone else, since the publicity for the meeting was minimal. But it was obvious that people are keenly interested in looking for ways to battle the difficulties facing the lives of those who live on the East End.
Since this was an initial meeting, we were groping our way through the issues as well as working to establish an effective group that would continue to meet and grapple with the multiplicity of the difficulties facing us. Air, water, which we swim in and drink, land, beaches, food production and sources, health, safety, education, transportation, and the mother of all issues — climate change — are among the topics we will be examining in the future to benefit our future.
Many of our town leaders were present, though some gave only a titular nod to the group and left after the opening remarks. This behavior was noted, and they will have to face the public’s opinion at a later date.
In the meantime, if you are interested in becoming a part of this group, look for notice of our next meeting sometime in January. We must all become serious about our future here on the East End — and on our planet. Hard as it may be to think about, we are going to change how we live, if we want to live.
PHYLLIS I. MALLAH
December 2, 2011
Thank you very much for your editorial on East End municipal responses to date on climate change. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, a public benefit corporation, has published a final report: “ClimAid: Responding to Climate Change in New York State.” The full technical report, 650 pages, has been condensed into an accessible 60-page synthesis. Both reports can be found on the N.Y.S.E.R.D.A. Web site, nyserda.ny. gov.
The percentage of Americans who believe the Earth has been warming has risen from 75 percent last year to 83 percent, according to a Reuters Ipsos poll conducted Sept. 8 to 12. The national political dialogue is stalled. With this report New York State is providing local communities and their decision-makers with recommendations for potential actions to become more “resilient” to current and future climate risk. So I repeat your most important editorial conclusion: “The sooner Long Island’s towns and villages start working on sober, comprehensive policies the better.”
LINDA B. JAMES
Venus and Mars
December 2, 2011
Did you ever consider how much credibility you lose with every editorial when you promote such an easily disprovable hoax as the manmade global warming theory? Why should we believe you on any important subject when it is so obvious that you are simply parroting factless, idiotic, left-wing propaganda which could not possibly be true.
If you had simply looked around you would know that. The theory that any increase in CO2 is causing (rather than following) the Earth’s ambient temperature increase is easily disproved by our nearest planetary neighbors, Venus and Mars.
Mars and Venus have atmospheres that are composed of 95.3 percent CO2 and Venus, whose atmosphere is dominated by 96 percent CO2. Yet the average temperature of Venus is 896 degrees Fahrenheit and Mars’ average temperature is minus-81 degrees. That is a combined temperature swing of 977 degrees or 543 Celsius, and yet there is only a .7 percent difference in the CO2 levels of their respective atmospheres. Why?
Could the difference be explained by their relative distances to the Sun? Venus is 67 million miles from the Sun, and Mars is almost twice that distance at 141.7 million miles. Earth is in the middle at 92 million miles and an average temperature of 57 degrees.
Coincidence? I think not.
With a little more study of a planetary chart and an elemental knowledge of Newtonian physics, we learn that the Sun at 1.3 million times Earth’s mass has an orbit, too. The path of this orbit has almost nothing to do with Earth’s mass but rather the precession of the four largest planets. This affects our weather and temperature because this phenomenon changes our relative distance to the Sun in 1,500-year cycles!
Sacré bleu! Who would have thunk it? Certainly not you or the Star’s editorial board.
Here is a simple analogy for you to consider. Think of your character and reputation as a journalist as ice cream. What happens when you mix that with dog poo (manmade global warming hoax in this case)?
Not easy to stomach, is it?
OTIS A. GLAZEBROOK IV
December 4, 2011
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I just read “Mornings In Jenin.” It’s a novel, hauntingly beautiful in its humanity, that speaks to what we do to “the other” to get what we think we deserve, and to how power destroys the powerless.
In a way, it’s a terrible extension of what’s happening here, as powerful corporations affect every day the lives of the powerless. It’s also a reminder of how an act that may begin in need, as it gains in power, can lead to further acts of cruelty.
These are my thoughts coming out of the reading and may not be those of others, but I strongly believe it deserves a reading. My hope is that, read it or not, we all learn to remember compassion.
December 5, 2011
To the Editor,
East Hampton is an extraordinary place, and I have a Christmas tale to prove it.
’Twas a Saturday morning before Christmas, and I left the house early, went into town, hit the bank, and pulled out some Christmas cash. I then went to Waldbaum’s to do a shop. As I was loading the car I thought some items had fallen out of one of the grocery bags by the front car door. I dropped my handbag, got down on all fours, and looked under the car. I found nothing. I then placed the cart back in its place and drove home.
Two hours later I was ready to go to the crafts fair at the Springs Community Church and Ashawagh Hall and I could not find my handbag. Needless to say I was beside myself. I called Waldbaum’s, and the village and town police. No handbag. I then decided before I cancel my life in plastic and accepted the situation I should go in person to Waldbaum’s and the village police to see if they had received a lost handbag. This took a lot of self-control, as I was out of my mind.
I did both of these things, no handbag. I then went to the bank, canceled the old and got a new debit card, and took out some money from my savings account, as I had none. Feeling very stressed and upset on my way home, I stopped at the crafts fair, and went to Ashawagh Hall, as promised, to see Carolyn Bistrian and her beautiful pottery.
Angst was building, I explained to all what had happened, and how I could not stay as I had to get home and start canceling credit cards. Carolyn with her pup, Charlie, calmly looked at me. Carolyn handed me a beautiful bowl she had made, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “This is for you. It will change your day.” And it did.
When I arrived home, the light was flashing on the answering machine. My friend Josie K. had left a message that my phone was at Waldbaum’s, she did not understand where I was, but she was on her way to Waldbaum’s to pick it up for me and I should not worry. I immediately called Josie; she had my handbag, not just my cellphone, in her car and was on her way to my house to drop it off. To make a long and painful story short, I had my lost handbag delivered to me, and everything was intact.
It seems Josie had texted me, as is her wont, earlier in the morning. The Waldbaum’s employee who had been given the bag contacted her and that is how I was reunited with my handbag and my life.
This is a Christmas story of many angels and how the kindness of others saved the day for me. I still don’t know who the Good Samaritan was who found the handbag in the parking lot, but I hope I meet him or her one day so I can say thanks personally. I am so grateful to all.
Yes, I believe in Santa Claus. Yes, I believe in miracles, and thank you, everyone, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your kindnesses.
Examine the Issue
December 1, 2011
To the Editor,
In this age of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs, millions are being killed, mostly innocent civilians and children. One simply cannot remain morally neutral about military service or the institution of war. Conscience is demanded of us all if we are going to survive.
Some people mistake their culture for their conscience. They think they should follow the views of their nation, or their religion, or their family. Few people ever seriously examine the issue of war. War for many is an abstraction, witness the past election in 2009: War was never an issue or discussed.
For some war is an ideal or glorified. War for many is their duty or destiny. Hopefully, you remember the teaching of Albert Einstein: “We must change the way we think about war or we are headed for self-destruction.”
December 5, 2011
A tax idea that even the Republicans can’t fault: The plan is divided into three parts:
1) The Bush (Obama) tax cuts are not renewed for anyone whose income is over $650,000.
2) As part of the above any person or business who employs a person or persons for six months, minimum, will be able to reduce their taxes by $2,500. Pick an amount that makes sense. Any number of people multiplied by $2,500.
3) To promote education, those who pay for the education of a high school or college student (not to include room and board) will be able to deduct that plus $1,000 from their taxes.
This to me is so simple that it needs no further explanation. At a time when so many people are jobless and when students find it hard to afford tuition, this is a way a person of means can help solve the problems.