Letters to the Editor: 12.01.16

Our readers comments

Sure Made Her Mark

Hampton Bays

November 28, 2016

Dear David, 

Allene Talmage was an East End naturalist and teacher who shared her deep knowledge with everyone. I met her as she retired from Springs School and I was hired. I wanted to follow in her footsteps by learning all I could about the unique place around Accabonac Harbor and Pussy’s Pond. Allene reminded me of a youthful scout. I was lucky enough to teach five of her grandchildren over the years, and our classroom was hers to pop into any time. She’d bustle in with a box turtle or feathers and bones she had picked up. I watched as children swarmed around her. Her curiosity was catching.

She arranged for us to meet and visit her good friend Barbara Hale one day, whose house near the school was a natural history museum. We also explored the grounds and learned of the history of Springs from these two icons. 

Allene’s energy and humor made her seem about 10 years old. She never simplified things for the students (or for me), but led us on walks in the meadows and on the shore of Accabonac Harbor.

Her commitment to the plants and animals made us all want to follow along, peppering her with questions and listening to her stories. More than anything, I believe she wanted to instill in the children an appreciation for a sense of place. 

This woman, who died the other day at age 93, sure made her mark on generations who live in and love Springs. 

I believe that it was her commitment to nature that helped “birth” the school’s partnership with the Group for the South Fork over 20 years ago, as the TERN program, created to teach environmental responsibility and awareness. 

Allene Talmage led the way to learning outside as well as inside. 

Teacher, mother, friend, concerned citizen, naturalist, and lifelong learner — I thank Allene Talmage for sharing her good long life with us. 

Sincerely, 

IRENE TULLY

For the Golf Teams

East Hampton

November 25, 2016

Dear David,

In this season of thanks, we would like to take a moment to thank the golf facilities in the area for opening up their courses and staff to our teams. Laura Vecchio (Poxabogue), Eden Foster (Maidstone), and Tim Garvin (South Fork Country Club) and their professionals were so gracious with their time to help us improve our game as the season progressed. 

We could not have the programs we have if it weren’t for these folks’ dedication to the game of golf.

Sincerely,

CLAUDE BEUDERT

For the East Hampton Golf Teams

My Favorite Joint

East Hampton

November 28, 2016

To the Editor, 

How terribly sad are we? Today, Saturday, Nov. 26, after 25 years of dining in a comfortable, delicious, casual restaurant called Cafe Max, my favorite joint closed its doors.

The restaurant tonight was packed. The clients were so happy to celebrate knowing and loving this most pleasant and scrumptious restaurant. The attire was casual. The regulars who dined here were not decked out with the latest in fashion. They were here for a good meal at a great price. 

Normally the celebrities were not regulars; however, once, two years ago, I did meet Jimmy Fallon and his lovely wife, who were both very friendly. Where else in East Hampton could you get a fresh, home-cooked meal, which on certain days consisted of an appetizer, entree, and dessert, for $22? Add a glass of chardonnay and the total before tax was $33. In this beautiful town of ours, East Hampton, this type of bargain for a fantastic meal does not exist. (In spite of this, we still love our town.)

For those of you who haven’t eaten here, the appetizers would usually be either a soup or salad. The entree would come with a baked potato, two scoops of sweet potatoes mash, and two carrots and string beans. Some examples of entrees were gray sole, salmon, linguine with clams, pasta with seafood, hamburger and fries, just to name a few dishes.

The breadbasket came with hot French bread and flatbread, with delicious sweet butter. The desserts varied from cheesecake, chocolate cake, strawberry shortcake, and carrot cake, just to mention a few, and were all baked on premises. 

The first owner I met was Max. He came out regularly to greet his clients and was well loved by all. The latest owner, Sami, came out also, in between cooking, to chat and thank his clients for their patronage. Tonight when he came out he received a standing ovation. Tonight’s crowd was flashing photos galore. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the owners and staff of this small (48 seats in total) restaurant for serving such a scrumptious meal always and for being so hospitable. My sincere thanks. You will be missed.

DINA VAMVAKIS

Lions Club Food Drive

Wainscott

November 21, 2016

Dear David, 

The East Hampton Lions Club will be holding its annual food drive in conjunction with the Santa Day Parade on Saturday, Dec. 3. Nonperishable food items can be dropped off at the East Hampton Library any day of the week.

Thank you.

