Letters to the Editor: 06.19.14

Our readers' comments

Complete Anarchy?
    June 16, 2014

To the Editor,
    What is going on on our local roads? Has everyone lost it? Just this past Friday my husband and I were coming from Indian Wells Beach at 8:30 a.m. and we were cut off twice near the Mobil station in Amagansett.
    In the course of 30 seconds, someone pulled out in front of us onto Indian Wells Highway and made a left onto Montauk Highway and then, as we made a right turn onto Montauk Highway, a guy pulled out of the same gas station right in front of us and made another left heading west on Montauk Highway. Neither had the right-of-way, and thank goodness my husband was driving slowly. Does anyone obey traffic rules on the East End in the summer months any more, or are we living in complete anarchy?
    Worse yet, on Sunday afternoon at around 3:45 p.m., I was headed to Stuart’s to get some dinner for Father’s Day with my dad. Heading east on Montauk Highway, I stopped with my left signal on, as cars were coming in the westerly direction. I was waiting for them to pass so I could turn left, and boom, a silver pickup slammed into the right rear side of my car. Stunned, I realized he was not stopping, and I watched him take off down Route 27 weaving around the traffic ahead.
    Shocked but then filled with adrenaline, I tried to follow to catch up to the pickup to get the license plate of this lunatic that just rammed into me. I flashed my blinker and hit my horn to beg the poor car ahead of me to move over, and he did and I saw that silver pickup truck had made a left onto Windmill Lane.
      I tried to catch up to him but he was going so fast and passing other cars on the road doing like 70 miles per hour to avoid me catching up. I then realized that it was not worth my life or causing another accident so I slowed down and by the time I got to Town Lane, I could not see this silver pickup with an extended cab anywhere in sight. I then began to shake and drove home very slowly and called the police.
    I don’t know the reason why anyone would not stop if they caused an accident. I can only surmise that the driver and his passengers had something to hide. If anyone witnessed this accident and got a partial license plate or spots a fairly new shiny silver pickup truck with damage to its left-front fender please report it to the Town of East Hampton police.
    People like this should not be on our roads, driving. I fear for my three children and their young friends driving on these roads to get to their summer jobs, as everyone is driving way too fast, making U-turns where they are not permitted, not stopping at stop signs, and just having a total disregard for basic traffic rules.
    Please slow down! Drive safely. Stop texting. Do not drink and drive. Obey traffic rules.
    The villages and towns on the East End are part of the State of New York, and the same traffic rules that we all had to learn to get our permits and pass our driver’s tests apply here. Please note that it’s actually busier here in the next three months with more people and cars in a very small area all going in different directions. No one is going anywhere fast, so please give yourself enough time to get to your destination.
    Please remember that families live here, some all year round; others move here for the summer. They have small children in cars. They are biking, jogging, walking with strollers, crossing in crosswalks. Stop for them. Be courteous. There are fewer streetlights, winding curves on our roads, deer that run across roads, and people driving who aren’t familiar with all the roads — so please slow down.
    The whole summer experience will be much better if everyone takes the time to enjoy it safely, and we’ll all be better off for it.

