Tag Archive | "don louchheim"

Cablevision Changing Channels

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On Wednesday, Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski was taking a tour of the town’s public television station’s new facilities. SEA-TV has set up new studios on the Stony Brook Southampton campus where they edit footage from local events and town meetings and create programming, which is broadcast over channel 22.

But since September, many subscribers to Cablevision have discovered they no longer are receiving the public access channels from the town. Indeed, public access channels East End-wide seem to have vanished from the basic tier of services the cable provider offers. The loss to subscribers is a concern expressed in village meetings and local citizen advisory committees as well, including Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton and Noyac.

A few weeks ago the Village of Sagaponack received a letter from Graboski, who is the town’s cable liaison, regarding the removal of channels 20 and 22 from the basic tier package and analog format of Cablevision. This means cable subscribers with basic service need to upgrade to a higher level of service in order to continue receiving the two channels.

Graboski said in an interview this week the town is investigating the issue with the four other East End towns in order to force Cablevision to restore the channels to basic tier packages.

Graboski said that many people she has spoken with are confused about what has happened.

 “I can’t make heads or tails of it,” Sagaponack village board member Alfred Kelman said during their meeting Monday.

“It’s hard to get your arms around the issue which unfortunately impacts our seniors and others on limited incomes much harder, since many can’t afford a higher tier of service,” Graboski said.

According to Graboski, the two channels were eliminated so that more bandwidth could be freed up and allow for more high definition channels to be offered. In 2004, the town and Cablevision signed a franchise agreement – approving the allowance of free access to both channels, according to the councilwoman.

However, Patrick MacElroy, a spokesperson for Cablevision, explained that 90 percent of subscribers would not be impacted by this change since they are not basic subscribers. The other 10 percent that were notified in the summer of the change were offered one free digital converter box, if they asked for it prior to the December 31 deadline.

Even customers with digital televisions are having a problem receiving the channels if they are subscribers at the basic tier. Graboski mentioned one of the town’s attorneys has been unable to connect, although she added there is a way of re-programming the sets to receive the channels.


According to Graboski, Cablevision attempted to rectify the issue by providing a “dumbed-down” cable box for subscribers with the basic tier packages so that both channels can be converted from digital back to analog and viewers can access them. But Graboski says that is not enough, because it will only work for one television per household. Further, Graboski argues that this solution will not help students in local schools who can no longer receive the channels in their classrooms and the same goes for those who are in hospitals and town hall.

MacElroy explained that back in 1972, when cable television first came on the scene, the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) mandated that public access and government channels be made available on cable systems. Those channels, he noted, have never been available on satellite or phone company provided television.

Graboski argues that its important for all residents to have access to the channels without additional cost or equipment, particularly because they are advised to tune into channel 22 in case of emergency, natural disaster or otherwise. She added that a similar matter has been the subject of litigation in Dearborn, Michigan, regarding another cable company, Comcast. The court issued a temporary restraining order against Comcast, pending an opinion from the FCC, according to the councilwoman.

Graboski said they are waiting to hear the outcome of the Dearborn case, and have considered legal action to restore the channels.

Representatives of the East End Towns met with Cablevision representatives one week ago, but she has not heard whether the company intends to meet the towns’ request.

 “Our goal is simple,” said Graboski, “we want Cablevision to reinstate channels 20 and 22 to the analog basic tier… and we want Cablevision to replicate the level of service that we had prior to September 15, with reception on all TV sets in a household, with no added costs for subscribers.”


