Tag Archive | "Anna Throne-Holst"

Former Police Chief Settles with Sag Harbor Village

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Former Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Joseph Ialacci has dropped a $7 million lawsuit against the Village of Sag Harbor and its health insurance administrators and has agreed to pay $40,000 that should have been billed to Medicare rather than the village’s health insurance plan.

That money is being reimbursed to the village through Medicare, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride.

According to village sources, Ialacci used his village health insurance to cover $70,000 in health care bills that the village maintains should have been covered through Ialacci’s Medicare insurance, which was his primary insurance at the time.

Ialacci’s attorneys maintained the situation was simply an oversight on the former police chief’s part, and that he was unaware Medicare was his primary insurance carrier, not the village.

During a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting in late December of last year, the village board voted to drop Ialacci and his wife, Nancy, from village insurance after they said Ialacci failed to reimburse the village through Medicare for the alleged false charges.

In mid-January, the board of trustees re-instated Ialacci’s coverage retroactively to December, but in May, in an effort to protect his rights while the village investigated the situation, the former police chief filed a $7 million suit against the village and Island Group Administrators of East Hampton.

On Tuesday, October 11 at the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Gilbride announced the village and Ialacci had reached a settlement.

According to the settlement agreement, Ialacci has agreed to pay $40,224 back to the Village of Sag Harbor. On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride said a certified check is already in the hands of Ialacci’s attorney. In turn, the village will reimburse the family for any Medicare premiums paid by the Ialaccis for coverage for the remainder of his life, as per his contract with the village when he retired from his post as police chief.

Support for Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority

At a press conference on Monday, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Babylon Town Supervisor and Democratic candidate for the Suffolk County Executive position Steve Bellone announced their unified support for the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming also attended the press conference, which took place at the Southampton Long Island Railroad (LIRR) station. Congressman Tim Bishop has also voiced his support for the creation of the authority, which would the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on the East End of Long Island.

Suffolk County legislators Jay Schneiderman and Ed Romaine also support the implementation of the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority.

Bellone has said enacting the authority will be one of his first goals if elected as the next Suffolk County Executive on November 8.

The Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority, according to a 2009 report from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, would use a coordinated shuttle train and passenger bus service to provide for the transportation needs of those on the East End of Long Island, which Thiele says spends millions of dollars to the MTA without reaping the benefits of comprehensive service.

Repairs Slated for Route 27

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will repair several sections of State Route 27, also known as Montauk Highway, east of County Road 39 sometime in the next year, according to New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

According to a press release issued by Thiele on Tuesday afternoon, the NYSDOT responded to his request back in October that the agency address sections of Route 27 that are in dire need of repair.

They will repair eastbound sections of the roadway near Deerfield Road in Water Mill, at Sayre’s Path, Georgica Drive and Daniels Hole Road in Wainscott and at Hampton Place in East Hampton. The NYSDOT will also repair the westbound portion of Route 27 at Sayre’s Path.

“The DOT has again committed to undertake repair of NY 27 and will address the most egregious pavement sections on NY 27,” said Thiele. “While the orad must still by fully resurfaced as soon as possible, these repairs will at least make the journey safer and less bone rattling for the traveling public.”

Swimming Pool and Pool House Approved by Sag ARB

In one of their shorter sessions as of late, the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) approved one application during its Thursday, October 13 meeting, granting Mike Arena approval for the installation of a swimming pool and pool house at his 97 Glover Street residence.

A second application, for a solid cedar fence along the existing driveway of Robert Fishers’ Fishers Home Furnishings on Main Street was tabled as no one was present to make the case.

The Sag Harbor ARB’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 24 at 5 p.m.

Marine Park Way is Now Veterans Way

Sag Harbor’s Marine Park will keep its name for now, but the roadway that circles the hallowed park on Bay Street will be renamed Veterans Way at the request of the Sag Harbor VFW Post 9082, according to a resolution adopted by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees on Tuesday, October 11.

