There to Help
April 17, 2012
To the Editor,
It’s 2 a.m. and you’re having difficulty breathing. Your chest feels like someone is sitting on it. Or perhaps your child has fallen from a bike and has a head wound. Maybe an accident has happened and you’re bleeding and it won’t stop. In all these cases, your first reaction is to dial 911 and call for an ambulance, and call you do.
Within minutes, no matter the time of day, any day of the year, the ambulance and crew arrive to render care. You, your child, and your loved ones are relieved that someone is there to help.
So, just who are these caregivers? They are your neighbors, people you see at the post office, or the I.G.A., members of the Montauk community who give of their time and concern to help. They spend hours and hours learning their skills, refreshing their knowledge in order to maintain the status of emergency medical technician.
Recently three current members of the department, Erica Uribe, Maria Cruceta, and Andy Underwood, along with a prospective new member, Jessie James, attended a four-month course involving going UpIsland two nights a week, intensive studying on weekends, practicing hands-on skills dealing with every emergency situation they might encounter. They then had to take a three-hour written test, as well as an exhausting practical test. I am proud to say they all passed and are now awaiting their E.M.T. cards.
I might add that one of them, Erica, achieved this goal while in her third trimester of pregnancy. All are now joining the other devoted members of the Montauk Fire Department Ambulance Company. They were welcomed proudly by all the other 25 members under the leadership of Capt. Alan Burke, a 40-year member.
Now that the summer season is upon us, their training and skills will be much in demand. It’s often said that timing is everything, and that indeed is the case. We are always seeking new, dedicated members to join the department and help care for and serve the community. On May 2, we will hold an informational meeting at the firehouse starting at 7 p.m.
If you have any interest in, well, feeling really good, because believe me, when you help and at times provide lifesaving assistance to another, you really do feel good, please come to the meeting. Even if you can’t join now, for whatever reason, you might consider it in the future.
It’s hard work, time-intensive, and it takes dedication, but it’s truly worth it.
Come join our family. Become one of the “who are these people?”
Montauk Fire Department
April 19, 2012
When we found out the good news that we had won prizes for our films in the Guild Hall arts film festival, we were thrilled. Brody Eggert (me) and my friend Kevin Chabla made a film in January, and we won first place. I was so happy that I am going to make more films next year. We made this film because Kevin and I were interested in origami. Kevin wanted to share his knowledge of origami, and I wanted to learn about origami because I have a friend in Japan, so I wanted to learn about his country.
My friends and I (Bella) won second place with our film called “What Is Your Worst Fear?” We have to thank Eva’s dad, who is a teacher here. He gave us a great last interview, which made everyone laugh. At Springs, we have the opportunity to make films during lunch and recess. We sign out cameras from the Academic Enrichment room. Other students train us in the basics. Sue Ellen O’Connor teaches us to edit. I have made three films this year, and we have had seven festivals at school to celebrate all of our filmmakers.
Thanks to Jennifer Brondo and the other people behind the annual Student Film Competition at Guild Hall for holding the contest and giving all of us a great opportunity to celebrate our filmmaking.
Third graders at Springs School
Slobs and Beer
April 22, 2012
To the Editor,
In response to Susan Mukasey’s letter last week, why are you blaming the Highway Department for the litter on Swamp Road and Route 114? Who do you think threw that stuff out there in the first place? The department has better things to do than pick up after fellow community members who are slobs and beer drinkers.
I pick up litter on Swamp Road twice a month. The majority of the junk is 12-pack Bud and Corona cartons, beer cans, and beer bottles. Drivers don’t want to get caught with those empties in the car. Imagine the skill: impaired, flinging, steering one-handed (probably on the phone), and navigating winding Swamp Road.
Oh, and P.S., at least slow down so you don’t hit the turkeys and other animals (and I do mean the gobbling kind of turkeys and the furry kind of animals).
P.P.S. Rodents don’t drink beer.
Love and Support
April 19, 2012
To the Editor,
Robert T. Schorr and family would like to give thanks to all for the overwhelming show of love and support over the last year during Charlotte’s illness.
This outpouring of affection has been a tremendous help in dealing with our loss.
ROBERT T. SCHORR
April 23, 2012
With the hunting season over and the warm summer months ahead, it is my pleasure to inform your readers of the E.R.C. deer program report.
Several years ago, the East Hampton Lions Club put together a unique approach to feed the hungry. During hunting season the deer that were harvested by local hunters were Department of Environmental Conservation tagged and given to a local deer butcher who prepared a chopped meat specialty, sealed and frozen in three-pound bags and then donated exclusively to the East Hampton Food Pantry. For the 2011-12 season the E.R.C. deer program has produced 3,750 pounds of deer meat, which meant fresh protein was distributed to more than 1,000 families.
Many people are involved in this program and deserve our thanks, people like Jim Weber, Todd Bennett, Danny, Jim, and Matt at North Main Street I.G.A., and all the dedicated hunters who believed in providing to others less fortunate than themselves. Kudos and a salute to the men and women who give above and beyond themselves.
One last note: I have been informed by professionals that this summer deer ticks are due to be out in epidemic proportions. So please protect yourself and your loved ones. Tick viruses can be deadly. For more information or ideas about dealing with our deer problem, please contact Councilman Dominick Stanzione at Town Hall. He is the main man working on our deer problem.
April 22, 2012
At times it seems that different things come to surface. I got my copy of the greatest document ever written: the United States Constitution. I have had it for years and that copy is nearly as old as I am. I was about 18 years old when I first joined the Conservation Department of the U.S. government. This was my first induction to true conservation; the times when the laws that governed the department were made by proper representation of the people who were affected by them.
