Tag Archive | "brian gilbride"

The Problem is Us: Forum Seeks Solutions for Managing Trash

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Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride remembers how the village used to deal with trash. Before the 1960s, Sag Harbor had several satellite spots where residents would dump, and Southampton Town would later burn, their garbage. Over the 1960s and 1970s, the town found a cheaper way of handling household waste: landfills. But by the following decade, town officials became more aware of the impact trash had on the environment and slowly started to recycle, noted Gilbride at a recent “Talkin’ Trash” forum hosted by 725 Green and Sustainable Southampton. 

The town has since made great strides in disposing of its waste since those days. Southampton has closed the landfill and operates four waste management transfer stations. But the town still fails to stack up to the efforts made by other municipalities on Long Island. 

According to a 2009 Long Island Recycling Report Card compiled by the Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), Southampton Town was given a C grade for their waste management program. The town lost points, said CCE representative Maureen Dolan Murphy, because it lacks adequate public education programs and fails to coordinate recycling with local businesses and schools. Murphy did note that the “Green Bag” policy, where residents pay for a trash bag to drop off at a transfer station, is one of the few initiatives of its kind on Long Island and called it “cutting edge.”

She pointed out town residents opt into purchasing the “Green Bags,” whereas in Southold all residents are required to participate in the town’s waste management program. Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot has previously stated that only 15 percent of town citizens use the town’s transfer stations, but town councilman Chris Nuzzi argued this figure was debatable. 

Over the course of the meeting, the audience further questioned where local garbage ends up. Gilbride, a former sanitation supervisor for the town and a manager for the private hauling company Emil Norsic & Son, explained that most common household garbage is transported to a Winter Brothers transfer station in Yaphank or Babylon. It is either incinerated there or bailed and then brought to a major landfill in either Ohio, Virginia or Pennsylvania. 

“We are dumping our trash in someone’s backyard,” remarked an audience member. 

Others worried their materials aren’t actually being re-used. Gilbride pointed out that recyclables have become a commodity and the market for these items is often volatile. 

“The prices [for trash and recyclables] are no different than the stock market … You may get $25 for a ton of newspapers one day but I have seen people get $100 a ton,” noted Gilbride. He added that there is an inherent cost to price, collect, store and sell these items. 

Because there isn’t a market for certain materials like glass, reported Jeremy Samuelson speaking as a representative from Group for the East End, these items often aren’t recycled. 

“We don’t want a trailer of glass to sit somewhere waiting for the market to respond. It isn’t workable,” remarked Samuelson. 

Based on her research, 725 Green Chairwoman Gigi Morris said she believes cardboard and number-one and -two plastics are regularly recycled but glass is rarely processed for reuse. Michael Pope, a former consultant to the Department of Environmental Conservation, said glass is cheaper to produce than to recycle. 

Morris hopes to help the town find ways to promote recycling. Murphy recommended local municipalities install recycling receptacles in downtown areas. Separating recycled items before they are transported to the transfer stations to the west of the East End will heighten the value of the product, added Gilbride. Nuzzi further argued that local public policy should reflect a commitment to disposing of waste in a proper manner. 

Over the course of the evening, the notion of consuming less and producing less waste percolated throughout the discussion. Long Island residents create around seven pounds of garbage per resident per day, while the national average is closer to 4.3 pounds.

“A zero waste policy is emerging,” reported Murphy. “The goal is to not produce waste — and recycle and compost whatever you can.” 

Of the waste created by Long Island residents, Samuelson added, “we have seen the enemy and the enemy is us.” 

Brian Gilbride

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Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on his first 100 days in office, the challenges ahead and putting on a pair of ice skates.

Since taking office as mayor, what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced so far?

I don’t know if it is so much a challenge as it is a readjustment. As a board member and deputy mayor everything you do is on a regular basis, but as mayor I stop at the village every morning to see what is going on. Like I did when I was deputy mayor, I still meet with [Sag Harbor Superintendent of Public Works] Jim [Early] every morning and as liaison to the police I speak with [Sag Harbor Village Police Chief] Tom [Fabiano]. Then throughout the day I get quite a few calls from the village on the day-to-day operations. I have to say, since becoming mayor, I have a much better respect for anyone who has served in this position, but I really do enjoy it. In Sag Harbor we have a great staff – everyone is a team player. I am lucky in that when I was on the board I was a team player and now that I am mayor, I have a great team. The board doesn’t always agree, but I think that is part of being a great team. I believe we are pretty effective and we get a lot done.

Other than the schedule, does it feel different serving as mayor rather than trustee?

Honestly, it is like when you are the second chief in the fire department. You can blame the first assistant and the chief if something came up. And when you’re the first assistant chief you can blame the chief; but as mayor, all the blame stops with me. Some days, I don’t want to say it’s overwhelming, but you feel the decisions you make have to be made in the best interest of the village as a whole and sometimes that is a heavy weight because what you can think is a simple decision as mayor can have a big effect throughout the village. But, at the end of the day, I talked to [deputy mayor] Tiffany [Scarlato] right before I came [to this interview], I talked to [trustee] Tim [Culver] this morning, I speak with [trustee] Robby [Stein] often and I see [trustee] Ed Gregroy daily. We communicate daily and I am lucky to be able to bounce a lot of ideas off the board as we move forward.

One of your biggest public battles, which has received a lot of community support, has been over the ownership MTA roadbed. Where is the village in that process?

We are firmly behind trying to get a park [at the village owned beachfront and adjacent sliver of the old MTA rail bed which a developer in the village is also seeking possession of] done sometime in 2010, or at least get started at that point. As I have mentioned before, we hope the MTA comes to its senses and either gives us an opportunity to buy the property or, another option [the village attorney] has advised me of, is eminent domain, as fair market value [of the property] has been established. I do hope that some day the developer gets a project together next door, but we have not changed our position on this park. I have had many residents from Sag Harbor and North Haven contact me trying to make this park a reality. 

