Letters to the Editor: 05.11.17

Our readers' comments

A Calming Presence

Montauk

May 5, 2017

Dear Editor,

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Nancy E. O’Brien, a longtime resident of East Hampton Village.

For much of my tenure as East Hampton Town Republican chairman (1988-97), Nancy served as my co-chairwoman. She secured the position rather uniquely — when I attended my first county G.O.P. meeting, then-county chairman Mike Blake asked who my co-chair was; totally taken aback, I replied “Nancy O’Brien.” I then ran to the next room, called her on the phone, and she graciously accepted the position.

Nancy proved to be a tremendous asset to me and the town Republican committee. She was loyal, hard-working, and a calming presence amid political turmoil. Often when I was ready to embark on an inflammatory diatribe as chairman, she would simply look at me, one eyebrow raised, saying nothing. More often than not, I grew quiet.

My dad often said that “you are lucky to leave politics with a few good friends.” Though Nancy and I lost contact after my withdrawal from political life, I will always remember her friendly manner, her warm smile, and her willingness to go the distance for the local Republican Party.

Sincerely,

PERRY DURYEA III

Garden on Napeague

Suffolk, England  

May 8, 2017

Dear Editor:

I was thrilled this afternoon as I went through my Google gardening alerts to see Irene Silverman’s piece “On Napeague: An English Cottage Gar­den.” For a moment, before I started reading properly, I wondered if it was about the garden that we left behind in a house that we owned in East Hampton until we moved back to the U.K. in 2000. I was so interested to read about Sara Kiembock and her garden and motel, and it brought back so many memories of the countless visits I made to the Village Hardware store, as well as to garden centers and plant nurseries in and around East Hampton.

From 1993 to 2000 I lived in Manhattan, and, like many New Yorkers and ex-pats, we would spend weekends and holidays in East Hampton. We started off by renting houses (usually through a great guy in East Hampton called Scott Rubenstein) for the summer with friends, and over the years the numbers of “rentees” got whittled down, and in the end we bought a house on Van Scoy’s Path. It was a new build and some hard landscaping had been done, but I got my mother, who is an experienced gardener, to come over from the U.K. (ostensibly on a holiday!) and lay out all the planting. Sadly, we moved back to the U.K. only a year or so after we had finished the garden and so never saw it in all its potential glory. 

We have been back to New York City over the years, and once or twice we’ve had time to get out to East Hampton. Once we went along to our old house and as no one was around, we did tiptoe round back to have a sneaky peek at the garden. It looked amazing! I took a few photos to show my mum, who had put in so much effort making the garden look lovely.

Coincidentally, I now work for a horticultural mail order-online company in the County of Suffolk in England, but remember very fondly the time we spent in East Hampton. I hope it is still as lovely as it was back then, especially as some of Sara’s guests find, in the calmer out-of-season months!

Kind regards and best wishes,

SONIA MERMAGEN

Goose Is Self-Sufficient

East Hampton

May 8, 2017

Dear David and Other Nature Lovers,

The Ladies Village Improvement Society phone has been ringing off the hook with many inquiries and much hand-wringing over the seemingly feeble or mutilated black-billed darkest-feathered goose with the knob on its head at the East Hampton Nature Trail. To put everyone concerned at ease, Dell Cullum and his friends at the wildlife refuge have determined that the goose is self-sufficient and getting along just fine with one leg. Additionally, our brown Chinese goose has no desire to be captured or rehabilitated, having spurned the attempt by our accomplished and clever naturalists mentioned above.

We take heart instead of pity because, as Dell explains, “When an animal is catchable, it’s because they no longer have the strength or are close to giving up.”  And so, the goose remains at the duck pond being (probably overly) fed by many and finding nothing but fond attention and good care. 

This is a tremendous time of year to visit our treasured nature trail: The birds are singing their most beautiful mating songs, the skunk cabbage is shiny and proliferating, the wildflowers are enlivening the landscape, and our animals seem to be at their happiest. That these priceless 24 acres of natural wonder exist in the middle of our precious and valuable village is nothing short of a miracle.

DIANE BENSON

Chairwoman

Nature Trail Committee

Ladies Village Improvement Society

Space at Ashawagh

Springs

May 7, 2017

Dear Star,

I have been a seasonal resident of Springs for more than 35 years. I believed that during this time I had mastered the method by which the gallery space at Ashawagh Hall is allocated — on May 15, starting at 8 a.m., members of the Springs Improvement Society must call in to reserve space for 2018, and starting at 10 a.m., nonmembers call in.