    Thank you,

An Original Montauker
    June 13, 2014

To the Editor:
    Recently I had the opportunity to spend several hours with Vinnie Grimes, an original Montauker. I have always appreciated Vinnie’s candor, his keen sense of humor, and his grasp of Montauk traditions. Following is a brief narrative of our conversation.
    Vinnie was born and raised in Montauk in 1928, the oldest child of Edgar and Cecelia Grimes. Edgar had come to Montauk from Edmonton, Canada, and Cecelia Pitts was one of many Nova Scotians who relocated in Montauk in the early 1900s. Vinnie’s brothers and sisters included Edgar Jr., Marie, Danny, Billy, and, in Vinnie’s words, the “late arrival,” Charlie Grimes.
    As a young boy, Vinnie remembers going shopping in Sag Harbor or Greenport, since Montauk had no formal supermarket. His dad, Edgar, worked for Perry Duryea Sr. at the former E.B. Tuthill fish operation for a time, and Vinnie recalls the Bahamian sponge diver Zeke Burroughs, who lived near Duryea’s, babysitting for Vinnie and his siblings, and playing the accordion for them on occasion.
    At that time, Montauk was centered around the old fishing village on the shores of Fort Pond Bay. Duryea’s dock, Joke Wells’s dock, the post office, and Trail’s End were all located in the fishing village, as were a number of transplanted Canadians. When Edgar Sr. left Duryea’s to work for the Montauk Beach Company, the family was given free housing at McCaffrey’s at Ditch Plains. Subsequently, Vinnie’s mom, Cecelia, would ride out the Hurricane of 1938 with two of her children inside an old car in the garage at McCaffrey’s, armed with a quart of milk and some snacks.
    As a youngster Vinnie attended Montauk School “up on the hill,” and worked behind the counter for Dick White Sr. at White’s on Main Street, running the soda fountain or assembling newspapers. Vinnie remarked that Mr. White was very protective of his newspaper business. Dick Sr. even went so far as to threaten Jim Martell when Martell’s began to sell papers. Edgar Grimes Sr. was dabbling in bootlegging around Fort Pond Bay at the time, but had difficulty in holding on to his profits, and would go on to build a family home and then lose it.
    Through his father’s involvement with the Montauk Beach Company, Vinnie learned of an open position at the Montauk Yacht Club as a valet. Since Dick White Sr. would not increase Vinnie’s pay more than 5 cents an hour, Vinnie applied for the yacht club job and was accepted, only to learn 24 hours later that he did not have the job due to Mr. White’s claim that Vinnie was one of “Dick’s boys.” That experience ended Vinnie’s tenure with Dick White Sr., and Vinnie went on to work as a mate on Gus Pitts’s charter boat for $5 a day plus tips.
    In 1948 after high school Vinnie bought his first boat, only to lose his deposit on the vessel when he received a draft notice. Vinnie drove all the way to Patchogue for his draft physical, and passed without getting a physical exam. He was given 90 days in which to pick a branch of the military, and through a friend’s father, who was a Marine Corps colonel, Vinnie was able to obtain a Marine Corps reserve card. This card would come to plague Vinnie later, as he tried several times to enlist in the Navy, but had to deal with the Marine card on his record. Ultimately, Vinnie did join the Navy, and was sent to naval boot camp in the Great Lakes.
    Vinnie’s Navy enlistment lasted until 1955, during which time he made one trip to Korea and also married his wife, Sue, in California. Vinnie and Sue would later have two boys, Jimmy and Keith. When Vinnie and Sue returned to Montauk, Vinnie bought the Cigarette from Ollie Olsen for charter fishing, with the help of a $1,500 loan from friends. Being president of the Holy Name Society, and having seen a Blessing of the Fleet on the West Coast, Vinnie realized that the Cigarette needed some divine insurance over and above what he could afford. So, Vinnie organized the first Blessing of the Fleet in Montauk in 1956. In his words, “there were 14 boats in the blessing — mainly Canucks.”
    Vinnie fished until 1966, but with two boys at home the winter trips with the boat down South were difficult. Vinnie contacted Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute about a potential job, but before they could respond, Jim Martell called Vinnie out of the blue to see about taking over Martell’s service station from Joe McDonald, who was relocating down the street. Vinnie accepted the position, thereby becoming immersed in a heated price war over gasoline and car repairs with Joe McDonald and Marshall Prado, among others.
    Vinnie felt it would be better for all the service stations to be on the same page in terms of price, particularly with the long Montauk winters when so many residents had to buy on credit. But “Uncle Joe,” as Vinnie called him, proved to be especially difficult, and Joe even went so far as to have his wife park at Little Flower Church to see who was going in and out of Vinnie’s station.
    Despite these issues Vinnie was able to persevere, and soon began fixing cars, using borrowed parts from other stations. Vinnie employed a number of young locals at the station, including Jimmy Martell, young Eddie Ecker, Bill Wilkinson, and friends of Vinnie’s son Keith. According to Vinnie, “Jimmy Martell would help himself to motor oil, and Keith’s friends did not work out.”
    Vinnie spent a total of 38 years running gas stations, first at Martell’s for 17 years, and then across from the Montauk I.G.A. for 21 years more. During that time he developed a keen sense of what it took to make a dollar, and how to keep track of money in and out of the register. Several times during our discussion, Vinnie marveled at how some local businessmen have been able to survive with poor business practices.
    Between the Holy Name Society, serving as a captain in the Montauk Fire Department, being a member of the fire police (they won’t let him retire), a past president of the Montauk Lions Club and a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus, Vinnie has accumulated a notable record of public service. In addition, he started and ran the horse shows at Deep Hollow Ranch, events that over the years raised tens of thousands of dollars for local charities.
    As I have done in other interviews with original Montaukers, I closed by asking Vinnie how he felt about all the recent changes in Montauk. “The world has progressed,” he said, “but in Montauk’s case it might be wise to pull back a bit, and then move forward slowly.” He went on to say that businesspeople need people, but that some crowds at local establishments are too big.
    As to the presence of a 7-Eleven in Montauk, Vinnie said that instead of complaining, local merchants should “build a better mousetrap.” Vinnie’s response to the situation is direct — “get up earlier and work later, or, get off your ass and do something.” These few words pretty much sum up what Vinnie Grimes is all about.


Brumm Like Drumm
    June 9, 2014

Dear Editor,
    Perhaps if my surname were Havens, Leo, or Lester, it would be easier for East Hampton Star editors and reporters to spell Julie Brumm correctly. And to be fair, the current E.H. Star leadership is not the first E.H. Star leadership to misspell my last name. Every 10 years or so, I have to remind The Star that my name is Brumm, not Brunn as reported in the June 5 Montauk column by Janis Hewitt.
    Beginning in 1990 as Montauk Chamber of Commerce executive director, I was referred to by my maiden name, Julie Evans, only. My late husband, Capt. Mike Brumm, also had an enforced name change when his extraordinary sportfishing catches were reported in Russell Drumm’s column. Rusty’s name is only one consonant away from mine, so Rusty and I decided that an effective way to remember the spelling is Brumm like Drumm, but with a B. I hope this helps, perhaps for another 10 years.
    More important is the news that the Lake Montauk Watershed Plan is complete. Everyone can view the document on the town website. It has been a long time in the making and I would like to thank all the volunteers who sat through years of monthly meetings for hanging in there. There are good changes coming for Lake Montauk.
    Please try to give up the spraying of herbicides and insecticides on properties, and especially around our beautiful and sensitive bodies of water. Hopefully, alternatives that do not have the adverse effects of those currently available will be publicized and made available to those who choose to be enlightened and do their part in protecting our water.


