Letters to the Editor: 11.14.13

Our readers' comments

Thank You All
    November 10, 2013

Dear David,
    It was a long campaign but, for me, thankfully, very worthwhile. I am happy to have won a seat on our town board and I’d like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of the East Hampton voters who took time out of their day to go to the polls and vote for me. I must also thank my friends, family, and campaign team for their tireless work and support during the many days we all worked toward my election.
    Yes, a campaign is tiring, with long hours and a nonstop schedule, but it gave me the chance to get acquainted with so many of the East Hampton residents I will be representing come Jan. 1. People greeted me at their homes, at the delis, and at post offices, always offering encouragement and support. 
    I also want to congratulate all the other winners as well. I am excited about working with the new administration. It is clear from the numerous forums and debates we all participated in that there are many important issues facing us as a town, and as a new town board. However, there is one thing that I know for sure, and that is that I will never waiver in my promise to represent all our residents with honor and integrity.
    Thank you all for the great opportunity you have given me to continue my work for the community I love, East Hampton Town.


Wuz Robbed
    November 12, 2013

Dear David,
    Possibly Mitt Romney felt worse but still, losing an election sucks. I’ve been there. It totally sucks.
    Our local East Hampton Town candidates worked their butts off, endured crazy voters, and some of them, I think, “wuz robbed.”
    I thank all who ran for public office in East Hampton for caring enough about our town to endure until Election Day.
    Thank you Ira and Cate and Afton and Mike and Loretta and Brian and Tom and Edwin and Joe and Carl and Dominick.
    “Nothing that’s worth doing can be done in this lifetime. Therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone. Therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.” — Reinhold  Niebuhr

    All good things,

The English Language
    November 5, 2013

Dear David:
    How stupid are we? Election Day I picked up my ballot, filled it out, and stood second in line to slip my ballot into the tally machine. A brief holdup was caused by one poll worker explaining to the other two workers a problem that had occurred with a similar machine. The second poll worker then had to explain what was being said to the third worker in Spanish!
    The English language is the one common thread that has tied this nation together. Why are the fine citizens of Hispanic descent permitting their adopted country to be balkanized by illegals and their fellow countrymen who refuse to embrace our language? Fellow citizens, when the opportunity arises, please ask those running for the House of Representatives and the Senate what they are doing to unite us by making English the official language of the United States of America.

    With hope,

On Veterans Day
    East Hampton
    November 11, 2013

Dear Mr. Rattray,
    I did a survey today of many of the restaurants in our area. I called asking if they planned on doing anything in honor of those who served in the Armed Forces. They asked, “Like what?” I told them that offering a free meal or even a free drink to anyone who brought in a photo veteran’s ID or their DD214.
    I’m sad to say that out of 25 phone calls, only one said that they always buy a vet a drink on Veterans Day! That restaurant was Shagwong in Montauk! Kudos to you, Jimmy and Peter, for being the only ones who give a damn! And shame on all the rest of you!


Bill’s Plan for Montauk
    November 11, 2013

To the Editor:
    Thank you, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, members of the town board, and Congressmen Tim Bishop.
    We have seen your determination and commitment to our community and fully support you in your tireless efforts in securing a federal project and funding to rebuild the beach and dunes in downtown Montauk. This project will protect our community so that we are not left exposed in the next storm. We will not forget!
    After 50 years of the Fire Island to Montauk Point study, and now your leadership, the Army Corps is preparing to implement a project with full funding using geo-textile materials as a dune core to protect our community. The future of Montauk is more secure, thanks to you.
    Our community is truly at a historic moment, we have proven to the federal government that Montauk matters.
    Thank goodness for your help; our community could not afford the views of those that stood in the way or sat on the side and continued to say retreat‚ do nothing‚ more study — all while the threat remains and the funding disappears. Fifty years of study is enough!
    Even the Concerned Citizens of Montauk’s own expert, Dr. Leatherman (Dr. Beach), agrees, and endorses the use of geo-textile materials as a dune core which is compliant to our local waterfront revitalization plan and has been installed throughout our town to protect valuable lives, property, and infrastructure.
    Will the C.C.O.M. finally agree that our downtown economic center is worthy of protecting before it’s too late? Or will they attempt to rewrite the L.W.R.P. as it relates to the use of geo-textiles? (Sandbags.)
    Supervisor Wilkinson’s application for funding, locally known as Bill’s plan‚ a public document submitted immediately following Hurricane Sandy, sought federal assistance for beach and dune nourishment from the westernmost end of town to the easternmost side of Ditch Plain, including the exposed rock area in front of Montauk Shores (approximately 2.3 miles). Unfortunately, a portion of Bill’s plan‚ the Ditch Plain area, did not qualify for assistance. This area, however, was not forgotten. In fact, a first-ever capital project was approved and implemented on the beach, as well as a commitment for future nourishment if needed.
    Also, an additional follow-up request for federal assistance has been made. This should be the focus of the next administration’s efforts, as well as C.C.O.M.’s, to make sure that Bill’s plan is fully implemented. Those thorough and timely actions are why Montauk was one of only two areas to qualify for this 100-percent fully funded emergency assistance that may begin as early as this spring.

