A group of the region’s environmental organizations have sent a survey to candidates for East Hampton Town Board and town supervisor and plan to release the responses early in October.
The effort is a joint project of the East Hampton Environmental Coalition and the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. The 28-question survey asks the candidates to list their environmental qualifications and rank a range of issues in terms of importance. These include waste treatment, prioritizing land purchases to protect drinking water, erosion control, airport noise, and responding to sea-level rise.
Speaking outside East Hampton Town Hall on Friday, Robert DeLuca, the president of the Group for the East End, said, “Environmental issues have slipped off the front burner, and we are here to see that they are put back on it.” He singled out groundwater and the protection of bays and harbors as a top priority.
“Our water quality is declining, and it’s declining consistently,” Mr. DeLuca said. “For many years this town was a leader on a host of environmental issues, and with a wastewater management study it’s on the cusp of that leadership again.”
He was joined by representatives of the Northwest Alliance, Accabonac Protection Committee, Dark Skies Society, Amagansett-Springs Aquifer Protection, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, and Garden Club of East Hampton.
Marcia Bystryn of the New York League of Conservation Voters also spoke at Friday’s press conference. She said that her group and the East Hampton Environmental Coalition, of which the other groups were a part, hoped to hold elected officials accountable.
Jeremy Samuelson, the director of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, said that one of his group’s top issues was assuring that shoreline policy was adequately addressed in the wake of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. “We have all of the same problems and no more solutions than we did a year ago,” he said.
He said that the right course was for “community resiliency.” Officials and residents must accept a new reality, he said. “We have to acknowledge that we have to adapt to, rather than overcome, the forces of nature.”
Describing current Army Corps of Engineers proposals for the Montauk oceanfront, Mr. Samuelson said that there was nearly $100 million set aside based on antiquated thinking and outdated plans. “Are we going to do the right thing or the wrong thing?” he said. Several questions on the candidates’ survey deal with coastal policy.
Jory Latham of the Accabonac Protection Committee said that there had been an inadequate, piecemeal approach to habitat protection in East Hampton Town. She said that the town’s comprehensive plan, despite being law, had not been utilized and that the survey would ask each of the candidates whether they were willing to act on its recommendations.
Ms. Latham said that balanced communities of plants, animals, and their habitats are not luxury items and help attract second-home owners and tourists crucial to the local economy, as well as fish and shellfish for baymen and recreational anglers.
“These things are all part of one big picture. They need to be assessed and addressed by the people who are running our government. This has not been the case,” she said.
According to the coalition, the candidates have been asked to return the questionnaires by Oct. 11.