Use Personal Protection
    June 16, 2014

Dear Mr. Rattray,
    I was particularly encouraged to read your “Mast-Head” piece titled “Fear and Loathing,” in which you have chosen to forgo spraying your yard for ticks. I would like to help build the case for your decision and to add encouragement to others to do to the same.
    The seriousness of the tick-borne diseases that continue to flourish on the East End is naturally spawning a huge surge in spraying and presenting a new health concern. The problem is that not only are these sprays nondiscriminant — even the organic ones kill almost any insect they touch — they are harmful to humans and pets, and are not all that effective.
    They cannot possibly kill every tick on a property. Ticks live under leaves, where the sprays are less likely to reach them, and their populations are continuously restored by the mouse and deer hosts that regularly traverse most properties. Thinking that spraying has made your property safe is a flawed assumption on two levels. 1. A false sense of security that a property is safe will lead to less diligent body-checking. 2. The most frequently used spray, permethrin, is sold as safe and often claimed as derived from chrysanthemums. Actually, it is a chemically derived, federally regulated chemical that can cause reproductive system disruption and nervous system disorders and is especially dangerous to children and pets. Spraying more to make your property “more safe” is not a logical response.
    The most effective prevention is to make the host unattractive to the tick. Protect yourself. Use repellents. Deet and permethrin-free products are preferred, although these stronger repellents are okay if applied to boots and pants. And check yourself, your children, and your pets, every single evening. If ticks are removed immediately they do not transmit the disease.
    And if you feel that a pre-party spray is for some reason unavoidable, use one that consists of truly plant-based oils (lavender and wintergreen) and spray early in the morning or late afternoon when most of the valuable pollinators, butterflies and other beneficial insects, are safely in their nests.
    Please do continue to use personal protection as opposed to broadcast spraying, and urge others to do the same.

    EDWINA von GAL

Lucia Can Write
    June 16, 2014

To the Editor:
    Last Thursday when I looked at the front page of The East Hampton Star, above the fold, left side, I saw an article about Caldor’s East by Lucia Akard.
    How delightful. I knew Lucia would be interning at The Star for the summer, but was surprised to see her first article so soon.
    As I read on further in the paper there was another article by Lucia titled “On Returning Home.” I read this delightful piece comparing and describing the City of Light, Paris, to the lovely hamlet of Springs.
    We are both Springsters and we both see beauty and appreciate our home and what is local and close to us. I smiled as I read her descriptions and the similarities she saw. Lucia can write! It must have been all those library books she took out as a wee one that gave her an appreciation of language and the skill to write as well as she does.
    I can’t wait for her next article.


A Rampant Utility
    June 16, 2014

Dear Editor,
    I am a citizen of Amagansett and have spent nearly 60 years on the East End. Returning from a warmer place this spring I was stunned to see the desecration of much of our beautiful piece of the world. A rampant utility, by stealth and under the cover of winter and without regard to the sensibilities of our communities, has done irreparable damage to wide swaths of the East End.
    To call this a “pole” issue is a gross understatement, as those towering monstrosities are but a small part of the damage. You can pick your poison. Is it the poison leaching into the soil? Is it the poison of powerful electrical lines running close by residences? Is it the devaluation of property in afflicted areas? Or is it, as it is for me, the visual pollution that seems to be everywhere?
    Visit our rural Amagansett train station, now turned into a branch of the New Jersey Turnpike; the cat’s cradle of massive lines and chicken wire crisscrossing so many of our lanes in addition to Route 27 from Southampton to Montauk. Drive the lanes around East Hampton train station, Three Mile Harbor Road, Springs-Fireplace, Town Lane, Old Stone Highway, Old Montauk Highway to name a few. See what they have done.
    I have traveled some of the poorest countries on earth. The installations are similar, but poverty is their reason. I think of all the hard-won victories over the years that have preserved the beauty of our communities. The sum of all these is less than the damage of this one abomination. Utility law may confer a legal right — that remains to be seen — but certainly not a moral right.


PSEG Has Ruined It
    East Hampton
    June 16, 2014

Dear Editor,
    On these most beautiful of late spring days, I can finally open some windows in my village home and enjoy the fresh air layered with coolness off the ocean and filled with the fragrances from the flowering earth.
    Not so for my neighbors on King Street across to McGuirk, down part of Cooper onto Cedar, to North Main then through Collins, up Accabonac and heading east on Town Lane to Old Stone Highway, all the way to the unsightly Amagansett substation.
    These neighbors of mine have a different experience. The smell wafting in their homes is filled with noxious chemicals coming from the 60-foot-plus toxic utility poles placed 10 to 20 feet from their homes.
    The drive to Amagansett from East Hampton Village on Route 27 is so filled with potholes that driving is downright dangerous. On my return trip home recently, to bypass the potential harm to my car on what would have been in the past a pleasant drive taking the back road down Town Lane, it became an unbearably sad drive down memory lane.
    The thick, ugly, smelly, high-to-the-sky poles (not just taller but literally twice the size) and multiple heavy black cables looming over this once-beautiful rural road made me sad, angry, and sick to my stomach.
    I can’t walk my dog down McGuirk Street anymore and now I can’t bear to drive my car down Town Lane and Old Stone Highway by the golf course. PSEG has ruined it for my neighbors, our town, and me.
    What continues to worry me as this dangerous and unsightly project of PSEG is nearing completion is that as they start to remove the existing lines off the old poles and onto the newer, deadlier poles, these old poles will be gone forever. Regardless of if and when PSEG cuts the new ones down to the shorter height as they proposed they could do, we still have the girth, smell, and the ugly truth that they are leaching toxic chemicals into our soil and water supply. In addition, they will now be carrying high-tension wires over our heads.
    Early on this past winter, I heard that Mayor Rickenbach told my neighbor, who is a homeowner on McGuirk Street, that come the spring and summer when the trees leaf out we would not notice the poles so much. Funny, the same thing was said to me by a local builder who has developed behind McGuirk on Gould Street. Besides being shocked that anyone could possibly think this pole problem is not a horrible and serious problem, I am now not so shocked that the leafing out of our once beautiful old but now severely butchered trees can’t hide the 60-foot toxic poles, nor the noxious smell permeating throughout my neighbors’ streets and homes on a beautiful spring day.