When I first entered into fishing, it was off the treacherous surf of the Atlantic Ocean. Growing up among the old whalers and fishermen, it wasn’t until I owned my own rig at the age of 17 that I made my first trip to Albany with other fishermen. We were not an organized group and paid our way by train. We took our grievances to the State Assembly in session concerning a bill to stop haulseining.
This bill was introduced by the sport-fishermen, a special-interest group that thought the commercial fishermen were catching all the fish. These greedy so-called sportfishermen still propose their laws each year and have a lot of political power. Their membership includes freshwater anglers, along with makers of sportfishing equipment. Without proper representation they have now succeeded in laws that do not help them. I do not take offense at all sportfishermen, as there are many good ones — mostly the old-timers, as they had a better understanding of the laws.
Commercial fishermen must have a license and the money the state receives from the license fees goes toward law enforcement instead of being used for conservation. The discrimination on one group against the other is unlawful, as the difference is between offshore fishermen and the inshore fishermen. The inshore fishermen have to depend on the seasons, while the offshore fishermen don’t. There is no justification for the search and seizure law without a search warrant.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights haven’t changed. I want to thank the Lesters for having the guts to stand up for their God-given rights.
S.O.S. (Save Our Station)
CAPT. MILTON L. MILLER SR.
Failing Hook Pond
April 11, 2012
To the Editor,
Over the past 50 years, legislation has been passed throughout the United States to save and maintain natural habitats for the benefit of indigenous flora, fauna, and humans, who value all that is natural. Individuals or corporations who have destroyed natural habitats are prosecuted and fined.
Our understanding is that early in the 20th century Hook Pond was a thriving saltwater ecosystem. Specifically the saltwater pond was the habitat of many saltwater species including shellfish (oysters and clams) and crabs. In addition, many saltwater fish called the pond home during their juvenile stages, e.g., bluefish, striped bass, fluke, and flounder. The native flora and fauna were abundant and a welcome home to shore birds. The pond was kept fresh by the regular tides that prevented silting and pollution by the ever-present fresh groundwater.
A major and more recent problem for the golf course was the regular flooding of a single green at the Maidstone Club. What, in our minds, was one of the worst ecological decisions on Long Island was to close off Hook Pond from the ocean, creating a freshwater body of water cut off from the ocean and its tidal cleansing. Though this may protect the golf course from flooding, the pond no longer benefits from the tidal cleansing effects of the ocean and is now a freshwater pond that is gradually silting in.
The ecosystem has suffered greatly and now contains nongame fish, such as carp and perch. We also see many snapping turtles, which keep the ducks, geese, and swans from nesting on the pond. The silting is filling in the pond, which is now approximately three feet deep and at some point will become a damp swamp. Moreover, the water is not clear as a result of the silt. Thus osprey and other shore birds will not nest near the pond, as they cannot see the fish through the dark, cloudy water.
Numerous unsuccessful attempts have been made to increase the outflow from the pond without ever increasing the cleansing tidal inflow. In addition, the thousands of pounds of nitrogen-containing fertilizer that have been regularly applied to the land surrounding the pond and that drain into it create algae blooms and reduce soluble oxygen. Before we know it, there will be no pond.
Currently, the golf course wants to “improve” the irrigation system by creating a reservoir to store water to irrigate the golf course. There is little to no mention of the effect this project will have on our failing Hook Pond and its ecosystem. The proposed reservoir and irrigation system must take into account the impact it will have on Hook Pond’s ecosystem. We propose that any decision regarding Hook Pond and the irrigation of the golf course be postponed until such time as the community can obtain an independent and expert study of its impact on Hook Pond’s ecosystem.
EVELYN G. LIPPER
WILLIAM T. SPECK
April 23, 2012
Last Friday I went to the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals hearing regarding the Maidstone Club’s application for variances to enable expansion of the irrigation system for the east and west golf courses. My concern is that such a large-scale undertaking could have profoundly adverse effects on the precious fragile ecosystem of Hook Pond, the adjacent wetlands, and the nearby nature trail.
Over the years in the village, I have seen alarming examples of decisions that at the time seemed beneficial and benign but ended up causing significant harm. Exhibit A might be that in the 1950s it was widely believed that installing the jetties would preserve and broaden the beaches. Been to Georgica Beach lately?
It seems to me that given the scope of the proposal it is essential that an exhaustive environmental impact study be undertaken to ensure that our beloved, irreplaceable Hook Pond is protected from potential unintended consequences that the introduction of so much additional water could/might/will cause.
I will look forward to learning more at the next Z.B.A. hearing on May 11.
April 22, 2012
What’s the one thing that is missing from our great Amagansett School Board? I believe it’s a community activist with three degrees in education and 30 years of classroom experience.
I have a degree in teaching mathematics from Hunter College, a bachelor’s degree in education from Queens College, a master’s in reading from Adelphi University, and a second master’s in computers from C.W. Post. I taught pre-K for 5 years in Great Neck and Roslyn and taught reading for 25 years in the Jericho School District (K-12).
With my solid background and experience in education, I would bring a wealth of educational information to the school board. I understand quality education and my goal, as a member of the school board, is the acquisition and growth of skills and reasonable supports for each child to succeed.
As an activist in the community, I believe that residents should have a role to play in decision-making that affects our school. I would like to explore making school board meetings more accessible and user-friendly to the public. My experience serving as chairwoman of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee and its vice chairwoman for five years and as president of Amagansett East Association of 310 homes in Beach Hampton has kept me abreast of community events and will be of use when I serve on the board.