During the campaign you often referred to yourself as a fiscal conservative concerned with keeping the village budget in line. Has this year’s budget been sustainable with spending and do you see next year’s budget as one that will need to be trimmed?

I don’t think we can trim next year’s budget. I think it will have to go up. I think we have cut the budget to where we cannot cut anymore without cutting services and I am not prepared to do that. I believe we will have to look at some things this year, maybe as early as October, about spending. It might be unpopular, but my thing is this is what we have budgeted for, so how can we address it. We have a couple of line items to look at right now and we are about a third of the way through the [fiscal] year, so I will ask the village treasurer to run reports for the first four months and will give a report on that at the October trustees meeting.


Moving forward, what are some of the bigger initiatives you would like to see the village take on in the next year?

In the next year, the 2010 budget will be limited because I am pretty sure at this point we will see a tax increase. First on the agenda is getting the park alongside the [Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial] bridge started. The other thing I know we will look at in the budget process is that Trustee Stein has started looking at “greening” the village and has already looked at the possibility of solar panels on the village sewage treatment plant and other buildings. Tim [Culver] has taken a hard look at the waterfront and has some great ideas on how we can make a little more money down there. Tiffany [Scarlato] has been working hard continuing with the new zoning code and a new wetlands code. Ed Gregory will work with the fire and ambulance squads, and every year those guys are a good bunch that work well with the village in telling us what they need to provide the great service they do to the village.

We will see what 2010 brings.

If the village does move forward with a planned ice rink, will you don your skates?

Just so you can get a picture, yes. I would love nothing more than to have a picture with my three grandchildren and myself on that ice rink.

Village May Consider Taking MTA Property

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Sag Harbor’s Mayor Brian Gilbride is so determined that the village take over a piece of land near the waterfront that he is considering condemning it.

The sliver of land — a former roadbed owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that once led to the original bridge leading to North Haven — is currently in contract to be sold to East End Ventures, a development company that has proposed to build a condominium complex on the adjacent property at the foot of the current bridge. The land the roadbed sits on would help mitigate the variance the developer needs for the project and, in one plan, would be used to access the proposed 18 boat slips that would go along with the condos.

But the village would like to marry the parcel to waterfront property it already owns, and create a park that would serve as a gateway to the village for people coming across the bridge.

“This really fits into the village’s plan for a park,” said Gilbride this week.

Gilbride and the village were peeved when the MTA announced recently that it intended to sell to the developer, since the village had made several overtures in recent years hoping to acquire it themselves. About ten years ago, in fact, the village had actually commissioned a landscape design for the property by renowned landscape architect Edmund Hollander.

Gilbride said in an interview Tuesday that condemnation through eminent domain was “certainly an option” and he would raise the subject when the village board meets this coming Tuesday.

“We’ve been advised by our attorneys that his was a way to go,” said Gilbride of condemnation.

The relationship between the village and the developer has become more combative in recent weeks, with the developer filing a suit against the board and others charging a recently-approved zoning code was intended to discourage its development of the property known as 1 Ferry Road, the former Dr. Harry Diner property, at the foot of the bridge. Last week the village received a notice of claim from East End Ventures which, among other things, told the village “to stop talking to the MTA,” according to Gilbride.

“I mean, this is still America isn’t it,” said the mayor, who called the action “an insult.”

The developers said they would agree to give the village access to the property for a pedestrian walkway, but Gilbride said, in a plan he saw, “at one point the walkway seems to go into the water.”

“It’s unacceptable,” said the mayor, adding that, coupled with the “threat” from the notice of claim, he felt the village had been insulted twice.

According to their agreement, East End Ventures will pay fair market value — or $82,500 — for the piece of property. If the village were to go ahead with condemnation proceedings, Gilbride feels they may be able to get it for less, since they already have an easement on the property. 

Gilbride Vows to Fight for Waterfront Parcel

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On Tuesday night, following an executive session of the Sag Harbor Village Trustees, the board agreed to hire attorneys Denise Schoen and Brian Lester to explore countering an agreement by the Long Island Railroad’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to sell 16,000 square feet of property adjacent to village-owned waterfront to a condo developer rather than the village.

The decision followed a contentious village board meeting where, despite public support for the purchase, Trustee Tiffany Scarlato publicly opposed a continued fight for ownership of the parcel. Scarlato, who also voted against hiring Schoen and Lester to explore the matter further, cited legal concerns as the impetus for her decision. She noted East End Ventures, the company that has sought to adversely possess the MTA parcel as a part of their 18-unit luxury condo plan, is an applicant in front of the village’s planning board.

“I think the board has to do some serious thinking about the potential costs of engaging in litigation with a current applicant and the benefits of doing that,” said Scarlato.

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. strongly urged the board to cease conversation on the subject until it had adjourned into executive session.

At Tuesday’s village board meeting, several members of the community, including Save Sag Harbor board member April Gornik, Save Sag Harbor President Mia Grosjean and American Hotel owner Ted Conklin all expressed their gratitude to Gilbride for pursuing the property. In late July, Gilbride sent the last of several letters from the village to the MTA requesting they sell the property to the village, which has expressed interest in turning an adjacent waterfront parcel next to the Lance Corporal Haerter Veteran Memorial Bridge into a public park.

This week, Gilbride received a letter from vice president of the LIRR Christine Rinaldi announcing the authority intended to sell the property to East End Ventures at fair market value and that an easement granted to the village in 1915 was extinguished in 1930 when state Route 114 was rerouted and the parcel in question was no longer used for highway purposes.