LYNN N. RYAN

December Fogs

Slate gray clouds turbulent overhead,
a drizzling chill invades this December, 
past weeks well fraught with gloom and worry.
There is no horizon beyond the ocean, only haze and distant bars of light
Reflecting a fish-scale silver upon the angry sea.
There is no color here.

 

Black boots parade the pathways in troubling cadence.
Squalling winds bring fogs upon us, not a clearer view.
Or is this a smoke that swirls about, the choking breath of fiery folks?
Fears and clouds and smog and burnt exhausts obscure our darkened way.

 

Look to the East! 
Where is the light up on the bluff to guide us?
Roiling waves gouge and gnaw at its base of dignity.
But there is no beacon here to pierce this gloom,
only darkness and a croaking foghorn and its woeful bleat.


Or is that, perhaps, a sorrowful tweet?

BRUCE BLUEDOR

Public Beach Access

East Hampton

November 28, 2016

To the Editor,

On behalf of the board of Citizens for Access Rights, I would like to congratulate and thank the East Hampton Town Board and the former and current boards of the East Hampton Town Trustees for their steadfast defense, which recently led to victory, in the lawsuits attempting to privatize the ocean beach at Napeague. We would also like to thank and congratulate all of our members and supporters for their continued support and efforts to protect public access. This shows the importance to the entire community of public beach access.

Although the judge ruled that the plaintiffs do not own the beaches as claimed, and that the public’s historical use of those beaches nowhere near rises to the level of a nuisance, there are still people who believe that the beaches should be reserved for the elitist few who live within walking distance of the shoreline, and are to be used as they see fit, which is evidenced by a recent editorial in this paper. 

The plaintiffs in this case have stated that they were very concerned that the town was wasting taxpayer money defending these lawsuits. After the successful defense of this attempt to privatize the beach, it is our hope that the plaintiffs do not appeal the ruling, which will continue to waste the taxpayers’ money they wish to appear so concerned about. We do not believe that this will be the case, and we believe that the plaintiffs will appeal and will continue to waste taxpayer money trying to privatize the beach.

It is for this reason that we urge the town board and the town trustees to not dismiss the idea of condemnation of the beaches of Napeague. The process of condemnation may still be less expensive and more certain of an outcome than defending multiple appeals and future attempts at privatizing this beach. 

Once again, thank you to all who supported the defense of this attempted land grab.  Please continue to support CfAR and the fight for public access to our beaches. The fight is far from over. See you on the beach next summer, and the summer after that, and the summer after that. . . . 

Sincerely,

Tim Taylor

President

Citizens for Access Rights

Unlicensed Drivers

Springs

November 26, 2016

Dear Editor,

Deer lives — man killed by unlicensed driver.

An unlicensed driver, claiming he swerved to avoid a deer, killed a 72-year-old man who was checking the menu outside of Cafe Max.

What is wrong with this picture?

Are we dealing appropriately with unlicensed drivers?

Are we ignoring the significant danger and risks of too many deer in our town?

Ask around, see what other people think.

Anxious driver,

FRED WEINBERG

Long-Term Practice

Springs

November 21, 2016

David,

Thank you for printing Ray Hartjen’s wonderful letter supporting my husband, Bill Taylor. Ray has been around the water here for a long time and he is a smart man who pays attention to what goes on. I thank him for pointing out Bill’s long-term practice, 27 years’ worth, of taking self-initiated actions in his town employment. That’s what Bill does.

Bill’s suspension has stressed me out so much that I have had a headache all month. Bill tells me not to worry, that the town board is dead wrong and he can’t wait for the hearing. 

Just this spring, the town was praising all the self-initiated effort and expertise Bill put into closing down the long-neglected scavenger waste plant. Bill also took it upon himself to research and discover important information and to provide knowledgeable testimony in the Truck Beach case.

Bill can’t understand why 27 years of self-initiated actions is praiseworthy but the Georgica Pond incident is being treated as a crime. But he intends to find out.

I would also thank the many people who have expressed support for my husband.

PEGGY TAYLOR

Stuck on Cedar Street

East Hampton

November 26, 2016

To the Editor:

Picture this: You’re driving, turning onto Cedar Street in East Hampton from Stephen Hand’s Path, going toward North Main Street. It’s a bit after 2 p.m. on a weekday in late May. The sun is high and your windows are open, letting in the afternoon breeze. As you turn your wheel to the right to head east on the two-lane road, you smell smoke. You hear wailing sirens coming from the firehouse on North Main. The cars in front of you hit their brakes, all trying to pull over onto the shoulder of the narrow road to make room for the emergency vehicles, but there is no shoulder to pull over on to. There are only trees, poles, mailboxes, and small portions of grass. The sirens are coming toward you, getting louder. You can see fire engines coming, responding to a fire, but they can’t get through. 

