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Letters to the Editor: 10.03.19

Wed, 10/02/2019 - 19:34

Ernie Clark
East Hampton
September 30, 2019

To the Editor,

Ernie Clark passed away last week at 94. Although he moved to Florida quite a few years ago, he touched many lives in East Hampton, particularly mine.

He bought my father’s real estate and insurance company, E.T. Dayton on Main Street, after my father’s death in 1964 when I was 9. I babysat for his only child, Bruce, who died at 18.

When I moved back to East Hampton after college in 1979, he gave me my first “real” job as a real estate salesperson. He let me tag along when he did real estate appraisals and I soon became his assistant, then trainee, then business partner.

He was patient, kind, supportive — a mentor and a friend to a fatherless young woman when feminism and career women in the work force were just emerging. He was the model of appropriateness for a male business associate with a female partner 30 years his junior. Many of his contemporaries predeceased him. He touched many lives, mine especially

Sincerely,

CYNTHIA REUTERSHAN MARSHALL


Blessing
East Hampton
September 29, 2019

To the Editor:

This year, not being able to attend the Blessing of the Animals held at the Episcopal Church in East Hampton next weekend as we do yearly, we decided to drive out to Montauk today, to attend the ceremony being held at the parish of St. Therese of Lisieux.

Being new to the Montauk community, we arrived 2.5 hours early for the blessing not knowing that the blessing would be held outside the church at 12 p.m. After a lovely breakfast and a walk on the beach, we came back to the parish. Needless to say, it was worth the wait.

I would like to thank Father Thomas for his kind demeanor and kind words and benediction bestowed on our beloved wired-haired dachshund, Ms. Lucie, whom we love and cherish. Thank you also for the metal tag of St. Francis of Assisi, which she will wear in honor of all our beloved pets, past and present.

Very Sincerely,

PATRICIA ANHOLT HABR


Thoughtless
Amagansett
September 27, 2019

Dear David:

The plan to remove 24-hour parking from the Amagansett parking lot behind the library is absurd. An example of thoughtless planning without regard to the consequences for the legion of Jitney commuters who travel to work in the city. I am a year-round resident on Napeague and for years I have commuted to my job in the city three or four times a week. Where am I and others, and there are many of us, supposed to park? If you talk about such a plan, you have to give year-round residents like me an alternative. Not just a shrug! If you think the 24-hour spots are being abused, then enforce the limit and issue tickets. Simple enough, I would think. In addition to regular commuters like myself, there are many seniors who regularly commute to the city for doctor and hospital appointments, some disabled. Then there are those who just want to spend a day in the city, maybe to see a show, visit with family. Why should they be penalized?

Most residents have either trash stickers or permanent beach stickers on their cars. Easy enough to pick out abusers, whether residents or those who are just visitors, and issue summonses without the wholesale elimination of the 24-hour spots. Ms. Banki’s earlier letter correctly points out that most of the businesses on Amagansett’s Main Street are restaurants, which mainly cater to after 6 p.m. customers. And the relatively few 24-hour spots, if eliminated, would hardly solve any business issues due to insufficient parking. This issue has to be thought through. This proposal just puts an unjustified burden on the mass of permanent residents who have not been offered an alternative. And we vote! Think!

BOB CONTI


Through the Years
Springs
September 23, 2019

Dear David,

This past Saturday my dad, a.k.a. the fish commander, and family were joined by relatives and friends for the dedication of a beautiful dogwood tree in honor of my mom, Amelia, planted at the Clearwater Beach Property Owners reservation in Springs.

The fish commander for years was a member of a fishing club that had a clubhouse in Ditch Plain, Montauk. Then one day the fish commander, who was a Local 780 union mason, took a gig doing finish cement work for LILCO in Bridgehampton. During the off-time, he took a ride to find the second home of fellow club member Bill and Agnes Joscher in Springs. What interested him the most about Bill and Agnes’s home,  a sprawling 800-square-foot beach bungalow, was that it had marina rights and was quick access to Gardiner’s Bay. In 1965 my mom and dad built their home in Springs in Clearwater Beach right next to their dear friends Bill and Agnes.

Springs was a beautiful place back then, full of salt of earth people, good people who loved their families, town, heritage, and had a real understanding of the uniqueness of the community. Many families had lived in East Hampton since the town’s founding and could trace their ancestors back for generations. Farming and fishing were as common as any other job, and the East Hampton Town Baymen’s Association yearly cocktail party was the event of the year.

The fish commander would often say that East Hampton reminded him of the seaside town he grew up in Murtosa, Portugal. Families could trace their ancestors back for generations, farming and fishing were as common as any other job.

Clearwater Beach was even more amazing, situated on Hog Creek! As kids we spent the entire summer day and night on the beach, in a boat on Hog Creek or out on Gardiner’s Bay. Summer days were long, and not a single day went by that was not an adventure.

The fish commander served on the Clearwater Beach Property Owners Association board of directors. When repairs or improvements had to be made, many of the board members and association residents responded in kind, rolling up their sleeves and being hands-on. My mom for years, every spring quietly without fanfare, would go down and plant flowers. Through the years, she would be joined by so many dear friends too numerous to list.

