Tag Archive | "East End"

First East End GLBT Center Meeting This Friday in Bridgehampton

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The first meeting of the East End GLBT Center Advisory Committee will be held this Friday, November 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Bridgehampton National Bank on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.

The committee was formed in response to the bullying-related suicide of 16-year-old East Hampton resident David Hernandez.

Following Hernandez’s death, LIGALY (Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth) — an advocacy organization based in Bay Shore with youth centers in that community and in Garden City in Nassau County — held a forum at East Hampton High School. Chief Executive Officer David Kilmnick called for the creation of a GLBT Youth Center on the East End, noting the kind of support these centers offer are currently over 60 miles from East Hampton, leaving many youth without a support network.

Sag Harbor residents Beatrice Alda, and her partner Jennifer Brooke, have already promised a $20,000 matching grant towards the creation of this center.

According to Kilmnick, the meeting is open to the public.

East End Baymen Call for Fishermens’ Bill of Rights; Consider Lawsuit

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Paul Lester and Daniel Rodgers

Standing in a Riverhead law office on Tuesday afternoon, about a dozen of East End fishermen signed a Fisherman’s Bill of Rights. It was the latest move in a months long effort by a group of East Hampton baymen to protect their industry against what they say are unreasonable practices by the state that take away their basic rights under the Constitution.

Daniel Rodgers, a Riverhead attorney who has taken up the East End fisherman’s battle against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), said he plans to forward the Fisherman’s Bill of Rights to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Secretary of State.

This comes after Rodgers formally filed an ethics complaint against the DEC related to the sale of fishermen’s catch after DEC officers seized the fish.

Nassau County attorney Harry H. Kutner, Jr. also announced this week that the group is considering a federal civil rights class action lawsuit against the DEC for allegedly violating fishermen’s rights on the East End.

Rodgers has been working with baymen like the Lester family, current East Hampton Town Trustee Nat Miller and former trustee and veteran baymen Stuart Vorpahl since he took on a DEC case against the Lesters last summer. Paul and Kelly Lester were accused of violating the state’s Conservation Law after a raid of their Amagansett home and were ultimately acquitted. However, for Rodgers it opened his eyes to what he views as state law that allows DEC officers to deprive fishermen of their basic rights under the Constitution. Specifically, it allows that fishermen’s homes and boats can be searched without a warrant and fish seized and sold by DEC officers before they have been deemed guilty or innocent of any crime.

“Because it is the law of the land in the State of New York that fishermen and women as a class be treated differently than ordinary citizens of this State, we have created a Fishermen’s Bill of Rights as an Amendment to the Constitution of the State of New York,” said Rodgers in a statement on Tuesday.

Under the Fishermen’s Bill of Rights, all fishermen would be protected against warrantless searches and seizures unless an officer has probable cause. Fishermen cannot be deprived of property without due process, under the bill of rights and if they are they must be compensated. The bill of rights also aims to give fishermen equal protection under the law and protects them from excessive penalties.

Lastly, the bill of rights states that “No fisherman shall be subject to any moratorium” that deprives them of the right to work unless it is backed up by actual legislation by the state. Currently, the DEC has moratoriums against issuing fluke and striped bass permits to fisherman.

“The DEC moratoriums effectively close down fisheries,” said Rodgers on Tuesday. “It deprives fisherman the ability to make a living. Moratoriums are designed to be temporary but these have been in place for years.”

These issues, said Rodgers, will also be addressed if and when a lawsuit is filed on behalf of the fishermen against the DEC, which could happen as early as August, he said.

Bishop Nabs Behan Endorsement

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On Monday morning, decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former East Hampton Town Republican Chairman John Behan announced his endorsement of incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop. Bishop, a Democrat, is facing Republican, Conservative and Independence Party candidate Randy Altschuler in the race for U.S. Congress this fall.

Altschuler is seeking to unseat Bishop for the second time. Two years ago he lost his first run for political office by fewer than 600-votes — one of the narrowest margins of victory in a Congressional race in 2010.

Behan was the East End’s representative in the New York State Assembly from 1978 to 1995 and has earned iconic status for his work, politically and in veterans’ affairs. Behan was a driving force behind the establishment of the New York State Assembly’s Veterans Affairs Committee and also served as Director of the state’s Division of Veterans’ Affairs from 1995 to 1998.

Behan was the chairman of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee in 2009, stepping down in 2010 and leaving the committee for good in 2011. Last year, Behan’s wife, Marilyn, ran unsuccessfully as an Independence Party candidate for a seat on the East Hampton Town Board.