Make-over for Roofs in Sagaponack

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Some roofs in the village of Sagaponack, will be seeing a transformation in the coming months, including the new village hall located at 3175 Montauk Highway.
Although the village has voter approval to spend $800,000 in renovations, Mayor Donald Louchheim announced on Monday during a work session that the village is hoping to keep their expenses at a minimum. Some $250,000 will be used for improvements at the new village hall including improvements to the roof on the southeast side of the building. Above the future meeting space, the roof needs repair and a portion of the $250,000 will also be used for pavement and curbing improvements.
Louchheim said that prior to acquisition, the building, which is a re-modeled barn, was in need of improvements to the roof because it is sagging and the beams holding the roof up need to be re-configured.
The mayor said that the board of trustees has seen plans submitted by the architect, but decided not to do any major renovations at this time. The plans previously submitted included changes to the existing footprint of the building to add a larger meeting space.
“We are still working on the specifications of the bid package for improvements to the roof and parking lot at this time,” Louchheim said on Monday.
The bid specifications will be available for pick-up from the Sagaponack Village Hall by Monday, December 15. The last date of submission will be on the morning of January 9, 2009 and bids will be opened at 11 a.m. that day. The award will be announced at the board meeting that follows on January 12.
During Monday’s work session, board member and liaison to the architectural review board (ARB), Lisa Duryea Thayer, mentioned that there are other positive improvements to roofs within the village confines. The ARB has seen three applications for permits to allow for green roofing.
“These types of roofs cut down on [homeowners] carbon footprint,” said village building inspector John Woudsma at Monday’s meeting.
The roofs, two of which would be on Daniels Lane in Sagaponack, are made of living plants built over a water-proofing membrane.
“I was impressed,” Duryea Thayer said. Deputy mayor Lee Foster asked jokingly if livestock would be necessary on top of the roofs to help maintain the plant life.
Woudsma explained that the roofs are made with a type of plant material that doesn’t grow very rapidly.
The village of Sagaponack is not opposed to the idea of adding greener building practices to their new village hall. Village Clerk, Rhodi Winchell said that village officials had a representative take a look at the new hall and assess it for solar paneling. According to Winchell, however, the LIPA representative made an assumption based on usage and, at this time, the village will not be going ahead with any plans for solar paneling. Winchell did say the village is considering low energy consuming lights and other alternative ideas to reduce energy consumption for the new building.

Water, water – nowhere to be found on Daniels….
During the public portion of Monday’s meeting, John White a Sagaponack resident, suggested that a water connection be added to Daniels Lane. He cited a recent fire during the summer months, in which the Bridgehampton fire department had to connect to a water main on another street and pull the hoses from another road.
“We can alert homeowners if there is a fire along this road where there is limited access, and tell them there may be no way for us to put it out,” Louchheim said.
White said homeowners along Daniels Lane are looking for a possible hydrant to be put in on the ocean side or adding holding tanks for water in case of a fire. Another option homeowners have is deciding if they want to become a separate water district but it will cost them.
“The commissioners should do a survey and we can bring it to the homeowners,” Louchheim said. “Or we can alert the homeowners and suggest they put a well in.” Another option, according to Louchheim is to authorize a special taxing district and the residents could pay into it for capital improvements.

Sagaponack tackles sign pollution, tree rot

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The fiscal crisis may not be affecting every member of every community, but that doesn’t mean that people are not being cautious with major decisions that could impact their personal finances.

Sagaponack resident and village zoning board of appeals member Cindy Greatrex said she is leaving the village for the West Coast to take a position with the company she has worked for as vice president and stakeholder for several years. Greatrex said that the only way not to take the transfer would be to resign her employment.

“In this uncertain economy, this would not be a wise move,” she said in her resignation letter.

At Monday’s board meeting, the trustees passed a resolution to accept the resignation of Greatrex and appointed Patrick Guarino to fill the unexpired five-year term — which will expire in July 2013.

Another resident moving out of the village is architectural review board member Don Sachar who is moving to North Haven. Sachar’s resignation was accepted and the board members appointed Barbara Slifka to fill the three-year term, which will expire in July 2011.

Deputy mayor Lee Foster said she regretfully accepted both resignations with gratitude. The board also appointed Elliot Meisel as chairperson to the zoning board for a term set to expire in July 2009.

Also at the Sagaponack Village board meeting on Monday, a resolution was passed allowing Mayor Don Louchheim to sign a license and indemnity agreement with David Seels allowing him to contract with the Barlett Tree company to care for diseased trees on public property. Sagaponack resident David Seels received permission from Southampton Town to plant 50 trees for his wife’s 50th birthday. Two of the trees on what is now village property have been discovered to have root rot. Fred Hoffman of Bartlett Trees attended the meeting and told the board about the problem.

“The trees get stressed from the heavy and wet soil, but that is not the only reason,” he said. “The fungicide we used has worked in the past and I will assess them in the spring.”

Hoffman said that he will have to do two more treatments for the trees next year. Hoffman said he would be happy to donate his time to look at all the trees in the village and assess them.

Also last week, at their monthly work session, the Sagaponack Village Board discussed the excessive bike path signs within the village. Village clerk Rhodi Winchell said at this week’s meeting that she contacted Tom Neely, director of transportation and traffic safety and a member of the Biking Citizens Advisory Committee of Southampton Town, to look at all the signage. Winchell said Neely was able to go out and look at all the signs, and the town is going to conduct a survey to reduce the sign pollution within the village. The signs, according to the board, were decided upon before the village was incorporated.


