Letters to the Editor: Bus Depot 08.17.17

Our readers' comments

The Actual Number

Springs

August 10, 2017

Dear Mr. Rattray

Last week I sent a letter to the editor on the issue of locating the East Hampton School District (and possibly Springs School District) school bus fleets on Springs-Fireplace Road. The letter was titled: Even More Questions about School Bus Depot Deal. 

In the letter, I mentioned that “there will be 83 buses located at the facility.” That number is wrong, and I apologize for the error. The actual number of school buses in the East Hampton fleet is 38. If the Springs School District chooses to locate its own fleet there, they will add approximately 16 buses, for a total of more than 50 buses, plus auxiliary vehicles. 

In this era of “fake news,” it’s important that we all get the facts right. In this case, I didn’t. 

The good news is that the East Hampton School District is undertaking a traffic study that will analyze the impacts of the bus depot locations under consideration. It will be a valuable contribution to this decision if it recognizes the comprehensive plan and hamlet study guidance on the highly trafficked Springs-Fireplace corridor, and the need to reduce congestion on North Main Street. 

In addition, this study needs to consider the four known commercial projects likely to be built to the south of the proposed bus depot and going down the Queens Lane intersection. The one to the immediate south may be a high-traffic car wash. 

Thirdly, the study has to include how the buses get to and from the school, the depot, and student pick-up and drop-off locations. With the proposed Springs-Fireplace option, only a few buses are likely to disperse and go to points east or southeast, so most will have to get through North Main Street.

Finally, the baseline case for this study should be a depot at the schools involved, which, for most of us, is the most logical location that will cause the least traffic disruption throughout the districts served.

Hopefully The Star can inform us of the results of that effort when it is completed.

JOHN R. POTTER

A Good Place

Springs

August 7, 2017

Dear David, 

As a Springs resident, I really don’t understand objections to having a depot for East Hampton school buses at the old scavenger waste site on Springs-Fireplace Road.

This site is not Springs, but is squarely in unincorporated East Hampton, south of the intersection with Abraham’s Path and way south of the Springs line, on the portion of the road zoned commercial-industrial. Next door are the town dump and the Highway Department equipment and office. Across the road is a small retail mall, and farther south on that side are a plethora of automotive and heavy-construction facilities. The residential area north in Springs is not impacted.

The buses will not significantly affect or be burdened by traffic. On a typical school day, 19 buses will leave the site between 6 and 8 in the morning and return between 8 and 9:15 p.m. They will move off in various directions, not all south on Springs-Fireplace Road. They won’t be running at all in the crowded summer. Traffic from the site will be far less than if it was the home of a cesspool-waste-processing facility (now cleaned up and certified environmentally), or if, as rumors have it, Riverhead Lumber acquires the site.

The bus depot will benefit people throughout town, including Springs. It is next door to a fueling station that can be shared with Springs School. With all automotive and construction businesses down the road, it is a good place to train students in these vocations. The next-door food shops may benefit from new traffic. And, of course, it will spare our fellow East Hampton neighbors who live on Cedar Street an added burden of traffic on an already overloaded residential road. We are, after all, one town.

So why the excitement? This site is not the “gateway” to Springs. My neighbors, our visitors, and I have many other much more attractive roads on which to enter and leave our hamlet, in all directions. 

I know some people are anxious, and I hope this letter will allay their concerns. Could it be that a Nimby factor or politics is also involved?

ALEX MILLER

Ensure the Validity

East Hampton

August 14, 2017

Dear Editor,

I have recently received a mailer through the East Hampton Post Office. The accuracy of the information in this flier is in question.

The flier concerns the potential purchase of property on Springs-Fireplace Road by the East Hampton School District. This proposed transaction would be to accommodate a school bus barn facility.

Our potential politicians, especially the ones not nominated by a party, should ensure the validity of information that they distribute to our citizens.

Very truly yours,

VITO BRULLO

Facts of the Case

East Hampton

August 10, 2017

Dear David, 

This is in regards to the Springs Fireplace bus depot and the comments that have arisen from it. The facts of the case are simple. The final plan ultimately prevented the contamination of groundwater for thousands of residents.

They say no good deed goes unpunished, and apparently that is the case here. Rumors are being bandied about by a perpetually unsuccessful candidate, Zachary Cohen, in an effort to smear the Democratic Party’s chosen candidate, Jeff Bragman, and put him front and center. Mr. Bragman is a progressive Democrat who has won environmental battle after battle while successfully fighting for our community for the past 30 years.

Mr. Cohen, a relative newcomer to our town, has been trying to get elected since moving here (he started as a Democrat, then turned Republican, and is now a Democrat again). At best, his record of accomplishment is sparse.

I will not say anything more about this election, but I cannot in good conscience stand by and watch Zachary Cohen denigrate Jeff Bragman for protecting the local groundwater! All of East Hampton’s residents should recognize that water is life. 

SPENCER EMMET

Scare Tactics and Fear

Springs

August 13, 2017

Dear David,

Some people will say or do anything to win an election. We have learned the hard way that creating fear and division can get you elected, but do nothing to solve real problems. Reality and truth may not matter in a campaign, but they do when it comes time to actually govern. We are living now with the government that a candidate’s twisted words and ideas have created. 

The town of East Hampton is selling a long-vacant commercial property. The town and the East Hampton School District negotiated a sale for a bus depot and a BOCES tech center for high school students. This location would eliminate a three-hour daily commute to Riverhead. The taxpayers’ savings are obvious. Also, because school is out in summer, the use would not generate traffic when our town becomes the playground of the western world. 

Now here is the kicker. The property will eventually be sold for commercial use. Which is best, a sale for a use that serves the needs of residents, or a sale to a business whose year-round truck traffic will be solely for its own profit? Think for a moment about even more huge commercial trucks filled with gravel and lumber than we already see year round. One way or another, the property will become a commercial use. 