During his announcement, at the new Montauk eatery La Bodega on Monday morning, Behan attempted to dispel rumors that the endorsement was a result of his ire with the East Hampton Republican Committee for not supporting his wife as a candidate for East Hampton Town Board. While Behan said he remained critical of that decision, and cited the failure of the committee to elect two new town board members, the endorsement of Bishop was about people, not politics.

“I like a guy who is homegrown and knows the district like the back of his hand,” said Behan. “That is Tim Bishop. He works hard for veterans too.”

“Tim Bishop is a native East Ender who understands our local issues and works across the aisle to deliver results for our community — especially our fishermen and farmers,” added Behan in a press release issued after Monday’s announcement. “In addition, hundreds of local veterans are better off today as a direct result of his dedicated efforts, and I am also proud to endorse him based on respect for veterans and hard work on their behalf.”

“John Behan’s service to our nation and our East End Community is unparalleled, and I am honored and humbled to accept his endorsement of my re-election,” said Congressman Bishop. “John always put public service above politics, and this is also an endorsement of my bipartisan approach to working with local officials and my success in bringing federal resources to the table to solve local problems.”

“Today’s endorsement was really about local politics, and has no impact on the tremendous momentum Randy has right now,” said Altschuler campaign manager Diana Weir, another East Hampton political heavyweight. “We released a specific 10-point jobs plan focused on fixing Long Island’s economy; we have won endorsements from the New York State Independence Party, the Suffolk County Conservative Party and the Suffolk County Republican Party; and our primary opponent just dropped out of the race allowing us to focus 100 percent on the general election where voters will be faced with a clear choice between a self-made businessman and job creator like Randy Altschuler and a career bureaucrat turned politician who has destroyed jobs on Long Island like Tim Bishop.”

“Of course Randy Altschuler doesn’t understand the importance of local endorsements,” said Bishop campaign spokesman Robert Pierce. “He isn’t local. He moved to Long Island to run for office a few years ago. John Behan is a man of honor and integrity. He has dedicated his entire life to serving his country and the people of Eastern Long Island. Congressman Bishop is proud of this endorsement by an East End icon. Both John Behan and Congressman Bishop agree that bipartisanship is good for middle class Suffolk County families.”

Celebrate Earth Day Across the East End

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By Claire Walla

This coming Saturday, Christine Fetton will spend most of her waking hours at the Southampton Town transfer station in North Sea, doing what most people probably consider a most undesirable activity: monitoring trash.

As the director of waste management for Southampton Town, monitoring trash at the town’s transfer station, where she keeps an office, is a relatively routine role for Fetton. However, this Saturday is Earth Day, which means Southampton Town will be holding its annual Great East End Clean-Up (which runs through Sunday).

This time last year, Fetton said the town collected a grand total of 56 tons of garbage.

“I think we’re going to be a little busier this weekend than we are during normal weeks,” she said with a grin.

As in years past, the Clean Up will bring hundreds of East End residents to beaches and parks throughout Southampton Town for a conscientious environmental cleanse in the name of Earth Day, the one day out of the year when communities around the world make an effort to beautify their immediate surroundings.

In addition to the Great East End Clean Up, residents here will also be able to take part in a smattering of other nature-oriented events. The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike) will host a cleanup of its own at Sagg Main Beach from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, followed by an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The open house will not only include a Live Raptor and Animal Show at 1 p.m., but also a walking tour that requires nothing but your eyes and a working cell phone.

“You dial a number on your cell phone and it goes to a recording with information about that stop [on the nature walk],” said Nature Educator Lindsay Rohrbach.

Out in Montauk, Earth Day will be widely celebrated on Earth Day’s official date: Sunday, April 22. From 9 a.m. to noon, people will be invited to clean up areas around Edgemere Street (garbage bags will be available at the movie theater), and from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. kids will be able to decorate reusable grocery bags at the Montauk Playhouse.

The emphasis on reusable bags is also a big part of this year’s town-sponsored events in Southampton. During the Great East End Clean Up, trash collectors will be asked to separate single-use plastic bags from the mix. According to Fetton, this accumulation of plastic will be used as data.

“This way we can work to establish a baseline of usage, which we can compare to next year’s numbers,” Fetton explained.

While the town voted against instituting an all-out plastic bag ban (like the one now in place in Southampton Village) earlier this year, it has embarked on an educational campaign, urging residents to limit their dependence on plastic.