Penta Poles
    East Hampton
    June 10, 2014

Dear Editor,
    We have a townwide issue on hand that I believe the whole town is not aware of. Right now PSEG’s toxic Penta poles are leaching into our soils with a fast track to our only water supply. Penta is a toxic chemical that has been banned in 26 countries and in our children’s playgrounds. The Stockholm Convention is now in its final stages to hopefully globally banning Penta once and for all.
    The new caveman poles that are being installed here in the Hamptons and all over the island obviously did not complete the cure process at the manufacturer’s plant, which is where the toxic chemicals like Penta are given the chance for that extra toxic waste to leach off of the poles and get them to an acceptable level of contamination while they are still at the manufacturer. Instead the poles were rushed here for the redundant electric that PSEG tells us we need, and they allowed the cure process to instead leach off of the poles here in the Hamptons right into our one source of drinking water.
    We cannot live without clean water. I would like my children and my neighbors’ children to be able to live here with the ability to have clean water.
    LIBFRE’s expert hydrogeologist tested some of the poles and the Penta levels were 300 times the allowable amount allowed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Our experts state that the Penta will sink into the ground during wet events. Depending on the soil type, it travels between inches and feet until it hits groundwater. Once it hits the groundwater it will then travel horizontally in a southern direction because that is the natural flow for the aquifer. The Penta will then travel south and eventually enter Town, Hook, and Georgica Ponds as per our experts.
    There are other ways to get our electrical needs met, without jeopardizing our one clean source of water and our ways of life. Our community needs to stand up as one voice on this issue. Assemblyman Fred Thiele stated that he believed litigation would be the only way to right this wrong. LIBFRE has done the work and has filed suit against PSEG/LIPA. We need you to stand with us and help fund this fight and right this wrong. Let’s stand up for our right for clean water and responsible energy together. 

    Long Island Business
    For Responsible Energy

On Residential Property
    June 5, 2014

Dear Editor,
    Last summer the residents of the Springs were horrified to see dump trucks, bulldozers, cement trucks, box trucks, and other construction equipment parked on some of our neighbors’ properties. We wanted to believe that this was an aberration that would be eliminated once the proper authorities were informed of the situation.
    The sitting town board at the time responded to residents’ complaints by declaring that the town ordinance needed to be clarified as to what type of vehicles were permitted on residential property. So the residents of Springs waited for the town board to save them from the rapid encroachment of this commercialization of their community.
    Flash forward 10 months later and a new board is struggling to satisfy the wishes of residents who have radically opposing opinions about what should or shouldn’t be parked on residential property. Some residents think the phrase “anything goes” should apply to the question of what should be permitted, while other residents think that tight restrictions should be adopted to maintain the attractive quality of life in Springs that existed when they purchased their homes.
    The attraction was based on the belief that Springs aesthetically captured the essence of a tranquil environment, personified by the perfect combination of wooded vistas, farmland, and water. The furthest thing from their minds was that one day they would be fighting against the adoption of ordinances that promised to open the door to homeowners wanting to beat the system by using their residential property to operate commercial enterprises.
    Many residents of Springs operate local businesses and respect the regulations by renting spaces for those businesses and associated equipment. They play fair. Most reasonable people understand a fisherman or outdoorsman wanting to own a pickup truck, but that’s where logic stops. Why would anyone need any other type of truck for their personal use? Unless, as we all can guess, it is to operate a commercial business in a residential community.
    The Springs is a residential community, and as such there is no reason why we should be debating how many commercial vehicles should be allowed, as the answer should be none. Assuming that this is a moot point, there are a number of concerns with the ordinance amendments now being considered, as well as parts of the code that are not addressed.
    The proposed amendment to the code limits to two the number of commercially registered or “light trucks” permitted on one’s property. There still hasn’t been established a reason that someone needs a second truck at their home. The definition of light truck is too broad. We should follow the reasonable standard of the comparable community of Southampton that allows one truck, no larger than 25 feet and 10,000 pounds.
    There is no specification as to the location for parking these vehicles. Will front lawns be deemed acceptable parking lots, or will a paved surface, driveway, or garage be required? Most municipalities require some form of screening, even in commercially zoned areas. Will we have a requirement for screening so that the anything-goes residents can enjoy their freedoms without forcing their neighbors to view what they might consider eyesores and detrimental to the enjoyment of their property?
    Are we considering variable acreage in the calculations for any type of vehicle allowance? It’s ludicrous to apply the same criteria regarding the allowable number of vehicles for a quarter-acre and an acre property. It would be similar to equating the sensation of having a fleck of dust in your eye versus someone’s finger.
    The addition of the prohibition against “the parking of any unregistered vehicle not housed within a building for more than one year” is a good start to clean up some junked vehicles from people’s yards. However, how can this prohibition be enforced? Who will keep track of the time line? Perhaps a permit can be required to encourage compliance.
    Our town board is trying to please everyone, which is always a losing situation. They have earnestly attempted to resolve some of the issues regarding parking on residential property. But it is not enough. The residents of Springs are still waiting for help to resolve this situation, and almost a year waiting is too much time.
    Perhaps it is time to consult with outside attorneys who can refer to ordinances adopted by comparable communities such as Southampton and draft the type of ordinances that the residents of Springs thought were being worked on last year, ordinances that will maintain the bucolic, beautiful residential community that is Springs. We don’t want to become known as the community that used to be desirable but is now known for the “For Sale” signs dotting the front lawns of homeowners who just couldn’t wait anymore to see if their community would become the mecca of commercialization.