The beauty of siblings and living close to extended family is that you can share, laugh, and cry at all memories from your childhood. Details forgotten are sure to be remembered by another. As an only child with an extended family that spans the globe, I am blessed to have had my mom as long I did. I would be lying if I said the past few months have not been rough on the fish commander and we all count our blessing: At 95 he still goes fishing every chance he can.

Life is good, and I am humbled by the kindness and generosity of so many in our amazing community. I would like to thank the Clearwater Beach Property Owners Association for their kindness this Saturday. I know I never say it enough to all my friends, some of whom have been since childhood and are lifelong. Thank you and love you.

MANNY VILAR


Regular Flooding
East Hampton
September 30, 2019

Dear East Hampton Star,

As everyone knows too well, our town seems to be in a perpetual state of having houses built, rebuilt. It often seems that the developers won’t be satisfied until every plot of available land is built on. I present the latest chapter in the saga of my own neighborhood as an example. Those who are familiar with my letters may remember the fiasco I reported a couple of years ago surrounding the demolition and rebuilding of the house next door to ours. I mention this because it actually relates to the new construction site in a slightly roundabout way.

I live in Egypt Close, which is, of course, a cul-de-sac. Ever since my parents bought our house in 1968, at which time there were only three other houses on the street, we have experienced flooding in various dips in the road, despite the village putting in storm drains. As more and more houses were built, the flooding problems increased. Anyone who knows our street knows that this is mainly because we are so close to the water table. Consequently, many of the houses on Egypt Close have historically experienced flooded basements as well as the flooding in the road.

In the 1980s, we formed a block association, ordered an environmental impact statement, and convinced both town and village to set aside two acres (I think) of land that would be owned by the village but could be rented for planting purposes. Between this and a few other amendments the flooding stopped for a while.

Then a house was built on an unprotected plot of land next to the reserve. A year later we had the first flood (very minor) in nearly 15 years. Then three houses were demolished and rebuilt, causing nearly 10 years of constant noise and parking problems. Despite the addition of two more storm drains, the road began to flood again regularly. The cause was the fact that these new houses had removed many trees and though the footprints were about the same as the houses they replaced, they often paved over lawn, which would have absorbed a lot of the water.

Also contributing to the new flooding is a spate of construction on Hither Lane (those properties drain in our direction, too), which has caused more water to be sent toward the reserve and thus toward Egypt Close. The result has been that in the last three years, we have experienced regular flooding during heavy rains, which have begun to resemble those pre-1985.

A couple of months ago, construction began on a house on Egypt Lane. The land was subdivided from an existing property that already had a house on it. The new construction site is very low and closer to the water table than most. It has a history of flooding during hurricanes and in fact I have a picture of the property flooded out with a pair of mallards swimming around taken the day after Hurricane Irene.

In addition to this problem, the house takes up most of the property so that the cluster of houses in that area looks overcrowded. It’s certainly not a traditional East Hampton look anymore. I’ve watched the construction and I don’t care how many dry wells they put in, it won’t be enough to mitigate the loss of open, undeveloped ground, which used to sponge up most of that water. I would not be surprised if this new house is plagued by basement floods, not to mention flooding on the property. Dry wells only work well if they are significantly above the water table. The ones on this property aren’t.

In short, whoever is building this house (and it is a spec house) has no idea the problems in store for whoever buys it. And as for flooding, all that extra water shed by the house is going to find its way to the first dip in the road just past 5 Egypt Close (which, by the way, is being renovated and has had most of the trees and shrubs removed) and is flooding worse and more regularly than it ever did in the past.

I should add that what exacerbates all of this is the global warming factor. As sea level rises, so does the water table. Add to this the rise in intensity of many storms (not just hurricanes but just basic thunderstorms) and the loss of open ground and water-sucking plants and trees, which comes with all this construction, and you wind up with a recipe for more severe flooding problems.

As a final note, none of this is opinion. The science is simple and sound. It’s not whether or not the property should have been developed but rather that whoever winds up owning the property is going to have to deal with a lot of water-related problems.

As always, thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

MATT HARNICK

P.S.: I wonder if they did an environmental impact statement.


Incontrovertible
Springs
September 30, 2019

Dear David,

No wonder Walter Donway dismisses the severity of the climate crisis. As he notes in his letter in the Sept. 19 issue of The Star, he gets his “facts and perspective” from Jay Lehr and Bruce Bunker.

Lehr is a professional climate-crisis denier who is paid to sow doubt on the subject. As science director of the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, Lehr devoted himself for years to downplaying the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. When those efforts finally failed, he switched his allegiance from the tobacco industry to fossil fuels. This may explain why Lehr actively promotes Bunker’s book about the “mythology” of global warming. I expect that both their voices will soon be drowned in the rising tide of incontrovertible evidence.