“As a condition of the sale, East End Ventures has agreed to grant an easement to the general public across the property for the construction of a walkway,” writes Rinaldi in the letter, although the details of the easement have yet to be finalized.

“Don’t think for one minute that I am rolling over,” said Gilbride on Tuesday night. “I told [Rinaldi] I intend to vigorously fight for this for the residents.”

Gilbride Takes Office, Appoints Stein and Makes Changes

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During his first meeting as mayor of the Village of Sag Harbor on Monday, Brian Gilbride announced appointments to the various village boards, including the addition of former mayor Greg Ferraris to the planning board.

Gilbride named Bethany Deyermond, a member of the Sag Harbor Historical Society and wife of former mayor and trustee Ed Deyermond, to the village historic preservation and architectural review board in place of longtime board member Robert Tortora. Gilbride also tapped Gail Pickering to lead the village’s zoning board of appeals. Pickering replaces board chairman Michael Bromberg, who said this week he intends to fulfill the remainder of his one-year term on the board.

Gilbride, an incumbent trustee, was elected to lead the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees in June besting both Bromberg and local attorney and author Jim Henry in a contentious mayoral battle.

gilbride Tim Culver, a land use and real estate attorney, received the most votes of any candidate in his bid for a seat on the board of trustees. Culver and incumbent trustee Ed Gregory were also sworn in on Monday, along with Robby Stein, who Gilbride appointed to serve the remainder of his one-year trustee term on the board. Stein placed third in the election behind Culver and Gregory, with Sag Harbor native and real estate agent Jane Holden finishing fourth.

Gilbride, who served as village deputy mayor under Ferraris, named Trustee Tiffany Scarlato as his new deputy mayor on Monday.

 Even so many changes, much will remain the same with Sag Harbor Village government, with Gilbride having appointed Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and Anthony Tohill as village council, Richard Warren as environmental planner and Paul Grosser as village engineer. However, with the appointment of Ferraris, Deyermond and Pickering to new posts in village government, Gilbride said he was pleased to see the new face of the village boards.

Ann Hansen, a 15-year veteran of the planning board, resigned last month leaving an opening for Ferraris who chose not to seek re-election in the last mayoral race.

“There is a lot of activity on that board now,” said Gilbride on Tuesday, noting the planning board has been contending with a number of large-scale development applications and will be facing the implementation of a new village code. “Greg wanted to stay involved and he has been instrumental in a lot of what has been going on in the village.”

“I have a great respect of the members of the planning board, and in Neil Slevin’s leadership as chairman,” said Ferraris on Tuesday. “Brian asked me and I feel it is a great opportunity to work with this board on the new code.”

Ferraris said he intends to bring the same “case-by-case” attitude to his position on the planning board as he did as mayor of Sag Harbor.

“I don’t have a predetermined agenda going into this, but I do think the new code will speak for itself and shape the way we deal with development in this village,” he said.

Gilbride’s appointment of Bethany Deyermond to the ARB means longtime member Tortora will no longer have a seat on the board, although Gilbride on Tuesday thanked Tortora for his service, saying it was time for that board to take a new direction under his administration.

“I personally thanked Bob for his service and I think he has done a good job,” Gilbride said. “I am just looking to move in a slightly different direction. I think Bethany can do that. She will work well with the board, she has experience as a member of the historical society and the Sag Harbor Ladies Village Improvement Society and she has done a great job restoring her own home.”

Tortora was disappointed at Gilbride’s choice, lamenting that he would not be a part of a board whose mission he treasures.

“I thought I was pretty darn good at it,” he said. “I really thought I did my best for the village and worked hard to make a difference.”

The local contractor, who said he has invested his professional life into ensuring Sag Harbor’s historic architecture is preserved, questioned why he was removed from the board and said he would still weigh his options. He hopes to stay involved with the cause he holds so close to his heart.

“It is my livelihood to preserve this village,” he said. “I moved here and invested in this place because it is so unique. My only recourse now is to ensure I can stay involved.”

Gilbride also replaced Bromberg as chairman of the zoning board with current board member Pickering, although Bromberg, unlike Tortora, will fulfill the remainder of his one-year term on the zoning board.

“I believe she is an independent thinker and has always done a great job for the village,” Gilbride said of the appointment. “I think Gail brings a level of expertise we need right now.”

“I think Gail will do a great job,” Bromberg said on Tuesday, who added he had no intention of stepping down from the board as of now.

Pickering, who was on the village planning board from 1990 to 1999, serving as chairman from 1995 to 1999, went on to serve on the East Hampton Town’s planning board from 2000 through 2006 before returning to Sag Harbor to serve on the zoning board of appeals.

“I knew Bulova was coming and I wanted input on the big projects,” said the licensed architect on Tuesday, referring to the now approved luxury condo project at the historic Bulova Watchcase Factory in the center of the village.

“I am honored to be appointed to the position,” she added. “I have enjoyed working with the current board and I appreciate all the comments input and expertise my fellow board members have to offer. The mayor has made his decision and I appreciate his confidence in me.”

Outside of the zoning board of appeals, the chairmanship of every other village board remains the same with Neil Slevin tapped to continue his position as head of the planning board, Cee Scott Brown appointed to lead the ARB and Bruce Tait appointed to helm the Harbor Committee.

Gilbride Will Name Stein to Village Board

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Sag Harbor mayor-elect Brian Gilbride announced on Tuesday he intends to appoint child psychologist Dr. Robby Stein to fill his now vacant seat on the village’s board of trustees. The appointment will be made official at the board’s re-organizational meeting on Monday, July 6 at noon when Stein will join trustee elects Ed Gregory and Tim Culver, as well as Gilbride, in an official swearing in ceremony.