Rental Registration Law
    June 16, 2014

Dear David,
    There is a house a stone’s throw from my house in Springs, that an old man lived in. I would drive by and see him puttering outside. I always beeped and waved at him. He would smile and wave back. Then I didn’t see him anymore. Instead, now when I pass his house there are three S.U.V.s and one or two cars, depending upon the day, parked on this lot. There are also one or two trucks. One is sometimes a box truck, which has inscribed on its “box” the words Hampton Dwell. It is housed in a sort of alley behind the house, where some junk is also stored. No one ever even noticed this alley in the old man’s day.
    We in the neighborhood all marvel at this drastic change and wonder where code enforcement is. A good neighbor has become just another lawbreaker. Could it be that after the old man left the earth, whoever inherited his house is willing to go against the laws of this town about single-family residences for the sake of money? Could that be? Is that possible? This can only happen in Springs, the blessed hamlet.
    We need the rental registry law that Southampton has and has been using so successfully to protect single-family residency. In the past, this town allowed development to run rampant and is now struggling to bring its laws up to the needs of the 21st century. I urge our town board, which has taken many amazing giant steps in this process, to get to the rental registry law pronto.


No-Nonsense Approach
    June 15, 2014

    An unusual but encouraging thing happened over the last few weeks concerning the upcoming beach reconstruction project in downtown Montauk by the Army Corps of Engineers. On the front page of the June 5 issue of The Star, there is a story that the town board, feeling that the corps’ estimate ($103 million) of the economic value of the project was too low, hired a consultant firm to carefully study the project and come up with their estimate. The figure they came up with was over twice ($238 million) that of the army corps. Since the projected economic value is a key factor in determining the allocation of funds, the resolution of these two widely different findings was very important.
    Wait, the best is yet to come. Only a week later, in the June 12 issue of The Star, we find that the corps, after reviewing the board’s study, accepted it and raised their estimate of economic value of the project accordingly. Hopefully, this action will increase the scope of the planned reconstruction to include the creation of a replenishment or “feeder beach” requested by the board.
    This businesslike, calm approach to complex issues had recently been applied to the solution of the decade-old F.A.A.-airport argument, where once again the use of an outside fiscal study and civil discussion between the two factions came to an agreement. I am sure I speak for most of the town in applauding the action of our new town board and urge them to continue this no-nonsense approach to town governance. Quite a contrast to last year’s circus, isn’t it?


Working Together
    June 15, 2014

Dear David,
    As a board watcher for the past four and one half years, this past Tuesday’s Montauk work session showed the expert skills of Supervisor Cantwell to get people to work together. In all these years of board watching this is the first time three departments have worked in unison. Larry’s handling of the Lake Montauk issue included each of the town departments reporting with their expertise in that particular area. Experience is the best teacher and Larry certainly has many years of that to serve him well as supervisor.
    Lake Montauk was up for discussion by all the town departments. What I saw was an exceptionally coordinated presentation by Scott Wilson (C.P.F.), Kim Shaw (Natural Resources grant), and Brian Frank (Planning Department). All the departments gave input and a depth of knowledge into the discussion of “The Lake.” Scott spoke about the health and planning of saving property from being built on, using C.P.F. funds; Kim and a State Department of State representative spoke for long-term planning on Lake Montauk, and Brian spoke on the unique geology of the lake and its water marshes, ditches, and streams.
    Working together! A first in all the years I’ve been attending meetings. Leadership starts at the top, and Larry is a master at getting everyone to work together for the betterment of the town. Watch the Montauk meeting of June 10 at ltveh.org.


