Dina Will See the Sea

    It seems like Dina Merrill — the actress and arts benefactor who has lived on West Dune Lane for over 50 years — will still be able to see the sea she loves.    Her husband, Ted Hartley, chairman of R.K.O. Pictures, sat in the second row at the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Friday while his attorney, Rick Whalen, laid out plans to rework an existing walkway and platform in the dunes outside the couple’s house to accommodate Ms. Merrill’s wheelchair.
    The existing “corduroy” boardwalk has been in there since 1970. Ms. Merrill and Mr. Hartley’s attorney submitted additional photos of it, and the platform, to the board. Also, they brought Bruce Horwith, formerly of the Nature Conservancy, to provide an independent assessment of the dune, as requested by the board.
    The preservation of the dune and its vegetation were the foremost concern of the board, and Dr. Horwith explained that to tear up what was already there would be more detrimental than the minor readjustments that were necessary to make the existing walkway and platform accessible.
    In mitigation, Mr. Whalen said, the Hartleys were willing to only keep the expanded platform up as long as it was needed, and also to share access to the beach with the property next door, at 3 West Dune Lane, which currently does not have beach access, thereby eliminating the possibility of another walkway’s being built if that property were sold.
    Andrew Goldstein, the chairman of the board, said a determination would be made at the next meeting on Aug. 12.
    Also on Friday, Johanna Caleca represented Mark and Candy Udell, owners of Main Street’s London Jewelers, who want to expand their house on Pondview Lane. A two-story addition was proposed to accommodate three generations of Udells, including the couple’s parents, children and their spouses, and a nephew, who also participate in “keeping a close watch on the local business,” Mr. Udell said.
    Although Ms. Caleca submitted plans and said the addition was “minimally visible” because of the landscaping and “not in contravention to the area,” Mr. Goldstein was unconvinced.
    “This house is already in excess of requirements,” he said of the 5,856-square-foot structure. The proposed addition totals 1,462 square feet.
    “I appreciate the exigencies that would help the Udells, but you’re asking for this to be 25 percent bigger. The benefit to be achieved, frankly, does not outweigh the inconsistencies.”
    “This house is huge,” said Bruce Siska.
    “It’s a precedent I don’t think we should set,” added Frank Newbold, another board member.
    When Ms. Caleca asked for the hearing to be held open while her clients came up with an alternate plan, Mr. Goldstein answered with a terse “no,” but then relented, and the hearing was adjourned until Aug. 12.


How ridiculous that the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals would actually care about making a walkway wheelchair accessible. Dina Merrill has done so much for the community over the years, in a positive way. The Zoning Board needs to find something more constructive to do.