I hope I can count on the support of the Amagansett voters so I can add to the excellence of our school. The vote is Tuesday, May 15, from 2 to 8 p.m. in the school gym.
Systems Are Failing
New York City
April 23, 2012
Sylvia Overby and Dominick Stanzione of the East Hampton Town Board should be congratulated for making the development of a long-range wastewater management plan for East Hampton a bipartisan initiative. The panel of experienced professionals assembled for their forum on Saturday were all in agreement: In order to intelligently deal with the scavenger waste plant or any other discrete elements of the town’s wastewater system, the town must develop an economically and environmentally sustainable wastewater management plan.
Our present wastewater system includes over 20,000 private residential and commercial septic systems. How we organize and operate them will impact the amount of septage that we need to pump out and handle. According to Pio Lombardi, an experienced wastewater engineer on Saturday’s panel, based on our winter and summer populations, we should need to handle only half the septage now being hauled around the town. The reasons: Many of our private systems are failing, outmoded, or being improperly maintained — no new technology, just improper use of existing technology.
Other pieces of the plan will need to include small-package sewage plants for those low-lying areas of the town where septic systems, no matter how well maintained, cannot function properly — and instead lead to pollution of our ponds, bays, and estuaries, destroying fish spawning areas and endangering health.
Our scavenger waste plant is one of the few such plants that does not discharge its effluent into a larger body of water. Instead, the effluent discharges into the ground. Time is running out to do the robust environmental testing necessary at the scavenger waste plant to determine if this is causing damage. Since the plant has not been operating for over four months, the best evidence of the effect of its tens of thousands of gallons a day of plant effluent on the groundwater beneath the plant is slowly migrating away — north toward Three Mile Harbor and down into the aquifer.
The town’s budget and financial advisory committee, in its March 2011 preliminary report on the scavenger waste plant, called for a robust environmental study of both the (then) existing scavenger plant operations and the attendant groundwater conditions.
The report stressed that such a study should be commissioned as soon as possible, while the plant was still operating, since the study results would be essential to any decision regarding the future of the plant — closure, conversion to transfer station, continued operation by either the town or a private party.
At the Group for Good Government wastewater forum in March of this year, “Exploring an Environmentally and Economically Sustainable Wastewater Management Policy for East Hampton,” two major themes emerged: 1. The future of the plant should be evaluated after development of an overall East Hampton wastewater management plan. Such a plan should coordinate the town’s existing decentralized wastewater processing at 20,000 private residential and commercial septic systems. 2. Unless permanent closure of the plant is the path chosen, serious environmental testing of the plant’s effluent and its effect on the groundwater is critical.
These are the same conclusions reached by the professionals assembled at Saturday’s forum.
The G.G.G. forum underlined the unusual geographic location of the East Hampton plant: extremely close proximity to the groundwater divide. Effluent going into the ground north of the groundwater divide moves slowly, mostly toward Gardiner’s Bay, with a small amount going down into the aquifer. South of the groundwater divide, effluent goes mostly south into the Atlantic Ocean, with a small amount going into the aquifer. Unfortunately, since the plant is located substantially on the groundwater divide, a larger portion of the effluent goes down into our sole-source aquifer.
This week’s town Scavenger Waste Forum featured hydrologists from FPM Group, which monitors the town’s wells, tracking the nearby plume from the capped landfill. FPM has not tested wells at the scavenger waste plant since 2001, when the town’s former plant operator, Severn Trent, also took over well testing.
However, FPM reiterated the finding of the town budget committee’s 2011 report as to the inadequacy of the three existing shallow test wells at the plant. Both the FPM panelists and Pio Lombardi noted that the current shallow test wells at the plant, designed many years ago, only test for two items — nitrogen and dissolved solids (mostly salts).
A modern testing protocol would include a full range of potentially harmful items including hydrocarbons, known carcinogens, lead, and mercury. Remember that the effluent discharged by the plant reflected what was dumped into it — and the composition of the loads being dumped varied greatly. Eventually some portion of this effluent enters our drinking water.
Saturday’s panelists recommended a greater number of deeper wells at the plant site and more sophisticated testing for a broader range of pollutants. FPM estimated that with planning and construction, the well testing of existing groundwater conditions at the scavenger waste plant site could begin within 3 to 6 months. These tests might tell us that nothing too harmful was present. However, that would only tell us that 6 to 9 months after the closure of the plant, things were not bad. If the plant were to reopen, testing would have to continue. This testing could proceed at the same time as the town develops its wastewater management plan.
Why wait on either?
Group for Good Government
Safeguard Our Future
April 22, 2012
Saturday was indeed a day that, perhaps, will mark a turning point for the soul of East Hampton. Two council members, each of a different party, provided for the residents of the town a highly informative forum on, what I see as, the most important issue before the town. All other issues have their effect upon the quality of our lives, but the scavenger waste situation is truly a matter of life and death for the town. Not this minute of course, but eventually, when we can’t drink the water in the years ahead, whether it is from our own wells or we buy it from an outside company. All water on Long Island emanates from the same places.
Sylvia Overby, a Democrat, is the liaison to the facility, and in true Sylvia style she studied everything she could get her hands on (planning board training). She looked around and began to seek the wisdom of the most-qualified people available. Then, this wise woman went to her colleague, Dominick Stanzione, a Republican, enlisting his support on the presentation of a forum, and what a forum it was!
