Cherish This Lifestyle
April 7, 2011
To the Editor,
I am a lucky man.
I purchased property in East Hampton 25 years ago. I held on to it while I worked, thinking of building on it some day. I built my house in 1997. In April of 1998 I retired and moved here with my wife to live full time.
This Bronx boy is living his dream each day I ride the beach in my truck and fish. At nearly 75, I am grateful that East Hampton is a community where dollars in one’s pocket cannot alter heritage and history. Or so I thought.
The juxtaposition of a multimillion-dollar beach house and a family with children, kites, hot dogs, and a vehicle that allows them to be on the beach in front of the beach house is the mix that makes this town work. It’s this mix that emphasizes how we are all the same, all equal: people able to enjoy the sand, the beach, the water. It doesn’t matter how each person gets to the beach. Whether by walking down the steps from a beach house or driving in a truck on the sand. We are all allowed to be there. How could it be anything different?
The beach is not meant to be privatized, not meant for a few who can afford the purchase price. It’s meant for families, for joggers, for dogs, for surfers, for fishermen.
I retired here so I could do what I love: ride the beaches of East Hampton and look for fish. The romance is in the looking. Driving a bit, taking out my binoculars, reading the water, casting, (maybe catching, maybe not), meeting other fishermen, our vehicles anchored driver to driver as we talk the talk: the bait, the tides, the moon, the expectations, the stories.
I am told that the lawsuit to privatize part of the Napeague beach is two years in the making. Yet I heard nothing about it until a week ago; neither had any of my friends. Why wasn’t this given the public attention by the town board and the trustees? My phone messages and e-mails are filled with little in the way of facts. Why is it we do not know what our board and trustees are doing to win this lawsuit?
I am to be 75 this year. I have been fishing these beaches for over 50 years. I ask you, selfishly, don’t take this away from me. Don’t take this away from any of us who cherish this lifestyle. Protect the next 50 years — and all the 50 years after that.
Protect These Beaches
April 8, 2011
To the Editor:
Just say no to beach privatization.
The recent lawsuit filed on behalf of Bernard Kiembock of East Hampton Village Hardware and the White Sands Motel, along with other interested parties is truly unfortunate for all residents of East Hampton. In addition, it threatens the annual visit of many good people to our town who are seeking the beach, the surf, and fishing.
Our community, East Hampton, was built on local circles of commerce and integrity that embraced family values, our natural resources, and a great quality of life for all citizens. Of late, it seems the accumulation of wealth through privatization of public lands with indifference to the local community and the environment is much more prevalent.
The East Hampton trustees have done a commendable job of managing our bottomlands and beaches for centuries. Fishermen have always accessed the surf along Napeague, as documented throughout the lineage of title on the subject beach properties. More recently, beachgoers, surfers, and fitness advocates enjoy these beaches on a daily basis. The need to protect these beaches today and to pass them on to our children is very clear.
It seems almost surreal that in only two weeks a decision could be rendered regarding the fate of beach access in our town for the coming summer season and beyond.
Anyone who values local beach access needs to call the East Hampton Town Board to voice their support for protecting beach access in our town A.S.A.P.
April 11, 2011
To the Editor,
There are many issues surrounding illegal, overcrowded housing and overdevelopment in East Hampton. The associated environmental impacts are one of great concern. The list of issues and impacts is long and complex, but one problem we can all relate to is the fact that people create waste. Household waste is self-hauled to the recycling centers or taken away by private carters. In East Hampton, along with 80 percent of all Suffolk residences, human waste is disposed of in cesspools and septic systems. One can also dispose of wastewater at the scavenger waste facility on Springs-Fireplace Road in East Hampton.
This waste contains nitrogen, a component that may be one of the greatest threats to our ground, inland, and coastal waters due to the associated ecosystem effects. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation lists the entire South Shore Estuary Reserve as impaired due to the overloading of nitrogen in its waters. The source of nitrogen contamination in this estuary is wastewater; direct effects from the influx of excess nitrogen include harmful algal blooms. The worst place on the planet for the algae bloom of Aureococcus anophagefferens, commonly referred to as brown tide, occurs in the South Shore Estuary waters of Quantuck Bay, located just 20 or so miles to our west.
These blooms can wreak havoc on ecosystems. They degrade water quality, harm aquatic life, hurt people, and influence economies. The cascading ecosystem effects are real and have a profound effect on the environment and people. These findings are significant for East Hampton and are important to recognize due to the proximity and similarity of its waters, demographics, and pattern of development. East Hampton’s waters are not unaffected by excess nutrient loading and the resulting harms.