This is the information on the Ashawagh Hall website as of May 8. 

However, guess what? The system changed during the winter. The allocable summertime space was all assigned in February.

Artists playing by the rules should be informed that if they call in on May 15 they will be too late, unless they don’t mind exhibiting to a small audience in the off-season. 

JOHN TEPPER MARLIN

An Extra Burden

Amagansett

May 8, 2017

Dear David,

I hope the residents of Amagansett were able to attend the school board meeting this past Tuesday, May 9, and get their questions answered about the budget for the 2017-2018 school year.

My question is: Why are we as taxpayers paying almost half a million dollars for three administrators for approximately 175 students in grades pre-K to 12?

The budget information states the taxes are being raised to account for the 18 sixth-grade students going to the East Hampton Middle School in September 2017. (In the budget, $205,391 is proposed for the 18 students’ tuition, as per the budget summary.)

Questions:

• Are all the 18 students going to the middle school?

• Are any of the students paid-tuition students at Amagansett now?

• Weren’t the students already plan­ned for in the budget since kindergarten?

• If we eliminate two administrators at $161,000, and the other administrator’s salary, Dr. Lamorgesse, would that not cancel each other out and the taxes would remain the same?

In talking to the community members, they are concerned that if the budget does not pass, the administration will eliminate student programs. I called the Hauppauge Budget and Policies Department at 631-952-6534 and was told that if a school budget does not pass on Tuesday, the school has a second vote in June. If it does not pass a second time, the school would be on a contingency budget. This means the school would run on the same amount of money it was allotted in the school year 2016-2017.

In Amagansett, I don’t see any reason there would be an elimination of programs or services for the students. But if money were to be needed for the purpose of staffing or student needs, couldn’t the “surplus” money that was acquired over the last few years in previous budgets be used for this purpose?

In closing, as for me, and many other taxpayers/residents in Amagansett who work two jobs, or who are on fixed incomes, an increase of any amount would affect their household budget. It is presented to be that the tax increase would be a small amount, but to those who carefully budget their finances, an increase in taxes is an extra burden.

I feel there are many other avenues that can be taken into consideration to allow the budget to remain the same and still remain to provide the excellent quality of education to the students in our community. In talking to the community, the teaching staff at Amagansett has been doing a fabulous job. The programs at the grade school are benefiting the students, giving them a wide spectrum of learning experiences, and the staff has been able to remain creative, upbeat, and inspiring to the children. Especially since the school has had a turnover of approximately six administrators in the last few years.

I remember in the past we only had one administrator for the same number of students in grades K to 8: Mr. Harrison Schneider, Mr. Rein Griesmer, Dr. Lloyd Peak, and Dr. George Aman. Why would we need more administrators with the same number of students in pre-K to 6?

Remember, the budget vote is Tuesday, May 16, from 2 to 8 p.m. at the Amagansett Grade School. You only have to be a current registered voter and reside in Amagansett.

MARY A. EAMES

A Great Honor

Springs

May 8, 2017

Dear David,

I am writing you to inform you of my write-in candidacy for the opening on the Springs School Board of Education. It is with great passion that I take this opportunity to serve my community.

I grew up in Montauk and moved to Springs at the age of 16. Having lived on the East End, I am fully cognizant of the great opportunities a community such as ours can provide. I now have the privilege of raising a second generation, my son, in this amazing community. My impetus for running stems from a deep-rooted desire to serve my community in a capacity that would benefit the children of this community.

Being raised biculturally allows me the insight and the ability to help the ever-growing diverse population. Working closely the past four years within the education system has provided me with a wealth of knowledge on curriculum, enrichment programs, and fiscal responsibilities. The exposure has led me to pursue a career in social work, and I am currently enrolled in Long Island University’s social work program. I believe learning more about the social, emotional needs of students will serve me well and provide a well-rounded approach to the job of board member.

As a board member, I would strive to attain equity and excellence for the students of Springs School. I would work diligently to enhance current programs and maintain the level of excellence that currently exists within the district. My areas of expertise, which include office administration and E.N.L. and bilingual program management, would be contributing factors to the role of board member. My bilingual ability offers me the opportunity to communicate with all community members and bridge the gap between the two factions. 

Although I know the days are long and the demands many, it would be a great honor to serve on the Springs School Board, for the children. After all, that is the goal of education. To all the readers, please consider me as a write-in vote at the May 16 school budget vote elections.