    Thank you.

Loud and Clear
    East Hampton
    November 11, 2013

To the Editor:
    The voters have spoken and the news is good. Councilwoman-elect Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Councilman-elect Fred Overton will bring new energy to town governance.
    In his bid for re-election to the town board, Councilman Dominick Stan­zione’s profound defeat at the polls last Tuesday was, in effect, a referendum by the voters of the town of East Hampton on aircraft noise policy. This message dovetailed with Quiet Skies Coalition principles and concerns about airport noise policy and decisions yet to be made regarding responsible fiscal management of our airport, with safety and noise abatement policy as interwoven principles in such management.
    The message regarding aircraft noise policy, was, like its source, loud and clear: The public wants a safe and quiet airport. The public wants the town to control our airport, ensuring the safety of airport users as it concurrently mitigates the noise impacts of those uses on East End residents, properties, and ecosystems. In spite of critics’ claims to the contrary, these are not mutually exclusive goals!
    The East Hampton Town Board can legally control noise by setting reasonable business hours and curfews, limiting numbers of flights in a given time period, and completely excluding some of the noisiest aircraft‚ but only if the town board stops taking Federal Aviation Administration grant money. Current contractual obligations to the F.A.A. expire on Dec. 31, 2014, after which the Town of East Hampton will be able to act. Then, at last, the town will be able to maintain a safe and quiet airport paid for by airport users.
    Let the incoming town board embrace the message of the voters resonating with the Quiet Skies Coalition principles on aircraft noise: Eschew F.A.A. funding. Regain our right to solve this problem in ways that benefit the greater good, not the privileged few. Run a safe airport, making certain airport users are respectful of those whose quality of life, homes, properties, and ecosystems are so profoundly influenced by those activities.

    Quiet Skies Coalition

Airport Study
    November 11, 2013

Dear David:
    Ben Krupinski has a large personal stake in airport expansion. He owns Sound Aircraft and the fuel concession, among other things. His airport shill, Dominick Stanzione, received the fewest votes of any town council candidate. The most outspoken critic of airport expansion, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, received the most votes.
    So Benzene Benny releases a “study” to demonstrate that the airport is essential to the financial well-being of East Hampton. And Exxon/Mobil has commissioned a “study” to demonstrate that fossil fuels are environmentally friendly. And McDonald’s has commissioned a “study” to demonstrate that grease is good for you.
    Thanks for the “data,” Ben. Thanks for the helicopters, jets, and seaplanes that you fuel, too. Anyone who actually thinks that East Hampton Airport is essential to the economic well-being of East Hampton is an idiot. Anyone who actually pays others to say so is a shyster.


The 555 Project
    East Hampton
    November 11, 2013

Dear David:
    There were 29 walk-on resolutions presented by the Republican majority at last week’s town board meeting, including the 555 project, which would require rezoning.
    The 555 project is in an agricultural overlay district, which strictly limits commercial development. Therefore, for this project to move forward, downzoning is required.
    The lame-duck Republican board members are now seizing the opportunity to do as much damage as possible before leaving office. The 555 project proposes 79 units, with only a small number classified as affordable.
    This cynical move to undo the codes and regulations that make East Hampton so beautiful and desirable must be met with strong popular resistance. The public hearing regarding this downzoning is scheduled to take place on Dec. 19 and will be the last town board meeting of the year. I urge everyone who cares about the future of our town to attend that meeting and make your voices heard.