The roadway circles the expansive waterfront Marine Park, which holds a World War II memorial plaque dedicated to the men and women from Sag Harbor who served during that conflict, as well as memorials to service men and women who served during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Groundbreaking for Sidewalks Turnpike Sidewalks

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman will host a ground breaking for the construction and installation of sidewalks on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike on Thursday, October 20 at 2 p.m. at the corner of Sunrise Avenue just south of the South Fork Natural History Museum.

The project was included in the Suffolk County 2011-2013 Capital Program. The Town of Southampton has contributed $100,000 to the cost.

The traffic and safety improvement, an issue Schneiderman championed as a legislator, will cover a two-mile stretch of sidewalk on the west side of the turnpike.

“The turnpike is used by many pedestrians including those who live in neighborhoods behind or along the route and is a major connector between the Village of Sag Harbor and the hamlet of Bridgehampton,” noted Schneiderman in a press release issued this week.

Bridgehampton CAC to Host 2012 Budget Talk

Just weeks before the 2011 election for Supervisor, incumbent Democratic Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst will pitch her proposed $80.3 million spending plan for 2012 in front of Bridgehampton residents at the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Bridgehampton National Bank.

Throne-Holst’s proposed $80.3 million spending plan cuts the town budget by $1.3 million, resulting in a zero-percent tax levy increase while the town is facing over $5 million in mandated increases in costs to cover programs like health insurance and pensions.

In order to accomplish this goal, in part, Throne-Holst has proposed to eliminate 28 positions throughout the town, with eight of those positions coming directly out of the senior staff of the Southampton Town Police Department.

Throne-Holst has proposed to use the town’s ability to “separate from service” officers who have worked for the town for more than 20 years. Those officers will retain full benefits upon retirement, and Throne-Holst has said she will look at those who have served at least 25 years or more to achieve the $1.7 million in cuts she hopes to make within the police department’s budget.

Following Throne-Holst’s presentation, former Southampton Town Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot is slated to speak at 8 p.m. With Throne-Holst running unopposed this fall, Kabot has launched a write-in campaign to regain her seat at the helm of Southampton Town.

Agricultural Forum to be Held in Riverhead

The New York State Senate Agricultural Committee Chairwoman Patty Ritchie will host the third of three agricultural business forums on Thursday, October 20 at 1 p.m. in Riverhead Town Hall.

According to a press release issued by the Long Island Farmers Bureau, the forum will focus on how to make New York State a better place for farmers to do business.

Farmers who cannot attend during the tail end of the harvest season are encouraged to submit their comments to the New York Senate Agricultural Committee by calling 518-455-3438.

Southampton Town Tightens 2012 Budget

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By Claire Walla

Elements of the 2012 tentative budget met with stiff resistance last Monday, October 3 when Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst presented her $80.3 million spending plan. The tentative budget — just shy of this year’s current $81.6 million operating budget — seeks to impose a zero-percent tax levy increase, while at the same time absorbing a $5.1 million increase in fixed costs for state-mandated programs like health insurance and pensions.

For the average homeowner on the Southampton side of Sag Harbor Village  with a house valued at $600,000, town taxes are estimated to be $236, which is $25 lower than the approximate amount village residents paid in 2010.

Based on this year’s tentative budget, a town homeowner outside an incorporated village can expect to pay $835 in town taxes for a home assessed at $600,000. This is estimated to be an $18 increase from 2010.

Your tax rate can be calculated by multiplying each $1,000 of assessed value of your home by 1.391. So, for a home worth $600,000, you would multiply 600 by 1.391 to get $835. That would be your projected tax rate for Southampton Town outside of incorporated villages.

These figures do not include school district taxes.

In order to shrink the town’s budget by more than $5 million without raising taxes, Throne-Holst said it will require taking a “surgical” look at how the town’s services are staffed, organized and presented to the public. While the supervisor has outlined plans for eliminating upwards of 28 positions across all departments, the most sweeping change, for some, will affect law enforcement.

The proposal to cut eight to 10 members of the Southampton Town Police Department’s senior staff is “outrageous,” said a noticeably flustered Councilwoman Nancy Graboski in an interview directly following the supervisor’s presentation.