Very truly yours,

IVONNE TOVAR-MORALES

Two Issues

Springs

May 8, 2017

Dear David, 

In my letter to the editor last week, I announced my write-in candidacy for Springs School Board. This week, I’d like to highlight two issues that I plan to address, if elected.

For at least as many years as my son has been a student at Springs School (six years), administrators and the board have struggled to find appropriate classroom space for a growing student body. According to a 2016 report written by the Western Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services, K-8 enrollment will peak in 2022 at 795 students and decline to 786 by 2026. Current K-8 enrollment is 739 students, and every closet, nook, and cranny of the main building is utilized to its full potential. Four other temporary leased classrooms on campus are also full to the brim, and our preschool students attend class in East Hampton Village in a building owned by Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church. 

The space situation at Springs School is critical, and in urgent need of a permanent solution. We cannot kick the can down the road any longer. If elected trustee, I’d work to finalize plans for expanding the main building and place a proposal on the ballot this year to fund the initiative.

Another issue that I’d like to tackle is parental involvement in the school. Springs has a growing population of Latino students who now make up more than 55 percent of the student body, yet the school’s hired, elected, and volunteer leaders don’t reflect this diversity. If elected trustee, I’d work to expand and improve the school’s initiatives to grow Latino representation in leadership positions and encourage all parents’ meaningful involvement in school activities.

I hope that Springs residents will cast a write-in vote for me on Tuesday, May 16, so that I can work to fulfill these goals.

Yours sincerely,

DONNA SUTTON 

For Patrick Brabant

Springs

May 8, 2017

Hi, David,

I am writing to urge my fellow residents in Springs to be sure to write in their vote for Patrick Brabant in the upcoming Springs School Board election. 

Pat and I both serve on the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee. In that capacity, Pat has often provided the voice of reason in contentious discussions, amply demonstrating sound and impartial judgment on the challenging community issues we face.

Patrick Brabant will bring a unique mix of skills and concerns to our school board at a critical moment. A local parent with a long history at the school, Pat has had two daughters graduate from Springs School. In addition, Pat’s son, P.J., a really exceptional young man, is still attending. Thus, Pat continues to volunteer for chaperone duty and all the other parent involvement activities that enhance the school’s ability to engage students both during and after school. This invaluable direct involvement in the outcomes of all the students on his child’s grade level, as he did with both daughters, has given Pat the ability to assess the school and its needs over many years.

Besides longstanding ties to the school, Patrick Brabant is a successful local business owner, longtime Springs resident, and, important, taxpayer. As a builder-contractor, Pat Brabant’s reputation is impeccable, and speaking as a client and friend, well deserved. Given his expertise and long record of community involvement and service, Pat’s input on the Springs School’s current expansion plans would be invaluable in helping to ensure that the eventual project is done in the best interests of the students and staff, as well as the community.

Please write in your vote for Patrick Brabant and elect this fine person to the Springs School Board. 

IRA BAROCAS

A Write-In Candidate

Springs

May 7, 2017

Dear Mr. Rattray,

On Tuesday, May 16, the Springs School will be conducting an election for new school board members. The polls will be open from 1 to 9 p.m. I urge every Springs resident to write in Patrick (Pat) Brabant’s name.

Write-in candidates are unusual, so you need to mark “Write In” on your ballot and write in “Patrick Brabant,” even as most of us know him as Pat Brabant. Getting his correct name is critical, as any deviation from “Patrick Brabant” will be considered a vote for another candidate. But to be absolutely sure that your vote will be properly recorded, check with school officials at the polls to ensure what is the proper and legal procedure for a write-in candidate. 

Pat is a small-business owner with children in the Springs School. Pat is a very involved and dedicated member of our Springs community. He is a member of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee and is a steadfast presence and voice at the Springs School Board meetings.

The Springs School Board is about to move forward on a very expensive school addition, which the board still has not justified. The price tag for this folly could exceed $20 million. Moreover, the board has just hired a new full-time superintendent for a generous salary of $198,000 ($8,000 of which will be contributed to a retirement fund). However, the true value of her total compensation package is a little vague, as there is no dollar value in the contract for her generous fringe benefits. Vague as well is the superintendent’s actual workweek, as the contract makes no provision for her to work a full week. 