Planning Board Meeting


Following the regular village board meeting on Monday, the Sagaponack planning board members were thrown a curve ball when an applicant asked if there was the possibility of adding agricultural buildings on open space after a subdivision application had been given its final approval, which restricted agricultural buildings in that area.

At the public hearing, representative for the applicant of the property, Randall Weichbrodt, asked the planning board to consider the option of adding an additional agricultural building on the open space portion of the 17-acre parcel on Gibson Lane.

“Open space will remain open space, otherwise we wouldn’t have approved a negative declaration,” said planning board and village board of trustee member Al Kelman.

Although Weichbrodt asked the board to consider the option of an agricultural building on the reserve, the applicant, Jay Bialsky, said he had no problems with the board’s decision not to allow any agricultural buildings on the open space for this particular site.

The public hearing for the Gibson Lane parcel was adjourned until December 15.



Sagaponack Seeking To Rein In Big Events

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Special events applications once again took center stage at the Sagaponack Village board meeting on Monday. And at the end of the meeting, Mayor Don Louchheim gave a “preview of coming attractions” for next year.
“Once summer is over, time to lay the groundwork [for how we are going to handle special events in the future],” said the mayor.
He said they are going to look into enforcement, possibly changing laws specifically dealing with how late music can be played at parties, and whether parking restrictions should be amped up in the tiny village. He also wants to institute some sort of “end of summer” meeting where residents can come and voice their opinions about how they were affected by the high number of fundraisers and galas that take place in the high season months.
On Monday, the village trustees decided to approve a special event they denied only a week before. The event, The Hamptons Trunk Show, is expected to draw roughly 50 people and will be held today.
The applicant, Tracy Frost Rensky, attended Monday’s meeting and asked the board to reconsider her application. After slight grilling by the trustees, she was granted permission to hold the event.
“You have merchants in the area who have to pay taxes and need to make a living,” said trustee Lisa Duryea Thayer. “Basically you’re in a residential zone running a commercial venue and that bothers me as a general principal of things.”
Frost billed the event as a kid friendly afternoon featuring face painting and arts and crafts, where two retail clothes vendors will set up shop for the day. A small portion of the proceeds will go to a non-profit organization called Citibabes that provides day care and services for mothers in Manhattan. The majority of the proceeds however will go to the vendors and that seemed to be the sticking point.
“I just have real concerns of us approving continual trunk shows. I don’t think that’s why people live [in Sagaponack],” said Duryea Thayer
Trustee Lee Foster said why not just remove the vendors and have a fun afternoon for the kids.
“This places us in such a cruel position. I hope you realize that,” said Foster. “I find it difficult to approve.”
Trustee Joy Sieger acknowledged the fact that the village had yet to deny a special event application this summer, though many were approved with reservation. And she pointed out that it might not be the best idea to make an example out of Frost.
“We’re in a funny position this summer,” she said, “because we’re going to make it known [next summer] that activities like this need to be applied for well in advance.”
“They need not apply at all,” responded Louchheim.
“I don’t think we need to make her an example of our upsetness with the whole summer. It’s coming down to the wire,” added Sieger.
“I am adamantly opposed, but I think we have to go ahead and approve it,” said the mayor. “She is applying for something and we have not turned anybody down, we basically have had no criteria, no lines drawn, no deadline.”
The board voted three to one in favor of Frost’s application. Duryea Thayer was the lone dissenter.
In a related issue, Louchheim raised the issuance of tent permits for outdoor parties in the village. Currently the Southampton Town approves such permits but Louchheim believes that might need to change in the future.
“There are [events] going on we don’t know about,” said Louchheim. “These tent permits that the town issues and then send us a notice on the Friday before the weekend of the event – usually the tent permits are for large parties that nobody has applied for. I think we should consider taking over the tent permit process.”
Under that scenario, the mayor said if someone comes into the village hall for a tent permit for 200 people and they have not filed a special event application, they will simply be denied.
He also brought up something the board has been discussing all summer concerning the high number of special events. They hope to sit down and establish criteria for the events, such as whether or not they benefit local charities. He said, under such guidelines, a trunk show benefiting a city not-for-profit would “not be permitted at all.”
The board also discussed the issue of enforcement. They believe there are a number of events that have taken place in the village this summer that did not have permits. As far as enforcing those events, Louchheim said he would have to talk with the town’s ordinance inspectors.

Top Photo: Sagaponack Village trustees Lisa Duryea Thayer, Lee Foster and mayor Don Louchheim at Monday’s meeting.