With hope for the energy goals of our community,

DAVA SOBEL


My Promises
Springs
September 30, 2019

To The Star:

If the dire news of the climate crisis is making you feel overwhelmed, why not try this: Make some promises to a piece of earth. If everyone made their property, or one they frequent, into a natural refuge, there would be much less to worry about. Here are my promises, let me know about yours.

1. I will think of my place as my friend, my family. I will work with, not against it, and do it no harm. It will be a sanctuary.

2. I will let this place keep all that it produces: No biomass will leave the property.

3. I will make a compost pile, even if I probably won’t turn it.

4. I will carefully consider everything I bring here: Can it be used for a long time, can it be composted or repurposed, does it really need to be plastic?

5. I will use no toxic synthetic chemicals.

6. I will take a moment to learn about an insect before I decide if I really need to kill it.

7. I will plant native plants to provide habitat for insects and birds.

8. I will get to know the names of all the plants, animals, and insects that live in this place, or at least the big ones.

9. I will reduce the size of my lawn to just what gets used.

10. I will let go a bit, let nature be my collaborator and help me keep my promises.

EDWINA VON GAL


The Wind Farm
Amagansett
September 30, 2019

Dear Editor,

The youth protest on climate change last week brought home the point that people everywhere are aware of the impacts of climate change, and passionate in their beliefs that it is necessary to transform the energy system within the country and the world. Yet passion without a plan can be dangerous.

Greta Thunberg and others have proven the power of social media to bring people together to rally around a cause. But demanding action is easy. Implementing solutions is hard.

We all live in the petroleum-based economy. We drive. We use phones. We rely on advanced medical devices. We need power to make the products that have made our modern life possible. We eat food from all over the world. None of this would be possible without petroleum. To get off of this energy source, we need to go full speed ahead on alternatives. All alternatives are on the table.

Approving, building, and operating the South Fork Wind Farm is step one. The New York Bite region is ideal for wind power, and I would recommend the federal and state officials proceed with their environmental impact studies and put those other wind installations in the water as soon as possible to begin to use this zero-emission power source and get off of oil, coal, and eventually natural gas. Construction of the turbines will kill some fish. But ocean acidification and rising temperatures will kill a lot more.

Natural gas is an ideal transition fuel that will help reduce emissions while research is conducted on other zero-emission technologies, and they are developed to be deployed at scale. By retrofitting existing dams, hydropower can be used throughout the country to wean us off of fossil fuels. Solar is being deployed all over the country, and more solar installations should be approved.

Most Republicans are not climate change-denying psychos. However, a majority of them will only support policies that allow businesses to remain viable, and profitable, so that the installations, collectively, can provide baseload power to a growing population with increasing demands for electricity and fuel. They also need predictable policies for taxation, and they need to remain afloat so as to retain their workers.

The Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum works with Republicans who are putting forward dozens of bills that support new and existing energy providers as they work diligently to bring about the transition we so desperately need. At National Clean Energy Week, CRES Forum featured several Republican legislators and officials who are moving forward on common-sense solutions to address the nation’s energy needs. Only bipartisan legislation will pass, and it is important to show support to these elected officials regarding this important topic.

ELIZABETH HALLIDAY


Renewable Portfolio
East Hampton
September 24, 2019

Dear David,

Thank you! for your Editorial “Rallying for Clean Energy.” Yes, East Hampton continues to be a leader on the world’s stage, a tradition that began 350 years ago when the town’s settlers first introduced wind power as their renewable energy resource. Today the South Fork Wind Farm proposes to return wind as East Hampton’s most abundant renewable energy resource.

Given the same embrace of town vision, East Hampton’s 2014 determination to replace fossil fuels with 100 percent renewable resources was the first such commitment in New York State. Working with the East Hampton Department of Natural Resources, the Energy Sustainability Committee, the town appointed advisory committee in striving to reach this historic 100 percent renewable energy goal, has developed a Renewable Energy Portfolio, a tool chest of clean renewable energy resources. Embedded in this Portfolio (www.EnergizeEH.org) is Community Choice Aggregation, “CCA.”

This program is not a new idea, with over “five million customers in seven  states,” including 110,000 in West­chester. The Star’s editorial clearly defines this strategy to put control of choosing energy supply in local hands. What could be more empowering, and traditional, in our town, than a local model to procure its own energy resource?

The Energy Sustainability Committee has been charged by a town board June resolution (ID #21670) “to hold Public Informational Forums to consider adoption of a resolution to enable the establishment of a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Energy Program.” These Public Informational Forums began last month, including two in town Hall and will continue during October and November. The time and locations will be posted on www.EnergizeEH.org and other social media sites.

“Rallying for Clean Energy” provides an excellent introduction for our community as we begin another historic transformation: “Giving consumers a choice about the source of the electricity that powers their houses and small businesses while promoting (renewable) alternatives.” David, thank you and the Star Staff for your responsible reporting on this opportunity for the East Hampton community to choose its own renewable energy supply while striving to meet its 100 percent renewable energy goal.

