Letters to the Editor: 03.20.14

Our readers' comments

Music, Dance, Cuisine
    March 15, 2014

Dear David,
    What a delightful and delicious even­ing was presented to East Hampton on Friday by the John M. Marshall School International Heritage Fair! What a gift! The parents, children, families, and staff of the school deserve our thanks and congratulations for an enormously successful event that showcased the music, dance, and cuisine of the many countries represented in the student body. This was a beautiful meeting of our whole community.
    Thank you, John Marshall, for inviting me to your celebration.


Refusing to Stop
    Water Mill
    March 15, 2014

To the Editor,
    Dear Governor Cuomo, please come to East Hampton. See what your decision to turn over LIPA operations to a New Jersey company is doing to this beautiful hamlet. It made sense to reform LIPA, which you called “corrupt” and “incompetent,” but you said PSEG would mean “better service and cost savings for ratepayers, and is a victory for the residents and businesses of Long Island.”
    This is not turning out to be a victory in terms of environmental protection for East Hampton. PSEG is expanding an above-ground transmission line  over strong opposition by the residents, who want the line buried instead. In addition to being a visual eyesore, these poles represent a hurricane hazard, as they are close to homes on the route and are so large that were they to come down they would block streets from passage and not be movable by a bulldozer. Property values and the property-tax base will suffer, too.
    PSEG is refusing to stop completion of the above-ground transmission line even if an agreement is signed with the Town of East Hampton to pay for the undergrounding of the line. By continuing work all the way through installation of the cable on the poles (not yet done)‚ PSEG is assuring a large extra expense to undo this work. Perhaps PSEG is pursuing complete installation to assure that East Hampton will blink when they see the cost of undoing an installed transmission cable?
    PSEG said they will not have an estimate for East Hampton for placing the transmission line underground for four months, which is ludicrous, especially given the precedent in Southampton. In 2008, an agreement was reached to bury a transmission line along a similar length of around five miles from Southampton Village through Water Mill to Bridgehampton. The incremental cost to bury the line will be paid for by a surcharge on electric consumption and spread over 20 years.
    PSEG will argue — as LIPA did in the case of Southampton — that the power is needed this summer, but residents would rather take that exaggerated risk than have this expensive work continue, when the additional work to be undone will eventually be billed to the residents. Surely, residents would rather cut their peak-period weekend consumption than wastefully expend millions more dollars.
    Governor Cuomo, you initiated the takeover of LIPA operations by PSEG, so residents of the South Fork respectfully request that you reach out to Mr. David M. Daly, president and C.O.O. of PSEG, to demand a work stoppage pending an agreement with East Hampton to pay for undergrounding the transmission line. Otherwise, PSEG will have created a precedent for future above-ground transmission lines here. East Hampton, a prized, pristine, picturesque place in New York State, should not be menaced by PSEG with indifference.

    Member of Water Mill Citizens
    Advisory Committee and Prior
    Resident of East Hampton Village

Listen to the People
    East Hampton
    March 13, 2014

To the Editor,
    I cannot believe the situation we are now immersed in with PSEG Long Island. I am fearful and concerned that they have ulterior motives in this current utility cable project. I can only hope that they, and those that they are controlled by, listen to the people here.
    We support a project that will bury power lines without destroying our environment in the meantime! The project must be slowed or stopped until an agreement can be met. The damage caused, especially to the trees, is irreversible! Statuesque trees cannot be replaced for decades. We need honesty, trust, and truthfulness when working to find the solution we can all live with.
    On the other hand, I am amazed and proud that I live amongst neighbors and community members that care so deeply to stand up for what will save East Hampton and similar towns on Long Island from being taken advantage of by a system that seems unfair. I am completely impressed with the responsibility, dedication, and enthusiasm that the Save East Hampton group has demonstrated in order to do what is best for this and other very special communities across the island.


