Decrying Vandalism

Trustees also debate Georgica Pond, vector control

    It is not the first time East Hampton Town Trustees have been victimized by vandalism, Diane McNally, the trustees’ clerk, said, by way of explaining the absence of Nat Miller, a trustee, from the group’s meeting Tuesday evening.

    Mr. Miller, she said, was meeting with police regarding multiple recent incidents, including water poured into the gas tank of his boat, causing extensive damage, a tow line cut, and tampering with the distributor cap of his truck.

    Visibly angry, Ms. McNally urged all present to spread the word that “We are members of the community as everyone else is. There are no I’s in ‘trustee.’ Nat knows we all stand behind him.” Every decision the trustees make is made collectively, as a group, she said. The person or persons who are “putting his livelihood and ability to support his family in jeopardy . . . are cowards,” she said. “If people are not happy with the decisions of this board, I invite them to come and speak with us.”

    Ms. McNally noted that the Lamb Building on Bluff Road, where the trustees hold their meetings, was vandalized several months ago. As reported in The Star, windows were broken, floodlights were cracked, a fence rail was broken, and a chrome tire iron was found on the floor of the trustee meeting room.

    Once the meeting was under way, the trustees considered a number of issues and fielded comments from owners of waterfront property. Kevin Mulvey, who lives near Georgica Pond, told the trustees of the consequences of a deluge during a tropical storm on June 7. A flooded basement and extensive damage, he said, were the result. The storm, he said, “in a matter of hours put over three feet of water in the pond. Just get it back to a manageable level,” he said.

    The pond’s high level at this point in the year, he said, is very unusual. “This is waiting for disaster. . . . The pond is going to open,” he said, but if the trustees wait for nature to take its course, many more properties will be damaged by flooding. “Do it before we have unnecessary damage,” he implored.

    The trustees had a different opinion. “It’s been a lot higher,” Sean McCaffrey said. “If you open that pond, it’s going to empty. It’s higher than the ocean.”

    “I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the ecology of the pond,” said Stephen Lester.

    “Sean, I will beg to differ with you,” Mr. Mulvey answered. “If it gets higher, it’s going to go over. It will open within a month or so. You’re going to have a hue and cry from people with two to three feet of water in their basement.”

    “All I’m saying is, we seem to wait until imminent disaster,” he added.

    Ms. McNally said that anyone acting to open the pond to the ocean would be subject to a sizable fine by the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

    With respect to mosquitoes and Suffolk County’s use of insecticides to control West Nile virus, Debbie Klughers, a trustee, reported that Connecticut has banned the use of the larvicide methoprene and the adulticide resmethrin within 1,000 feet of Long Island Sound shoreline. Last year, that state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection detected residues of the insecticides in lobsters harvested from the Sound.

    Ms. Klughers told the trustees that the D.E.C. and Dominick Ninivaggi, the county’s superintendent of the Division of Vector Control, “are comfortable with using fathead minnows” — a freshwater fish — “to eat larvae.” She proposed a trustee-funded and administered program in which the fish would be given to the public to stock ponds, pools, and other bodies of standing water.

    There was some debate about the potential for unintended consequences from such a program, but Ms. Klughers asserted that it would reduce mosquitoes and simultaneously educate the public about the health hazards of both mosquitoes and insecticide. “It’s something to think about.” Suffolk, she said, lags far behind other counties and states in implementing safer and more effective solutions to vector control.

    Ms. Klughers also asked that the trustees draft a letter to the town board in support of waiving parking permits for personnel of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. In 2012, the nonprofit organization responded to 35 events involving pinnipeds (such as seals), turtles, and dolphins and other cetaceans, alive or dead, on town beaches. Some members of the organization have received parking tickets while responding to such events.

    The foundation’s federal funding was eliminated and grant funding is minimal, Ms. Klughers said. She and Lynn Mendelman, a trustee, agreed to work on a letter to the town board in support of a waiver.