LINDA JAMES,

Chair


Impassioned Fads
East Hampton
September 30, 2019

To the Editor:

A letter to The Star last week called my report of bird slaughter by wind turbines “uninformed.” In fact, I made the point — as does my critic — that earlier carnage had been mitigated by efforts of the wind-power industry. But my critic made another point: Several Audubon Society sources predict that climate change by 2050 will threaten many bird species.

But wind power, as yet, is a sliver (less than 2 percent) of electricity generation, so mitigation of bird risks by placement and spacing is possible. If the hundreds of square miles of turbine fields needed to power major cities become a reality, forget about “mitigation.”

Also, turbines are here, today. Climate change as projected out to 2050 is there. There are signs that the green-ideology-driven “science,” or pseudo-science, proclaiming that we will get “there” without immediate, drastic, worldwide government economic planning has peaked. Here is one indication.

A new movement, the Global Intelligence Group, in just a few weeks, has attracted 500 signatures of scientists, professionals, and researchers for its European Climate Declaration. The group’s goal, and goal of the declaration, is to put science back into “climate science.”

Conceived by Professor Guus Berkhout, emeritus professor of Geophysics at Delft University of Technology and member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science, the group, and declaration, have rapidly attracted such members as Professor Richard Lindzen, among the world’s foremost climate scientists, and Professor Vaclav Klaus, former president of the Czech Republic. Other names are publicly available and make a formidable list. It will grow.

Let me summarize and briefly quote the declaration.

First, it says, “There is no climate emergency.” Climate science should be less political; climate policies should be more scientific. Scientists now should address the major uncertainties and exaggerations in their predictions of global warming. Politicians should be honest about the “imagined costs of adaptation to global warming” and the real costs of proposed “solutions.”

Second, the geological record reveals that earth’s climate has varied as long as the planet has existed. The “Little Ice Age” ended as recently as 1850. Therefore, it is no surprise that we now are experiencing a period of warming. What’s more, the world has “warmed at less than half the originally-predicted rate, and at less than half the rate to be expected on the basis of net anthropogenic forcing and radiative imbalance.”

Third, climate policy relies on deeply flawed models. Climate models “have many shortcomings and are not remotely plausible as policy tools.” They almost certainly exaggerate the effect of greenhouse gases such as CO2. And, in addition, “they ignore the fact that enriching the atmosphere with CO2 is beneficial.”

The declaration points out that carbon dioxide is “not a pollutant.” It is beneficial for nature, “greening the earth” and “promoting growth in global plant biomass. It is also good for agriculture, increasing the yields of crops worldwide.”

Finally, global warming has not worsened any natural disasters. “There is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts, and such-like natural disasters, or making them more frequent.”

The conclusion? There is “no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050.” Instead, the international policy should focus upon reliable and affordable energy at all times, and throughout the world.

The declaration claims that those signing “are prominent scientists from a wide range, prominent groups of scientists with an unprecedentedly wide range of disciplines, indispensable in addressing the climate question.”

The group has an ambitious program of science and public education, starting with a new Journal of Corrections to publish learned papers, peer-reviewed by qualified members of the group that will challenge “often erroneous and unsound science published in the ‘pal’-review journals of climate science.”

Apart from the obvious, what is going on, here? I have a theory. Perhaps it is driven as much by hope as any talent at prognostication. The history of science, emphatically including in our time, is littered with impassioned fads advanced in its name: eugenics, the front lobotomy “cure,” the “recovered memories” craze, and the huge “population bomb” predictions of worldwide famine by the year 2000.

At some point, such beliefs, considered in their heyday to be almost tests of good faith, begin to fade. Science and experience, however painfully, catch up with them. A few scientists not intimidated by charges such as “denier” begin to rally. The driving force of the fad —that it is “consensus” — lessens. Questioning and dissent once again become possible even in the mainstream.

I wonder if a sign of such a “peak” in credulousness — in addition to the formation of the Global Intelligence Group — is the declaration by the Church of Sweden, this week, that Greta Thunberg is “successor to Jesus Christ”?

Has the awful fever peaked, at last?

WALTER DONWAY


Cooperation
Montauk
September 30, 2019

Dear David,

We should take advantage of our unique, valuable local energy resource that is offshore wind. Like so many in East Hampton I believe that developing offshore wind as an energy source via the proposed 15-turbine South Fork Wind Farm is a critical component of our local renewable energy portfolio. Sited 35 miles off Montauk Point, the project is now in the permitting phase.

I have been dismayed by the actions of a few exceedingly wealthy and powerful individuals (who self-identify as environmentalists, no less!) in an attempt to throw a wrench into the works. I fear they may prevail, and that would set us back in our fight against climate change and the threat that it poses to our community and our world.

Good news is hard to find these days, so I was heartened to learn that some leaders in our local commercial fishing industry have agreed to work with the wind farm developers. Their participation in the requisite cooperation between our fishermen and offshore wind interests is an indication that finding common ground is possible. That these fishermen are allowing the use of their own Montauk docking facilities for the wind farm company’s crews and vessels will usher in a new day in our local maritime economy.