On this absolutely gorgeous East Hampton day and with a house only partially full, the four gentleman (one with two Massachusetts Institute of Technology degrees) and two ladies laid out in as simple language as possible, for this complex and multifaceted problem: what to do and how to proceed with what can only be labeled a challenge of the most intricate nature.
Sitting in that audience (and with perhaps a bit more science background than most), I can’t equivocally state I understood all the highly technical information they were imparting, but I was able to come away with two thoughts: We must not give up the right to own and operate that most important of our assets, and we need more study as the best way to use it so that it is efficient, nonpolluting, and cost-effective.
But in the meantime, cooperation among the members of the board, regardless of party, is not only refreshing but necessary if we are to safeguard our future and our town, and solve problems.
Of course, I also regret the supervisor and his “deputy” leaving before the discussion reached its completion. They have done this before at important meetings affecting the town. The supervisor’s tolerance for learning is limited. He often seems impatient and bored. The deputy is more interested in talking than listening. What a pity. But the good news is that government can work and give us more of it!
PHYLLIS I. MALLAH
April 22, 2012
Amusing choice of photo to accompany last week’s airport piece! That is not the type of aircraft waking me and dozens and dozens of others all night long.
While my eyes glaze over reading of runway lengths, “stages” of aircraft, Federal Aviation Administration regulations, it seems simple. Jet users: Be good neighbors! If I were to park my car in front of your house and turn the radio up full volume (still not as many decibels as you manage over my house), I would not only be rude, inconsiderate, and selfish, but in violation of noise codes. So, just agree to stop flying from, say, 10 p.m. until 8 a.m.
Last summer, driving from Fargo into Moorhead, Minn., I saw two huge billboards. Both were white with bold black letters. The first read: “Be courteous.” The second: “Be Kind.” It seems simple.
April 23, 2012
Last week the town board heard from an aviation specialist, Peter Kirsch, regarding its ability to impose access restrictions on its airport, which he conceded were the only effective noise-mitigation tools available to the town.
Mr. Kirsch confirmed that the town has more options to reduce aircraft related noise if it does not take any more Federal Aviation Administration money. We need to understand the financial ramifications of that route, which shouldn’t be so hard. A cost-benefit analysis of assets, existing and potential revenue streams, and business-like management of the facility will reveal if it’s possible for the airport to be self-sustaining. Without that analysis, claims that it can or cannot be done without the F.A.A. are unsubstantiated.
In order to pursue any access-limiting measures, the town will be obligated to quantify, through a variety of data, noise impacts on the community and the related diminution of quality of life.
Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, whose determined questioning of Mr. Kirsch should be applauded and made the presentation much more valuable for participants, inquired directly as to how the value of the rural, peaceful quality of life, which drives our local economy, might be quantified. Mr. Kirsch had no answer for that. The F.A.A. provides no measurement tool for something that intangible.
However, real estate agents renting or selling houses in the vicinity of the airport can very easily place a value on this intangible. The value of houses there has inarguably been diminished. Houses in the flight paths of aircraft are stigmatized by their location. And, this stigma will soon be visited upon some of the most expensive real estate available in the Village of East Hampton as the new southern route for helicopters is implemented this summer.
Our elected officials have a responsibility to govern our community. We depend on them to direct our concerns through the democratic process and work with us to determine community standards to be applied as generally accepted practices of safety, decency, and respect, which are embodied in the town code. Part of this responsibility is to recognize what the community values as quality of life issues. While these may indeed be intangible, it is something all understand and value. No one wants to live under the flight path of a jet or helicopter. We indeed know that to be true.
We have before us a chance to limit this destructive influence on one of our most highly valued qualities of life: the right to the peaceful enjoyment of our homes, property, and recreational areas.
If we proceed with what appears to be a seriously incomplete approach to reducing the unwanted impacts of airport noise on our community, then the intangible will become more and more tangible as the economic impacts are felt throughout the community.
If we’re not careful we may unwittingly kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
April 23, 2012
I viewed the video on the East Hampton Town Board meeting of April 17, 2012. I was aghast when I heard attorney Peter Kirsch, counsel to East Hampton Town on airport matters, contradict what I and scores of others have repeatedly been told over many years by Jim Brundige, the airport manager, and others, and which has been repeated by numerous town officials, that is: East Hampton Airport cannot restrict aircraft access, only the Federal Aviation Administration can. Now, this past week, a reversal of that statement!
At the town meeting Mr. Kirsch, who has been the attorney for the town on aviation issues for at least five years, said, “. . . I don’t believe it’s a big deal . . .” and that there appeared no reason why the town could not now restrict Stage 2 aircraft (which includes helicopters) and that he had been urging the board to go this route for years, since about 2006.
He also said that the town was interested only in limiting helicopter access to the airport, which seemed to be news to some board members, and begs the question: Does the town intend to ignore thousands of annual complaints about noise from the unrelenting numbers of private and commercial jets and the increasing number of commuter seaplanes?
How, after years of questioning on this issue, could Mr. Kirsch only now inform the new board and the public that an airport proprietor has the right to restrict Stage 2 aircraft without interference from the F.A.A.? The F.A.A. Web site rules appear to indicate that a benefit-cost analysis must be prepared, supported by documentation that there has been extensive public notice, and that the F.A.A. approves the process. Data collection has only recently commenced. So six years have passed in which previous boards knew about this right to restrict Stage 2 aircraft and yet took no action. Incredible!
Why did some board members and the airport manager continue for years to plead ignorance of this alleged right to restrict Stage 2 aircraft? In order to protect the special aviation interests who support them at each town meeting? If yes, it is simply and utterly outrageous behavior by some irresponsible town board members and airport management.