In order to chop $1.7 million from the police department’s budget, Throne-Holst seeks to implement the town’s “Twenty Years of Service” provision, which, by law, gives the town the authority to “separate from service” those officers who have worked for the town for 20 years or more, awarding them full retirement benefits upon departure. However, Throne-Holst said the town will only have to narrow-in on those eight officers who have served at least 25 years or more to achieve the desired amount of savings.

Throne-Holst said she recognized this tactic will remove senior and therefore more experienced officers from the force, but she added that the department will be able to “fill [positions] from below at a much lower cost.”

This maneuver also feeds into the supervisor’s plan — which was jointly created with Southampton Town Police Chief Bill Wilson — to make the department less “top heavy.”

“The idea is to have more cops and cars on the streets,” rather than in the office doing more administrative tasks, she said.

However, Graboski said she feels it is rather hasty for the town to reorganize the police department from the top down without a more strategic plan for replacing personnel.

“That infrastructure hasn’t been put in place,” she said.

Graboski referred to a plan that was suggested back in 2008 by the then-supervisor, Linda Kabot, to gradually trim the police force by two to three officers each year. It was never enacted.

“The important thing was to use objective criteria,” she continued.

According to Kabot’s suggestion at the time, officers’ attendance records would be reviewed over a five-year term and those officers with weaker performance records would be let go.

In an interview on Monday, Kabot — who had attended the supervisor’s budget presentation — seemed equally perturbed by the proposed budget cuts.

“These proposals [to cut the police force, implement staff layoffs and reorganize departments at town hall] are dusting off ones I had put on the floor a few years ago,” she announced.

Kabot, who is mounting a write-in campaign for supervisor against Throne-Holst in this fall’s election, further criticized the proposed plan to make cuts to the police department only at the very top.

“It is clearly a public statement on the newly founded Superior Officers’ Association (SOA),” said Kabot.

Several members of the SOA attended Monday’s meeting to voice their concerns.

Cutting eight employees “will be devastating to the police department,” Sergeant Michael Zarrow said on behalf of the group.

While the department had budgeted for 96 officers this year, he went on to say that it is now down to 92 based on retirements.

Sergeant Scott Foster added, “The SOA told this town we’re still open to negotiating.”

In addition to those eight members of the police force, the town expects to see six civilian retirements, based on responses from those expressing strong interest in retirement incentives proposed by the town this year. Similar to what the state was offering last year, town employees who choose to retire this year will receive a cash bonus upon departure of $1,000 for each year of service to the town.

But the town will also be eliminating 14 positions, including two attorneys from the town attorney’s office, and positions in the information technology department, land management department, tax receiver’s office, tax assessor’s office and others. The supervisor would not discuss the names of individuals affected by these proposed cuts.

What’s more, the proposed budget aims to curb health insurance costs. Next year, it would be required that all elected officials and non-union administrative employees contribute to their health plans, while benefits for all members of the zoning board of appeals and the planning board would be eliminated.

In terms of reorganization, the supervisor hopes to combine administrative services — particularly at the police department, which she said now uses “archaic” methods for keeping records.

And at town hall she said she hopes to create a Constituent Response Center, which would be operated by one employee and serve as a hub for all departments.

The response center, to be operated by the town’s current citizen’s advocate, Ryan Horn, would be “a first step to establishing centralized citizen information and response services,” Throne-Holst said. It would effectively eliminate two town hall positions.

“While the town certainly regrets the loss of personnel, many of whom have served in positions of rank, the need for cost reductions, greater efficiency and a new view of how to provide police services, made this decision necessary,” the supervisor announced before the crowd Monday night. “We will also continue to explore, in collective bargaining and otherwise, ways to control our police labor costs.”

With the imminent approach of increased restrictions in the months preceding the state’s mandated two-percent tax levy cap (which will go into effect before next year’s budget), Throne-Holst said she chose to keep costs below that mark, mostly for strategic reasons.