Good Government
    March 17, 2014

Dear David,
    Amazing! After gritting my teeth for years, it looks like I can finally feel better about the state of our town!
    I opened last week’s Star and found that the town board showed positive energy and direction by reversing the unfortunate history of neglecting violations of our building and zoning codes. The board voted unanimously to authorize new legal action against Cyril’s, the Napeague bar and restaurant distinguished over the last few summers by accumulating and ignoring hundreds of unanswered summonses.
    This board is also now pressing businesses in East Hampton to come into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act so that handicapped persons here will have easier access to buildings. And the town is taking the lead on this issue by installing handicapped-accessible doors at Town Hall, the Montauk Playhouse, and the YMCA East Hampton RECenter.
    Another forward-looking action is the launching of a new senior services committee to assess the needs of this population, look at the services presently offered, and develop a plan to coordinate them. Councilwoman Burke-Gonzalez will be the board’s liaison. And Councilwoman Overby sponsored a resolution to re-establish an advisory board on affordable housing, using the town’s community housing opportunity fund.
    Besides all that, the Fort Pond House, abandoned for three years, is on the way to being repaired so that it will be ready for use by Montauk’s schoolchildren, scouts, artists, and writers, according to Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc.
    What a pleasure it is to watch this town board working so well to return good government to East Hampton!


Bravo, Sylvia
    March 15, 2014

Dear David,
    I recently saw the plans for the renovation of Indian Wells Beach, Amagan­sett. We in Amagansett applaud Sylvia Overby for her work on the problems of Indian Wells, a family beach.
    Two years ago, Sylvia started working on the messy situation at the beach — hordes of young people with cases of beer on their shoulders partying, at the invitation of an Internet entrepreneur. Last summer, with the help of town professionals, Sylvia created a new set of regulations, a good first step but not a complete solution.
    Now, owing to her persistence, a more elaborate set of proposals has been approved by the town board to control traffic, increase parking for local permit holders, and address sanitation issues. The councilwoman also looks forward to a public hearing on whether or not alcohol consumption should be prohibited during the daytime in the vicinity of lifeguard stations.
    Bravo, Sylvia. You are meeting our quality-of-life concerns with imagination, persistence, and stubbornness. We thank you!


Exclude the House
    March 16, 2014

Dear Editor,
    I was disappointed to read your editorial (“Half a Loaf Won’t Do”) in the March 13 edition of The Star, as it did not show a true understanding of the views of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee, the group to which I believe you refer when mentioning “a committee that advises the East Hampton Town Board.”
    As you did not choose to contact the advisory committee for any additional information, I assume you are basing your perspective on a resolution that was passed on Feb. 24 and presented to the town board the following day. That resolution recommended the town refrain from buying the 16.5-acre parcel, as the purchase was presented as an all-or-nothing deal. We felt the town should explore other options with regard to that property, particularly options that did not include the purchase of a 3,500-square-foot house with pool.
    The house has no historic value, having been constructed a mere 12 years ago. Nor was a use specified for the structure, which in any case would be severely restricted by community preservation fund regulations, and it was assumed to be a teardown. The committee unanimously agreed that the house should be excluded from the purchase, as it would be a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars to pay well over half a million dollars for the house and even more money to demolish it.
    If the house was purchased and left standing, the town would be responsible for continued maintenance, which over time would be considerable.
    The house is in the middle of the property, admittedly unfortunate, but it does not serve as a barrier between the surrounding preserved property. It is one house on 16.5 acres surrounded by many more acres of preserve — hardly a threat to the Accabonac Creek watershed.
    The Springs C.A.C. is in full support of the town acquiring suitable land for preservation, and we welcome the purchase of this parcel without the house, but just because considerable money is available through the C.P.F. does not mean it should be spent without taking a serious look at cost-benefit ratios. Even as our coffers swell, our judgment need not shrink.

    Chairwoman, Springs C.A.C.