Stein placed third in a four-way trustee race for two seats on the board last week, one of several reasons Gilbride said on Tuesday he reached out to Stein to fill the position.

“The couple of times we all got together — the mayoral candidates and the board candidates — Robby came up with some decent ideas on how to help out our seniors and our residents,” said Gilbride. “After the election, I talked to him and said I think this is a good opportunity to put some of your ideas into practice.”

After discussing the idea with the remainder of the board, in particular trustee Tiffany Scarlato, who Gilbride intends to name his deputy mayor, the board agreed as a whole Stein was the best candidate for appointment, said Gilbride.

“We’re going to be a really comfortable group that works really well together,” said Gilbride.

Stein, 61, has lived and worked in Sag Harbor since the early 1980s when he began a counseling center in the village. He has lived in Sag Harbor full-time since 2001, and most recently served on the board of the not-for-profit Save Sag Harbor, although since announcing his candidacy he stepped down from that position.

During his tenure on the board of Save Sag Harbor, Stein worked as a consensus builder between the not-for-profit and the business community in an effort to provide support for a new zoning code for the village business district in Sag Harbor, aimed at addressing development pressures in the village.

Outside of the continued revision of the zoning code, which will now begin to focus on the residential district of the village, Stein said on Wednesday he hopes to begin his tenure on the board focusing on human and health services.

“There are things I want to immediately get into, one being to really explore how the village’s website is managed and put together,” said Stein. He envisions a more comprehensive website, providing residents with a wealth of information, and would like to try and form a partnership with students interested in technology in the Sag Harbor School District to see that vision become a reality.

Providing educational resources for seniors on health care options and home care services offered by the county is another initiative Stein would like to take on in the next year.

“I want to really inform people about what is out there,” said Stein. “These are no cost options. It doesn’t cost anything to post something.”

Glbride Wins in Landslide With Culver and Gregory

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Brian Gilbride was elected mayor of Sag Harbor in the village’s first contested election in seven years on Tuesday night, earning almost twice the number of votes as candidates Michael Bromberg and Jim Henry in the race to lead the board of trustees.

Incumbent trustee Ed Gregory and political newcomer Tim Culver were elected to fill the two open trustee seats. Gregory and Gilbride ran on the same ticket, with Culver supporting Gilbride’s candidacy for mayor while canvassing the village just days before the election.

Gilbride, 61, won the mayoral race with 350 votes. He was followed by Bromberg, the village’s zoning board of appeals chairman, who earned 192 votes. Henry, an author and activist, received 169 votes. Sag Harbor’s new mayor is a 15-year member of the board of trustees and a 40-year veteran of the Sag Harbor Fire Department. A native of Sag Harbor, he is currently employed with Emil Norsic and Sons sanitation services.

Culver, 40, received the most votes of any candidate in either the trustee or mayoral races, earning 412 votes in the contest. A land-use and real estate attorney, this is Culver’s first run at elected office.

Gregory, 63, received 340 votes. A board member from 1978 to 1992, he returned to the board in 2003.

Dr. Robby Stein earned 291 votes and real estate agent Jane Holden received 234.

According to Sag Harbor Village Clerk Sandra Schroeder, 731 ballots were cast on Tuesday, with 37 absentee ballots. Two write-in votes were cast, one for Stanley Martin and one for village Superintendent of Public Works Jim Early.

For the last seven years, the village has had uncontested elections, leading to low voter turnout. While this year’s 731 ballots is a marked increase over those turnouts, it is fairly close to the voter turnout seen in previous contested elections. In 2001, 885 ballots were cast, the most in the last 15 years of elections.

Shortly after the results were announced at the Sag Harbor Fire Department headquarters on Brick Kiln Road, Gilbride was surrounded by supporters, members of the board of trustees and mayor Greg Ferraris, who supported Gilbride’s candidacy after deciding not to seek a third term.

 “I am thrilled,” said Ferraris. “I think the voters who came out saw what we were able to do as a board. Really, we are a very small village, and I think this board has been realistic about what we can accomplish. This new five-member board is one that I think will be able to move us forward. Tim Culver is obviously a tremendous asset to add to the board of trustees.”

Bromberg, who left the firehouse for a private gathering at his residence, shook Gilbride’s hand and congratulated him on his win.

Henry’s supporters gathered at Bay Burger, just down the street from the firehouse, following the announcement of the results.

 “We didn’t have the result we wanted, but we learned something about our community,” said Henry, noting Gilbride has put in many years of service to the village and “in that sense he deserves to be mayor.”

Henry said he believed his candidacy brought a number of issues to the forefront of village discussions, in particular water quality at Havens Beach, and his concerns about the ability of the current village budget to handle projects necessary for the village in years to come.

Henry said the election was also successful in getting out new voters, a victory in itself.

 “Sag Harbor is going to take care of itself,” said Henry. “Sag Harbor will be fine. Jim Henry will be fine.”

Henry, who lost a Southampton Supervisor’s race by just 53 votes two years ago, said he plans to remain an active member of the community, but was unsure whether he would continue to seek a political career.

 “I will go back to teaching and writing and making a nuisance as a civil rights attorney,” said Henry.

 “I would rather have had it this way,” said Gilbride of his win in a contested race. “We have too many village elections where there is no competition. Michael Bromberg and I were cordial through the whole process.”

Gilbride credited the current board of trustees and Mayor Ferraris with his win, noting it was a board that worked well together.

 “This was really a team effort,” said Gilbride.

He also gave kudos to Culver.

 “I am not a self promoter,” admitted Gilbride. “Tim had great organization behind him and near the end we got supportive of each other.”

Looking at the new board, Gilbride said it was one he believes will work as well together, noting the trustee race presented voters with four qualified candidates who often agreed on a number of issues.

