By Claire Walla
The decision was unanimous. All five members of the Southampton Town Board voted on Tuesday, October 25 to enter into a license agreement with the Mecox Sailing Association which proposes to open a sailing school at the end of Bay Lane in Water Mill.
“I’m very pleased with the actions of the board last night,” explained Jeff Mansfield, a Bridgehampton resident who is spearheading the effort to turn the dilapidated site of the old Mecox Yacht Club into a new not-for-profit sailing association.
Members of the newly formed Mecox Sailing Association have waited two years for the Southampton Town Board to finally weigh-in on the issue. But, he continued, “At the same time it’s a bit bittersweet.”
The Mecox Sailing Association and the town of Southampton have been slapped with a lawsuit by a collection of Water Mill homeowners calling themselves the Mecox Bay Civic Association. The homeowners challenged the legality of the town’s wetlands permit, charging that the Mecox Sailing Association should not be allowed to clear away vegetation in a designated wetlands area. (Bram Weber, the lawyer representing the homeowners, could not be reached for comment.)
“It’s a frivolous lawsuit,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. She went on to explain that the lawsuit was brought on by a group of homeowners, most of whom live on Bay Lane, which dead-ends into Mecox Bay.
“This is just a blatant example of [a private group] that happens to have a lot of money behind it,” she added,
The proposed Mecox Sailing Association “is a very low-key plan to teach kids from all walks of life to sail,” she continued. “The fact that that kind of money gets thrown in[to this scenario], I think is in really poor taste.”
Members of the Mecox Bay Civic Association have been fighting the Mecox Sailing Association since its proposed plan for a sailing school was put before the board in 2010. In the past, residents have complained about expected issues with traffic, parking and the school’s presumed exclusivity.
Mansfield has rejected these claims.
Though the current lawsuit takes issue with the fact that the town approved the clearing of vegetation in a wetlands area, Throne-Holst added that she believes the town and the Mecox Sailing Association are in the right.
“It’s town land, and we got the clearing permit,” she added.
For Mansfield, the suit filed against the sailing association and the town has less to do with the sailing school itself, and more to do with what he believes stems from homeowners’ efforts to maintain privacy. In fact, it’s an issue he said has resonated across the East End in recent months.
“There’s been an epidemic recently of individuals trying to block beach access,” Mansfield declared.
He pointed to the recent legal fight over a stretch of beach in Nappeague and this summer’s clash in Noyac over beach parking.
“It’s scary for our little group [the Mecox Sailing Association] because it’s quite costly to fight these battles,” he added. “We’re just a couple of mothers and fathers defending this.”
“If we don’t come together as a community,” Mansfield added, “We’re going to lose this access.”
Now that the sailing association has finally entered into a license agreement with the town, Mansfield said members will be putting their efforts into raising money to fight the legal battles before them. He said the group has applied for 501c3 status, which he expects to be achieved by year’s end. This would make all donations to the Mecox Sailing Association fully tax deductible.
Mansfield explained rather lightheartedly that he and other sailing association members initially expected to have the whole operation up and running last summer. Suffice it to say, the process has been a bit more elongated than he had predicted. And with a lawsuit now in the picture, he said he has no idea how long it will take before the sailing association will actually be able to begin clearing the small patch of land on the bay — if, of course, it wins the lawsuit.
“We’re not about to abandon ship here,” Mansfield added. “We have only yet begun to fight.”
By Claire Walla
On Tuesday, October 25 the Southampton Town GOP filed a claim against Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, alleging the board members violated the town’s code of ethics. Both women are up for re-election along with the newest member of their political team, Brad Bender, who is running for a second available council seat.
The GOP takes issue with scenes in a campaign video put out by the candidates, called “The Southampton Project,” which were filmed within Town Hall. According to Southampton Town GOP Chair William Wright, the scenes violate the ethics code because they make use of town property and feature a town employee (Throne-Holst’s assistant Jennifer Garvey, who speaks on the phone to the supervisor) for campaign purposes.
“This is not about whether I think the video is good or not, it violated town code,” Wright reiterated. “I know the other side says we’re grasping at straws, here … but we’re playing by the rules. They should be too.”
In an interview on Wednesday, Throne-Holst said the GOP claim is “baseless.”