Changes to the C.P.F.
    East Hampton
    June 14, 2014

To the Editor:    
    It isn’t pretty when political parties squabble and point fingers. It is particularly discouraging to the citizens who observe the back-and-forth trying to glean the truth.
    The East Hampton Republican Committee has proposed two changes to the community preservation fund in a letter publicly submitted to the town board on May 15. The first change would increase the exemptions of $250,000 and $100,000 on improved and unimproved property to $500,000 and $250,000, saving taxpayers up to $5,000. The second change would permit a referendum on a C.P.F. purchase if a properly subscribed petition were submitted within 30 days of a resolution to buy a property.
    Unfortunately, the local Democratic Party chair feels a need to shift “credit” for the first change, and to rebut the need for the second, all the while slighting the Republican proposals. Instead of name-calling, I restate our position for consideration.
    Since there is agreement on the substance of the Republican proposal to increase the size of the exemptions, I leave it to the other party to dicker as to credit.
    It was incorrectly argued by my Democratic counterpart that enabling the public to vote on C.P.F. transactions would prevent the fund from acquiring property by creating uncertainty and delay. If the law was changed to allow for a referendum there would be a 30-day wait after the resolution for purchase, to allow time for a petition signed by over 400 voters to be gathered. Barring the submission of such a petition, the purchase would go forward. Realistically, would the intelligent voters of East Hampton sign such a petition on a transaction unless there was good reason for reconsideration?
    The Keyes Island debacle, where the town wasted $3.8 million, the Buckskill Farm purchase, where C.P.F. funds essentially bought already preserved property, and the recent purchase of farmland development rights for over $1 million an acre are good examples of transactions that would have benefited from additional scrutiny. If a financed truck is subject to referendum, shouldn’t there be the same ability for a multimillion-dollar land purchase?
    The Republican position on this issue is straightforward. We want to enable the voters to review the millions of dollars of C.P.F. purchases if they think it wise. We disagree that there is a race to spend money. As we go forward with the C.P.F. fund we must keep the focus solely on judicious and intelligent land preservation.

    East Hampton Town
    Republican Committee

A Gentle Reminder
    East Hampton
    June 15, 2014

Dear David,
    In regard to recent community preservation fund purchases, a gentle reminder must come forth and hopefully be recognized.
    Our neighborhood group, Freetown Neighborhood Advisory Committee (which by the way just lost a dear member, Frank Denaro), is still here and still quite active, 200 members strong and growing. The gist is that we in this neck o’ the woods also need some preservation, and a purchase of the Bud Webb property is long overdue, lads. Six years, we have been asking the C.P.F. to buy it. We elected this town board and they are doing a grand job, and are in favor of this purchase.
    It is not a low-grade parcel. Instead it is, as the recent Sas Peters C.P.F. purchase on Stony Hill, “above a drinking water aquifer,” and “a critical resource for our community,” as well as “a pressing environmental issue.” Yes, the quote by Jeremy Samuelson in “Three C.P.F. Purchases a Go” in Government Briefs last week, is spot on for the parcel on Oakview and Middle Highways in East Hampton. Plus the beautiful trails and wildlife and flora. But even more pressing is the density in this neighborhood, that sees no preservation. It is time.
    I implore the C.P.F., which by the way stands for community preservation fund. “Community” — which includes us over here. We matter, too. We just want equal treatment. Bud Webb is a willing seller if you pay him what he asks. For the special groundwater protection area, his parcel is, and that should be reason enough! It was deemed so in the town’s own comprehensive plan to protect the aquifer and the delicate land.
    Let’s do the right thing and preserve the parcel we asked C.P.F. and the board to protect. We will be buzzing in your ears until you do so. Thanks for your time.

    In all of our interests,

Part of Life
    June 15, 2014

Dear Editor:
    Regarding the planned location of “Dark Elegy” in Montauk’s Kirk Park: It is intended to be placed far from the trail, near the western edge of the park tucked into the existing vegetation and thoughtfully landscaped. The entire installation is no higher than 6 feet tall and it would be visually obscured from passers-by unless one chooses to visit and reflect, a detail that the Lowensteins are very sensitive to.
    Memorials come in many forms. Art is subjective. That being said, there really aren’t rights or wrongs, just opinions.
    At the brown-bag meeting at the firehouse, the reactions of those in attendance were overwhelmingly positive. We were moved not only by Suse Lowenstein’s beautiful and sensitive presentation but also by the responses from numerous community members. The particular tragedy that “Dark Elegy” grew from was a harbinger to 9/11. Never forget means never.
    It is compassionate for us to say, “Let the memorial be there,” rather than, “I don’t want to see it there because it hurts.” To show compassion doesn’t have to hurt you or your children. Life is full of joy and sadness. Death is part of life — it still needs explanation or discussion — if it can’t be explained.
    “Dark Elegy” would bring something to Montauk that we’ve never had before, and I imagine that everyone has the potential to benefit from it.
    The board of directors of the Montauk Historical Society unanimously supports the plan and design of the “Dark Elegy” memorial to be located in Kirk Park directly next to its museums.
    Thank you for your consideration.