Big yellow school buses, about a dozen of them, have all just exited the fueling station/bus maintenance complex at the high school, some headed east and some going west. Horns are honking, the sirens are blaring, and buses are beeping in reverse. Frustrated drivers are screaming, “I can’t pull my car over! There’s nowhere to go!” Everyone’s stuck and stopped, and traffic on both sides of the road is at a standstill. Firemen are leaning out of their trucks yelling at people to move their cars, there’s a fire to get to! But they can’t get through. 

Meanwhile, the owner of a house on Old Northwest Road is panicking, watching as flames lick the roof and black smoke curls into the trees, wondering where the fire trucks are! Why is it taking them so long to get there? 

The fire engines can’t get to the fire because they’re stuck on Cedar Street, due to jammed buses, cars, and trucks in the way on the narrow road. They can’t get through.

This scenario is what very well could happen if the planned entry-exit from a bus fueling-repair station is placed at the small edge of the high school campus that backs onto Cedar Street. Emergencies do not pick convenient times to occur, and Cedar Street is a two-lane country road that lacks adequate shoulders that would enable drivers of buses, trucks with trailers, and cars to pull over to allow fire trucks, ambulances, and police to get through. Think about it.

The East Hampton School Board needs to rethink its proposal to place the driveway of a bus facility/fueling station on our narrow and ever-busier residential Cedar Street. Hopefully, the board will change course now and take a hard look at other, more sensible, more neighborly alternatives, before something horrific — and preventable — happens. Concern for the safety of all our citizens in the community should be the board’s top priority as it works to solve the bus situation. All options should be looked at, dissected, considered, and any appropriate choice of proposals should be transparently presented to the taxpayers, before any decisions are made that could harm this community for generations to come. 

JOHN T. COSSENTINO

No to Contaminants

East Hampton

November 22, 2016

To the Editor:

East Hampton parents, neighbors, and friends: Raise your voices in opposition and express your concerns against the bus depot and diesel fueling station that is being proposed by the East Hampton School Board. It would be located right behind the playing fields. 

Diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen that causes a multitude of health issues, including cancer. Our community needs to be educated about the negative impact of a diesel fueling station on school grounds. Do you really want your children breathing in such volatile compounds while they are playing sports? Hasn’t the East Hampton High School had other health concerns? This is an industrial and commercial venture that belongs in an area that is zoned for such, not on school grounds.

The now-defunct sewage treatment center is up for sale and is a viable spot for the bus depot and fueling station, because it is zoned for such. Protect our children, neighbors, and friends. 

The neighbors surrounding the school (Long Lane, Pine Street, Cedar Street) have addressed the school board and will continue to do so with a resounding voice of “no!” This is an environmental issue — where is the health risk assessment? 

Come to the next school board meeting and just say no to contaminants.

TRUDY LESTER

Employee Perks

Springs

November 27, 2016

Dear Mr. Rattray:

The town board is poised to approve merit-based bonus incentives for department heads. They shouldn’t. 

This generous perk follows a similar one that is now available to the town’s civil service employees, who secured this incentive in a recently ratified contract with the town. 

Ninety-four million Americans are not working. East Hampton taxpayers are under a siege of high taxes and inflation. Many taxpayers, who in their lifetimes will never get the compensation packages that some of the town’s employees receive, often work two and three jobs to house, clothe, and feed their families. These same people will be asked to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for these incentives. 

Public employees receive excellent salaries and benefits that are coupled with great job security. Employees, and certainly managers, should not receive additional bonuses. Municipal and school budgets are unsustainable even with New York State’s 2-percent cap. Taxpayers are tapped out. 

Unless this has changed, and I would be pleased to learn it had, East Hampton employees are not even subject to annual performance reviews. This is unheard of in professional private and public organizations. There must be at least a modicum of accountability to the taxpayers. Merit-based bonuses are about to be paid to civil service employees based on what? Someone’s say-so? It is unfortunate that this provision was part of a ratified contract. At the very least, annual reviews must be made a part of the next contract.

The town board should not compound its mistake by giving this generous perk to department heads. Indeed, annual reviews should be instituted immediately for these managers. 