Last year, the supervisor’s tentative budget proposed tax hikes of 2.4 percent, money that would be used to pay-down the town’s deficit and increase reserve funds. It was shot down by the town’s Republican majority in favor of a zero percent increase.

“This year I opted to say, ‘Here’s the zero [percent tax levy increase] in a way that I see as sustainable,” she explained. As she sees it, this way the town board has the flexibility to increase taxes by two percent, if it so chooses.

“If the goal is to get to zero, here’s how to do it with a well thought out, truly sustainable plan,” said Throne-Holst.

Honoring Graboski

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web Graboski Love Fest

Nancy Graboski was overwhelmed Tuesday evening — but in a good way.

The Southampton Town councilwoman, who will not be seeking re-election this year, was lauded by peers and members of the Noyac Civic Council on Tuesday during the council’s regular monthly meeting.

“If the intention was to make me feel special, you’ve succeeded,” Graboski told the audience of about 30, which also included a guest appearance by former Southampton Supervisor Linda Kabot.

The councilwoman, who hails from Bridgehampton, was praised in particular for her efforts on behalf of the local farmers and her work on establishing a comprehensive guide for town residents on hurricane preparedness.

“During this past hurricane, we got a pat on the back,” said current town supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. “much to the thanks of Nancy and her efforts.”

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. — himself a former Southampton Town supervisor — noted it was important to thank people for the public service they do.

“The east side of the town has always been well served by you, as both a member of the planning board and the town board, especially when addressing agricultural issues from the point of view of the farmer,” said Thiele. “When you got Nancy Graboski, you got what she thought was going to be right for the community — and sometimes that got her in trouble with her own party.”

Kabot, too, lauded Graboski’s “independent mindedness,” and ticked off a list of issues Graboski had tackled, including Dark Skies legislation, traffic safety, speed limits and land preservation, among others.

“Thank you Nancy for being my friend,” said Kabot before announcing there will be a retirement party for Graboski on November, 10 at Oakland’s Restaurant in Hampton Bays.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting was Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman who gave the members an overview of issues he’s addressing, including a proposed 5-cent fee on plastic bags used in grocery stores and supermarkets in an effort to deter their use. Revenue would go to fund environmental programs.

“Let me know what you think,” Schneiderman said when taking a straw poll in the room. Of those voting, 11 were in favor of the legislation, and 13 opposed (three of whom felt the law did not go far enough).

Locally, Schneiderman said the county was just about to break ground on a $600,000, 2-mile long sidewalk along the turnpike, from Main Street, Bridgehampton, to Scuttle Hole Rd.

The legislator also said the county has just formed a committee with the Village of Sag Harbor to discuss the future of Long Wharf — which the county owns but the village maintains and collects revenues from.

The wharf costs the county about $100,000 a year, and Schneiderman said he is considering ways to cover that expense, including creating a fundraising group — the Friends of Long Wharf.

“The ideas I know I don’t like are paid parking and selling the naming rights,” he said.

Throne-Holst Signs State of Emergency For Southampton Town

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Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst signed a Declaration of a State of Emergency for the town of Southampton this morning, Saturday, according to a press release issued by Southampton Town Emergency Preparedness official Lt. Robert P. Iberger.  This will allow local officials to take necessary actions today, including spurring the evacuation of town residents in low-lying areas.

“If you reside in a coastal area, a low-lying area of a mobile home you need to evacuate,” Lt. Iberger stated in the press release.  A map of those prone living in areas to flooding can be viewed above.

According to Iberger, town fire districts will begin evacuating these neighborhoods according to a timetable beginning with Bridgehampton, Quogue and Westhampton at 10 a.m. this morning, August 27.  North Sea is expected to begin evacuations at 1 p.m.

Emergency responders (Fire, EMS or PD) will be issuing the evacuations, which will continue throughout the day.  However, Lt. Iberger recommends residents to assist Emergency Responders by voluntarily evacuating today as early as possible so as to avoid clogging roads.  ”If you think you may be in an at-risk location, err on the side of caution and evacuate,” he urges.  ”Residents who experienced ground water flooding back in March 2010 should evacuate until the storm passes.”