It is imperative to get Pat on the school board. We need a voice of reason, a concerned taxpayer, and a guy who understands dollars and cents. The current school board is out of control and has little or no understanding — or, for that matter, concern — with how the school’s finances affect already burdened taxpayers.

We need Patrick Brabant on the Springs School Board. Please vote and write in his name.

Sincerely,

CAROLE CAMPOLO

Just Another Insult

Springs

May 7, 2017

Dear David:

I read with interest a flier that was circulated this past weekend announcing local public meetings to present the results of the hamlet and business study. Of greater interest was that once again Springs has been relegated to the position of ugly stepsister.

While Montauk’s meeting is at 7 p.m. on a Friday, Wainscott’s at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, and Amagansett’s at 1 p.m. on a Saturday, the Springs meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m., when anyone who works or is a part-time resident can most assuredly not attend.

It’s bad enough that the Springs School Board holds most of its meetings and work sessions midweek and during the day, but this is just another insult. Are the powers that be in town really afraid of the Springs population? Are we oo informed and vocal for them? What gives?

I would welcome an explanation from whoever it was who scheduled these meetings.

JANE STUART

Leaf Pickup

East Hampton

May 4, 2017

To the Editor,

I am pleased to learn that the Town of East Hampton is in wonderful  financial condition. Larry Cantwell and his administration have worked hard to bring this about. The citizens of East Hampton also helped to get us back. Now the citizens should get leaf pickup back, also. 

The East Hampton Town Highway Department has a big surplus of funds. It has purchased many new trucks that can be used to do this job. 

Have any of you seen these new trucks? Not in my area. 

Join me in this endeavor.

JULIA KAYSER

Self-Driving Cars

East Hampton

May 1, 2017

Dear Editor,

As most people who remember my previous letters will know, I’m always concerned with the safety (or lack thereof) of our local roads. What I have rarely written about is my aversion to certain technologies, such as cellphones and Wi-Fi. For simplicity’s sake, my seeming technophobia is due to the fact that I’m electromagnetically hypersensitive, especially in my ears. The result is that most wireless, and wired for that matter, technology has the potential to make me physically ill and I spend most of my time walking around feeling both seasick and as if people have been shouting in my ears for hours. 

The real problem I want to address is the seeming inevitability of self-driving cars coming to our area. I recently heard that federal and state transportation safety boards have cleared a trial of this new technology in New York State, and that means us. To get my personal problems out, this will mean stronger wireless signals all over the place for use by on-board Sat-Nav and other features which will make my life even more uncomfortable than it already is. But my real fear is that this new technology could prove both hazardous and deadly to the general public. I have a fair knowledge of how computers work and even the most advanced “artificial intelligence” programs and machines have one inherent flaw: They follow rules to the letter and react based on logic. 

Take a good look at a typical trip on any of our local roads. How many people actually observe the speed limits? How many times do you see people actually stopping at stop signs or using the right-on-red rule properly? People driving cars tend to bend and even break the basic rules of the road every minute of the day. Then there are the bicyclists, who often act as if they own the road. Most cyclists never obey traffic signs, and as I’ve written here ad nauseam our narrow back roads are ill equipped for sharing. And then there are joggers and people who think that because they are in “the country” they can stroll down the middle of the road and make traffic go around them. In short, driving a car in the Hamptons is extremely complicated and takes an ability to expect the illogical from the other people sharing the road. 

To be blunt, I’m not convinced that self-driving cars can properly cope with most of the situations regularly encountered on our roads (or most roads for that matter) on a daily basis. Here’s an example: A self-driving car will insist on moving at the speed limit. Since most people using our roads usually drive at least 10 miles per hour above the limit, this will frustrate most local drivers and cause tailgating. Last I heard, tailgating a self-driving car causes it to slow down in order to compensate for the lack of a proper safety gap behind it. This will cause even more frustration and lead to both congestion and road rage (which we already have in spades). The rage will not go away once the self-driving car does, and those drivers are much more likely to speed, violate traffic signals and signs, and cause terrible accidents. 

Another example: At an all-way intersection, a self-driving car arrives first and, in accordance with the rules, comes to a full stop and then begins to move. But a second car with a human driver is late and blows through the intersection without stopping. The self-driving car may have all kinds of gadgets and detectors but lacks the basic instinct of a human driver. Also, I’m not convinced that a series of servos would be able to react fast enough to stop a collision.