Government in Shambles
    November 10, 2013

Dear David,
    Once again we are faced with the Republican majority’s Reign of Terror. At the town board meeting last Thursday evening, there were 29 resolutions presented as walk-ons. The board minority hadn’t seen the resolutions until that afternoon, and their comments went unheard at the meeting.
    Wilkinson, Quigley, and Stanzione appear to want to leave town government in shambles for the new administration. Using their famous 3-to-2 vote, they propose changing zoning laws on 555 Montauk Highway without the input of any town attorneys and the Planning Department, destroying farmland preservation, and rezoning the historic Amagansett Balasses House from limited business overlay to commercial zoning.
    The developer of the 555 Montauk Highway project, Putnam Bridge from Connecticut, is trying to give the image to the community that this is “affordable housing.” Units in this assisted-living development will sell for between $595,000 for a studio unit to $1.8 million for a slightly larger unit. These prices are not in the category of “affordable” to me. This project will change Amagansett’s charm forever and make the developer richer.
    With all of the other zone changes, what is this Republican board majority trying to do to the East Hampton community? It is evident that the Wilkinson, Quigley, Stanzione team will never be able to hold their heads up in this town. Their legacy will be the destruction of the zoning laws and the community.


Steamrollered Through
    East Hampton
    November 10, 2013

Dear David,
    Supervisor Wilkinson and Councilpersons Quigley and Stanzione have brought their four years of misrule to a new low. On Thursday night, just two days after a decisive election gave a 4-to-1 mandate for a new direction for town government, these three once again displayed their disdain for decency by ramming through three walk-on resolutions to be voted on at the very last meeting of their term of office — Dec. 19.
    These resolutions, steamrollered through by the outgoing majority, call for a public hearing for the rezoning of 22 acres of prime farmland in Amagansett which will be for the exclusive benefit of a Connecticut developer, another public hearing for the downzoning of Balasses House in the historic district of Amagansett, and one resolution, written without any input by either East Hampton’s own legal department or its Planning Department, and as it is written, it explicitly describes and accommodates the very same 79-unit luxury condominium project known as “555.”
    The final blow to reasonable government is that immediately after these ill-conceived public hearings on Dec. 19, we understand that the current Republican majority will push for a vote!
    This is a blatant example of nose-thumbing — once more — at the residents of Amagansett and to all the voters of East Hampton. This action illustrates the very reason why this majority lost their mandate in the Nov. 5 election. This is the same kind of scorched-earth policy being practiced by their party in Washington, D.C.
    Mr. Wilkinson, Ms. Quigley, Mr. Stanzione: What are you doing? Can you please just go “quietly into the night”?


Zoning Code Change
    November 9, 2013

Dear David,
    I watched the town board meeting last Thursday and could not believe my ears and eyes when the three Republican board members (Quigley, Wilkinson, Stanzione) voted to send a zoning code change to a hearing without the normal, time-tested procedures that bring forth laws in this town.
    Normally, a zoning code law is a result of input by the public and in response to the recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan. Then the proposal is developed and reviewed by the Planning Department with professional input, sent to the town attorney, and discussed at several work sessions of the town board. After all these steps, the draft is set for a public hearing. Even then, several weeks are allowed for further input and refinements before a vote is taken.
    It only takes three people to change our good zoning codes. It astonishes me that these three people would bring forth a zoning code change (farmland to luxury condos!) in Amagansett in their lame-duck session. The hearing is set for Thursday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. I hope people will come and speak out against this improper action.


The New Syosset
    November 11, 2013

Dear David,
    Here’s Dominick Stanzione’s chance to be a hero and also revive his political identity after his recent resounding loss. I hear the exiting town board members decided in a 3-2 vote last Thursday to leave behind an unpopular legacy — overdevelopment benefiting out-of-state land sharks and giving Amagansett a big push toward becoming the new Syosset.
    Perhaps still smarting from being dubbed “Abstainzione,” Councilman Stanzione says he only became the third screw-you vote for a public hearing on whether Ocean View Farm can become a 79-unit resort community for wealthy oldsters who want to ditch their second homes and move into maintenance-free $1 million-plus condo units for part of the year. That purchase money would leave our community, to go into the pockets of the out-of-state developers.
    Let’s hope Mr. Stanzione — an Amagansett resident himself — wants to hold on to a political future, or at least the good opinion of his neighbors, and is not planning to vote for resolutions 17 and 18 — zoning amendments that would literally pave the way for a massive suburban intrusion, by outsiders for outsiders.
    Be our hero, Dominick, preserve and protect (y)our home town. Plan to vote no to resolutions 17 and 18!

