It’s What the Community Wanted
To the Editor:
In your recent article LIPA Bill is In, Plus Some, the price tag for necessary changes to the Long Island Power Authority’s billing system to recover costs from customers in the Visual Benefits Assessment area were described as “outrageous,” however, there are legitimate explanations for those costs.
LIPA expended untold man hours in negotiation, innovation and sweat equity in its attempt to accommodate the wishes of the residents and officials with a stake in the 8.5 mile transmission line upgrade running between the Village of Southampton and the hamlet of Bridgehampton which added a new single circuit 69 kilovolt (kV) transmission line needed to meet projected future growth and increased reliability for residents and businesses in the Village and Town of Southampton as well as for residents and businesses across the South Fork.
In developing a solution that allowed for the full burial of this transmission line originally proposed 55% underground and 45% overhead, LIPA departed from its standard policy of constructing transmission lines aboveground; this was out of a deep respect for the unique qualities of the east end combined with the residents’ willingness to pay the incremental costs associated with fully burying the transmission line.
The final agreement reached between LIPA and the Town of Southampton that created the Visual Benefits Assessment and detailed the particulars of how these incremental costs would be recovered was part of a court-ordered settlement placing many restrictions and requirements on LIPA demanded by the Town of Southampton.
LIPA worked with its contractor, National Grid, to develop the special requirements for billing and accounting for the VBA. This program will be utilized to bill approximately 20,000 customers within the designated area in each month for the next 20 years. It was not a one-time endeavor that could have been handled outside LIPA’s regular billing and accounting systems.
LIPA’s computer billing system is designed and tested to produce standardized bills that are the same for every customer. It was extremely difficult and costly to modify that system to create the exceptions and special rules required by the Settlement and a significant amount of customization was required. That said, LIPA made every attempt to modify and adapt available methods and computer code to accommodate the VBA with the least disruption to the existing system.
That LIPA had to create the billing software was a direct result of the Town of Southampton’s decision to recover this cost through LIPA’s bill, rather than alternative methods available to the Town, such as rolling the costs of the project into the general property tax levy or placing these separate individual charges on the tax bills of landowners in the designated area.
The bottom line is this, LIPA, one of the largest public electric utilities in the country, resolved a contentious issue with one community in its vast service territory acting more like a neighbor and partner than a monolithic and faceless public utility. LIPA’s President and CEO Kevin Law, a longtime friend of the East End, worked personally and tirelessly in seeing this through to a satisfactory conclusion between the parties involved. Remember, at the end of the day, the lines were buried, and that’s what the community wanted.
Vice President of Communications
Long Island Power Authority
Will Support Library Vote
When the Board of Directors of the John Jermain Memorial Library originally proposed four years ago to build a new library building at the outskirts of the village while at the same time rebuilding the old building on Main Street, I was one of those who argued against this two-building solution to the library’s problems and wrote several columns opposing it in your pages.
Having been so vocal on the subject I feel a certain obligation to address the issue raised by the new plan to rebuild and expand the building on Main Street and let the property next to Mashashimuet Park remain empty. This time I’m in favor of it. Catherine Creedon explained it to me and my wife one day when we were in the library looking at the plans and I came away impressed by her understanding of the library’s needs and her passion for books. I have a few reservations, the main one being that I had hoped the new library addition would greatly expand the space for books, and that does not appear to be the case. The current library’s book collection has been out of date and inadequate ever since I moved here in 1981, and it is long overdue for updating and expansion. I would have liked to see three or four times as many bookshelves in the proposed new library as the present library has.
But the plan as it stands now is provisional. Firmer plans wait on the outcome of the election on the library bond issue at the end of June. And this plan does bring the library up to standards in other areas, it keeps the library centrally located, in easy walking distance of downtown, it saves the old building, whose value to the village is obvious, and it does not split library services in two. That would have been disastrous in the long term–too expensive, too inconvenient, too ambitious. This plan incorporates an understanding that there are limits to what a small village can do, and that’s the most positive thing that has come out of the long process that led to it.
So I will be voting yes on June 29, and I hope enough other voters will do the same to make this project possible.
To Fix What’s Broken
I am thrilled to have accepted the Southampton Democratic Committee’s nomination as a candidate for the Southampton Town Board. I look forward to putting every ounce of my energy, talent and intellect into winning the race and serving our community.
My family and I have enjoyed eight years here in Sag Harbor. Now that my son Jai is about to enter first grade at the Sag Harbor Elementary School, I feel it’s time to give back to the community, and my husband Bob enthusiastically supports my decision.
I have spent my entire academic and professional career in public service. As an Assistant District Attorney under the legendary Robert Morgenthau I fought for the safety of the community; and as Chief of the Welfare Fraud Unit, I worked to protect the integrity of public programs.
There is a lot to be done to fix the mess in Town Hall. I am grateful to Anna Throne-Holst for her confidence in me in inviting me to join her and Sally Pope in their efforts to fix what’s broken. My professional background has given me the experience and the insight to know how to roll up my sleeves, ask the tough questions, and get the job done.
In the coming months, I look forward to meeting as many of Southampton’s citizens as I can. I served on the Noyac Citizens Advisory Committee for two years and I know what good hard work the CAC’s do. So I will listen at meetings of the CAC’s and Civic organizations. I will go door to door and stand on sidewalks. I will make myself available to interest groups and to individuals, so that when I take my seat on the Town Board, I do so with an understanding of what matters to all the people. Anyone who would like to contact me, or get involved in the campaign can visit my website at www.flemingfortownboard.com. I welcome input and support.