Maintenance and repair of offshore turbines will now become a thing — a thing that will add a new economic dimension to our community, creating well-paying, year-round jobs on the water. It’s a win-win in my book!

Can it be that the winds of change are upon us? I certainly hope so.

Kind regards,

JESSICA JAMES


Close KHTO
Sag Harbor
September 30, 2019

Dear Editor,

In August 2019, a terrifying near-miss midair collision over Bridgehampton homes was reported to “Say No to KHTO,” to East Hampton Airport management, to the Federal Aviation Administration, and to the Town of Southampton. The incident involved a helicopter and a seaplane, both travelling at around 100 m.p.h. on approach to KHTO. It occurred on a Friday evening during one of the commuter “rush hour” competitions to land at the airport, drop off passengers, and return to New York City as fast as possible to pick up another load of transients bound for East Hampton Airport. This dangerous scenario is played out on busy days and weekends throughout the season.

Although two members of the family who witnessed the event at their home on Lumber Lane spoke at an East Hampton Town Board work session the following week, and several journalists were in the audience, barely a mention was made by the local press of this terrifying incident. That should have been news. Apparently, it will take a tragedy to make the headlines.

For those who wish to listen to the chilling testimony of two of the witnesses to the Bridgehampton incident, a mother and her young son, log on to the East Hampton Town video for Aug. 20 at easthamptontown.iqm2.com, then fast-forward the video first to 39 minutes for the first witness, then to 59.1 minutes. I urge you to take the time to listen to these witness accounts.

Re yet another incident, we are grateful that Jim Brundige, airport manager, and the Town of East Hampton took steps last week to place a 90-day ban on aircraft operated by New Jersey-based Analar Corporation. Again, it is odd to say the least that although there has been mention in Newsday and other news sources on the North Fork and online, I read nothing in South Fork media about the reckless flying over the airport itself. Why is that?

It should be obvious to all that it is time to close KHTO and begin transitioning to a safer, healthier use of the property. 

Thank you,

PATRICIA CURRIE


A Big Stick
Wainscott
September 26, 2019

Dear David:

Let us jump for joy over the helicopter ban. This ban at this time of the year is like 90 lashes with a powder puff. A real message to these reckless morons would be a ban from next Memorial Day weekend to July. There are letters, both locally, across the Sound, and far to the west in other papers, protesting the daily disruption and danger to our lives. What about the near miss over Lumber lane?

When will our safety become a real priority to our town board members? The constant low flying, from weekend touch and goes, helicopters, seaplanes, and small jets, flying just over the tree- tops, prove how out of control these pilots are. There is no margin of safety either for them or those of us on the ground to avoid a catastrophic result.

 A good example was the crash in the village a few years ago. Had that plane had a full tank of fuel there would have been loss of life on the ground. Every day there are reports of small plane crashes, and it is not a question of if but when?

It is past the time to speak softly without carrying a big stick!

Yours truly,

ARTHUR J. FRENCH


Been Banned
Wainscott
September 30, 2019

Dear Editor:

On Sept. 24, a local internet news service published an important story regarding the East Hampton Airport that appears to have been missed by all major local news outlets.

As of this day, six days later, there is still no mention of the fact that a commuter helicopter operator, Analar Corporation, has been banned from landing at East Hampton Airport for 90 days for repeated unsafe operations that endanger the lives of East Hampton Town residents.

First, let me commend the airport manager, Jim Brundige, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, and town board liaisons Sylvia Overby and Jeff Bragman for acting on what has become a frighteningly dangerous situation at the airport.

This past summer it has been far too common that large, loud helicopters and seaplanes have ferried passengers to and from the airport just a couple of hundred feet above the homes of many residents. This has happened in fog, in downpours, in thunder and lightning storms, and at all hours of the day and night, incessantly, relentlessly, and unnecessarily.

Analar Corporation is not the only operator willing to put profit before safety. Many residents have documented similar assaults from operators hiding behind limited liability corporations. These include Heliflite Shares, Snackbar Aviation, Renco, Sikorsky Fractional Sales, WNFW L.L.C., Strange Bird, Pitchfork L.L.C., and others.

Why is this not being reported on these pages?

Your truly,

TOM MACNIVEN


Shellfish Trump
Springs
September 30, 2019

Dear Mr. Rattray,

I find it amazing that a town board that uses the slogan “Leadership That Unites,” has managed to set so many people’s teeth on edge, and fostered real disunity, disgruntlement, and division on issues that need urgent action: water quality improvement, renewable energy, affordable housing, emergency communications, senior services, even long-term parking and safer street crossings.

Hamlets speak and write against the interests of other hamlets. People misconstrue one another’s opinions, or worse, make unwarranted and spurious assumptions about motivations for objecting to laudable goals and aspirations. How has this beautiful place come to this?

We need honest leadership that listens to people of all constituencies, and considers the consequences before making decisions in public, not in secret, and only after following a real process of community engagement. Did the people in Montauk ask for the signs that disfigured their hamlet, and are now lowered in height? Are we enjoying paying for dirtbag beach? Is Deepwater’s profit more important than any of our town’s residents, particularly given the amount of power it really represents relative to our needs, let alone price? Or are all of these just other examples of “Whoops!” government?