And if only helicopters are being considered for restricted access to the airport, is the much touted PlaneNoise noise complaint system (a product of the company of special adviser to Eastern Region Helicopter Council, Robert Grotell) the correct tool for data collection? I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t that somewhat of a conflict of interest?
Whatever the truth, it is time to lift the shroud of what is unending, incomprehensible legal babble to many. And restricting only helicopters will not solve the problem. Jets are a huge and growing problem. What is needed is a special public meeting with expert opinion from counsel other than Mr. Kirsch and held at a public venue large enough to hold everyone who cares to attend.
At Best, an Error
April 23, 2012
Several months ago we raised our concerns about helicopter traffic over the nature preserve at Northwest Creek. We had hoped that the town board would act to reduce traffic and cap its future growth. On Dec. 6 a hired aviation law consultant convinced all of the members of the town board that this would certainly be possible but, contrary to the opinions of numerous other interested parties, it could be done whether or not the town was encumbered by the grant assurances that come with the acceptance of grant money from the F.A.A..
On this basis, the town board immediately voted to apply for F.A.A. funds. But four months later, the F.A.A. contradicted this position and acknowledged that it would be far easier to restrict air traffic if we did not accept F.A.A. funds. The board then sought to address this contradiction by inviting the same legal consultant back to address what appeared to be, at best, an error in his advice.
On April 17, he returned and conceded that it would indeed be easier to achieve local control over aircraft traffic if we did not accept F.A.A. grant money. He described this as “new” information. But that information was certainly not new to any of those who opposed accepting F.A.A. money: It was exactly what they had been saying all along.
On the basis of the F.A.A. clarification, we had assumed that the board would now withdraw its application for F.A.A. funds and begin a period of experimentation with various strategies for noise reduction while waiting until 2015 when the key grant assurances would expire. But now the consultant has offered a new argument that the town could partially but immediately reduce noise pollution and still take F.A.A. money.
This time he assured the board that, helicopters, as Stage 2 aircraft, could be restricted by the town without approval from the F.A.A.. Further, he promised that if the F.A.A. didn’t like our restrictions, we would have a legal advantage in that the F.A.A. would have to sue us rather than the other way around. And best of all, this was true whether the airport had accepted F.A.A. funds or not. This, of course, would relieve the board of its reluctance to accept F.A.A. money by assuring them that they could have both helicopter-noise regulation and the F.A.A. money.
We’re not lawyers and wouldn’t presume to be able to assess the legal arguments involved. But we know this: If he is right that we can now, regardless of grant assurances, regulate helicopter traffic as appropriate to the problem that their noise creates, then helicopter traffic should have been restricted years ago. The same consultant has been on the town payroll for six years, and helicopter complaints have been recorded in the tens of thousands since then. Where was this wisdom then and why does it show up now?
We urge the board in the strongest possible terms to resolve the uncertainty that has been created before accepting F.A.A. planning funds or voting on another bid for F.A.A. funds by: (a) finding an additional source of counsel on this matter and (b) by asking the F.A.A. to state its current policy regarding local restrictions of Stage 2 aircraft while under grant assurances. We do not want to find ourselves consigned to 20 more years of uncontrolled and escalating pollution of this otherwise magnificent wildlife preserve.
T. JAMES MATTHEWS
ANGELA BERNET ORTENZIO
Northwest Alliance Helicopter
Cut Our Losses
April 18, 2012
As a concerned resident of East Hampton, I have been following the recent events surrounding our town airport with great interest.
While I admire aviators and the numerous contributions they have made to our country, the noise and disruptions to our local communities — and the impact on the environment by commercial aviation interests — is truly unfair to East Hampton residents and the greater East End community.
I have fond memories of our airport when local pilots worked long hours readying their planes for a trip to Cape Cod or northern New England. It was a community of aviators with a couple of charter outfits that would take passengers to Block Island for $75 per head, $10 extra for some tuna rods or a surfboard.
Today it is off the hook, with jets and helicopters serving only the wealthiest 2 percent of our community, many of whom are not even residents of East Hampton. The airport is now a mid-size business operating in our town, for good and for bad. The local, close-knit group of aviators still exists and they are good people; unfortunately, they are overshadowed by their larger, more intrusive commercial counterparts.
Clearly, it is time for some leadership on this matter. I am very frustrated with the latest recommendations by the town’s aviation attorney and the inaction on behalf of the town board. We seem to be wasting a lot of time and money on meetings and attorneys for mediocre advice and results.
Peter J. Kirsch, the town’s aviation attorney, truly amazed me this week, with his statement, “Accepting F.A.A. funding will help us identify the problems with the airport.” There are hundreds if not thousands of people on eastern Long Island who have been repeatedly reporting and complaining about the problems with the airport. If this is not clear to Mr. Kirsch yet, it never will be. Mr. Wilkinson, please cut our losses with this relationship.
Last week, I mistakenly drove down Townline Road, and in trying to sort out where I was, I found the huge rear gate to the airport, and it was wide open at 7 p.m. on a Sunday evening. I checked it again this week and it was still open.
I respectfully challenge the airport’s managers that if this F.A.A. money for deer fencing is so important, why are we leaving a 30-foot-wide gate to a nature preserve wide open for weeks at a time? Unfortunately, this is an example of very poor management at our town airport.
Also, why are the commercial aviation interests not paying for all the operating costs of the airport? They should pay enough fees to allow local aviators to fly their planes and residents to have a peaceful, reasonable quality of life or they should not be able to use our airport. Why are we subsidizing the commercial interests that are destroying our quality of life and the local environment?