“We were not filmed campaigning at town hall, or doing any sort of campaign work in the video,” she explained.
Southampton Democratic Committee Chair echoed Throne-Holst’s sentiments and downplayed the GOP’s claim.
“It’s pretty petty,” said Gordon Herr. “Anyway, the video’s already out there. It’s viral. [News of this claim] is probably going to make more people want to watch it.”
According to Southampton Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato, all four members of the town’s ethics board have been notified of the complaint. Scarlato could not speak to the suit, saying only that it’s in the hands of the ethics board, which has full authority to decide the case and determine what potential repercussions might be appropriate, should Throne-Holst and Fleming’s video be determined unethical.
Fleming is a Democrat. Throne-Holst is a member of the Independence Party as is Bender — both are also running on the Democratic Party Line.
By Claire Walla
In an attempt to trim costs in the Town of Southampton for the upcoming fiscal year, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst introduced a number of cost-saving measures in her $80.3 million Tentative 2012 Budget to achieve what she hails as a zero percent tax levy increase. But these cuts won’t come without layoffs and reorganization — two topics of major concern for some within the town.
At a public Budget Hearing on Tuesday, October 25, members of the Southampton Town Superior Officers’ Organization (SOA), which oversees the police department, and employees of the town’s Human Services Department flocked to the microphone to voice disapproval over the supervisor’s proposed cost-saving measures.
“No member of the SOA should involuntarily be terminated,” said SOA’s attorney Michael McClellan.
Under the supervisor’s budget, eight superior police officers would be forced to retire, garnering the town a savings of $1.7 million. The layoffs are in keeping with a provision adopted in 1971 that allows the town to force into retirement those officers who have been with the force for at least 20 years. It has never been invoked before.
However, McClellan — who referred to the provision as “ancient, arbitrary, capricious and in our minds discriminatory” — urged the town to work with members of the SOA to solve the town’s budgetary woes without sacrificing senior officers.
“That has been my position from the very beginning,” Throne-Holst informed the room.
“I was hoping that we would not have to resort to anything like this,” she added. “But, having to find $5.1 million of cuts … this was a way to get there that would affect the least number of officers.”
To that end, Councilwoman Nancy Graboski added that while she supports the effort to trim costs within the town’s police force, she doesn’t support the method currently detailed in the supervisor’s budget.
“The town board has in the past spoken about how we are carrying officers at a high level of pay and that we need to begin to look at that and come up with a plan to systematically see that they retire,” said Graboski.
Throne-Holst added that she and members of the SOA will hold a meeting this Friday in an attempt to revisit the issue. As for other proposed cost-savings alternatives, the supervisor said “I am all ears.”
However, Throne-Holst is sticking with her proposed plan to break-up the town’s existing Human Services Department and fold Youth Services into Parks and Recreation. This move is nothing new — the supervisor actually pushed for a similar plan (unsuccessfully) with last year’s proposed budget. This year therefore marks the second time human services personnel are fighting to keep their department intact.
Members of the youth services division — including assistant director Tracy Kolsin and youth counselor Karen Hurst — argued with the logic of combining the two departments.
“With this move you’re taking the youth development from the Youth Bureau,” Kolsin said. He added that “It will only cost the town more in the long run by putting a burden on other departments.”
He, Hurst and a handful of other Southampton Town residents also called for the town board to recreate a space in the budget for Youth Bureau Director Nancy Lynott.
“The Youth Bureau was started by Nancy and it [is what it is today] because of her,” Hurst said. “By cutting her, you are cutting one quarter of our staff, which will ultimately lead us to cut programs.”
“I’m not proposing that the youth bureau be eliminated,” Throne-Holst explained. She expects the youth bureau to perform the same functions it does now, only under the umbrella of a different department. In fact, she added that the model of joining youth services with recreation “is a healthy one.”
The supervisor’s tentative budget calls for 28 layoffs in total. And during Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled town board meeting, the board adopted a resolution proposed by Councilman Chris Nuzzi to extend the town’s hiring freeze another year. Only Councilwoman Bridget Fleming opposed.
As a write-in candidate for Southampton Town Supervisor, former Republican Supervisor Linda Kabot has not had a formal debate against incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst on the issues facing Southampton Town.