    Yours truly,

Look at All the Cars
    East Hampton
    November 11, 2013

Dear David,
    I am writing this letter as an open letter to the Republican majority on the East Hampton Town Board.
    Dear Bill, Theresa, and Dominick: At your last meeting you voted to consider rezoning the property known as 555 so as to allow for the construction of a large multi-unit condominium to be located at 555 Montauk Highway in Amagansett. Suffice it to say that such a rezoning would depart from a carefully thought-out master plan intended to protect the rurality of our community and its drinking water resources, among other environmental considerations. I will leave it to others to present to you the details of the environmental impacts.
    Instead, I shall commend to you the mirror test, a method I use in the process of making decisions. I suggest that each of you stand in front of a mirror and look at yourselves as you imagine a conversation with your children or grandchildren and tell them the following story as you stand with them in front of the completed condominium development contemplated by the owners of the 555 property.
    “Billy Junior, you know that I was once the supervisor of East Hampton. In my last year in office some rich men who make a lot of money came to me and said that they wanted to build apartments and houses for other rich people to live in. And, I decided that doing so seemed more important than leaving a beautiful open piece of land in its natural state. I ignored a lot of people in our community that felt that this was not a good decision because it would threaten our drinking water supply and be totally out of harmony with the surrounding landscape and houses. These people said that I should consult the Planning Department of the town, whose members have expertise in evaluating the impacts on the environment including drinking water supply, sewage disposal, and motor vehicle traffic. They told me that there were already enough cars traveling on Montauk Highway and it might even be difficult and dangerous for the cars owned by the 150 people who would live in this development to drive in and out of it.”
    Imagine your grandson saying to you as you stand with him, “Grandpa, look at all the cars coming from Montauk on Montauk Highway. They are backed up all the way into the center of the village of Amagansett. And Grandpa, look at all those cars lined up trying to get out of the development. A lot of them are honking their horns. When we drive out on Friday nights and it takes so long, Mommy tells me that it’s worth it because we’ll have the peace and quiet of the country. Grandpa, it sounds and looks like Manhattan!”
    Bill, Theresa, and Dominick, please reconsider your plans and think about your legacy.

Thank you.

Ram, Cram, Jam, Scam
    East Hampton
    November 11, 2013

To the Editor:
    Batten the hatches!
    They have done it again. The Gang of Three, the lame-duckers, have lined up in a row — or are they the three blind mice? Quack quack, the election is over, no more independent thinking, it’s time to ram and cram, jam and scam the residents of East Hampton, and this time Amagansett is the target.
    The 555 group who want to develop open, prime, beautiful, agricultural land into a condo project on Montauk Highway in Amagansett across from St. Michael’s senior citizen complex are agitating for a zone change (?!). Thus, yet another walk-on resolution last Thursday night. This resolution was not written by anyone in our town government — this proposal was written by the attorney for the 555ers. Our town attorney could not even comment on this “proposed legislation” as he has recused himself. He has a “history” with this particular plot of land.
    This “proposal” was sent to the town board on the Thursday after the election that sent the current administration packing. The lame ducks walked on this resolution (simple majority, 3 to 2), with no town board discussion, with just enough time left in their term (30 days) to call a public hearing. This is bad government big time. Sometimes you get the feeling that private interests have a seat on the town board, or maybe three seats.
    I guess this is their swan song, part of their legacy. After two administrations of bad local government the residents of East Hampton are fed up. In 45 days it will be bye, bye, birdie — the countdown is on. It can’t come soon enough.
    It is time for the new town board to concentrate on the people’s business.


Typical Disdain
    November 11, 2013

Dear David,
    Now that they’ve lost the election, I guess the Republican majority feels free to drop its false claim of transparency and blatantly pursue the course they’ve always wanted of selling out our community to business entrepreneurs coming from elsewhere to make a killing.
    Why else would they have quietly sneaked onto last Thursday night’s agenda two walk-on resolutions for public hearings of measures to rezone 22 acres in Amagansett without having aired the legislation in question among board members and the public, or even shown it to the town attorney?
    These are measures that would authorize 79 condominium units, plus pools, parking, and meeting rooms, crammed into property reserved by our citizen-developed 2005 comprehensive plan for farming, scenic vistas, or low-density residential occupancy, plus a small commercial area suitable for local business. These are measures they’re reputedly planning now to pass on Dec. 19, the very day they’ve scheduled to hear from the public.
    The majority acted with typical disdain for the public interests defined by the comprehensive plan. Desire to farm is growing, and the property in question has prime agricultural soils, the best in New York State, almost the last in the community.
    The area has seen substantial development, and traffic to Montauk has slowed since the comprehensive plan warned against the dangers to highway turn-around and traffic movement from overdeveloping this area.
    To accommodate the “lifestyles,” as the legislation put it, of citizens who could afford $500,000 to almost $2 million before annual condominium expenses, it would suburbanize Amagansett, obliterate a cherished scenic vista, and exponentially increase population density, threatening the town’s fragile infrastructure.
    East Hamptonites in every village and hamlet should oppose this attempt by a lame-duck majority to pre-empt their role in determining the future of the town.