Mr. Stanzione, why have we not moved a small number of commercial flights to the southern route? Dare I suggest 10 percent or 20 percent of the commercial flights would provide a good test population and we could evaluate the impacts on the routes, the impact on airport resources, residents, and the environment? I can say with confidence that the impact on both the residents and the environment on the current northern route is very negative. It would truly be irresponsible to expand the use of our airport until some reasonable measures are taken to reduce its impact on our community.
It is time for proactive leadership to prevail, and our town board members must work with community and aviation leaders to reduce noise from commercial flights, to route flight traffic over the north and south sides of town, while supporting local aviation.
April 17, 2012
To the Editor:
Today, I attended the East Hampton Town Board’s work session, featuring the new presentation by the town’s aviation lawyer, Peter Kirsch. Mr. Kirsch’s discussion was informative on many points. Most important, in my judgment, was his commentary about the effect of the town’s taking further Federal Aviation Administration subsidy money on its proprietary rights to limit aircraft noise.
I was shocked, and I think many others were as well, to hear him say (I think for the first time publicly), that his advice has been based on a town policy to seek limitations only on helicopter noise impacts. Indeed, Mr. Kirsch said that if the town wished to restrict aircraft other than helicopters, his advice would be quite different.
In the past, Mr. Kirsch has argued that taking F.A.A. money or not taking F.A.A. money would be immaterial to the town’s exercise of its proprietary noise control rights. Now, he has narrowed that point to helicopter restrictions only.
I take it from the whole of his presentation that, if the town wishes to regulate the noise from jets, seaplanes, and touch-and-gos, Mr. Kirsch would agree with those of us who have been saying, all along, that it is critical to avoid F.A.A. funding.
In fact, when asked why, in the two decades since the F.A.A. has had its authority over noise-based access restrictions, only two grant-obligated applicants have sought to restrict aircraft across the board (one successful and one unsuccessful), Mr. Kirsch replied that F.A.A. approval has been seen as impossible to achieve. Moreover, he pointed out that about three-quarters of the decided cases of F.A.A. non-obligated access restrictions have succeeded in court. Thus, the question of town policy is key: Is the noise limitation effort going to cover jets, seaplanes, and touch-and-gos, or only helicopters?
In retrospect, it is not so surprising that the helicopters-only policy would be Councilman Dominick Stanzione’s approach. But I wonder whether the other four members of the town board have come to grips with this issue.
While helicopters are at the moment the most graphic problem, two others have been with us longer. Jets, for years, have plagued East Hampton Village and the Town of Southampton day and night. Touch-and-gos have been a nuisance around the airport for years as well. And, the seaplanes from the East River are a new and serious commuting-induced plague.
In view of Mr. Kirsch’s latest advice, the town board must immediately tell the public and Mr. Kirsch whether it will address noise from jets, seaplanes, and touch and gos, as well as helicopters. If they confirm the policy of mitigating all aircraft noise, then the need to avoid further F.A.A. funding is clearly demonstrated. Also, I believe, based on today’s work session, that that critical need would be confirmed by Mr. Kirsch.
CHARLES A. EHREN JR.
Lapse of Memory
April 21, 2012
All the recent letters from the pilots have made those concerned with noise abatement appear to be the boogie man. In all the years that I was a member of the town-appointed noise abatement committee (since the Lester administration), I never heard anyone state that the airport should be closed — except guess who? The pilots and their association. Cry “fire” in a crowded theater. Poor babies.
They all forget that it is not just the helicopters and jets that make unreasonable noise but their own members, who violate elevation standards over residential areas. Let’s not mention the 5:45 a.m. takeoffs and touch-and-gos over and over on the same route, often as low as 200 feet over houses, especially Saturday and Sunday afternoons, denying those the enjoyment of their properties with the constant low-level passovers. A total lack of courtesy or, shall I say, ignorance toward others?
Again and again they moan and write about runway 4-22 being in bad shape. They still used it until they forced the town to close it. So much for their concerns for safety.
Now if they only understood the definition of abandoned, as in “not supposed to be there.” They demand that the town apply for federal money, but not mentioning the taxpayers’ share, a convenient lapse of memory, considering they never offer to pick up the difference. Why should the taxpayer pay the bill? In case they do not know it, and most do not even live here, we are broke, millions in the hole. So, if they take the time to read this they will (or should) understand.
This is verbatim quote, in 1989 from the Federal Aviation Administration, you know those people who are God, unless they disagree with the pilots. The F.A.A. noted that 16-34 was the better of the crosswind runways, and 4-22 was to be designated for abandonment, as in, I repeat, not supposed to be there.
“We recommend the elimination of runway 4-22 from use as a runway and that the plan specifically designate 16-34 as the secondary runway. 4-22 does not provide significant additional coverage, based upon historical wind conditions, its intersection with other runways is dangerous.” (The actual quote, from the F.A.A., the lord master of the air when convenient.)
It is noted that 16-34 actually has marginally better crosswind coverage than 4-22 although they exceed the 95 percent coverage.
“The F.A.A. will not share the cost of a tertiary runway, considering it unnecessary.” What exactly does that mean? (Did the earth move on its axis to change historical wind conditions?) Now, what part of this do they not understand? Abandoned, unnecessary, dangerous?
The unmitigated gall to demand that the taxpayer be burdened with another 20 years of indentured servitude. Were the proper building permits filed for the bathrooms and other additions? Wink wink.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
April 20, 2012
To the Editor,
Pat Breen’s position was established by Jay Schneiderman; she was kept on by Bill Wilkinson. She also worked with Len Bernard. Last year I read in The Star that the town had overpaid the state for employees’ benefits.