East Hampton taxpayers are still paying down a $30 million bond issuance resulting from the last Democratic administration’s budget debacle. Taxpayers should not be made to pay even more for employee perks. 

CAROLE CAMPOLO

Numbers Are Testament

Sag Harbor

November 28, 2016

Dear Editor,

An independent, not-for-profit, aircraft noise-complaint website, created earlier this year by a young engineer living in Whitestone, Queens, has logged over 36,000 complaints to date this year, and that only after a late start getting the website operational for the season. airnoisereport.com is a nonprofit venture intended for use by residents anywhere on Long Island who are bothered by the noise and pollution from low-altitude flights by small planes and helicopters, particularly those plying the commuter routes to and from KHTO, East Hampton’s noise problem airport. 

The staggering number of 36,000 “independent” complaints refutes aviation claims that only a few “habitual whiners” are bothered by aircraft noise. Yet another staggering number has come to light from a recent survey on quality-of-life issues by the Village Preservation Society, which reports 64 percent of East Hampton Village residents are bothered by aircraft noise. Together, these numbers are testament to the extent of the aviation noise problem experienced not only in East Hampton but by residents the length of Long Island. 

Out-of-state charter operators and a handful of local pilots (a large number of whom are not East Hampton residents, others who only infrequently fly) should not be permitted to hold hostage the health and well-being of the population of Long Island. It is time the town took responsibility for the widespread problems the airport is causing to thousands of families as well as despoiling the environment from New York City to East Hampton. 

The town should do the right thing — take immediate steps to close the polluting airport operations, and return the 628 acres of valuable land to the people it belongs to: the residents of East Hampton. It is time to start dreaming of what could be on that land for all the people, not just a few who want a fast, polluting journey to and from KHTO. 

PATRICIA CURRIE

Airport Litigation

Montauk

November 28, 2016

To the Editor,

We respectfully suggest the town board is ignoring its responsibilities to the rest of us, especially those of us who live in Montauk, in the manner in which it is pursuing the airport litigation.

A small but well-organized and well-financed group of people who live near the town airport has leveraged the board into passing three laws that a) the board was advised were illegal before they passed them but they went ahead and enacted them anyway, b) have so far cost in excess of $1 million to defend those illegal laws, and c) have engaged in not-in-my-backyardism to the detriment of those who live in Montauk.

Let’s break that down. First, the litigation. In its decision, the Second Circuit specifically stated that even before the legislation was passed, the town had been “advised that, even after expiration of the 20-year Federal Aviation Asministration compliance period — indeed, even if it had never accepted any F.A.A. grants — the airport would not be free to operate as it wishes because the federal statutory limitations applied regardless of whether an airport is subject to grant assurances.” 

The board ignored that advice, and enacted the three laws at issue. Nine companies or groups then asked the court, as a preliminary matter (before trial or any fact-finding procedures) to enjoin enforcement of all three laws. The town hired lawyers to defend its legislation, and in the District Court the town won on two of the three issues, but lost on the third. 

Instead of accepting its gains (the curfews that resulted in a substantial diminution of noise complaints), the town appealed, and the appellate court not only affirmed the town’s defeat on the third law, it reversed on the two issues the town had won below. The result is the town now is enjoined from enforcing any of the three noise-controlling laws. 

It is worth noting that on the issue it seems to care most about (one-per-week helicopter landings), all four federal judges who have looked at the issue have said that in enacting that law, the town board had acted illegally because it failed to comply with federal law.

Nevertheless, the town has decided to have its lawyers draft and file a petition seeking a Supreme Court review of the Second Circuit decision. Statistics tell us that the likelihood of success of such a petition is less than 5 percent, and the town’s application bears the significant burden that it involves a non-final order and there is no conflict among the circuits. This brings the likelihood of the court agreeing to accept the case for review substantially below 5 percent.

Second, the expense. This adventure on behalf of a tiny percentage of the town’s taxpayers is not cost-free. In 2015, the supervisor said the lawsuit had so far cost $1 million. It is obviously much more now, and that expense increases with each day that the town’s Manhattan law firm pursues the effort to seek Supreme Court review. Has the board advised us what the current cost is, and what the cost estimate is for the cert petition? And what will the cost be after the petition? Even in the extremely unlikely event that the town wins the Supreme Court review lottery, and then wins a reversal, the case is still only at a preliminary stage, and will likely go back to the District Court for motion practice, discovery, and trial. 