    Montauk Historical Society

Kirk Park Installation
    June 15, 2014

To the Editor:
    The few past East Hampton Star letters concerning the inappropriateness of the proposed Kirk Park installation of Suse Lowenstein’s sculpture “Dark Elegy” are, at best, all and only based on personal opinion.
    While generally thoughtful and sincere, the letters exclusively represent the authors’ own personal views on what is considered art and the public respect, acceptance, and standards which should be applied in the physical placement of an artistic expression. The authors then apply these personal opinions to why Montauk, as a community, should reject the “Dark Elegy” placement. The problem with these statements, of course, is that there exists not one single professional, popular, or generally accepted fact supporting their personal opinion, attitudes, motivations, and biases.
    In an effort to contribute a more equitable analysis, the following are a number of relevant facts based on “Dark Elegy’s” professional, historical, and popular cultural experience. They reflect both public, private, and professional reaction to “Dark Elegy” as both a work of art, a unique historical icon, and the personal interaction of an extraordinarily large human audience of all ages and social makeup. It contains no personal opinions whatsoever and the information can be supported and verified by anyone who chooses to do so.
    During an extended 10-year U.S. tour, “Dark Elegy” was met with universal public and professional admiration and respect. This response occurred at all age levels, from both the public at large and the many professional areas associated with art and artistic expression. In addition to vast public acceptance and support, highlights of the tour included a rarely given invitational artist’s presentation at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and official requested extended display appearances at Rutgers University, Syracuse University, Fordham University, and New York’s Lincoln Center. In a welcoming speech, then-Governor of New Jersey Christy Whitman proclaimed the artistic and social value of “Dark Elegy” and the need for its accessibility to all levels of the nation’s citizenry.
    In all of its touring history, all of its exposure to thousands of people in dozens of locations, “Dark Elegy” has never been vandalized, abused, defaced or desecrated in any way, shape, or form. Never once.
    In all the advance planning for the Kirk Park installation, it has always been agreed that “Dark Elegy” would be protected by a landscaping plan insuring visual contact impossible from any Montauk entrance or exit.
    While on display in Montauk, busloads of professionally authorized school and camp expeditions have visited “Dark Elegy.” The children are universally respectful, animated, and moved by the series and its story. An indication of  professional educational acceptance, approval, and endorsement is the number of groups that return each year giving new students the opportunity to experience the series.
    For the past 10 years, two major Long Island hospital children’s cancer centers have endorsed and physically cooperated in an annual “Dark Elegy” visitation program. Cancer-afflicted children, along with their siblings, parents, and even grandparents, annually visit the series and participate in related programs at the sculpture’s site. Both hospitals consider the program highly valuable and extraordinarily successful as a form of family and patient therapy. There is usually a waiting list to participate in the event.
    Every major national television network has praised and featured “Dark Elegy” on its prime-time network news program.
    The above facts are only a few examples of the overall and continuing public acceptance and importance of “Dark Elegy.” Its social value and popularity have been constantly proved and documented, not by one letter-writing supporter, but rather by a full and wide range of the professional, artistic, and public service communities. Thousands of people of all ages have been deeply moved and inspired by its story. Its value as a historical, social, and artistic statement is uncontroversial.
    Given these facts, it is our opinion that Montauk is honored to serve as the permanent home of “Dark Elegy.”


Worthwhile Destination
    June 15, 2014

Dear Editor:
    Since when were memorials not in public spaces? Is Montauk lacking in open space in which to commune with nature? When I walk my dogs through Kirk Park from Second House, I rarely if ever see anyone. In the summer, some of our visiting workers use it as a cut through to town from Shepherds Neck, which, incidentally, is fine!
    “Dark Elegy,” combined with Second House Museum and the Indian Museum and perhaps a renovated barn, could be a worthwhile destination point.
    This next fact seems to be going unnoticed: “Dark Elegy,” for those of you who are uncomfortable with the human form (the naked woman who has nurtured mankind), is to be surrounded with a vegetative buffer so as not to be seen unless one desires, so when you drive by that place you never go — you’ll see trees. If, however, you’ve heard of this moving, powerful memorial, which you choose to visit because you have been directly affected by terrorism — which, forgive me, I thought the world as a whole was — then go.
    Back to the nudity issue and young children: How do you deal with the beach, or television, or computers? Here, if you ever choose to visit, you could explain the significance of the unclothed female figures, stripped and unraveling, reeling from the horror of instant separation. If Montauk is strictly a beach community for you, then stay on the beach. If the world community is not so much your concern, the beach is a perfect place to stick your head in the sand.
    It has been mentioned that the Indian Museum was appropriate for Montauk but this memorial was not. Ironically I must point out that the seeds for the Indian Museum, which is a memorial of sorts, were planted on 9/11. We are all connected. In other words, had 9/11 not occurred, “Dark Elegy” might be in Kirk Park but it wouldn’t be near an Indian museum.


A Little Reality
    June 10, 2014

To the Editor:
    I would love to see Suse Lowenstein’s incredibly powerful and beautiful sculpture installation find a home in Kirk Park, Montauk. Some people expressed concern that it not be the first thing people see as they drive into town. I agree, but as much for its own sake as anything else it should be shielded by some hedges or other screen to preserve its impact.
    As someone who makes their living in tourism, I am not the least bit concerned with bumming out the people who come here on vacation, as some suggested. Really, if you can’t handle a little reality, stick to Disneyworld. If anyone doesn’t want to come to Montauk ’cuz of them sad, nekkid womens in Kirk Park — good riddance. I wouldn’t mind seeing the hordes culled a little.
    Vandalism is a legit concern to me, although my understanding is they will be cast in bronze, which is tough to destroy, so it would be more about defacing than anything else. Perhaps hidden cameras? Then the knuckledraggers who would do such a thing to Ms. Lowenstein’s heartfelt and brilliant work of art could be exposed publicly to shame and humiliation.