We were only able to get the return of the last six months of the overpayment for dead employees and those no longer working for the town. The town was only able to recover the last six months of the overpayments in the amount of $56,000. I was surprised that Ms. Breen was kept on. Who was watching the store?
April 22, 2012
A funny thing happened to me at Town Hall two weeks ago. I was walking down the hall past the planning, building, and code enforcement offices. In the distance I saw three men conversing in that secretive manner with their heads toward each other and somewhat hushed, laughing voices. Two things gave them away: One was mimicking the supervisor’s gesture, indicating he got the $35,000 from the top of his head, another was laughing in that English chortling manner!
A few days later, rumors were swirling that the building inspector chief was forcefully pressured at a meeting with the Ronjo owners and representatives about a stop-work order. He fainted once or twice and was taken to a doctor. Now, according to The Star, someone else rescinded the stop order and issued a temporary work order.
This all reeks of cronyism. Who is this guy Chris Jones? He who has recently been given a place on the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, probably to spy on the locals there who may actually have differing opinions than the current supervisor.
Why did the supervisor go way out on a limb for Mr. Jones, a rock concert wannabe, in direct opposition to the community, and have it blow up? Now the supervisor has gone out on a limb again. He stubbornly resisted community urging to get a proper assessment until last week.
Bill Wilkinson fires local people so easily in the name of efficiency and financial austerity, yet he defiantly resists charging the going rate for our valuable real estate in the name of financial responsibility and accountability. There is no humility. There is no honor. There is no leadership.
Go to New York?
April 21, 2012
To the Editor,
Bill Wilkinson, our very own “decider,” has finally revealed his sense of humor. No, this was not in play the time he claimed to have it — when he “picked a number out of the air” in regard to his own, personal appraisal of the Ronjo motel property. Honestly, we just didn’t get it. Maybe he should have said his grandmother gave him the number, although it’s doubtful we’d have found that humorous, either.
No, what we found amusing was his recently announced choice of property assessor. In reaction to the clamor coming from a large contingent of concerned East Hampton voters, and no doubt feeling somewhat cornered, he selected a gentleman for the job from — wonder of wonders, New York City! He defied the time-honored convention of choosing someone from his county by reaching out to Manhattan? With Suffolk fairly crawling with qualified appraisers, he’s got to go to New York?
Surely, he could have “shopped” successfully within his own county, and so we wonder at his motivation to do otherwise. We cannot help asking if his chosen one is an important somebody’s brother-in-law. Well, we’ll just have to leave that to the experts.
“Picking a number out of the air,” as he smugly declared, is a rather lordly statement, smacking of self-importance. So much for “humor” where a serious issue is concerned.
April 22, 2012
To the Editor,
I’m writing to warn Republicans not to be fooled by George Demos’s new television commercial attacking Randy Altschuler.
In it, Mr. Demos has the audacity to call Altschuler a “loser” for falling just short in the closest congressional race in the country to a longtime incumbent congressman (time for a change), Tim Bishop, in 2010.
What Mr. Demos fails to mention is that he lost to Mr. Altschuler in the Republican primary that same year.
That’s right, Mr. Demos loses the primary to Mr. Altschuler, and somehow Mr. Altschuler is the loser? Does that make any sense?
East Hampton Independence Party
Write a Check
April 19, 2012
To the Editor,
President Obama states, “Ryan’s thinly veiled social Darwinism plan would impose a radical vision on our country.” So, passing a 2,000-page health care bill in the dark of night, forcing citizens to buy a merely function of being born is not Darwinism radical? The president threatened and sold the third branch of government, antithetical to the Constitution.
We are in the most debt we have ever been in, families losing their homes, no jobs, no jobs, no jobs, the economy is in the dumps, and this president continues to sell green jobs. What about all the lost taxpayers’ money on Solyndra, and the three or four other green jobs given to his cohorts? It’s strange the investors get their money, but the taxpayers can go to hell.
The Buffet rule will not bring in enough money to pay more than three days of interest on our debt. It’s a form of redistributionism and only has to do with re-election. Wake up. Warren Buffet has a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service for a half-billion dollars in back taxes. If you don’t think you pay enough in taxes, then write a check, and mail it to the Treasury. We need a leader, not a community worker who loves to play basketball, golf, and go on vacations.
April 19, 2012
To the Editor,
What’s important about the great changes today is that they are irreversible. Up until now we thought nothing was irreversible. There was nothing that couldn’t be remedied. We have to rethink the whole thing.
There are times when we can no longer trust our cultural establishments. They are inadequate across the board. The government, the universities, the religious, and the economic establishments are all ineffective for one simple reason: They establish a radical discontinuity between the other-than-human and the human, with all rights given to the human. The corporations own the planet, they own the governments, they own the educational establishments, they own the media. They are simply the major power.
The leaderless revolution Occupy Wall Street is a call to action for all of us, the 99 percent, which argues that rather than relying on failing political and economic systems to effect change, individual citizens must create change themselves through their own actions and collaboration with others.
I believe there is merit here because most Americans realize the status quo will not change from the top down. Grassroots is the only answer. The occupiers of Wall Street represent our next generation. It’s literally amazing what they accomplished in eight months. The solution? Everyone has to get involved.
Nobody Has a Plan
April 14, 2012
To the Editor,
When George Bush woke up the morning after the Supreme Court declared him president the first call he received was from his father. “Son, you’re in the crapper,” said George Sr. And then he explained to his son how Reagan had left him a sinking economy and that Clinton had done the same thing to his son. George Sr., with all his acumen and experience, got the economy back on track but it took too long to save the presidency. George Jr. brought no skills to the table but his butt was saved, by the grace of God, by 9/11.