It Seems Cavalier
    March 17, 2014

Dear David,
    In your editorial last week which discussed the proposed Community Preservation Fund purchase of 115 Neck Path, you referred to an opinion expressed by only 2 of the 12 members of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee as if it were the entire committee’s determination. Your editorial was not a fair or accurate summary of the discussions or conclusions that occurred that evening. The committee had no consensus and did not make any recommendations on alternatives.
    However, except for one attendee, the entire committee and audience were unanimous in requesting that the town not yet proceed with the purchase in its current stated form. The entire committee requested a halt to the purchase and sought further information from the town board because the presence of the house and pool had not been disclosed in the resolution, and was only revealed at the public hearing. At that time, no one on the town board articulated how the house would be used. We also learned at our C.A.C. meeting that maintenance of the house would not be eligible for C.P.F. funding. With so little information available, I believe that the advisory committee acted reasonably in recommending that the town not move forward with the purchase at this time.
    As an architect and developer, I cannot agree that demolishing a large 10-year-old house, with 20 or more years of useful life, is a prudent course. This is not a neglected 40-year-old home with a failing cesspool and a buried fuel tank. This is not a house that sits on fragile waterfront land. It seems cavalier to tear something down that required so much energy in the manufacturing of the materials and in the ensuing construction.
    While the C.P.F. coffers are overflowing with money, it does not diminish our responsibility to allocate the money with care. My personal preference would be to assist the sellers in expediting their subdivision and at the same time buy an option to purchase the two front lots and gain full ownership of the eight-acre reserve area. Instead of spending $2.7 million for 16 acres, the C.P.F. will be spending around $1.5 million for 12 acres. The remaining $1.2 million can be used for other C.P.F. open-space purchases. The town will then own 62 acres of contiguous open space.
    Of course, this is only my opinion. The Springs C.A.C. is a diverse group of citizens, as are the many citizens who regularly attend our meetings. Our meetings are informal and freewheeling, and generate lively discussions. On that Monday evening, I believe that what united us was a desire for more details from the town board.

    Pamela Bicket
    S.C.A.C. member

At 115 Neck Path
    March 16, 2014

To the Editor:
    Last week’s lead editorial says that “Half a Loaf Won’t Do.” But what if half a loaf is free, and the whole loaf costs $2.7 million, plus the expense of tearing down a five-bedroom house and pool? A house whose purchase is illegal by community preservation fund standards. What then?
    There are several errors of fact and interpretation in last week’s editorial on the proposed C.P.F. purchase at 115 Neck Path in Springs. The Star did not have a reporter at the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee meeting where a unanimous resolution was passed opposing the town board’s proposal, and The Star did not see fit to contact the chairwoman of the committee nor, to my knowledge, any sitting member of the committee actually present at the discussion, so perhaps that’s where the misinformation stems from.
    I have been a member of the S.C.A.C. for 15 years. The S.C.A.C. during all that time has been a strong advocate of open-space purchases in Springs, and has often led the charge in these efforts. During the time I’ve been on the committee, Springs has gone from 9 percent open space to 20-something percent. But we unanimously voted against this town board proposal, for the following reasons:
    Why pay $2.7 million for 16 acres plus a five-bedroom house and pool when we can get the back eight acres and three tax-paying properties without spending a dime? There would also be the option to purchase the resulting two empty lots as open space. Buying a house and pool only to tear them down is expensive and wasteful and makes no sense. And, it’s illegal (see below).
    The editorial seems to imply that not buying the whole property would prevent the contiguity of the property with the two adjoining town-owned preserves. Not true, as a quick look at a map will show.
    The editorial says that the property meets several C.P.F. qualifications. Quite true, but it violates a major provision of the C.P.F. covenants. A house does not qualify for purchase unless it has historical significance. This house is 12 years old. And, as mentioned, it’s a big house, not some abandoned old shed or barn. The C.P.F. also allows purchases for active recreation, another provision that disqualifies purchasing the house and pool.
    The editorial sounds an irresponsible note when it basically says hey, the money’s there, let’s spend it. Sounds like the attitude that led to the Keyes Island boondoggle. Yes, we want open space, but we must also be fiscally prudent.
    In closing, there’s a piece of this story the editorial did not mention. The one public notice on this proposed purchase somehow failed to mention that there was a house and pool on the property. Quite an oversight. Doesn’t this merit looking into by The Star?
    This purchase deserves serious and informed discussion, not misinformation and gratuitous swipes at a committee which over the years has been a staunch supporter of any initiative that might benefit the Springs community, whether open-space purchases or school safety zones or recreational facilities or keeping an eye on the spending of taxpayer money.