Imperialist Humans
    East Quogue
    November 11, 2013

Dear David,
    To those who wish to rid us of pesky deer and ugly turkeys, I overheard a conversation between a few of our white-tailed and feathered friends talking about how to rid themselves of imperialist humans. I told them not to worry: The humans will soon do it for them.


Overabundance of Deer
    November 4, 2013

To the Editor:
    My wife and I live in Springs near preserved land, an area typical in its overabundance of deer. We consider ourselves fortunate to live here and we enjoy the woods and harbor nearby and the wildlife it supports.
    Over this past decade we have had to increase measures to protect our vegetation, and we have observed a widening and deepening of browsing, apparently resulting from an ever-increasing deer population.
    I have read the town’s proposed deer management plan, and encourage anyone concerned about this issue to do the same. You can find it on the town’s website: www.town.east-hampton.ny.us.
    Whitetail deer range all the way from the Arctic Circle through the equator and all the way to Peru. They are the single most numerous ungulate in the Americas and are well established in other parts of the world. There are some 60 subspecies, and the ones we have here — Odocoileus virginianus, commonly known as whitetail — are highly human and resource-adaptable.
    Besides being browsers of a wide range of vegetation, when pushed, whitetail have been observed eating roadkill, eggs, small rodents, and even chicks from nests. 
    Here on Long Island, whitetail are virtually the only ungulate in our fragmented ecosystems. They encounter no natural predation. In fact, Long Island probably hosts one of the largest whitetail populations void of any natural predation in the Americas, if not the world.
    The dynamics here do not favor hunting as a management tool, although changes in regulations and hunting parameters are called for in the town’s deer management plan. Hunting is not just a free management tool; it also provides meat and generates revenue. The meat resulting from professional culling would be distributed through local food banks.
    While there is strong anecdotal evidence that whitetail populations are too large and continuing to increase here on Long Island, it seems there is a lack of good hard data. If deer populations are too large and still rising, it is possible to know only with the establishment of good scientific baseline data, which is called for in the town’s deer management plan.
    A correlation may exist between normal or expected winter die-off rates and actual die-off rates reduced due to supplemental feeding by humans. It is worthwhile to note that our winters tend to be mild, so it might not take much to get a weak animal over the hump. I personally know several well-intentioned people who spend upwards of $100 per month on deer food. It would be interesting to know how much is dispensed by humans here on Long Island each year. This practice may be interrupting one of the few naturally selective pressures still working to drive the genetic integrity of Long Island’s whitetail. This possible issue is not addressed in the town’s plan, so I encourage the deer management working group to look into it. If investigation determines that feeding is significant, then I would support prohibiting that practice.
    Clearly, Long Island is not alone with its deer problem. This is occurring almost anywhere there is habitat and enough human density to reduce biodiversity. It may be that Long Island, because of its virtual lack of predators, is a litmus for what many other parts of the country can expect. 
    There seems little debate that this is a costly problem in many respects. To solve it, systematic and skillful euthanasia, while distasteful to many, I believe will result in less total suffering to deer than would result from overpopulation.
    I know there is a lot of local opposition to hunting and culling. Folks like Mr. Crain seem absolute in their positions. What I think folks in his camp miss is that our Long Island ecosystems, as natural as they may appear, are incomplete and out of balance. While I am sympathetic to and respectful of Mr. Crain’s viewpoints, I implore him and those who share his views to look at the big picture and the long-term consequences of doing too little at a critical time. To make an analogy, it’s like watching a house begin to burn, but waiting to throw water while discussing where to throw it, so I encourage those dead set against hunting-culling to refrain from impeding implementation, and instead focus on insuring that deer management is conducted in a humane and responsible manner.
    I haven’t seen any numbers, but I’m guessing that the cost and difficulty of contraception or sterilization could be prohibitive, and implementation difficult; besides, these measures are not effective in the short term.
    Regarding the proposed deer management plan, I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to know where the town is currently at with this, and when and how it will begin.