Shelter locations:

Pierson High School, 200 Jermain Avenue, Sag Harbor

East Hampton High School, 2 Long Lane, East Hampton

Hampton Bays High School, 88 Argonne Road, Hampton Bays

Riverhead High School, 600 Harrison Avenue, Riverhead

Luxury Events Nixed

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By Claire Walla

When luxury event planning company Gilt City was banished from its Hamptons headquarters at a house on Fithian Lane in East Hampton just last week, the New York City-based company packed up and moved west.

After securing a rental at 1432 Scuttlehole Road in Bridgehampton — another home zoned in a residential district — Gilt City continued to advertise high-priced Hamptons sojourns, which were to be based out of the Bridgehampton home. Southampton Town officials were not pleased.

“What we’re doing today is taking action,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said at a special board meeting held last Friday, August 12. With regard to two walk-on resolutions introduced by Councilwoman Nancy Graboski — one in reference to the house in Bridgehampton and the other in reference to a similar case at 2136 Deerfield Road in Noyac — the board voted unanimously to grant Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato the authority to “take any action necessary” to eliminate these illegal rental scenarios.

With regard to Deerfield Road, Mark Humphrey, a neighbor of the alleged party house, said before the town board: “This house is a nightmare.”

He continued to explain that the house has been “a nightmare” for four consecutive summers. “I have called the police on this particular renter no less than five times this summer,” he added. “One time, I couldn’t’ even find my driveway, there were so many cars… and I live across the street!” He estimated there have been up to 30 cars spilling out from the property’s main drive on any given night.

“The Town of Southampton has taken a hard stance on these kinds of situations, where a residential property is being used [illegally], whether as a prom house or a party house,” Graboski continued. She noted that the town adopted a more stringent rental code a few years ago, which grants town officials more control over rental properties in Southampton.

“And we’ve tightened up our special events law,” she continued. While “not-for-profits or entities that will benefit non-for-profits [are permitted] to hold special events, that’s usually on a one-night basis,” she clarified. More importantly, she added, “the law does not permit the operation of a business” out of a rental property.

Punctuating the importance of this decision, Councilman Jim Malone requested to be a co-sponsor of the resolution because of what he twice referred to as the “gravity of the situation.” Councilwoman Bridget Fleming followed his lead, co-sponsoring the resolution, as well.

Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato said because both homes have been issued a number of violations, including having no rental or special event permits, she is seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO) against them, which would bar the current renters from occupying the homes. As of this week, Scarlato said “the TRO was denied,” though she wouldn’t elaborate on the reasons why. However, representatives for both homes are due in court this Friday, August 19.

“The town will continue to keep a very sharp eye on exactly what’s going on in both of these houses,” Scarlato confirmed. “We will continue to act in a way that is beneficial for the neighborhood and the town.”

At least, Scarlato continued, since last Friday’s special board meeting “things were relatively quiet” at both homes over the weekend. While the town continues to take action to enforce the multiple violations issued both properties, Scarlato seemed pleased to know that, at the very least, Friday’s meeting helped quell the chaos.

Mecox Yacht Club Waits for OK

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By Claire Walla

The Southampton Town Board is close to making a decision on whether or not to grant an operating license to the Mecox Sailing Association at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill. But—with an important permit still pending—the board is not yet ready to weigh-in fully on the case.

After receiving approval from the DEC on June 16, the board is now waiting from the town Conservation Board to see whether or not plans provided by the Mecox Sailing Club to develop the land would be approved. (The Southampton Town Conservation Board met last night at 7 p.m., shortly after this paper went to press.)

At a town board meeting last Tuesday, July 9, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said that the town would have to hear back from the conservation board before meeting again with homeowners (many of whom are opposed to the plan) and those representing the proposed sailing club to “iron out” some of the remaining issues both parties have. The town is set to address the issue again at a board meeting September 13.