Sanctuary and Space
    June 15, 2014

Dear David,
    “Dark Elegy,” the monument dedicated to the universality of the horrors of terrorism, created by the sculptress Suse Lowenstein, has been the subject of several letters to The Star.
    I genuinely understand that the placement of this monumental work in Kirk Park as it is, can be and is a cause for concern for some. If that is the problem in its totality I feel better about the controversy concerning placement of the work, because Kirk Park can and will be so professionally landscaped to create a sanctuary and space hidden from the road to become a destination for those wanting to commune with nature both environmental and human.
    Terrorism, regardless of country or place, is unfortunately a reality in today’s world.
    Suse Lowenstein, our neighbor and friend, has taken her personal tragedy and pain and has turned it into a positive force for the universal expression for mothers everywhere to identify with. In her rare ability and talent, she has created an important body of work over many years. In addition, she and her husband, Peter, have so generously offered to bronze this work and gift it to the town of East Hampton.
    Montauk is a special place, where people have come to live and express themselves in this unique environment. It has lately become a place where many folks come to play and party, both day and night. Unfortunately, many are not sensitive to the beauty and fragility of this environment. We now have an opportunity to temper the direction that Montauk is heading.
    We can also be a destination for those who wish to enjoy our natural beauty and culture, such as “Dark Elegy.”
    “Dark Elegy” is raw, is larger than life, and is emotionally charged.
    This community can demonstrate its ability of being more than just another seasonal beachside resort. We are a diverse community capable of accepting many points of view and expressions. Hopefully “Dark Elegy” will be embraced as such an expression.


Zeldin-Demos Battle
    June 16, 2014

To the Editor,
    To all registered voters in the First Congressional District. I am not going to claim to know everything about what is really happening in the Lee Zeldin-George Demos battle. When one looks at things as they are a few things stand out. First, Lee Zeldin put his life on the line to serve his country. That is one of the most selfless things that any man or woman could do for their country. Less than 1 percent of all American citizens enlist in the military. That puts Lee in esteemed company.
    Remember that if our nation did not have volunteers to serve we would still be living under the tyranny of the likes of King George. Since we just passed the 70th anniversary of the invasion in Normandy we especially need to gratefully remember those who served in the military.
    Second, George Demos had the opportunity to debate Lee Zeldin a couple of weeks ago at the Full Gospel Church in Southampton. He did not show up. That shows me that he was afraid to face Lee one-on-one about the issues our nation faces.
    If George Demos should by some chance be our next congressman will he vote “present” on the tough issues?


No One Is Watching
    June 16, 2014

Dear David,
    The border patrol is now a baby-sitting service, no one is watching the borders. But why should they? Word is out, come to America if you are a child — America will not send you back. We pack them into buses, ship them to Arizona, put them in a warehouse, and read the paper they hold from our Homeland Security. We are such a kind country gangs are coming in, yes, gangs are entering our borders, like we don’t have enough of our own problems, we need the gangs.
    Thank you, President Obama, as you can see this was planned well. How did these children travel thousands of miles from Central America, go through Mexico, and land here?
    Now can you imagine this, the president learned something new from the news TV: There is a terrorists? group worse than Al Qaeda marching on Iraq. Neither he nor his great security advisors saw this coming. A lot of lightbulbs going off in Washington, D.C. The president had plans for a speech and golf play, therefore he needs to think about this present situation.
    Soon the president will be thinking about an effort to protect American interest, and eventually our homeland. Who do you think he is going to blame for this? Bush, get ready, it’s probably your fault.
    He does not have a plan yet, maybe because he is surrounded by hand-picked idiots to advise him and this president doesn’t believe in listening to advice. Even his own are stating Barack is bored being president.
    To end this, believe it or not two years of Ms. Lerner’s emails have disappeared. Yep, disappeared, due to a computer crash. I suggest go to NASA or get Snowden to retrieve them, or maybe try the other end, the receiver. Is everyone in Washington so stupid they can’t figure this one out?

    In God and country,

Snake Oil
    East Hampton
    June 12, 2014

To the Editor:
    In 2001 my brother-in-law described a visit he had recently made to Baghdad. It is post-Gulf War, and we had dropped more bombs on this country, in a time of peace, than in all of World War II. He had been to Iraq dozens of time and knew the country and Baghdad intimately. Despite the brutal dictatorship of Saddam, Baghdad was a lively, vibrant city of interesting culture. Life in the country was not easy (see dictatorships all over the world), but it was possible to survive and sometimes thrive in the culture.
    Look at Baghdad and Iraq today, with civil war on the horizon, we find a ravaged, incoherent culture of death and deprivation.
    The Iraq war can officially be described as an abject disaster for all of the participants. That it was based on a completely fraudulent hypothesis of potential terrorism filled with phony aluminum tubes, Iraqi witnesses to Saddam’s W.M.D. program, and his intentions to destroy our freedoms, etc., was in itself gross and repugnant. Yet much worse was the reality that our government had no idea what it was doing and was simply peddling snake oil, like in the old West when a snake oil salesman came to town with miracle cures and convinced people to fork over a buck for a bottle. If the cure worked it was great, but if it didn’t, and it rarely did, the damage was minimal and the disease remained uncured.
    But when a government sells us snake oil, the damage is far more serious. Six hundred thousand dead Iraqis, because, all claims to the contrary, we had no idea what we were doing in Iraq. We were incompetent bunglers pretending to be masters of a universe that we knew little about. At what point do we say that Iraq was not a mistake, a screw-up, incompetence, and call it fraudulent and then criminal? 
    It was the pretense and fraudulence of certainty that we could bring about regime change and save Iraq with democracy. As a nation, we bought the snake oil. Yet the purveyors knew they were lying, knew they were clueless about the process, and they took our trust and their responsibility as our nation’s governors and threw it in the crapper. An exercise of egotistical masturbation that destroyed a country and seriously damaged our own.
    As Iraq descends into total chaos, the lesson to learn is that we are completely responsible for it, that our egocentric chauvinism is really bullshit. That the definition of intelligence is not repeating the same mistakes over and over. That we are not children who aren’t responsible for their actions. That criminality in the guise of spreading demo­cracy is still criminality.