But at this week’s Bridgehampton Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting, the two clashed, while basically remaining on the same page, over the town’s desire to borrow over $100 million against the Community Preservation Fund (CPF). The money would be borrowed over the course of the next four years in order to purchase around 2,000 acres in Southampton Town.
Following a 2012 budget presentation on Monday night by Throne-Holst, who is the Democratic, Working Families and Independence Party candidate in the November 8 election for supervisor, Kabot approached the board with her pitch for candidacy in the uncontested race. Kabot, with retiring Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Grabowski seated at her side, said she was running in an effort to give town residents a choice in who should lead the town board through 2014.
Kabot began by stating it was under her lead, not Throne-Holst, that the town began getting its finances together through the aid of the town comptroller Tamara Wright.
“Immediately, in 2008, I set a course of financial management to move us through the turmoil,” she said.
Kabot questioned that the full Democratic Party slate, which includes Throne-Holst, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and candidate Brad Bender, has taken credit in its advertising for restoring the town’s bond rating. Kabot said it was a feat attained in February 2010, before Fleming was elected in a special March 2010 race.
“We transitioned to a new town supervisor who worked diligently for the town, and I will not take that away from her,” said Kabot.
Kabot said the town should continue to cut spending, in particular because the economy nationwide is still sagging and the tax base is not growing. She added residents she has spoken to are also concerned about code enforcement and protecting property values. Taking care of the highway department roads and ensuring the preservation of the town’s leaf program is also important, said Kabot.
“The local economy is in a recession still and we need to do more for our local businesses to encourage them to foster and grow,” said Kabot, calling for a more streamlined regulatory process for minor changes on a property or in a business.
However, it was when Kabot tackled the CPF that a debate erupted between she and Throne-Holst.
Kabot charged that Throne-Holst was proposing a $125 million bond act that would borrow against CPF to purchase properties in the town immediately.
“I do agree we need to extend our purchasing power, but not to the tune of $125 million,” said Kabot.
She said if the CPF failed to perform as hoped, the town may have to dip into its general fund to cover such an expense. Kabot advocated looking towards a $50 million bond instead.
“The CPF isn’t merely there to willy-nilly buy open space,” said Throne-Holst. “It is here to protect our greatest economic engine, the viability of our environment.”
Throne-Holst said the $125 million proposal was “not random,” but a figure conceived by the town’s Community Preservation Fund committee, a bi-partisan group, that has targeted 2,000 acres for preservation in Southampton Town. The supervisor called the properties “critical,” much of it active farmland and watershed properties that if developed could negatively impact the town.
Throne-Holst noted many of the committee members are fiscal conservatives, but that the whole group supports this idea, particularly when facing the reality that real estate prices are now at an all time low and the town could save millions purchasing property now, rather than in 10 years.
She added the concept does not involve seeking a $125 million bond, as Kabot suggested.
“It would be done over a four-year period, which means we can opt out at any time should anything dramatic happen to the economy,” said Throne-Holst, who added that the town could look to borrow as little as $30 million in the first year of the program.
Bridgehampton CAC resident Janice Delano said that from a financial perspective, Throne-Holst’s plan made sense given the current real estate market.
However, chairman Fred Cammann said he was wary of leveraging anything given the financial nightmare that emerged in 2007 and 2008 because financial institutions were doing just that.
Water Mill CAC Co-Chairman Steve Abramson countered that even the CPF architect, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. has advocated in favor of borrowing against the CPF, as has former Governor George Pataki.
“We know if we don’t spend it now to buy a certain amount of real estate in a few years we will spend the same money for less property,” said Abramson.
Delano added it wasn’t very long ago that she remembered the same people bristling at the concept at Monday night’s meeting supporting a similar idea just a few years back.
“In 2008, the world changed,” said Cammann.
Ultimately, Throne-Holst said, Kabot proposing a $50 million bond is more aggressive than the $30 million she hopes to bond for in the first year of what she sees as a long-term plan for CPF.
“This does not have any party affiliation tied to it,” she said. “This is a commitment to preserving the character and economic engine of our town, which is our environment. And that, in fact, is preserving property values in Southampton.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.