 “The trustee race, it was fun,” agreed Culver. “It was kind of what you hope in a local election.”

Announcing that board member Tiffany Scarlato will serve as his deputy mayor, Gilbride said he has yet to decide how he will fill his vacant seat. Gilbride’s seat as a trustee will carry a one-year term.

 “I am sure one of the candidates that ran will stand a good chance,” hinted Gilbride, who added he would like the result to ultimately be a full-board decision.

Later in the evening, Gilbride addressed a second crowd at The American Hotel, at an election bash hosted by Ted Conklin attended by a number of village residents and board members.

“This was just a great group of people running for one cause,” said Gilbride. “To do good for the village.”


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This year, residents in Sag Harbor are faced with one of the most difficult elections in recent history, as the village says good-bye to a mayor almost everyone agrees has been an excellent leader through some of the more challenging years this village has faced.

With the departure of mayor Greg Ferraris and long-time board member Ed Deyermond, the board of trustees stands to change quite drastically during what we envision will be years that continue to be dominated by development concerns, a lagging economy, a desire for preservation, the hope for sustainability and the goal of finding a balance so we may maintain our wonderfully vibrant village.

The four trustee candidates — Tim Culver, Ed Gregory, Jane Holden and Robby Stein — have largely been in agreement on these core issues facing our community, their interactions more like a summit than a debate. All strong candidates with a variety of strengths, Culver stood out among the pack as the candidate who best understood the financial limitations of a village government, while also possessing zoning and planning experience this board will surely benefit from as we move into the future. Culver has demonstrated an uncanny ability to bring consensus and has a strong grasp on village history and issues. His is, by far, the easiest endorsement this paper has had to make this election season.

Gregory, Holden and Stein all have strengths that would benefit a number of boards. Gregory’s experience as a trustee gives him, like Culver, the insight into what village government has the ability to accomplish and what projects need to be funded through grants or high levels of government. His commitment to environmental issues is apparent in conversation, as is his commitment to the community and willingness to look outside his own opinions. Holden has a real estate background that would undoubtedly aid the village as it moves forward with its village business district code and begins to tackle the residential code. A proven fundraiser and daughter of Sag Harbor, Holden also understands financial realities facing a number of area seniors, a necessity in this economy. The election of Stein would bring a new perspective to the board of trustees. His focus on human services would be a welcome addition to village government, so often focused elsewhere. Like Culver, Stein is a proven consensus builder, a plus as this new board will have to grapple with issues like affordable housing, the remediation at Havens Beach, a new zoning code, environmental sustainability and development projects in coming years.

Despite all their strengths, ultimately The Express feels Gregory deserves our support. Admittedly, going into our endorsement interview we were concerned about his enthusiasm regarding his position as trustee and what he would want to bring to the village if elected. By the end of that discussion, and watching him throughout the campaign, we were impressed with his specific, albeit not grand, plans for sustainability and preservation, and ultimately feel the experience he brings to the table cannot be discounted under the circumstances. We urge residents to support both Culver and Gregory in the coming election.

The mayoral race was much more difficult, as no true leader emerged from our trio of candidates throughout the campaign. Henry brings a vigor to his candidacy that is admirable at times and a gifted orator, we enjoyed hearing his visions for the future of Sag Harbor. However, his lack of experience in government and specifically in Sag Harbor government made an endorsement of his candidacy one we could not offer. We encourage Henry to remain a part of the dialogue and would welcome his involvement in solving some of the issues this community stands to face.

Bromberg and Gilbride have the experience we feel is necessary to lead this board of trustees through certainly challenging times. A chairman of the zoning board of appeals, Bromberg has an obvious love and passion for Sag Harbor, defending it as he does on a monthly basis. His commitment to affordable housing and the environment is one we can stand behind and we enjoy the fact that Bromberg can be found at municipal and community meetings alike. It’s a depth we wish more candidates embraced.

Gilbride has served as deputy mayor under mayor Ferraris for three years and has exhibited a care for this village and its residents in each move he has made as a board member. A family-man, and certainly a member of “old Sag Harbor” Gilbride possesses a knowledge of what the average citizen is facing in Sag Harbor — rising tax bills from the federal, state, county and town governments in the face of a fixed income for many. He understands the need for projects like the remediation of Havens Beach, but also realizes the need for a fiscally conservative budget as our nation is in the throes of a recession. It is for this reason that Gilbride, narrowly, edges out Bromberg for our endorsement.

Ultimately, in the next two years, The Express envisions a board of trustees comprised of five members, each bringing something different to the table and none possessing absolute authority. For this reason, if elected, we would encourage Gilbride to appoint Stein to his vacant seat. We feel the election of Gilbride, Culver and Gregory with the appointment of Stein will provide a balance to this board that the community is searching for.  

East End Digest: June 11 through June 18

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“Landscape Pleasures,” the Parrish Art Museum’s annual two-day horticulture event and fund-raiser, will explore the use of color in the garden, fashion and the world around you. Scheduled for Saturday, June 13, and Sunday, June 14, the program will kick off with a morning symposium, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring a conversation between renowned designers Isaac Mizrahi and Charlotte Moss, as well as talks by landscape historian and author Judith B. Tankard and garden designer Dan Pearson.

Self-guided tours of six private Southampton village gardens — those of Bruce and Maria Bockmann, Mr. and Mrs. Brownlee Currey, Juergen and Anke Friedrich, Parker and Gail Gilbert, David and Simone Levinson, and Betty and Virgil Sherrill—will round out the program on Sunday.

Judith Tankard will start off the symposium with a lecture on the color theories of influential female gardeners including Gertrude Jekyll, Beatrix Farrand and Ellen Biddle Shipman. Tankard received her M.A. in art history from New York University and has been teaching at the Landscape Institute, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University since 1987.