In 2010, the D.E.C. listed 43 acres of Three Mile Harbor and Hog Creek as “uncertified year-round” for shellfishing due to the detection of coliform and fecal bacteria. Accabonac Harbor, Lake Montauk, and Northwest Creek exceeded their allowable daily load levels of pathogens in 2009, causing the town to implement MS4, a storm water abatement program. D.E.C. assessments claim Three Mile Harbor and Accabonac Harbor to be at risk to pollution found in upwelling groundwater, which includes septic system leachate.
Progressive decline of water quality was shown in Lake Montauk, due in part to increasing wastewater input from shoreline development. Georgica Pond is stressed from known pathogens and suspected pollution, possibly due to failing septic systems. Wainscott Pond and Fairfield Pond suffer from low dissolved oxygen levels, which negatively affect aquatic life and cause fish kills. The cause could be septic systems.
There is a pattern here, and it gets deep. Groundwater is also contaminated with nitrogen. From 1987 to 2005, the nitrogen levels in the upper glacial aquifer increased by 40 percent. The Magothy aquifer had a 200-percent spike in nitrogen levels as well. Is the rise of nitrogen in our groundwater due to overdevelopment? Is the volume of human waste from overcrowded dwellings exhausting the biological ability and filtration capacity of the soils?
Are current wastewater treatment systems overloaded, or are they inappropriate for today’s needs? What about the future’s needs? More importantly, what about the future’s right to clean drinking water and healthy ecosystems?
Human waste is a chronic source of pollution that must be addressed before significant negative impacts occur which can change our economy, way of life, and environment. Whether nitrogen contamination is due to overdevelopment, overcrowded housing, the inability to change current wastewater treatment methods — or an unwillingness or lack of desire to change — modern technology should be utilized to reduce this threat as soon as possible. There are varieties of readily available options that reduce nitrogen levels that are commonly used in other areas.
East Hampton Town is considering modification of the operational procedures at the Springs-Fireplace Road scavenger waste facility. The budget and finance advisory committee presented a report dated March 22 containing recommendations for the site to the town board. A “robust environmental study of the scavenger plant operations and ground and water conditions” was suggested in it, as were a variety of alternatives to present operational procedures. Environmental testing was deemed critical with “continuous and careful monitoring” by the town and state agencies, no matter what is planned for the future of the site. All interested parties should spend sufficient time and effort in order to carefully consider the findings and the suggestion of the committee. To begin, testing should commence as soon as possible.
East Hampton has upon it the opportunity to make a decision that will affect the future of its waters. New York is lagging behind other states in both regulatory and technology concerning residential wastewater and its treatment. East Hampton does not have to follow suit.
This is a problem one does not think about every day. Even so, it is a subject that we all share. Wastewater is a hidden yet obvious consequence of overdevelopment and overcrowded housing. There are treatment solutions that can be implemented to mitigate the harmful effects of nitrogen-laden wastewater in the environment.
We are all in this together,
April 12, 2011
One of East Hampton’s important natural resources, Lake Montauk, is in a serious state of decline, so serious that its condition has been described as “dying.”
In a somewhat belated response to this report, the town board added new members to the Lake Montauk Watershed Committee to study the lake’s current state.
On the face of it, the revitalization of this committee is a good thing. However, on closer inspection of the list, one name stands out as a highly inappropriate choice. With all of the highly qualified citizens of East Hampton who have been active for years in environmental concerns and studies, why was a spot on this committee given to a person who, only a short time before, was fined by the Department of Environmental Conservation for illegally dredging Lake Montauk without a permit, channeling silt and sediment into the lake, and other violations?
Isn’t this the classic case of appointing the fox to guard the chicken coop?
April 11, 2011
The East Hampton Independence Party will be screening candidates for supervisor, town board, town justice, assessors, superintendent of highways, and town trustee for the 2011 election on Monday, April 25, at Scoville Hall on Meeting House Lane in Amagansett, beginning at 6 p.m.
Any persons interested should send a résumé to P.O. Box 1280, Amagansett, 11930 or contact me. Any résumés sent should have the correct addresses according to the Board of Elections.