I’m certain that the manufacturers and programmers of these new cars could spend hours showing me data and regaling me with test results as well as extolling the advantages of self-driving cars. Yet at the end of the day, as a very aware human being, I would point out that the only way to make a self-driving system safe would be to get rid of the human element altogether — no human drivers in cars, no humans on motorcycles, no bicycles, no pedestrians. Since the human element cannot be eliminated, and the robotics necessary to make self-driving cars even remotely able to cope with real-world conditions are still a long way off, I cannot stress enough how strongly I’m against even the idea of self-driving cars! 

I hope that clear heads will prevail, but this seems rarely to be the case when there’s money to be made. And remember that it’s our safety that’s really at stake. And let’s not forget that soon we’ll also have to deal with flying cars, apparently. 

“You were so enthusiastic about the fact that you could, you never stopped to think if you should.” — Ian Malcolm from “Jurassic Park” (paraphrased).

As always, thanks for reading. 

MATT HARNICK

Taxicab Drivers’ Fees

Montauk

May 3, 2017

Dear Editor, 

On May 2 I attended the East Hampton Town work session meeting with my brave, intelligent daughter, Brianna. As you know, East Hampton Town wanted to charge $200 per driver to drive taxicabs in East Hampton Town. My daughter and I met with town officials last week and also discussed the matter at the work session. 

They lowered the fee to $100, basically because that’s what Southampton Town charges, they said. You must understand, this is not a fee for the taxicab companies, this is a fee that the workers need to pay individually per year, not as you mentioned, $87 to be fingerprinted and another $13.50 for photographs. My questions are, why is one sector of society (taxicab drivers) being targeted with fees and being also targeted with having their fingerprints taken and pictures taken — both of which we have to pay for out of our pocket that has nothing to do with the fees? 

And where is all of this money going? And what are they doing to deserve getting paid anything for us driving with the driver’s license issued by D.M.V., not by them? The only thing they are doing is giving us a piece of paper with our name on it saying that we are on a list basically and approved to work in East Hampton Town because we paid the $100 and that we lowered ourselves to answer their disgusting application asking us if we are child molesters. Because if we didn’t do everything they wanted, we would be pulled over, literally at gunpoint (which sounds to me more like mob tactics than the workings of a government by the people for the people). 

When I asked a town official why the town implemented laws against the taxi drivers and are making us pay all of this money out of our own pockets to be able to work in the Town of East Hampton, I was told that “we figured since you guys make a lot of money you could afford to pay.” I think the statement that was made to me is disgusting, and we are being literally penalized for working hard and making money. And I guarantee you there are many other professions within the town that make a lot more money than taxi drivers, who make a profit three months out of the year, including the jobs of the town board members themselves. 

How come everybody who is successful in East Hampton Town is not being targeted? Is it because they think that taxi drivers don’t deserve to make money because the majority of them never went to college? Why aren’t they targeting the college educated who make tons of money more than we do? I believe it’s because they think that we won’t fight back against their draconian policies. 

If the founders of our once beautiful town knew what has happened to it, they would turn over in their graves. Oh, and I forgot to mention, while I was speaking at the podium and asking for answers to my questions, the town supervisor threatened to have me removed by the police. And when I walked out the door three police officers actually showed up. I felt like I was dealing with the corruption I helped clean up in the past in East Hampton Town. I guess evil has come back for another round. 

JOE LOFFRENO

Sand-Mining Operation

East Hampton

May 8, 2017

Dear David,

I write on behalf of a neighborhood being impacted by a sand-mining operation, a commercial business operating in a residential zone. Contrary to the laws of the permit by the Department of Environmental Conservation, it is certainly making an environmental impact in a negative and disturbing way. 

Why is this sandpit exempt from SEQRA, the State Environmental Quality Review Act? The groundwater you see is being compromised. How can it not be? The aquifer lies below, and flows into Three Mile Harbor and east to Montauk. Why is the town not regulating this sand-mining operation under the old D.L. Talmage permit on 15 Middle Highway in East Hampton? 

Pat Bistrian is the new owner, he of the Bistrian red trucks and other sand-mining operation on Springs-Fireplace Road (a commercial zone). Here, on Middle Highway, on residentially zoned land, he has already expanded quite a bit, devastating the trails within the oak forest leading to a crater-size hole in the earth, known as “the pit.” He is digging deeper and deeper into the ground, and no one is seemingly concerned. 