Dan Pearson will discuss the importance of color in his extensive garden designs, which include an Italian garden where white is the predominant color, and his own London garden. One of Britain’s foremost garden experts, Pearson has created and starred in several popular British television series on gardening. He is on the editorial board of Gardens Illustrated magazine and is a weekly gardening columnist for The Observer.

Keynote Speaker Isaac Mizrahi will take the stage with celebrated interior designer Charlotte Moss for a lively conversation about color. A leader in the fashion business for almost twenty years, Isaac Mizrahi is Creative Director for the Liz Claiborne brand, has been awarded four CFDA awards, written the book “How to Have Style,” created costumes for movies, theater, dance, and opera. A Parrish trustee since 2002 and co-chair of Landscape Pleasures, Charlotte Moss is founder of Charlotte Moss Interior Design, the author of six books, and the designer of houses throughout the United States and Canada. Her design work has been featured in numerous publications.

Sag Harbor

Candidates Lobby for Support

With elections for Sag Harbor Village mayor just around the corner, on Tuesday, June 16, this week candidates Michael Bromberg, Brian Gilbride and Jim Henry worked the campaign trail, visiting constituent groups, talking to residents, announcing endorsements and hosting a press conference in an effort to take the helm of Sag Harbor’s Board of Trustees.

Bromberg, the current chairman of the zoning board of appeals, was a guest at Friday’s Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee meeting, talking to the group about some of the issues he sees the village coming in the next two years.

Bromberg sees himself as representative of both the old and new Sag Harbor, and said he would like to see a village government elected that is interested in reaching out to the myriad of people in Sag Harbor who can aid government in accomplishing their goals. He said he was also concerned that an affordable housing trust, created during the approval process for luxury condos at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory, had yet to get off the ground, something he would like to see changed. Bromberg has also suggested the village could consider building both additional parking and affordable housing over the current village lot behind Main Street.

On Saturday morning, with roughly half a dozen residents in attendance, Henry threw a press conference at Havens Beach, stating a need for a village government willing to address a storm water runoff issue at the bathing beach and calling for the creation of a dog park. Henry, an attorney and economist, said while village officials “may be proud of a tight budget” projects like the $500,000 Cashin plan, proposed years ago to create a bio-filtration system for the Havens Beach drainage ditch have gone unfunded.

Henry also announced the endorsement of Congressman Tim Bishop, who on Tuesday withdrew his endorsement.

“As a Southampton Village resident, I understand that village politics occupy a special place, free of outside interests,” said Bishop in a statement. “As a rule, I do not insert myself into village politics. I recently made a snap decision and broke that longstanding rule. Upon reflection and with apologies, I withdraw any endorsements I have made in village races and I look forward to working with Sag Harbor’s next mayor.”

On Tuesday, Henry did pick up the endorsement of Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley, who called Henry a “person who puts community first and exhibits sound decision making.”

On Monday, Brian Gilbride said he had been sticking to a basic campaign strategy of knocking on doors and visiting with residents to share his goals for the village, which center around maintaining a fiscally conservative budget, he said. In addition to residents, Gilbride hoped to reach out to members of the business community as well as local not-for-profits.
Sag Harbor

Column Award
A column by Karl Grossman, published in the Sag Harbor Express last June, was chosen last week in the annual competition of the Press Club of Long Island as the best general interest column published in a weekly newspaper on Long Island in 2008.

The column — titled “Legally Corrupt” — concerned the selection of “official” county newspapers. It noted how each year the Suffolk County Legislature — and because of New York State law, governing bodies throughout the state — pick two “official” newspapers, one “representing the principles of the Democratic Party,” the other “representing the principles of the Republican Party.” These are then paid to publish legal advertising.

This “selection explicitly based on politics is a throwback to an era in American journalism when newspapers were avidly partisan, indeed many declared that in their names,” the column noted. It pointed to such “newspapers (still) called the Tallahassee Democrat (in Florida), Democrat and Chronicle (in upstate Rochester), Star-Democrat (in Easton, Maryland), The Republican (in Springfield, Massachusetts).”

It continued: “Change came to journalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as many and then most newspapers sought to report the news objectively.”

The column stated that this selection of “official” newspapers “based on their ‘representing the principles’ of the major parties is antiquated—and corrupting to journalism.” It questioned whether a paper “would get such a designation if it offended” the politicians who do the choosing and declared: “Independent journalism is sacrificed by this system.”

In an acceptance speech upon receiving the award Thursday in Woodbury, Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, said the system should be changed.


Road Repairs
After years of drainage issues, Sagg Dune Court is creeping into a disheveled state, said members of the Sagaponack Village Board of Trustees, and is in need of repair. Mayor Don Louchheim reported driving on the road last week and said it was in a “horrendous” condition. However, Louchheim added that the village wasn’t looking to invest in a major road construction project, but did want to solve the underlying drainage issues at the site. Drew Bennett, a consulting engineer for the village, presented the board with three separate plans varying in cost and construction intensity. Bennett also noted that only 26 percent of the road was in fair condition, with the rest of it being in poor to very poor condition.

Trustee Lisa Duryea Thayer suggested the board explore going out for a bond for general road construction throughout the town not just at Sagg Dune Court.

“We could get some kind of statement from [village attorney] Anthony Tohill on if we can acquire performance bonds for not just here but for the whole village,” said Louchheim.

East Hampton

Muskets, Militia and More

History lovers of all ages are invited to experience an historic reenactment with the 3rd New York Regiment or the Brigade of the American Revolution and revolutionary encampment at Mulford Farm on James Lane in East Hampton Village.

Visitors will have the chance to meet the “Colonial Kids” between 10 a.m. and Noon, try on 18th century costumes, take part in butter-churning and play colonial games.