Doubtless much more money will be spent. Has the board told us what that projected cost is? How much of the town’s assets is projected to be spent, in total? How much expense for the benefit of each complainer? Five thousand dollars per family? Ten thousand? More? How much more? What likelihood of success did the town’s lawyers project for the petition to the Supreme Court, and in litigation thereafter? 

The town board responds to the expense issue simply by saying the money has come out of the airport’s bank account. But this is a town-owned airport — its bank account belongs to the town, its people are hired by the town, decisions affecting it are made by the town. It is a town asset. A private company’s board of directors that misspent assets of a wholly owned subsidiary would be sued by shareholders (in this case, town taxpayers) for mismanagement and bad judgment. We have had enough of that from prior administrations.

Third, shifting the noise from one group of town residents to another. We understand the people who live near the airport are unhappy with the noise. Did they know there was an airport there when they bought their houses? Did the presence of the airport affect their purchase price? And even if those residents did not think the noise would be so bad when they bought their homes, does the town board, which currently has no Montauk residents, really not understand where the helicopter traffic will go if it were substantially banned from the town’s airport? 

A close review of the so-called “diversity study” reveals the document is merely a hypothetical, filled with unsubstantiated assumptions. A good-faith effort to point out the flaws in the report was rebuffed by the board’s failure to submit its author to any questions. Bottom line, there can be little doubt that while some of the rejected copters will go to Southampton, most will go to Montauk, a tiny airstrip immediately adjacent to a town park, a motel, a marina, three restaurants, and private homes. At least three serious accidents have occurred there in the last decade. That strip is unattended at night. And it is privately owned, and therefore totally beyond town control. 

What the town board’s legislation would do is shift the noise and the vehicular traffic (all those cars going west on Route 27, backing up in Montauk and Amagansett, and diverting onto Further Lane and the back roads to avoid the traffic clog) to another neighborhood that, so far, lacks an organized group such as exists in the western part of the town. 

“Not in my backyard” is the real driving goal of the current complainers. They are content to move the problem to somebody else’s backyard. And the town board has so far bowed to their will. 

The irony is that Montauk residents are contributing a substantial portion of the tax dollars collected each year by the same town board that has decided to spend millions on the project to make Montauk the victim of this Nimby movement.

Bottom line: The town board has chosen to spend huge sums of money on an apparently losing cause on behalf of a small group of property owners in one part of the town, even when a successful result would harm another group of citizens in a different part of the town. 

Time for a reappraisal? Time for a conversation among the litigants that might save millions and result in the restoration of the lost curfew laws that successfully brought about a diminution of noise complaints? Isn’t it worth the effort?

MARTIN LONDON

PETER LOWENSTEIN

RICHARD KAHN

THOMAS L. CREEL

No One Gets a Chance

Springs

November 21, 2016

Dear David,

If I thought last week’s editorial was liberal and not friendly at all to the election, this week there were two ripping apart the newly elected president and Congressman Lee Zeldin. It seems no one gets a chance as the Democratic liberals are my way or no way. The protest in Oregon, 70 percent of these fools didn’t even vote. But money was paid to the outsiders to destroy and wreak havoc.

The send button was real fast, surprise, the lobbyists are gone, thanks to Mike Pence. As far as Governor Christie, this is a big question mark. Barack Hussein Obama, four police officers ambushed this weekend, where are you? You have said and done nothing about these murders. Neither did Hillary Clinton while she was campaigning, not a word on those who protected her. Someone needs to explain why silence is so golden. Someone needs to come out of the White House and take a stance on these ambushes. Obama, why don’t you move to Chicago? You claim your daughter needs to finish high school. Could the truth be too many shootings in Chicago, the “sanctuary city”?

President-elect Trump could do the best job for America — create jobs, rid the debt — but the progressive liberals will never accept this. Pitiful. He will lead something we haven’t had in eight years, and when the police get shot, ambushed, killed, President-elect Trump will take a stand.

In God and country,

BEA DERRICO

 

Nincompoopism

Boston

November 23, 2016

To the Editor,

Charities, philanthropies, Book of Common Prayer, breviary, three plus four plus refreshment — Acts.

Dear student of your 70s. Doughboy mustering out 1919.

Time line from 9/11.

Doc Savage, the submarine mystery. Lester Dent of La Playa, Mo.

Avoiding nincompoopism.

Yours,

GEORGE RICHERT