Assistant Town Attorney Katie Garvin explained that the DEC permit would now allow the sailing club to restore the existing boathouse, “selectively” cut some vegetation in the area and to construct three boat racks on the property. The conservation board will weigh-in on whether the club should be allowed to selectively cut, as Garvin phrased it, “nuisance vegetation.”

“If we don’t get the permit, then I’d like to explore with the conservation board what their alternatives are, or what their issues would be with the plans [as they are now],” Garvin said.

Many community members living on Bay Avenue (which ends at Mecox Bay, where the sailing club is proposed to be built) and nearby Wheaton Way spoke-out at the town board meeting against the plan. Residents primarily cited issues of increased traffic, environmental concerns, fears of property devaluation and even privatization.

“For the life of me, I do not understand why our town and our bay would benefit from privatizing this public space,” said Water Mill resident Stormy Byorum Good.  “I don’t understand what we would benefit from that we don’t have today.”

Similarly, Bay Avenue resident Ted Vittoria said “we have people walking down that street on a regular basis. We have workers who go with their trucks on their lunch hour just to look at the beauty of the bay. If the proposal is allowed, I think it’s going to affect these people to have clear viewing of this beautiful property for free.”

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said the site plan, as proposed will not restrict beach access in any way. Supervisor Throne-Holst added: “the only thing it would do is allow for an entity to provide organized instruction there and the ability to store some boats and equipment there.”

In a statement issued by representatives for the homeowners, the Mecox Bay Civic Association further added that the details of the plan to develop the land and install a sailing school are still undefined.

However, Throne-Holst reiterated that the finer details of the site proposal will be addressed once the town board hears from the Conservation Board.

Split Vote on Beach Parking Compromise

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By Claire Walla

The fight to completely lift parking restrictions on Noyac Bay Avenue has finally been called. On Tuesday, August 9, the Southampton Town Board voted two-to-three to keep a partial restriction in place.

As it stands, 100 feet of space, or room for up to four cars, is open to all residents without restrictions. The rest of the block has posted seasonal “no parking” signs, prohibiting parking between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The issue was initially brought to the attention of Southampton Town officials by several Noyac residents last year after they were surprised to find they were issued parking tickets in the area. Councilman Jim Malone largely spearheaded the effort to develop a compromise between Northampton Colony residents and those in the greater Noyac community, ultimately passing a resolution last month, for the 100 feet of available parking.

However, the end of Noyac Bay Avenue has sparked a greater philosophical debate stretching beyond the Southampton Town board and into the greater East End community. During public hearings on the issue, Southampton Town Trustee Jon Semlear urged the board to lift the parking ban, while representatives from the Surfrider Foundation and CfAR argued that parking restrictions on any town road compromise public access to the town’s waterways.

On these grounds, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming sponsored the resolution to lift all parking restrictions. They were the only town board members to vote in support of it.

“We lost,” said Noyac resident Dr. Stanley Shore, who was vocal in his opposition to restricted parking. He said the significance of the board’s decision this week is not in the fact that parking is now limited. “I can still go there,” he admitted. “There are never more than three cars there at a given time. It’s the principal of the thing that counts,” he continued. “Because there are no other [parking restrictions] in any of the other 40 streets [in Southampton Town] that end in the bay.”

He was disappointed by the town’s vote, particularly councilman Jim Malone’s. “He just caved in, even though he was the one who started the whole thing,” Shore lamented.

“I’m disappointed,” Fleming said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m very disappointed the majority chose to vote against the fundamental right [for all residents] to have access to our waterways. One of the essential ways to protect our waters is to ensure access. It’s part of the essential value of where we live. And certainly, as a Noyac resident, it’s one of the essential aspects of this community.”

Northampton Colony residents have a different perspective on the matter. Noyac Bay Avenue sits between the Northampton Colony clubhouse, which is paid for and maintained by local homeowners, and the Northampton Colony Marina, a private docking area.

The parking restrictions were put in place a couple years ago when neighbors said there was an increase of thefts in the marina, as well as instances of beach goers using Northampton Colony beach club facilities without authorization.