Free, half-hour guided tours of the Mulford Farm House restoration will be given at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and will offer clues to the 350-year history of the house. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again between 3 and 5 p.m., costumed interpreters will demonstrate traditional methods of spinning yarn with a drop spindle, weaving on the historic barn beam loom and basket making using age-old techniques.

The farm will reopen for a candlelight tour of the Revolutionary encampment at 7:30 p.m., and contra dance and refreshments in the colonial barn. Music will be provided by “Dance All Night.” The group features Larry Moser on hammered dulcimer, Mary Nagin and Jack Dillon on fiddle, and dance caller Chart Guthrie. All are members of the Long Island Traditional Music Association and have a wide repertoire of fun and easy dances for all ages.

For more information, please call 324-6850.


D.C. Meeting

Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot and leaders of the Shinnecock Indian Nation met in Washington, D.C., on June 3 with representatives from the Office of Federal Acknowledgment (OFA) to participate in the process to secure recognition from the federal government for the tribe. The session was an integral part of the time line agreed to in a court-ordered settlement arising from litigation the tribe launched against the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The forum was hosted by the Department of the Interior in order to provide an opportunity for the Shinnecocks and other interested parties to present additional background on the documents submitted in response to OFA’s March 16 letter to the Shinnecocks. The letter, which was circulated to interested parties, identified records known to OFA that were not part of the information submitted with the Shinnecock petition. The petition seeking federal acknowledgment comprises over 500 pages, with 40,000 pages of additional documentation.

The settlement reached between the Shinnecocks and the federal government provides for expeditious review of the tribe’s original petition and its more recent submissions, as well as that provided by the interested parties. OFA sought materials from Southampton Town and New York State that were used in the earlier lawsuit over the Westwoods property, a 79-acre parcel in Hampton Bays which the tribe had began clearing for a casino. Additional records sought included expert reports from New York State’s genealogical researchers and a trove of historical documents from town clerk Sundy Schermeyer containing Indian lands, deeds and statistics.

Since first applying for recognition in 1978 and more formally in 1998, the Shinnecocks have litigated over what the tribe has called the Bureau of Indian Affairs “unreasonable delay.” With the agreement reached May 26 that led to the June 3 gathering, the Department of Interior must issue a preliminary decision on recognition by December 15.

“As town supervisor, I attended in order to represent the town board and show our support for the settlement with the Department of Interior, and to obtain a better understanding of the rigorous standards the Shinnecocks must meet to become federally acknowledged,” said Kabot, who was accompanied by the town’s legal adviser, Michael Cohen.

The meeting was moderated by OFA Specialist George Roth and attended by representatives of the U.S. Solicitor and U.S. Attorney General. Several representatives of the Shinnecock Indian Nation were also present, including Tribal Trustees Randall King, Gordell Wright and Frederick Bess, as well as their attorneys and research team.

Another purpose of the meeting was for federal researchers to explain the process, methodology, and general status of evaluating a petition. The OFA research team is comprised of historian Francis Flavin, anthropologist Holly Reckord and genealogist Alycon Pierce. There are seven mandatory criteria that must be met under federal regulations to establish that an American Indian group exists as a tribe. Questions posed to the Shinnecocks focused on membership lists, their functioning as a single autonomous political entity, while explaining how evidence is reviewed to determine parentage and descent to establish family histories.

“The Town of Southampton appreciates that the OFA will be completing a thorough, objective review of current and historic documents,” said Kabot. “We have fully cooperated with the requests of OFA for town documents. The Town of Southampton did not engage any researchers as part of this federal acknowledgment process sought by the Shinnecocks, nor do we intend to do so, and therefore we did not pose any questions on the submissions made by the Shinnecocks. Our relationship with the Shinnecocks is not an adversarial one. We are friends and neighbors.”

According to Kabot, Shinnecock Tribal Chairman Randall King requested an opportunity to convey remarks and “spoke eloquently about the need for the federal government to humanize the process, rather than making repeated requests for more documentation.” She also described the meeting as “exciting and interesting, but highly technical,” as it focused on federal criteria mandating extensive research, a peer review process and lengthy comment periods to raise inquiries and objections.

“At the end of the day, the Shinnecocks have long-awaited a decision on federal recognition,” concluded Kabot. “This meeting brings them one step closer to realizing their vision of sustaining their culture and enhancing the prosperity of their people.”

Three Mayoral Candidates See Different Village Priorities

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The three candidates vying to lead Sag Harbor as its mayor for the next two years expressed wide-ranging, sometimes divergent priorities this week on where they believe village government needs to focus its energy in what is emerging as one of the most contentious campaigns the village has seen in years.

On Monday, at an interview at The Express office, incumbent trustee and deputy mayor Brian Gilbride, zoning board of appeals chairman Michael Bromberg and attorney and economist Jim Henry began debating issues ranging from the village’s fiscal health to charging for parking on Main Street as all three begin to heavily campaign for the June 16 mayoral election.

On Sunday, the debate will continue at 3 p.m. at the Sag Harbor Presbyterian (Old Whalers’) Church in a debate sponsored by the Coalition of Neighborhoods for the Preservation of Sag Harbor (CONPOSH).

Michael Bromberg

Bromberg, an attorney, member of the zoning board of appeals since 2001 and that board’s chairman since 2005, is also a former member of the Sag Harbor School Board and paramedic for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps. He said that affordable housing remains a top priority for him.

“I think it is a necessity and we have to work harder to get that accomplished,” he said.

While the new village code has inclusionary zoning standards, requiring developers to include affordable housing in projects or pay into the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust, Bromberg wondered why the village would mandate 20 percent affordable housing rather than the 10 percent New York State has legislated in the Long Island Workforce Housing Act and questioned whether that could be a disincentive for developers.

