Letters to the Editor - 05.26.11

Beach Has Changed
    May 18, 2011
To the Editor,
    I am writing to add my thoughts about the lawsuit over control of the beach in Amagansett.
    I have spent summers in Amagansett for over 40 years. I went to summer camp here as child, was an ocean lifeguard at Indian Wells Beach for two years, and am delighted that now my children can grow up and spend their summers here as well. Collectively, during my lifetime I have spent more time in Amagansett than anywhere else; it is my home.
    There are many things I love about Amagansett but the main attraction for me has always been the beach. My summers here taught me to love the ocean and appreciate the joy it can provide for swimmers, sunbathers, surfers, boogie boarders, dogs, and the occasional fisherman.
    When I was a child I loved watching the fishermen drive by with their boats in tow, and I loved running down the beach at the end of the day to see what they would pull in with their nets. It is still exciting to watch the blues run and the surfcasters reel them in.
     But over the years, with the proliferation of the all-wheel-drive family sport-utility vehicle, the atmosphere on the beach has changed. I have watched the number of beach vehicles grow exponentially and the situation has gotten out of hand. On summer weekends and holidays, I have counted over 200 trucks and S.U.V.s parked on this small stretch of beach at one time. There were days over the last few summers when the vehicles were so concentrated that they were parked two rows deep. Summer residents, as well as families who live here year round, are parking here mostly because they have no other reasonable access to the beach.
    While I do not understand all of the intricacies of the law pertaining to land use, property rights, and the Dongan Patent, what I do know is that this lawsuit is an attempt to force the trustees and Town of East Hampton to address the rapidly deteriorating beach-driving situation. This suit, stemming from an inequitable usage of a beach in Amagansett, is not about privatization. It is about fairness.
    In my lifetime, I have seen the trustees and Town of East Hampton, who claim to own or control all of beaches in East Hampton, close most of the beach access points, leaving only this one stretch of ocean beach (other than the New York State-controlled Napeague State Park farther to the east) open to vehicles. Pleas to the town to address the situation over the last 10 years have gone completely unanswered.
    The quiet, serene beach I grew up on as a child is gone. Why has it become a parking lot? Why can’t our town officials preserve access to the beach for everyone in a less-intrusive and less-confrontational manner? Please, let us not lend credence to those who want to avoid the issue by reducing this to a conflict about class warfare.
    It is time for some serious dialogue. Our officials need to take this seriously and find an equitable and fair solution that preserves everyone’s right to enjoy the beach as I have been so fortunate to do in my lifetime.

Trash Can Blues
Just sittin’ on the beach by the bay
watchin’ the trash go floatin’ away.

Tried to toss one full garbage bag out,
but ain’t no rubbish bins standin’ about.

Seems the town has slashed the budget so low
expectin’ folks to haul trash home when they go.

Just sittin’ on the beach by the bay
watchin’ trash mountin’ higher each day.

Seems there ain’t nothin’ much I can do,
but wail these sorry, mean, old trash can blues!

Dog Ownership
    East Hampton
    May 20, 2011
To the Editor,
    I am so tired of the ranting about dogs on the beach. This has nothing to do with feces or urine. Most dog owners are responsible. I challenge the amount of feces is left on the beaches. This has to do with dog lovers and those poor people who have never learned what dog ownership brings to a life.
    I have a wonderful solution to the problem. When dogs are born, a sample of their feces should be taken and DNA sampled and recorded. No sample, no license! If feces are found and picked up, its owner will be easily identifiable (might put a lot of people to work too!). With a $1,000 fine attached to any summons, my bet is that there will no longer be feces left on the beaches of East Hampton or anywhere for that matter. Perhaps then, responsible dog owners, who understand what dog ownership brings to life, will be able to relax.

Missing Dog
    East Hampton
    May 22, 2011
Dear Editor:
    My husband and I want to thank all the wonderful people, many strangers, who helped in the search for our missing dog, Ginger. Last Thursday, this beloved pet, a small 6-year-old chocolate Lab, took off with her neighborhood dog-buddy, Harry, on an adventure along the walking trails in Northwest Woods.
    A kind woman, who found Harry wandering up and down Red Fox Road, off Route 114, brought him home later that afternoon. Our frantic search for Ginger continued until late on Friday when I got a call from a swimming pool company to tell me that Ginger, a champion swimmer, had been found drowned in a swimming pool at 545 Deer Path, near the trailhead, the home of a Jodie Berro. They would leave her body on the side of the driveway for our family to retrieve.
    When we went to the house, we found an attractive house and a backyard swimming pool that is visible from the road. The insubstantial wire fencing around the property was pulled wide open in the area near the road and the gate on the other side of the house had been pulled back and secured with wire in the open position, apparently for some time, by the appearance of the old rusted wire. The sight of the pool, so easily accessible in two gaping spaces, must have proved irresistible to my little chocolate Labrador retriever.
    Tragically, there were no steps and no stairs in and out of the pool. I am tormented by the knowledge of how she must have panicked and struggled until her heart gave out. She was one of the gentlest, most loving animals I have ever known. My heart is forever broken over the loss of this wonderful creature, so totally preventable.
    I cannot help but think of all the grieving parents who have lost a child because of the same negligence and cannot comprehend how people live with such senseless loss. Surely, more can be done to prevent such terrible events.