Larry Tullio, who is the harbor master at the marina, said he didn’t understand why the town had put forth a motion to lift the parking ban entirely after the community had already come up with a compromise. He wanted the town “to just leave it the way it is,” with room for up to four cars.

“We made a compromise and [the town] respected the compromise,” Tullio added. “That’s what I expected them to do.”

Update: Parking Ban in Noyac

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By Claire Walla

On Tuesday, July 26 Southampton Town Board will vote on a resolution to lift the partial parking ban now in effect on Noyac Bay Avenue in Noyac.
Earlier this month, town board member Jim Malone sponsored a resolution to compromise on 100 feet of unrestricted parking on the south side of Noyac Bay Avenue, which dead-ends at a channel leading into a private marina. However, after numerous residents in the greater Sag Harbor area and several more East Enders supporting beach access rights continued to fight to lift the ban completely, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst pushed to put another resolution on the agenda that would do just that.
At previous town board meetings, Throne-Holst, Malone and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming have openly expressed their support of lifting the parking restrictions entirely, claiming beach access to be a fundamental right for those in the town of Southampton.
While Councilman Chris Nuzzi has said he, too, supports beach access, he has previously expressed an unwillingness to take action beyond the 100-foot compromise that’s already been adopted by the town.

Tax Cap Cometh, Staff Cuts Likely

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By Claire Walla

By now, local governments across New York are in preparation mode.
In light of news that the state will impose a two-percent tax cap for the upcoming fiscal year (2012-2013), Southampton Town is getting ready to cut back. And it seems cuts to staff will be imminent.
“It is always my goal to avoid layoffs,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst this week. And while she said she will try to reorganize positions and even cut back on hours to prevent eliminating any positions outright, at this point some form of staff reductions will be unavoidable.
According to a presentation made by New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele last Friday, July 15, the tax cap would prevent local government districts from increasing their tax levies by more than two percent, or the cost of inflation, whichever is less. As it stands now, the inflation rate is around 1.85 percent.
During a meeting in her Southampton office this past Tuesday, Supervisor Throne-Holst communicated to members of the media some key elements of the steps she is taking leading up to the budget season. Most importantly, she said she is continuing efforts taken last year to make the budget process as inclusive as possible.
“This year, I’m going to improve on that interactive forum and bring the public into that discussion,” she said, referring to budget workshops held last October after the tentative budget was passed. The process will be a little different this year, as Throne-Holst plans to hold three public workshops the week of September 12, well before the tentative budget is due on September 30. She added that her intent is “to get some input and guidance and feedback on what matters [to the community] and why.”
Last year, Throne-Holst proposed streamlining town operations and combining services in a few departments while also resisting the urge to re-hire some recently vacated positions, most notably in the highway department. The supervisor said that she will look at reorganizing, reintroducing shared services and consolidating work duties again this year.
In the next few weeks, department heads will be meeting with the comptroller, Tamara Wright, to determine exactly what effect such a two-percent cap will have on their funding streams. Throne-Holst has challenged each department to come up with ways it will be able to cut costs in the coming year.
“For example, the highway department uses, overwhelmingly, outside engineering services,” she said. “We have an in-house engineer. This is a time to look very closely at things like that.”
But she anticipated that cutting costs will necessitate a multi-pronged approach. For instance, she added, “Maybe we can cut down on desk hours in the assessor’s office, or the clerk’s department.”
“Again, it will take a lot of careful thought,” she said.
Assemblyman Thiele suggested on Friday that the town might consider raising fees for some of its services. However, Throne-Holst addressed the issue by suggesting such measures would need to be taken into careful consideration.
“In this economy, you don’t want to whack your constituents with a fee increase that’s unsustainable,” she said. For example, if fees rise so drastically it stops the public from paying for certain services, that would dig the town into an even greater hole.
She pointed to senior services as an area that could potentially see a fee increase. “There are hundreds of seniors [at the senior center] every day for lunch. The place is packed. But, we charge very little for that,” she said, adding that even in this instance fee increases might not be the ticket.
“That’s a delicate balancing act, too,” she continued, noting that higher fees could potentially deter seniors from taking advantage of the lunch service, causing long-term health effects.
As the town makes efforts to address its financial future, Throne-Holst ultimately said she hopes the process is as collaborative as possible.
“I’m hoping that both my colleagues and our constituents will work with me through this,” she added. “We have to make sure that both our finances and our tax-payers are protected.”