Bromberg called for the creation of a mix of affordable housing options for village residents, from affordable homes for sale to affordable rental units, and questioned what work the village has done toward the affordable housing issue.

“Sag Harbor traditionally has been a blue collar, un-Hampton and I don’t want to see us lose that,” he said.

Providing more village parking is another priority for Bromberg. One concept he floated was the use of air rights over the municipal lot behind Main Street or the parking lot adjacent to Sag Harbor’s American Legion on Bay Street — for which the village would have to negotiate the rights — in order to construct parking and affordable housing. Both sites, said Bromberg, would enable the housing to connect easily to the village sewer system. Addressing storm water runoff concerns at Havens Beach is another issue Bromberg would take on if elected mayor.

For Gilbride, who has served on the board of trustees for 15 years and is a member of the village fire department and former head of sanitation for the Town of Southampton, the concern is looking at the budget when weighing what projects the village should tackle in coming years.

Brian Gilbride

“As far as going into the future, the [zoning] code we just adopted, to me, is a work in progress,” said Gilbride who added that the village intends to fine tune the wetlands section of the code. “I am sure there are some elements that may sue us over the code and we are prepared for that. The most important part is getting that code out there now and seeing where the strengths and weaknesses are.”

“I would like to see something done with a greenings code for the historic district to start to make provisions to regulate what can be done,” said Gilbride, who wants opportunities for people who would like to install solar panels on their residences.

“Pretty much in the village, it comes down to what we can afford and we fight pretty hard over little bits of money in the budget process,” he said, adding a majority of the village’s spending covers basic items like employee and police contracts, emergency services, sewage and public works.

Henry, who lost a bid for Southampton Town Supervisor in 2007, is an attorney, economist and founder of the Sag Harbor Group, a consulting firm for technology-based businesses. He was one of the founding members of the group Save Sag Harbor.

James Henry

“I really want us to work on a vision for where this community wants to end up – how we make it a sustainable Sag Harbor,” said Henry who added that he sees a number of issues not yet budgeted for that the village will need to address in coming years, including remediation of Havens Beach.

“You can argue whether there is pollution there today or next week, but the fact is there is a $500,000 project that needs to be addressed,” said Henry, referring to a plan to create a filtration system at the beach to address storm water runoff concerns.

He also suggested Long Wharf is under-utilized in its current form as a parking lot and would like to see it developed into a more “user-friendly” space for the community.

As for parking, Henry said he would not seek to build more lots, but rather charge for parking, using meters in the center of the village with free parking on the perimeter of the downtown area. Henry said this could provide additional revenue for the village, which could be used to provide more services for area businesses.

Charging that the village has not anticipated a drop in property tax revenues, Henry said the current budget will result in either a tax increase or a spending cut unless other sources of revenue are found. He questioned why Sag Harbor has not approached Southampton Town for more monies from the Community Preservation Fund (CPF) and said it should be more active in seeking funding through the federal government’s stimulus plan.

Financially, the mayor is the village’s chief fiscal officer. From a budget perspective, Gilbride said he believed the board was successful in keeping the budget tight in the face of a lagging economy, approaching department heads early on and asking them to hold the line on spending.

“In the village, we live the old fashioned way – we do what we can afford,” said Gilbride, who added that Southampton and East Hampton towns both have multi-million dollar deficits, with East Hampton considering employee layoffs and the selling of town owned land.

“Now I think we are in good shape,” said Gilbride. “We have actually been in good shape the last few years. Since [mayor] Greg [Ferraris] has been in office, taxes have actually dropped 10.2 percent. But I think we are at the bottom now. Quite honestly, for me, as we move forward if we want to do any of these projects the tax rate will have to increase.”

The village has also employed a grant writer to look for revenues to complete projects, added Gilbride who took issue with Henry’s criticism of the village’s budget.

“Jim mentions the budget — I never saw him at one budget meeting, I never saw him at one village meeting,” said Gilbride, later adding, “You have all these answers — it’s great, but where have you been.”

“I don’t think that is fair,” responded Henry, noting he was involved in Save Sag Harbor and ran for supervisor in Southampton. “I think I have a track record of having to work on all these issues from the outside.”

Henry suggested the village look at new ways to tackle current spending in a more affordable way and increase revenues.

“I think the village has a limited vision, pardon me for saying so, about what the village can do to make what I would say is the quality of life stuff a priority,” said Henry. “I am talking about making the parks more valuable, the walkablity issue, culture and recreation.”

What the village is spending in these areas, said Henry, is way out of proportion when examining budgets for the police and fire departments.

“It’s not a question of cutting those departments or transferring money,” cautioned Henry. “It’s a way of being more creative, going out and finding other revenue sources.”

Bromberg said he was unsure what he would cut or add to the budget, as he would want to talk with department heads and hear about their priorities first.

Looking at the current administration, Bromberg said the adopted zoning code represented what the current administration got right and wrong.

“I think most of it is workable. I think parts of it will need to be tweaked,” said Bromberg, who also called for a comprehensive plan for the whole of the village.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” he said.

Bromberg expanded on the idea of a comprehensive plan, noting it would cover more than just zoning, but would encompass schools, economic growth, demographics, ethnicity.

“I kind of disagree that we would all come together and move on,” said Bromberg, noting the village is currently comprised of different factions – an old Sag Harbor and a new Sag Harbor.

“What has to happen here is an amalgam,” said Bromberg. “We have people in this village that have enormous talents. I think they can contribute mightily to the village if they are asked. Brian asked where Jim has been. Well, sure, but Jim has some good ideas and maybe if someone had approached him earlier on we could put some of these ideas into effect.”