Bush Jr. saw the handwriting on the wall: Downturn in the business cycle, zero job creation in the private sector, investments fleeing the country, and a middle class in the process of falling apart. While 9/11 gave the economy an unneeded shock and served to distract the population, Mr. Bush never took his eye off the problem. He believed in the free market system but knew that it no longer worked as it did before. Wealth didn’t mean prosperity. So he stimulated: tax cuts, tax holidays, little regulation, mortgage madness. Five times the size of the Obama stimulus plan all to no avail. The economy grew but no jobs.
By 2005 he gave up. Iraq was a money pit without the expected oil bonanza. Afghanistan wouldn’t go away. Incomes were flat or continuing to drop. Jobs were difficult to come by. We were falling into a third world cycle of rich and poor. Our consumer economy was based on credit, not wages. Then the mortgage crisis, followed by the financial crisis, and we were in a serious meltdown. Mr. Bush was happy to leave the mess behind. He no longer believed in the free-market mantra but was clueless about what to do. (He understood that we were trending toward Honduras, not Germany.)
So, today we count monthly job creation figures and speculate on the political benefits. In a more lucid world one calls that economic retardation. The blithering stupidity of the Geithners and Ryans of the world make Bush Jr. look like a sage. At least he recognized the problem. Mitt Romney isn’t sure what country he’s in, and Barack Obama wants to make everybody happy.
The real questions about the job market have to do with wages, areas, seasons, etc., trends that are changing people’s lives or simply inertia that means little. Economic politics is like smoking crack: Everyone loses, including the crackheads.
So, despite the worst economic crisis since the Depression, nobody has a plan or a clue about what to do. Mr. Obama at least has people telling him what’s happening. He may not be listening, but there are glimmers of consciousness. Mr. Romney, sadly, is a hopeless boob. He talks about the old ways of creating jobs, which once worked some, but is an endless nightmare. The Tea Party freaks are willing to let the system collapse as long as they get their piece of the pie.
David Stockman, the Reagan administration financial wizard and progressive economist, and Joe Stiglitz seem to be the only ones who talk about the problem. We have been in a recession for 12 years, and two wars and $8 trillion in stimulus haven’t changed the equation. Our world has changed, and we are in denial. While the gross national product grows, the benefits are shared by fewer and fewer people. People who talk about the size of government, regulation, religion, and abortion need to get back on crack and disappear. They are distorting reality, distracting us from the problem, self-serving, useless.
The election is a huge distraction and a waste of money that could be better spent. We have the same number of jobs today that we had in 2000. What happened to the 18 million people who entered the job market and didn’t find work?
April 20, 2012
It has come to pass (as they say in the Bible) that the two candidates for the presidency of this great country are as different as they can be.
One is handsome, intelligent, and ambitious, the son of a wealthy and prominent business magnate and politician and a member of a powerful religious group, who benefited greatly from the social and monetary advantages given to him, lived in a world totally removed from that of the average American. The other is the son of a single mother, of mixed heritage and race, disadvantaged by the illness and early death of his beloved mom and the absence of his estranged father, and advantaged only by the devotion and love of his grandparents and his agile body and mind, living in a world of struggle and ideas, of education and attached to the world of the working man — also ambitious.
Both have succeeded in their ambitions, one to a greater extent politically than the other and one to a greater extent financially, which was to be expected. However, while they worked hard to reach their goals, the differences between them grew more stark. The personalities of each have magnified and solidified at the pace of their individual achievements.
The rich and successful candidate has become a man on a mission seemingly solely to complete it with no apparent obvious altruistic motives. He evidences only slight empathy for the plight of others. He relies on altering and realtering his opinions and stated beliefs to attract those whom he wishes to please, the so-called base. Fortunately for this candidate, he has almost unlimited funds and a desperate political party willing to overlook his deficiencies with which to preach the acceptable sermons, some true, others half-true, and many not true at all. He believes that money will enable him to overcome his lack of a purposeful agenda, he never appears fully honest, and even this so-called base has serious doubts about his veracity. He builds mistrust with gaffes galore, appears wooden, and makes ludicrous statements giving rise to wonderment about his ability to be independent and fulfill the job he so desperately wants. He even denies his own accomplishments in order to appease, again, this so-called base. Basically, his chances of winning this race are not his own positives but the severe dislike and alleged negatives of his opponent.
Turning to the other candidate, we see almost the polar opposite of the first. Rising from the midst of many like himself, attaining great acceptance by his compatriots, he uses his fierce competitive nature to surpass even his own dreams, he is forthright, outspoken, positive, and unafraid of failure. He becomes president of the United States.
As president he undertakes the completion of a task never before completed by former presidents, fights a never-ending battle against the opposition, overcomes major crisis after major crisis, the total of which far surpasses anything faced by previous holders of the office. He is opposed by massive, strong forces, both political and economic. He is vilified personally, his talents for winning degraded daily, but he never turns back. He moves ahead doing the job he was elected to do: protecting America, destroying its enemies, and being totally admired around the world. Those who oppose him do so with a fervor never before seen. Why they do that, many speculate, is because of their inherent belief that no one like him should or could be president even if he does a superior job. Which he has.
Well folks, you make the choice in November. You look at the two men and tell me which one you would rather be in a foxhole with, which one you can rely on to cover your back in a pinch, which one is honest and feels what you feel and does what you would do. I think you all know: Barack Hussein Obama!