We in the neighborhood, and our group, the Freetown Neighborhood Advisory Committee, of over 200 local voting citizens, have implored the town and the D.E.C. to do something. Our town board says it is the D.E.C.’s jurisdiction. The D.E.C. says the Town of East Hampton has home rule over their zoned lands. And so Ping-Pong is not getting anyone anywhere. 

We have been concerned and fighting for groundwater protection here for eight years now. Not against the sandpit, no, because it was dormant — in other words, not operating. We live in a special groundwater protection area,” as this land here was designated in the town’s own comprehensive plan in the late ’80s, early ’90s. So why is this not taken more seriously? Why is this sand-mining commercial operation still allowed to be here? 

For the rest of us who live and work here, there are strict clearing laws. For this sandpit, it’s carte blanche to cut down trees galore and pay no mind to our concern to especially protect the groundwater at all costs. We think this needs closer scrutiny. Who will step up and see that material changes are being made to the land and that this is indeed impacting the groundwater and surrounding area? Why was this sandpit never reclaimed, as it was supposed to be according to the D.E.C. permit? It lay dormant for years in the late ’80s and ’90s. We never complained once. Now we are. 

Why would the owner not sell his land to the town through the community preservation fund, as the town was willing to buy the 14 acres to protect this special groundwater protection area? Why was it sold without a review of any kind? Why is the D.E.C. dragging its feet on this in Suffolk County? It is their job to protect the groundwater, and their job to ensure there is no extension beyond what was originally permitted. If there is a change in the mined land use, and the pit grows bigger and the land clearing grows exponentially, as it already has — and now a two-lane entrance road for big equipment and huge trucks going in and out of the sand-mining pit is imminent — then this is surely a change in mined land use and should require a new application, and therefore a SEQRA should be applicable immediately. 

The sandpit depth hit groundwater already, more than once. We reported such. Nothing was done by D.E.C. or the town. We are stewards of the land and community, yes, and we are just regular people who love our town and neighborhood and the land that sustains us and the water that is so precious on this fragile island. You cannot walk or drive by that sandpit now and not be disturbed by what they have done there. The neighboring homes are devastated by it. Their backyards look right into the huge hole in the ground now. Why? For what end?

Is sand a valuable commodity? You bet it is. But getting rich while destroying the groundwater is akin to, well, you know the old saying, “Don’t **** where you eat.” The land barons in our community, the ones getting rich without a care for anyone but themselves and their fat purses, need to be put in check. Who made them exempt from the rules the rest of us have to follow? 

Are you voting for people in town who rub shoulders with these people and let them do whatever they please because of their deep pockets? That cushy club is so over. This is our town, too. You don’t own it. We have a right to protect the groundwater. It was here before those who were born here. We are a neighborhood and community of born-and-breds, locals, transplants, and a new generation who grew up here and are raising their families now. The children of the future of East Hampton depend on safe water based on what we do today. 

Are we going to sit back and watch the devastation or get involved and ask questions? The latter, of course. We are not going away. We want answers and action. We want monitoring wells installed as the D.E.C. permit states. We want to see the reports. We want the sand mining to finally be done and the land reclaimed and preserved as open space, of which we have none here. That is how you protect the groundwater. That is how you demonstrate true stewardship of the land and water. We will go to great lengths and do whatever it takes to see that happen, because we care. The water is what we must protect. 

NANCI LaGARENNE

Aggressive Clearing

East Hampton

May 8, 2017

Dear Editors:

As a longtime resident of Freetown, a modest residential neighborhood off Cedar Street, just outside East Hampton Village, I am appalled at a recent desecration of previously virgin, undeveloped woodlands on Middle Highway just off Oakview. 

Apparently the land was recently sold to the Talmage brothers, who sold it to Patrick Bistrian. Despite efforts to preserve this unique and ecologically crucial tract of land, via purchase through the community preservation fund and/or private individuals, the Bistrians are literally plowing ahead with aggressive clearing of the land. Within the past week alone, they have felled hundreds of trees and turned up mountains of sand (leaving dangerous pits unprotected by any kind of fencing). 

It is both disturbing and disheartening to see these irreplaceable trees destroyed, along with the lush undergrowth that supports so many species of local flora and fauna. Moreover, as has been discovered in local sandpits in Wainscott and on Springs-Fireplace Road, such operations threaten both the local drinking water supply and the air quality (silica dust can lead to chronic lung disease). On top of this, it is hard to imagine the impact of industrial-scale digging, huge trucks driving in and out, etc., on a quiet and already densely populated neighborhood.