Certainly those of us directly affected by the long secret plan to drop a factory on our corner in Springs that would impede public access to both the Gann Road dock, as it did this past summer, and the Babe’s Lane Preserve beachfront, have yet to get an open hearing or actual notice of this falsely premised “water quality improvement project.”

This is in direct contravention to every lawful and accepted local standard of development that we would all have to follow were we going to upset an entire neighborhood’s traffic, character, and public usage. But hey, this is Springs, so shellfish trump the residents. And never mind temperature and water level rise, possible negative effects on aquaculture, traffic, density, zoning, tidal flushing, local boating, recreational fishing, residential zoning, whatever.

If someone besides Supervisor Van Scoyoc and Councilman Lys wanted to build an 8,000-square-foot waste of our tax dollars on a 1.1-acre residential lot, I imagine that would be a heavy lift even with obvious lies to funding agencies, residents, and oversight entities. Worse, we’re going to waste $5 million plus plus, to save three town employees $13,000 of paid drive time, and so we can make a minuscule impact on water quality? Or is it to placate some other agenda, even beyond making the fee-paying oyster aquaculturists happy, including the supervisor whose participation should force recusal from any votes on the project? Of course, the two are not alone in this, the rest of the board, save Mr. Bragman, and maybe Ms. Burke-Gonzalez, who has also expressed some reservation.

Could someone explain to me and my neighbors why this is a good idea? No one is against aquaculture, any more than anyone is against renewable energy, but as always the devil is in the details. People in Springs, people in Wainscott, long-term parkers in Amagansett, strollers in Montauk, everyone in East Hampton deserve an explanation and real input concerning projects and proposals that affect all of our futures before any ill-informed, or just plain dumb things get done, built, or installed. This is certainly so if the project in question, like this hatchery proposal, is based on bad science, poor policy, and outright lies about its appropriateness, necessity, and environmental impacts.

We urgently need open and honest government. Civility is no substitute for competence and consultation. It is time for Springs to unite and vote these issues, for all of our town’s voters to really think before casting their ballots.

IRA M. BAROCAS

 President

Duck Creek Farm Association


Current Choices
Springs
September 29, 2019

Dear David,

This letter’s topic is how and where to construct the needed emergency and cellphone tower in Springs. Last week, The Star published my first of two letters on that topic, and The Star also wrote a fine editorial. In this letter, I will briefly analyze three possible locations: the current choices of the Springs fire commissioners, the town, and me.

The Springs Fire Department has been trying since about 2016 to install the tower on their main location which is toward the east end of Fort Pond Boulevard. The original proposal was for a tower of approximately 150-foot height and located at their northern lot line. Last year, at a talk at a Springs Citizen Advisory Committee meeting, the town’s employee expert, Ed Schnell, told the public that he felt that 180-foot height would be optimal. (The town’s height rules promote maximum tower heights in relation to the distance to neighbor buildings but it does not legally mandate that height limit.) Schnell also said that location was an excellent location for the installation of emergency communications.

However, the proposed location put the tower unnecessarily close to neighbors. I recommended in 2018 to the Springs fire commissioners that the tower, if constructed on their property, should be just behind their building, which places it at the farthest distance away from neighbors. The current plan would remove the old tower and construct the new tower close to their building. That location will both reduce its visibility by neighbors and reduce possible problems of what would be hit by a falling tower (which sometimes happens as segments of the tower in a super powerful hurricane) and falling objects (usually only, and rarely, ice).

The Springs Fire Department offered the town free installation of their emergency equipment, a nice savings for the town. The Springs fire commissioners were planning to also install cellphone service equipment, which would provide monthly pay to the Springs Fire Department. Installing cellphones to work in Springs is needed but should not increase the height of the emergency tower. If both the town and the Springs fire commissioners work together, this location is a good choice.

The possible tower location on the Nassau County Girl Scout property on the far west of Springs is not recommended unless the town can buy that portion of the land with full building rights. Even more worrisome would be the town renting land there unless the agreement does not limit the tower’s construction and future height and installation changes. It would be another unnecessary and poor decision if the town must pay rent above $1 a year.

I spoke with the Girl Scout property manager several years ago about visibility of the existing not-high cellphone tower. I was told that the Nassau County Girl Scout board had wanted the tower to not be tall so that it would be as little visible as possible but work for the Girl Scouts there. The tower almost surely needs to be taller than what is now being considered at the Nassau Girl Scout area. Minimizing visibility is a reasonable goal but non-visibility is not possible. As Loring Bolger, chair of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee, said to me: “It is wrong to value the aesthetic over the safety issue.” This property is still the lowest choice of what I have reviewed.

The location that I proposed, including at the Springs C.A.C. several months ago, is two blocks of undeveloped, heavily treed, town-owned land surrounded by Norfolk Street, Crandall Street, and Lincoln Avenue (and just south of Fort Pond Boulevard). This is about .6 of a mile west of the Fire Department.