Buy the Land
    March 17, 2014

Dear David,
    I couldn’t agree more with your editorial concerning the purchasing of property at 115 Neck Path in Springs with the community preservation fund, which presently has $52 million in it.
    First of all, David Buda and the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee talked about the $2.7 million potential purchase as being taxpayer money. Hello? That money is not from taxes. It is from the money garnered when a property is sold, 2 percent of the sale price no matter who is buying the property, an individual or a corporation.
    The group that sits at the front in the citizens advisory meetings, which I always attend, is dominated by Republicans of the ilk who would rather collect taxes from the house presently located on the land, which contributes to the cost of running our school, which I grant you is high, than spend the C.P.F. money to keep that land open and undeveloped.
    Since they cannot see around the corner, they do not understand that even one child, let alone more, in that house or the potential houses that can be built on that land if not purchased would negate that revenue collected by taxes.     Considering that the land is in an environmentally sensitive area, it is foolish and downright stupid to even consider stopping the sale. This is prime land to add to open space in Springs, a hamlet that so desperately needs to stop developing. Those at the front table were cheering the taxes, intimidating the group in front of them. I was the lone dissenter.  
    With 1,070 students in the Springs Unified School District and rising, and people moaning about their taxes, I urge the East Hampton Town Board to buy the land for the sake of the water under our feet and a beautiful stretch of open land.
    As Lee Koppelman, a Suffolk County planner, said, “If I had to do it all over again, I would have brought up every available acre.”


A Weather Event
    East Hampton
    March 13, 2014

Dear David,
    Thank you for Joanne Pilgrim’s front-page March 6 article “It Has Been a Winter to Remember.” The article provided your readers with a vivid profile of our community these last few months.
    The dramatic weather events have been attributed to the polar vortex, a whirlwind of very cold, dense Arctic air circulation which swerved south, bringing daily high-speed winds and weather records of a deep polar freeze locally to parts of the U.S., including the East End.
    What a perfect opportunity to challenge the public debate on a warming climate!
    Weather is what happens in the atmosphere day to day. The winter 2014 polar vortex has been a weather event. A changing climate is how the atmosphere behaves over long periods of time. Weather patterns can continue erratic; each successive year will not necessarily be warmer than the last, but as the sustained long-term global warming trend continues, it will continue to parallel a rising level of greenhouse gas emissions captured in the atmosphere.
    Monitoring the atmosphere for carbon particles, one of the greenhouse gases, began in 1958 at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, with a baseline measurement of 315 carbon particles per million. Last summer, Mauna Loa measured a record high of 400 carbon particles, p.p.m., in the atmosphere. In the fall, the leading panel of international scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reported a worldwide consensus that warming of the climate system is unequivocal. The report went on to conclude a 95 percent probability that the rise in greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels is causing the climate to change.
    I am hoping, as the climate debate continues, that the new evidence which registers in the scientific community will penetrate a divided political arena to become an issue all citizens will recognize as the greatest challenge of our lifetime, and speak out demanding our political leaders to act.

    Garden Club of America
    Conservation Committee
    Vice Chair, Climate Change

Feral Cat Poem #70
Facebook alerted me today
that a friend, Nicky Sleek,
has a birthday coming up.

Okay, except Nicky’s a feral
cat I knew, and he’s dead.

How that rascal got on Facebook
I’ll never know, but what am I
supposed to do now?