Acrimony Remains Over Beach Parking

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By Claire Walla

Hardly quelling concerns on either side of the aisle, the Southampton Town Board decided unanimously (with the exception of Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, who was absent) to close a public hearing last Tuesday, July 12 on the issue of parking on Noyac Bay Avenue in Noyac. Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said a resolution to lift the partial parking ban entirely will be brought to the board at its next meeting in two weeks.

“It’s not about parking, it’s about a fundamental right,” Throne-Holst said.

The town board came to a decision at its last meeting to pass a resolution lifting the parking ban on 100 feet of pavement, allowing three to four cars unrestricted access.

But, along with Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and Councilman Jim Malone, the supervisor expressed concern that any “no parking” signs in the area would contribute to restricted beach access. (While the east-west road is flanked by a private beach club to the north and a private marina to the south, the avenue itself belongs to the town of Southampton, as does a roughly 50-foot wide patch of sand adjacent to it.)

“We cannot restrict the rights anywhere because once we restrict it somewhere, that sets a precedent [for the town],” the supervisor added.

Councilman Chris Nuzzi — the lone voice of dissent on the board last Tuesday — highlighted the compromise that had been reached at the last meeting and downplayed the need for unrestricted access.

“This isn’t necessarily precedent-setting, as far as I can tell. This isn’t actually as limiting as you’d find in some areas,” he said, noting the fact that some town roads that end at the water are permit-only.

Town Transportation Director Tom Neely actually explained that there are roads in the town that dead-end at bodies of water that are in fact permit-only; however, there are currently no roadways dead-ending at the bay that restrict parking.

The issue started about two years ago when residents of Northampton Colony appealed to the board for parking restrictions on Noyac Bay Avenue, citing concerns over several thefts reported in the marina. As no community members then expressed discontent over the issue, the town board complied.

“This isn’t right,” said Noyac resident Lisina Ceresa of the parking restrictions. “I think it’s a disgrace that the octogenarians have been denied access to the only beach they can easily access.”

The town board heard from dozens of community members who argued both sides of the issue with [ferocity]. Members of Northampton Colony hinged their arguments on issues of public safety, reiterating the issue of past theft in the area and highlighting the safety hazards of swimming in the water at the foot of the avenue, which is actually a working channel leading into the marina.

“All we need is a young person’s fishing line to get caught in a boat’s propeller,” said Northampton Colony resident Ken Harvey, alluding to issues of liability. “If you’re going to open it up to anyone to park there, you must guard against that in some way, because I — as a tax payer in this town — don’t want to be faced with lawsuits because you said anyone can use this property, and then they go there and get injured.”

Harbor Master Larry Tullio cited more specific concerns.

“These people here do not want to use this space,” he said, referring to the small portion of sand belonging to the town. “They want to use our country club and they want to use our marina. They are not allowed to set-up beach chairs and umbrellas on private property.”

But Councilwoman Bridget Fleming brought things into perspective, saying that in her view the issue hardly concerns the state or the size of the beach in question.

“The important part is not what people are intending to do, but a basic fundamental principal that we as a town board cannot step in and say that access to this beach is denied,” she said. “You cannot restrict access to public property.”

Town Trustee Jon Semlear, a Noyac resident, echoed Fleming’s sentiments.

“This issue is very important to me both personally and [as a town trustee],” he said, adding that it’s important “that we remain active in protecting the access points in our wild and public lands.”

“I’m very fortunate to have water access,” he continued. “But most people in the town don’t have access, and we have to look out for them. As a trustee for 18 years, everyone’s always trying to nibble away [at beach access]. This is something that we’re vigilant about. It’s a constant battle. If we keep giving up, there’s going to be a point when it’s all private.”