My role as chair of the town’s Nature Preserve Committee (and formerly on a community preservation fund committee), has made me knowledgeable on most non-developed properties. I also did some research with a town employee. The estimated treed area is plus or minus 475 feet square and includes several town-owned lots. The tower can be built to have a 237-foot fall zone as the shortest distance to a street and a farther distance to houses. A tower in the center would be accessible from Norfolk Street or Crandall Street by a limited improvement of an undeveloped road. It will be easy to physically and legally construct the tower in a way to minimize visibility.

Optimally, the town and Fire Department would work together. The town would rent the land to the Fire Department for $1 a year and the Springs Fire Department would provide the emergency equipment construction. Basically, the town’s costs are reduced while the Springs Fire Department receives income of personal cellphone service (which is sorely needed in Springs).

For safety and financial interests, it is important to move quickly on the issue of where to build the tower. If the town and Springs Fire Department work together, everyone in town, and especially everyone in Springs, will benefit.

ZACHARY COHEN


Urgent Reasons
Springs
September 30, 2019

To The Editor:

Last week’s article on the cell tower mess in Springs makes the issue sound complex. In reality, it’s quite simple. Springs firefighters and E.M.T.s want and need the tower to enhance their safety and performance and the security of those they serve.

The citizens of Springs want and need the tower for the same urgent reasons, and for the convenience of having adequate cell coverage in their everyday activities. Among Springs residents, the terrible service is a standing joke and an everyday headache.

A tower has been up and ready to go for three years. It has not been allowed to start up because of the efforts of one individual, albeit a connected one. The current town board and its predecessor have aided and abetted this individual’s efforts by using town agencies to insist on procedures that were not in place when the tower was built.

The board now claims to be seeking alternative sites, including the Blue Bay Girl Scout camp. But the Fire Department site remains far and away the best choice. Its central location is ideal. The tower will be constantly monitored by Springs Fire Department staff. And revenues derived from the cellphone companies would go directly into the coffers of the Fire Department, not to the Nassau Girl Scouts or to the town. Who is more deserving than the men and women who risk their lives serving their community?

The community will also benefit financially. It is well known that Springs has the highest property tax rate in East Hampton. We do not have the commercial tax base enjoyed by the other districts — no Montauk Highway, no ocean beaches. So any lessening of the tax burden in Springs would be most welcome.

The town board should stop playing games. We already have an ideal site, dedicated people to oversee it, and financial incentives to boot. Stop the nonsense. Turn on the existing tower and/or permit the building of the larger one the Fire Department now says it needs. This board has to decide whether to continue kowtowing to a frivolous lawsuit from one powerful individual or to give the firefighters, E.M.T.s, and ordinary citizens of Springs the service they need and deserve.

Sincerely,

REG CORNELIA


Springs Tower
East Hampton
September 30, 2019

 

Dear David,

Just another routine couple of weeks in the alternative universe of the East Hampton Town Board. All the “alternative facts” you can eat, for free.

At a town board meeting, Patrick Glennon, chairman of the board of Springs Fire Commissioners, rose to address again the four years that have gone by since the town itself barred the Springs Fire District from using its emergency communications tower for, well, emergency communications. At a fire just a few weeks ago, firefighters were again unable to communicate with one another.

Supervisor Van Scoyoc informed Commissioner Glennon that in East Hampton there is a tradition and practice that “development” must be approved by the planning board. Of course, the town board has still to submit its proposed shellfish hatchery on Gann Road for planning board review. That’s different.

Supervisor Van Scoyoc has insisted that the Fire District apply to the planning board. The Fire District agreed to apply, without conceding that it is legally required to do so, only to find that the town board remains publicly opposed to the use of the Springs tower anyway.

When the planning board received the Fire District submission, its members discovered — surprise! — that there are no rules in our zoning code regarding such a tower. Despite the passage of four years, the town board still hasn’t written any. Since the planning board cannot legally write the rules, only apply those the town board has written into the zoning code, some of the planning board members have proposed to apply the rules for private cellphone service.

Are the rules that balance the need for private cellphone service against other values appropriate for emergency communications? The town board won’t say. Admittedly, it is between a rock and a hard place. If it did its job of expressing the community will by enacting a law, it risks angering the Springs community, on the one hand, or Democratic Party boss Chris Kelley, on the other, whose brother brought the Z.B.A. challenge to the emergency communications tower. What a headache!

Trying to save face, Supervisor Van Scoyoc told Commissioner Glennon that Springs had been left out entirely from the system-wide upgrade of emergency communications, but that “this board” had amended the plan to include Springs. “This board”? It is the current town board majority of Van Scoyoc, Overby, and Burke-Gonzalez who approved the system upgrade, excluding Springs. What does the supervisor mean by “This board”?

