By Kathryn G. Menu
Following a failed attempt earlier last month, on Thursday night the East Hampton Town Board signed an inter-municipal agreement with the Peconic Estuary Protection committee.
The vote was split. Democrats Peter Van Scoyoc—the resolution’s sponsor— and Sylvia Overby as well as Republican Dominick Stanzione voted in favor of the agreement. Republican board member Theresa Quigley voted against the measure and Supervisor Bill Wilkinson was absent from Thursday’s session.
According to the agreement, East Hampton would join other municipalities in a joint effort to improve the water quality of the Peconic Estuary, paying between $5,000 and $7,000 in annual contributions towards the effort.
Brookhaven and Southold towns have also signed the agreement. Last month, Sag Harbor mayor Brian Gilbride said the village would also be interested in joining the cooperative effort. Dering Harbor, North Haven, Greenport, Shelter Island, Southampton, Riverhead and Suffolk County have also been tapped to join the agreement, which would also allow municipalities to coordinate local coastal regulations and apply jointly for grants.
Last month, Quigley—the natural resources liaison—forcefully asked the board to table the resolution to give her time to review the agreement. Last Thursday, she said she could not support it.
“I have a problem with the process undertaken here,” she said.
Quigley said she was concerned only two municipalities had signed the agreement with one viewing it as an agreement to aid in complying with MS4, municipal storm sewer system requirements, when the Peconic Estuary committee has said the goals would be broader in scope.
Quigley said she also opposed a process she felt was closed to the public.
“The process started in April of 2011 and it continues to this day,” said Councilwoman Sylvia Overby. “We have heard this over and over again and I am embarrassed we did not lead the pack, that we became number three. We should have been number one. We should also have been helping the Peconic Estuary Program get other municipalities involved. Instead we sat back, discussed it and we diminished the value we have to the rest of the East End.”
In other news, the town appears close to inking a new contract with local cable television network, LTV, following a public hearing last Thursday.
LTV’s contract with the town expired in November 2012 and the new contract would be retroactive.
On Thursday, a number of residents and board members from LTV spoke in favor of the station, which broadcasts East Hampton town and village government meetings, as well as regional meetings, debates and cultural programming on Cablevision channels 20 and 22. It also offers online video streaming, including a Video on Demand service.
“I don’t have to list all of the events LTV films for our community,” said LTV board vice chairman Patrick Schutte. “I have never heard the executive director [Seth Redlus] turn down any request to film in the community unless there is a copyright issue or an issue of legality.”
Schutte pointed to the successful Superstorm Sandy benefit hosted by LTV as the kind of community event the station rallies behind.
“We at LTV are always looking to do more,” said Schutte, noting the station is preparing to pitch a plan to televise East Hampton School District Board of Education meetings next year.
“All of this equates to a stronger community,” he said.
“I appreciate people coming out in support of LTV,” said Quigley. “It’s a laudable cause. It’s important to our community and provides more than just access to government. It provides access to artists and artisans. We as a town board recognize that.”
Quigley said the town board will look to be consistent in asking all departments to come in and justify their annual budgets. That doesn’t mean an agreement will not be reached, she said.
For Reverend Dr. Katrina Foster, she discovered LTV by accident, but quickly took the free producers class the station offers and began paying $10 weekly to produce “Hamptons Lutheran Parish.”
Featured on that show are conversations about a variety of religions and perspectives, as well as discussions with members of the congregation, like a 91-year-old World War II veteran.
“What LTV does is it helps us remember who we are,” she said. “I have to say, it is the CSPAN of the East End. We are a better informed public and citizenry when we know what you are all doing.”