We need elected officials who do not resort to scare tactics and fear, but who are ready to listen and discuss issues reasonably. Twenty-five school buses leaving very early in the morning and returning very late will not have a major traffic impact. Calling the plan a “catastrophe” is a gross exaggeration by someone desperately trying to create a mountain out of the molehill to win a primary. Are fear tactics and exaggeration the skills a town board member should have? You remember the old adage about fooling some of the people? Oh dear, will East Hampton next be engaging with North Korea?

PHYLLIS ITALIANO

Discuss Real Issues

Wainscott

August 14, 2017

Dear Editor,

I recently received a mailer from a candidate who forced a primary in order to get a seat on the town board. What kind of candidate must resort to deliberately using fear tactics and self-serving exaggerations to sound important? I know that voters are disgusted with politicians lying, and doing and saying anything to get elected. To use this type of rhetoric that is played out daily on the national level is disastrous and disingenuous to all the people of East Hampton. 

This candidate should be discussing real issues with real solutions to groundwater pollution and housing, health, and education, and not using Breitbart techniques just to get votes. 

PAUL D’ANDREA

Entry and Exit

Springs

August 14, 2017

Dear David,

Many Springs citizens are questioning the proposal to put the East Hampton School bus depot and classrooms at the former scavenger waste site on Springs-Fireplace Road. However, no one that I know is suggesting that the school board return to its earlier proposal to locate the bus depot on the high school campus with its entry and exit on Cedar Street. This should never become an issue that pits one neighborhood against another. 

ZACHARY COHEN


Mr. Cohen is a candidate in a Sept. 12 Democratic Party primary for a place on the general election ballot for East Hampton Town Board. Ed.

Lots of Questions

Springs

August 12, 2017

Dear David,

I am writing in response to Jeff Bragman’s Aug. 3 letter to The Star. I live in Springs and use Springs-Fireplace Road daily. It is a major thoroughfare, a highly traveled road, and a gateway to The Springs. 

This road is very commercial below Abraham’s Path. There is the Bistrian sand and gravel business, where on windy days the dust bowl envelops. There are also small commercial garages, auto body repair shops, a retail commercial machinery store, and truck parking lots. There is much commercial activity on both sides of the road. Word has it there are several new commercial enterprises soon to come.

In case one did not know, Mr. Bragman was the attorney who was representing the Cedar Street folks who do not want East Hampton High School school buses parked in their backyard. I fully understand their position. I, as a Springs resident, question the locating of 20 to 80 diesel-fueled school buses on this property, off of the most heavily traveled primary road in the hamlet. Seems to me with the Highway Department, the dump, a possible proposed car wash, and a bus depot on the eastern side of Springs-Fireplace, and Pepperino’s and One Stop Market on the other, there will be a major increase in traffic, probably necessitating a light. There is also a rush hour and trade parade between 6 and 9 a.m. of Springsters heading to work. 

Springs is the most highly populated hamlet. It is the blue-collar capital of the East End. Lots of trucks, trailers, cars, and all sorts of commercial vehicles use that road to enter and exit the hamlet. Three Mile Harbor is not a viable option, for obvious reasons.

Mr. Bragman mentions a water study. Has a water study been done recently at the dump/scav property? Has a traffic study been done for Springs-Fireplace Road that would be relevant to this issue? Seems to me I remember hearing of a poison water plume running from the dump/scav area to Three Mile Harbor. A water study should also be done. No one would want to contaminate this area more. The groundwater is already compromised.

There are lots of questions that need to be answered concerning this site and this proposed sale by the town. Have other sites been considered that are a bit less complicated, with less traffic and population? I would say to the town board, not so fast. More due diligence is required. It is time for Springs residents to become aware of what is transpiring and get involved. This decision is going to greatly increase traffic on Springs-Fireplace Road. 

Also, has it been explained who pays for the upkeep of the proposed bus lot, the new garage and staff, and the new technical school and staff? Springs is kind of tapped out concerning school and school-related issues, since there are so many problems with Springs School. Where to begin? That is a whole separate discussion.

I also would like to question if Mr. Bragman was writing his letter as a private citizen of East Hampton, the attorney who has represented the Cedar Street folks, or as a  Democratic town board candidate. Just signing the letter Jeff Bragman intimates Jeff Bragman, private citizen. No way. Mr. Bragman is very much an “interested and involved party” — and should identify himself as such.

BETSY RUTH

How Many Buses?

Springs

August 11, 2017

To the Editor

I have read John Potter’s thoughtful letter in yesterday’s Star and want to add my endorsement to it.

The entire process to select the Springs-Fireplace Road location for the East Hampton High School bus depot has been one of obfuscation and back-room deals. Before any final decision can be made, a full traffic study should be performed by a professional consultant, and not just a study showing the marginal impact in the off-peak hours early in the morning and early afternoon. We should also know how many buses would be located at the site. I have heard numbers ranging from 20 to 80-plus. What is the number? Eighty-plus would be totally unacceptable. There should be a public hearing.

Worries about the impact on water quality on Cedar Street lead to the suspicion that the Cedar Street Group is looking for as many arguments as possible to push the site away from them. Surely the dangers of fuel spills can be mitigated by modern design. Again, a professional consultant could provide insight as to the best way to handle the problems. I have also heard that there are water issues with the Springs-Fireplace Road site. Again, a professional study needs to be performed.

Finally, why can’t the Cedar Street location exit out on Long Lane, which is large enough to accommodate the traffic? Springs-Fireplace Road between Abraham’s Path and the Three Mile Harbor Road intersection is a mess. 

ROBERT G. PINE