With gratitude for the blessings of this wonderful community,
To the Editor:
I would like to respond to the various references to the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (HP&ARB) in last week’s articles concerning trustees and mayoral candidates for Sag Harbor Village as it pertains to solar energy.
It appeared to me that the HP&ARB may not be in favor of the “greening of Sag Harbor” and that we may be opposed to harnessing solar energy. That is definitely not the case. In the past several months we have authorized two applications of solar panels being installed in the historic district of the village. We are also 100% in favor of utilizing the flat roofs of all of Sag Harbor to harness and produce solar energy (where the technology is not visible from public thoroughfares).
It is important to remind everyone that, regardless of our predispositions toward solar energy and how that impacts our functioning as a HP&ARB, our board is Federally mandated. Until these standards are changed/updated/ameliorated we have clear guidelines that we must adhere to in order to remain in compliance with the Federal government.
Hopefully the technology can change quickly, producing products that will prove effective for the cause and also meet Federal guidelines as they relate to historic districts; and conversely, hopefully the Federal approach to solar energy and historic districts will come more in line with the important and timely needs of this issue.
We value what we in Sag Harbor are so lucky to have, and we wanted the candidates and our neighbors to know. On a case-by-case basis we will adjudicate on all solar applications, and where they conform to our Federal guidelines, we will try to ensure that they are approved.
Cee Scott Brown, Chair
Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board
Respect Life, Don’t Waste It
To the Editor:
The Montauk shark tournament will be held again this year on June 20th.
In light of the current global rate of species extinction, and the substantiated fact that children will be growing up in a world with an impoverishment of biodiversity because of our inability to share this planet with our fellow creatures, I believe we should strongly object to such an event.
The Humane Society of the United States and other Conservancy groups have protested these hunts.
The needless slaughter of animals should be protested. Children should be taught to respect life, not encouraged to waste it.
North Haven, NY 11963
P.S. A rally will be held to protest this tournament on Saturday, June 20th, from 4-5 p.m. at the intersection of West Lake Drive and Star Island Drive, Montauk.
Make Believe Monsters
”Jaws” was a great movie. My husband, the late and great actor Roy Scheider, was justifiably proud to have starred in it. The mechanical shark he ‘fought’ on location was such a mythic caricature of an actual shark that the filmmakers nicknamed him “Bruce”. Like Stephen King’s monster dog “Cujo,” “Bruce” was a mechanical Hollywood gizmo, who resembles a real shark about as much as “Cujo” resembles your own dog. And yet, while no one would dare suggest we celebrate the recreational killing of dogs, in this tournament here on Long Island sharks are treated as though they are fantasy machines, not living, breathing, vitally important creatures who are absolutely essential to the health of our global environment and who are facing — many of them — total extinction within our lifetime.
This weekend, the Montauk shark tournament, once again, is promoting the senseless slaughter of these valuable animals. Their place in our environment is every bit as sacred and vital as our own.
I know what Roy would say. He would say that only make-believe heroes kill make-believe monsters. Real heroes save real animals.
Let’s be heroes – be at the protest on June 20th, 4-5PM, at the intersection of West Lake Drive and Star Island Drive in Montauk.
Setting the Record Straight
In last week’s letter to the editor submitted by Emily Liese titled “Not What They Seem”, she made several incorrect claims about the Sag Harbor Elementary School (SHES) PTA which completely misrepresent the organization. While it is tempting to not dignify these offensive statements with a response, it is our concern that letting them go could cause members of our community to be mislead by these inaccuracies.
More specifically, she wrote in reference to the PTA’s efforts to get out the vote on the school budget: “The public has to look to see who was really behind the PTA mobilization. The reality is that it was the Teacher’s Union of Sag Harbor (TASH) who convinced the PTA to rally support for the budget and elect two rubber stamps to the board. …….. We can thank the PTA for doing the union’s dirty work.”
So to set the record straight:
1) It is the PTA’s responsibility to get out the vote and help get the school budget passed. In the New York State PTA Resource Guide, the handbook that spells out the rules governing the PTA, it states: “It is the PTA’s responsibility to promote an understanding of the education needs of the community and to demonstrate how the proposed budget meets those needs.
“The PTA Should:
Organize a community-wide coalition to produce a positive vote.
Disseminate information to parents and community members so that all may be informed.
Call all parents on the day of the vote as a reminder. Arrange for transportation and baby-sitting if possible.”
2) The SHES PTA did not endorse any school board candidate. Again this is against the PTA rules. Our focus is on issues, and not individuals. The PTA may have members who personally worked on school board candidate campaigns, but that is certainly within their rights. Just like one can be a member of other community organizations and separately be active in campaigns and elections. That is the beauty of democracy.
The SHES PTA did go to great lengths to assist the community in making up their own minds in this past election. We co-hosted the “Meet the Candidates” night, which was open to the entire community, plus we invited all the school board candidates to participate in a question and answer session at our April PTA meeting.
3) The SHES PTA is not involved with the teachers’ contractual issues. Again the PTA rules prohibit it. The SHES PTA has taken no position, made no public statements, not discussed teacher contract issues with its members, nor worked with either TASH or the school board in order to participate in or influence the outcome of the negotiations. It is simply not in our charter, nor is it our interest.
What is in our charter is to actively promote, participate in, and advocate for the education of Sag Harbor’s children. That is why the PTA exists, and why we volunteer so much time to this effort. We hope that in the future if community members have questions regarding PTA activities, they contact us directly instead of publicly slandering an organization whose sole purpose is to support the community’s children.
The SHES PTA Board
Kim Marcelle, Chris Tice, Stephanie Harrison