While for whatever mysterious reason this land might at some point in the past have been granted an unconventional right to industrial development, there is clearly no place for such an operation in any residential neighborhood. That the Bistrians are rushing the project ahead of seeking the required water quality impact tests suggests that even they realize that they are proceeding on shaky ground.

We residents and voting citizens of Freetown want to see this misguided atrocity stopped immediately, just as we would any similar project in any neighborhoods in any parts of our beautiful town. We are calling for the attention and support of all East Hampton Town residents and the officials we elected to preserve the quality of life we pay for with our taxes and our own law-abiding behavior.

All interested parties are urged to contact our Freetown organizer, Nanci LaGarenne, nelagarenne@optimum.net.

Sincerely,

LOIS NESBITT

Lack of Attention

East Hampton

May 8, 2017

Dear Editor:

I have been distressed by the bad news of commercial activity within a hundred yards or so of our second home just off Middle Highway. Property rights being what they are — not absolute, but still with limits, and with long histories across changing interests and values — it is regrettable that some better outcome did not evolve in regard to the potential uses, and possible misuses, of this beautiful property. The current project does not elicit much enthusiasm in the neighborhood, which senses despoliation and degradation side effects, and significant indifference on the part of public authority to find a better solution among the competing interests, than destruction of the woodland and mining of the sand.

Having written your paper several years ago about a similar move in regard to this parcel, it is likely that you are hearing a fresh onslaught of indignation and complaint about the lack of attention to matters of environmental decline. Residents feel disregarded by their representative officials and guardians, such as The Star. Some question the good will, may even fear betrayal to the power of special interests, etc. 

In situations such as this, editorial options may be limited. Those objecting to the status quo may also have missed some opportunities to influence the outcome toward something more to their liking, although at a cost. One time when Fiorello LaGuardia was mayor of New York City, he did something outrageous and caught hell for it. He held a press conference, and grandly announced that when he made a mistake, he made a beaut! I don’t remember how he dealt with the issue thereafter, but he bought some time, and good will, by his admission.

This is not to assume that our officials and interested parties have been caught red-handed, but whatever the factors in play, you might still offer your good offices to improve the outcome for all concerned. In a community as gifted and enriched as East Hampton, there are deep resources, possible resolutions of any problem that your constituents discern. Part of the role of a paper is to be innovative and creative in response to the disorders that embroil us from time to time. Sometimes it is too easy to skip out of town when the shooting begins, even for men of the law. Perhaps a more responsible option is to listen to what people have to say, and research the range of compromise.

GEORGE NESBITT

Should Be Represented

Amagansett

May 5, 2017

Dear David,

Of course Latinos and African-American residents should be represented now, on our town board, and in other parts of local government. It is hard to get the entrenched to pass the flag, and Latinos are none too fond of politicians at present.

OLA has been a vibrant voice, and the leadership of the Latino Advisory Committee has been meeting constantly in homes, churches, restaurants. Town Hall gatherings are not a draw.

There are really qualified African-American (a prominent leader screened for town board) and Latino residents who are ready to guide all of us. I think there may be an uncertainty about the welcome mat.

Latinos, North Americans, African-Americans, and more have joined to create an entrepreneurial effort to serve the entire town in its need for affordable legal service and other issues. Hopefully some may get the taste for becoming the creators of those laws.

All good things,

DIANA WALKER

A Proven Candidate

Springs

May 8, 2017

Dear David,

I am a lifelong Democrat who has been a part of this community for 41 years. I am disappointed and baffled by the Democratic nominating committee’s refusal to endorse Zach Cohen, and am equally delighted that he has chosen to contest its choice. We need Zach on the town board. He is a clear, intelligent, and fair voice for so many. He is an advocate for what is right, and a willing worker who is open to balancing divergent views on issues that affect our community.

Zach Cohen is a proven candidate, a thoughtful Democrat who thoroughly investigates before he speaks. It is that very thoroughness that is essential. It enables him to speak to the issues at hand, not appease the loudest voices.

I urge all Democrats to sign Zach’s petition before they sign any other.

Sincerely, 

ANNE McCANN

Symbols of Motherhood

East Hampton

May 5, 2017

Dear Editor,

Last week The Washington Post published a major exposé of the U.S. dairy industry, concluding that mega­dairies scam consumers into paying extra for “organic” milk that isn’t. 