As to the system upgrade, millions of dollars of communications equipment the town purchased for that purpose still sits years later in the boxes it came in because the town board didn’t bother to engineer the system as a whole before buying the equipment. Then it discovered the system of towers we have cannot support the equipment they had bought. Solution to follow, eventually, as the cost keeps rising. Could anyone make this up?

I have been criticized for calling attention to problems without proposing solutions. Here are mine, in order of importance:

While “working on it,” find temporary solutions. I have confirmed that there is space for rent on at least one privately owned communications tower in the area that might serve. It is also possible to rent temporary communications towers mounted on trucks. These are used in emergencies, as when a permanent tower is damaged.

Declare an emergency, because this is an emergency, and allow the Springs tower to be used for its intended purpose until there is a permanent solution.

Test the now proposed layout of towers to make sure, in advance this time before it is too late, that the system, if built, will successfully close the communications gaps. This can be done.

Put the system engineering plan, if indeed there is one, on the public record, so that knowledgeable members of the community can comment and offer correction if need be.

We also have huge gaps in cellphone communications in both Springs and elsewhere in town. In the modern world, health and safety depend on reliable cellphone service. Fixing this was identified as a critical goal in the comprehensive plan adopted 15 years ago, but almost nothing has been done. A new townwide system must be engineered in cooperation with private cell service providers so that the problems of both emergency communications and cellphone service are solved at the same time. Do we really want to build new towers at a public cost of millions only to find that we are still without the service we need?

If you have had enough of this craziness, now you have a choice, the candidates of the EH Fusion Party, myself, David Gruber, for supervisor, and Betsy Bambrick and Bonnie Brady for town board. You can vote for us on Election Day, Nov. 5, on the Independence and Libertarian Party ballot lines. You can vote early starting Oct. 26.

Sincerely,

DAVID GRUBER


Whose Speech?
North Haven
September 24, 2019

Dear David,

 

Physically, of course, it was the current sitting president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, standing before the United Nations General Assembly and sedately droning out a long and carefully crafted speech.

Who was actually there, and who actually wrote that speech? Who could have gained sufficient control over “the Donald” such that he did not engage in his usual ranting and off-script, incoherent chatter? Who convinced him to show no emotion, and to simply read this carefully written speech, and to deliver it word for word as written?

Has Donald decided to become cooperative, or perhaps he was heavily sedated? Who knows? The point is that Donald is not smart enough, or in control of himself enough, to write and do such a thing on his own. Therefore, the question remains as to whose speech was there at the U.N. today?

I posit that the right-wing Republicans of the Senate are in a panic mode and were able to convince Trump that this was his last best chance to get re-elected, and to avoid impeachment. I believe Mitch McConnell was there in spirit, along with Lindsey Graham and the rest of the right-wing sycophants.

The first half of the speech actually made sense, and spoke to many things going on in the world politic that are destructive to the American economy and way of life. Much of it was beyond fair and reasonable criticism.

Eventually though, Trump’s re-election platform became the speech. Abortion elimination and “right to life” showed up, closing the borders to immigration and sanctuary showed up, a wild scolding of socialism and communism came up. Right to bear arms came up. All of the right-wing nuts’ favorite dog whistles were in the last half of his speech.

Once the U.N. audience was lulled to sleep with what sounded like a tedious but reasonable man complaining about unreasonable situations — it became time to trot out the ultra-conservative party’s favorite right-wing issues. Time to reassure and keep their voting base happy. Time to attempt to destroy their opposing candidates, deliberately using sloppy political terminology and exaggeration.

One could see the Venezuelan delegate reading a book rather than listening, open laughter among the British delegation when Trump expounded on how he will cooperate with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Iranians laughing, and the Chinese with a predictable stone-face visage. The front end of the speech was scolding and meaningless to them, and ordinary to the rest.

The point of all this was not to accomplish something in the world theater, because let’s face it, they have been totally insulted and abused by this president all along. The point was for the right-wing Republican administration to desperately show themselves as world leaders, and also in favor of the issues that appeal to their narrow-minded base.

That’s who was there at the U.N. this morning.

ANTHONY CORON


Abuse Crisis
Montauk
September 30, 2019

Dear David,

Thirty seven percent of Catholics are considering leaving the church due to the sexual abuse crisis. There is a book that can help. The name of the book is called “A Letter to a Suffering Church” by Bishop Robert Barron. Please order copies of this book for your friends, family, or parish, and access free resources for discussing the sexual abuse crisis by visiting the SufferingChurchBook.com. The books are $1 each.

VINCENT BIONDO


Do Better
East Hampton
September 30, 2019

Dear David:

We need bus drivers and the East Hampton Town Board does seem to  be aware of the problem. It may be because  

we pay so little. School bus drivers  only have to open and close the door for students to get off. Our drivers must help clients get on and off with canes. They also must take walkers, wheelchairs, etc.

They also take us shopping and to medical appointments. At the present time they are not able to take any new medical. They also had to cancel some activities  at the center. The buses are paid for by the county’s Office of the Aging, etc.  The town maintains  the 100-year-old  building  and some help. This rich Town of East Hampton should be able to do better.

JULIA KAYSER