East Hampton Independence Party
April 4, 2011
I called District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office to tell him he should be ashamed of accepting ill-gotten money in exchange for leniency to County Executive Steve Levy. It seems all the world to be Mr. Levy’s most recent scam to pay $4 million he had on hand to not be criminally charged for his pay-to-play scheme, except he now draws in the D.A. to abet the scam.
Contractors bidding for county contract work were allegedly asked to contribute to his campaign coffers, instead of following a strict hands-off policy of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder. He was fast-talking, slick, earnest.
That Mr. Spota would accept his sidekick’s scheme doubtlessly involves him in at least the appearance of letting his old friend off lightly, deciding he need pay no time for his alleged crime. If acquiescence is complicit collaboration, this apparent scheme precludes him from carrying out his obligations to fulfill his prosecutorial duties impartially and fairly. Since Mr. Levy’s first primary, running for county executive, he wooed all the Suffolk town Democratic committee members in attendance, making a pitch for the nomination with Mr. Spota at his side, glowingly introducing him.
It is just a continuation of Levy’s habitual shakedown, only this time he’s gotten Mr. Spota to take his $4 million in what looks like a bribe to forget about sending him to jail or punishing him in any way. Seems like it worked.
April 7, 2011
To the Editor,
I have two questions for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. If Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy did break the law regarding election contributions, shouldn’t he be prosecuted by his office? If he did not break the law, shouldn’t his office return his $4 million campaign war chest? Alas, I have no training in law, and I am somewhat confused about his rather ambiguous decision.
Mr. Spota’s statement that he decided not to prosecute because of “the need for stability in government in these difficult economic times while affording a smooth transition after the 2011 elections” also leaves me confused. I did not know that district attorneys based their decisions to prosecute on economic conditions or a need for smooth transitions. However, as I stated, I have no training in law.
I must say that I am somewhat disappointed in Mr. Levy, even though he did march in the Montauk St. Patrick’s Day parade this year. His staunch advocacy of campaign-contribution reform and his fiscal conservatism ignited a fire with Suffolk voters over the years, as did his hard-line approach to illegal immigrants who broke the law by entering the United States. Mr. Levy favored deportation for those who broke the laws of the land.
If Mr. Levy did break the law, I would recommend that he be deported as well — perhaps to Attica or the new Yaphank Correctional Facility whose contractors gave so generously to his campaign.
Quick and Thorough
April 7, 2011
To the Editor:
The purpose of this letter is to share with you and the community an experience I had recently with the East Hampton Town Highway Department.
During the past two weeks, some unknown person had been dumping leaves in the middle of the street on Woodhollow Drive in front of my house and houses of my neighbors. This was creating a possible hazard for drivers, as well as a nuisance for those of us who had cleared away our leaves months ago.
The quick and thorough action of Scott King on behalf of the Town Highway Department is really appreciated. Immediately following my call, they cleaned up the piles, checked out the nearby area, and returned the next day to be sure it was still clear. It is reassuring to me and to my neighbors that we can count on the town. I wish to thank Scott King publicly for his help and for his follow-up phone calls.
NANCY MILLER ASSELIN
Feral Cat Poem #25
But wait . . . O.M.G.!
Where are all the critters?
Old cats say they used to see more squirrels
squirreling around than you could swing
a rabbit at, and plenty of bunnies as well and
chipmunks too! Raccoons and
possums and fox, and
that sold unluxury things and
stayed lit-up the year round
instead of dark and gutted all winter
like a ghost town,
But that was back when
real estate was more real
And critters felt welcome.
April 9, 2011
Unfortunately it is true that no good deed goes unpunished, but sometimes good deeds are acknowledged. A beautiful ceremony was held at the Scully estate on the south shore by the Sierra Club, where I was presented with the Environmentalist of the Year Award for my work on light pollution abatement.
I also received a certificate of achievement from Islip Town Councilwoman Trish Bergin and a proclamation from State Senator Lee Zeldin, along with a state legislative resolution from our local Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., in which I was referred to as an “indomitable woman” and for “enhancing the quality of life” in my community.
Any opposition to the dark sky legislation has been based on misunderstandings, misinformation, and misperceptions. To clear all that up, I have been giving educational sessions to all the citizen advisory committees, and am available to show a convincing PowerPoint presentation to any group. Just ask me.
Thank you for your continuing support of this important community issue. It benefits all of us.
As a postscript, let’s please also celebrate Earth Day at night by going outside and appreciating our beautiful star-filled night sky.
Dark Sky Society