The timing, a few days before Mother’s Day, could not be more appropriate. Dairy cows, worldwide symbols of motherhood, never get to see or nurture their babies. The newborn calves are torn from their mothers at birth and turned into veal cutlets, so the dairy industry can sell their milk. The distraught mothers bellow for days, hoping in vain for their babies’ return. Instead, they are chained on a concrete warehouse floor, milked by machines, then impregnated artificially to renew the pregnancy and keep the milk flowing. When their production drops, around four years of age, they are ground into hamburgers.

  This Mother’s Day, let’s all honor motherhood and our natural compassion for animals by rejecting the dairy industry’s cruelty. Let’s replace cow’s milk and its products, laden with cholesterol, saturated fats, hormones, and antibiotics. Let’s choose delicious, healthful, cruelty-free plant-based milk, cheese, and ice cream products offered at our grocery store. 

EDWIN HORATH

Why the Doubletalk?

Springs

May 8, 2017

Dear David,

Congressman Lee Zeldin had the chance to let mothers, daughters, the older insured, children with special needs, and those of us with already known life-threatening diseases know that he truly represents us. But he didn’t! Serving his own political aspirations, he voted for a flawed health care bill. Other Republicans recognized the need for a better bill and voted no, knowing that more work needed to be done. 

Why vote for a bill that practically every major health care organization said wasn’t ready. So why the double-talk? How can he say he’s for us when he votes against us? 

TINA PLESSET

Working Families Act

Springs

May 3, 2017

Dear David:

Real workplace flexibility is good for both employers and their employees. So one would have thought that the recently enacted Working Families Flexibility Act represented progress. However, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the dishonestly named act hurts, not helps, women and working families. It ensures that workers have less time, less flexibility, and less money.

A better name for the act would have been the Employer Flexibility Act, because it offers working people less flexibility, less pay, and less time. Instead, the act gives employers more control over their employees’ time and money. It takes money out of the hands of working people by setting up a false and dangerous choice between overtime pay now and “comp time” when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

It does this by giving employers the right to retain an employee’s overtime wages for months in exchange for “comp time.” But, the act gives employees no guarantee that they will be able to take their comp time when they need it. So an employee who works 60 hours of overtime in the first quarter of the year has no guarantee that she will be able to take her comp time later when she needs it; for example, to help her mother recover from surgery. The act permits her employer to thwart her plans by claiming her absence would unduly disrupt his business — even though that time is hers, paid for in overtime hours that were spent away from her family.

Under the act, if her request to use her earned comp time is denied, she would have no recourse. She would have to report to work on the days she hoped to take off, or risk losing her job. While she could request that her earned comp time be cashed out, even then the employer has up to 30 days to comply.

Giving employers license to demand extra hours while potentially denying workers both compensation and control over their schedules is a step backward, not a solution for hard-working families. The act is an empty promise that no member of Congress who cares about working people should have supported.

Guess what? Our congressman, Lee Zeldin, who claims to fight for working families, voted for the act! So too, did Peter King from neighboring Nassau County. All working families should make them pay next November by denying them your vote.

BRUCE COLBATH

Stick Together

East Hampton

May 5, 2017

 To the Editor:              

There are 535 members in Congress — 435 representatives and 100 senators. I believe as a citizen that it’s time for all of our elected officials to stand up and do their job by going to work.

This means both parties, Democrats and Republicans. Think of it as a snowflake — how fragile it is, but look what they can do when they stick together. Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.

We must always expect the unexpected, as it is better to be ready than unprepared. Those who stare at the past have turned their backs on the future. Listen to life, it’s the wisest teacher of all. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic. Every success in life is built on the ability to do better than just good enough.

Leaders lead by example. Leadership is action, not position. Courage is looking fear right in the eye, saying get the hell out of my way, I got things to do. Our country is weary of statesmen when democracy has degraded to politicians.

Respect does not come with a leadership role; it has to be earned. In government artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity. Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try. If you have no will to change it you have no right to criticize it. Man has responsibility, not power. Adversity introduces a man to himself.

Doubt is no more than an indecision taking up residence in your mind. It’s not what you think you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you’re not. Wisdom is to the soul what health is to the body. 

What we do in life echoes in eternity. If you don’t believe that, check history. Don’t ever compare yourself to others. No one in the world can do a better job of being you than you.

The ultimate measure of a man or woman is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience but times of challenge and controversy. Do what all of you were elected for. If you need inspiration, go to a national cemetery. Look, and remember: They paid the price.

TOM BYRNE