Hey, Zuckerberg, you ninny,
who made you my nanny?


We Don’t Compete
    East Hampton
    March 16, 2014

Dear Editor,
    How does a system collapse when all its core principles are an antidote for preventing collapse?
    Simple. Disregard the core principles and pay off whomever necessary. So corporate America, longing for the old days when antitrust was a pipe dream, become scam artists. How does it react to regulation legislation designed to avoid another economic meltdown? By hiring thousands of lawyers and analysts to scam and debilitate the regulation, leaving us more exposed to another crash and helping only the profits of a small percentage of the people. (Poor, abused Steve Schwartzman.)
    Competition was once a core principle. Performance-based success. But we don’t compete anymore. Failure in business means bailouts; in politics it means re-election. Democracy means manipulating the voters. Capitalism means manipulating the markets.
    Governor Perry (Capitain Retardo) advertises that Texas is a right-to-work state. Meaning we screw workers for the benefit of their bosses. Competing to be the lowest common denominator, lowest wages, least benefits, most profits. Telling workers that our dreams should include $7.50-an-hour lifestyles. Extolling downward mobility. The American dream, or is it nightmare.
    Hard work. Work hard and you’ll be compensated. Yet Americans work like dogs, are highly productive but earn less money, and lose wealth every year. Our corporations flock to places where wages are low, benefits don’t exist, and regulations like worker safety and protecting the environment don’t exist. They make products we can’t afford to buy, except on credit.
    Americans should pay taxes, except that the tax base for the country excludes the Southern states, who are subsidized by the two coasts. And the corporate effective rate of 12 percent is one of the lowest in the world — when they actually pay. G.E. and Apple excluded. Every poor slob in the country pays 8 percent in sales tax.
    Welfare is un-American, unless, of course, you’re Walmart, where virtually every worker is eligible for food stamps, Medicaid, and affordable housing, because the wages, $8.40 an hour, are too low to live normally or subnormally. If all those goodies are worth $10 an hour, Wal-Mart gets $20,000 a year per worker in support. Whatever happened to capitalism?
    That it’s dying from the inside and taking most of the country down with it isn’t a problem for that small group of people who can’t possibly make enough money to quench their insatiable needs. Our poor abused billionaires, forever cursed with unfulfilled desires.


What Democrats Want
    East Hampton
    March 13, 2014

Dear Editor,
    If only we could get every voter to listen to what the Democrats want and support as opposed to what the Republicans want!
    Democrats want increase in the minimum wage.
    Democrats want affordable health care for all.
    Democrats want longer-term unemployment insurance.
    Democrats want to maintain the school lunch programs.
    Democrats want to maintain the food stamp program.
    Democrats want negotiated foreign policy without threats of war.
    Democrats want easy access to the voting booth.
    Democrats want women to have the final say on abortion control.
    Democrats want a long-term jobs program.
    Democrats support same-sex marriage.
    Republicans want to destroy President Obama.
    Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
    Now if only Texas and Florida could be totally disqualified to vote and those under 35 can be brought out to take their place, then we would have something!


Ur-12th Planet
    March 17, 2014

To the Editor,
    Re: 990 — walking the ark through the Golden Gate in wall of Jerusalem — Golden Gate bridge four seasons command and ur-12th planet options.
    Dear student of super setting. Those April showers that come your way, after 20 years in New England, New Yorkers get introduced to Mr. Peabody where the man in waiting is the real Mr. Peabody. Good fellows from girl in pickup truck to girl in caddy still can’t run things. Bloated Ray not this “piece of work” leaning against the car perplexed by a simple task. First wave over Andon at D-Day.
    Developing funnels that lead to Jordan. Picture in Oval Office of seven presidents. Remembering the Eddy Duchin movie — “It seemed a good idea at the time” Cabaret crossing taboo thresholds audience changes. Goodbye!

    P.S. Ark receiving saving and forgiving cross and ark sending praying at ends cherubim style ends of altar.