Local History
    May 22, 2011
To the Editor,
    Last week I read an interesting article in The Star about the “recent” discovery of the settlement of the Van Scoys by the trails society. This settlement was a destination for field trips when I was in Amagansett School.
    In 1968, when I was in eighth grade, Carleton Kelsey, then the town historian, with a few of our teachers took classes on excursions into Northwest Woods. They showed us several settlement areas and the biggest one was the Van Scoys’.
    When we studied history, we learned about our local history. After all, the very first European settlements were on the East Coast. The West was not settled until after the Civil War. There were settlements in the Grace Estate, Bar­celona, and probably the earliest was Van Scoy. If I remember correctly, there were smaller settlements in the Cedar Point area that were pointed out to us also.
    Because of the shallow water, Carleton Kelsey believed provisions were taken in by either horse and wagon from Sag Harbor or there may have been a ferry system with rope and pulleys. Either way, these foundations, wells, and graves stand as great reminders of how these settlers carved an existence with their bare hands out of the earth. I am glad the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society picked up the ball and is honoring the history of Northwest.

Sordid Chapter
    East Hampton
    May 20, 2011
To the Editor:
    The New York Supreme Court has decided in favor of the East Hampton Library.  Let us hope that a rather sordid chapter in the history of East Hampton Village can be closed.

Higher Priorities
    East Hampton
    May 17, 2011
To the Editor,
    My heart goes out to the parents of the children currently enrolled in Stella Maris School. I know the shock, sorrow, and sense of betrayal that they are feeling. I experienced it 27 years ago when the late Bishop John McGann abruptly shut down Holy Family High School in South Huntington, where my daughter was in her junior year, and from which her three siblings had graduated. Like many of the parents of that school, I first learned of Bishop McGann’s decision on the radio.
    The shock and sorrow pass in time, but the sense of betrayal does not. You believe you are doing the right thing by providing a Catholic education for your children, at no small financial sacrifice, only to discover that the bishop has higher priorities than supporting a Catholic school system, in spite of his words to the contrary.
    Ironically, a special collection was taken up at Most Holy Trinity Church, and I assume throughout the diocese, this past Sunday for the Catholic Communications Campaign to support the “inspiring” media activities of the diocese. Without question, the lack of open, frank, and timely communication between the diocesan leaders, church pastors, parochial school administrators, and the laity is a serious problem, but a diocesan public relations campaign is not the answer.
    Twenty-seven years ago, Bishop McGann claimed the diocese could no longer afford to subsidize two of the four diocesan high schools that his predecessor, Bishop Walter Kellenberg, had built through the generosity of the Catholics of Nassau and Suffolk counties. In fact, at that time Bishop McGann was providing more funds for his diocesan TV station than he was to the diocesan high schools. It seems clear that Bishop William Murphy has a similar set of priorities.
    Bishop Murphy has been quoted as saying that having only a handful of children in a classroom is neither economically nor educationally viable. My personal experience speaks to the contrary. I had the privilege of attending second grade in a public elementary school in Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada, that had only two rooms and two teachers — grades one through four in one room and grades five through eight in the adjacent room. There were maybe 30 students in each room. I remember that experience vividly. It certainly had no detrimental effect on my scholastic development or subsequent secondary, college and postgraduate work. I earned my Ph.D. in engineering at New York University.
    My point is that where there is a will, there is a way. What is lacking at the diocesan level, and not just in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, is the will to continue the Catholic elementary and secondary school systems, especially if it requires imaginative and challenging approaches. The after-school Christian doc­­trine programs, while commendable, are not a good substitute. A consequence of this lack of determination to continue and enrich Catholic school systems may be the rapidly declining number of vocations to the religious life, as well as the decline in population of practicing Catholics, in this country.
    I hope a suitable use can be found for the Stella Maris school building. To finish the Holy Family saga, Bishop McGann sold the Holy Family High School building and grounds for $1 to the Franciscan Brothers, who moved St. Anthony’s High School into the facility and converted it to a coed school that opened without missing a beat after Holy Family closed its doors.
    St. Anthony’s High School has flourished and grown since then, and is an asset to Long Island. It seems that the friars have been able to do what the diocese could not, or would not, do. We can pray that some white knight will appear on the East End to rescue Stella Maris. But don’t expect him to ride out from Rockville Centre.

Did Not End
    East Rockaway
    May 23, 2011
Dear Editor:
    My grandson was bar mitzvahed on May 21. It was a joyous celebration and, needless to say, we were so pleased that the world did not end. He had studied for three years for this event in his life and it would have been profoundly unfair if it had ended as predicted.
    We had a party afterward and many of my son’s close friends who are not Jewish were also there. We were a bit concerned, but they all kept their feet on the ground through the entire event, and were all present at the end.
    The only suggestion of heavenly intervention might have been the glorious weather on Saturday. As we know, it had rained all week, but Saturday was a beautiful mild day. You might recall that it started to rain again about an hour after the party closed down, so who knows?

Love for Liam
    May 23, 2011
Dear David:
    We’d like to take this opportunity to share our gratitude to every individual who helped make the Love for Liam benefit a great success. A huge thanks is due the folks who pounded the pavement seeking donations, to the people that helped plan, set up, cooked, cleaned up, or worked the event in any capacity. Perhaps you donated or bought tickets and attended, either way, each and every one of you made it all happen.
    And happen it did, as you all were a part of that wonderful energy in that packed room, pulling together to share our love for Liam and his family.
    A special thank-you goes to the Springs Fire Department and Jeff and Michelle Miller for their endless support sponsoring the event.
    There are too many individuals to name personally and many businesses who so generously donated. It was truly inspiring feeling our community come together to make a difference in a peaceful and positive way. It was a true definition of what this community is really all about.
    May we all walk away with that good energy in our hearts and keep our community pointed in that positive direction.



Congradulations to all the musicians and staff that made this years festival such an off-season hit for our town. The festival brought much needed new business. I was very disturbed that the police shut down a local band, 3rd Estate at 9:30 on Saturday night and ordered a music violation aganist the host restaurant, 668 the Gig shack. The music festival was a special event and music should have been allowed up to a later hour. If you support live music in Montauk, please contact our town board.