This entire effort, called Greener Southampton: The Solution is in the Bag, will be kicked-off this Saturday, as well. Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera and Councilman Chris Nuzzi, in addition to the town’s Sustainability Coordinator Liz Plouff will be at the King Kullen Supermarket on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton from noon to 2 p.m. to discuss the environmental hazards of plastic bags. (Those shopping within that time frame who spend $10 or more at the store will receive a free reusable bag.)

Taking a momentary break from the plastics discussion, Plouff will also talk about the town’s Green Homes initiative, through which homeowners in the town of Southampton can request free audits on their home’s energy efficiency. She will also mention the town’s anti-idling campaign.

In the end, Fetton said there may only be one organized town-wide cleanup in Southampton, but she hopes this year’s educational efforts will have long-lasting effects.

“The key is continuing education,” she said.

While plastic bags may take center stage this year, Fetton said these educational efforts, which have branched out to civic associations and other community groups, try to incorporate all aspects of sustainability, from limiting the use of plastics to diminishing the number of idling vehicles.

“All of these issues mesh very well because they have a ripple effect for one another, and when you live more sustainably you reduce the amount of pollutants in the environment,” Fetton continued. “We have to get away from the mindset that Earth Day is just one weekend out of the year.”

MTA Hopes to Implement Some of SEEDS Study Before 2015

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By Claire Wall


Do you remember when you could see a flicker of light at the end of the Long Island Rail Road tunnel?

Well, according to those integrally linked to the future of transportation here on the East End, it may be faint, but it’s still there.

It’s been 10 years since local transportation experts banned together under the leadership of the New York Mass Transit Council (NYMTC) to create SEEDS: Sustainable East End Development Strategies. And while not much has been said of the plan since it came to a conclusion in 2005, those at the helm of the effort believe change is afoot.

“I’m optimistic,” said New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. of the possibility of increasing rail service between Patchogue and Montauk. He noted that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has already allotted $80 million in its capital plan for 2010 – 2015 for small diesel trains, called “scoot trains,” that would be added to rail lines to increase the frequency of train service in the east.

What’s more, as Southampton Town Director of Transportation Tom Neely pointed out, the MTA has also reserved $50 million in its five-year capital plan to create an electronic signal system on the South Fork. One of the biggest issues responsible for the infrequency of train travel between Patchogue and Montauk, Neely explained, is that train operators on this leg of the LIRR track are in “dark territory”: they’re not in communication with one another, so two trains headed for each other on the same track would have no way of knowing they’re aiming for collision.

“It’s the same way they did it 150 years ago,” he exclaimed.

While funding is only really targeted for this service at this point and is not a total guarantee, Thiele continued by saying, for him, seeing this support from the MTA “is a step in the right direction.”

It also helps, Thiele continued, that the newly elected Suffolk County Legislator Steve Bellone “has endorsed all of this,” having made transportation his number one East End issue on the campaign trail.

“We’ve had the most support we’ve ever had on this,” he added.

Comprising nearly five years of research, the SEEDS study lays out comprehensive plans for both sustainable growth in terms of population and infrastructure, and increasing the frequency and efficiency of public transportation on the East End. In the end, the two go hand-in-hand. In building up village and hamlet centers to be high-density and therefore low-impact, this would create opportunities on the East End for implementing transit centers.

Neely pointed to the new development plan at the Bulova building in Sag Harbor as a good example of sustainable growth. Because it aims to create high density residences in a downtown area, “it’s a very good example of a development that can make good use of public transportation,” he said.

Recognizing the problems with scant train service on the East End and the subsequent absence of a coordinated bus system, the SEEDS study ultimately resulted in two plans aimed at increasing train travel to and from the East End, Neely said.

The system would ideally function with inter-modal transportation hubs. After restoring train service to Calverton and Grabeski Airport, Neely said there would be at least five major inter-modal hubs (linking train and bus services) throughout the East End: East Hampton and Southampton Villages, Hampton Bays and downtown Riverhead. The SEEDS study also discussed the need for a water taxi between the North and South Forks, which would necessitate an inter-modal transportation hub in Greenport, as well.

“To move forward we would need strong political report,” said Neely, who played a significant role in overseeing the SEEDS process. The transportation projects alone are estimated to cost more than $1 million to fully implement.

While he did say Congressman Tim Bishop had once requested $1 million in earmarked funds to continue this project, the poor economic climate has impacted the state’s ability to move forward in support of this.

“Earmarks are pretty much dead in the water at this point in Congress, “Neely said.

And while Assemblyman Thiele has also drafted two bills, one to create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Council and the other to create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority, he said legislators have thus far failed to act on either measure.

Ideally, Neely said the five towns of the East End — Southampton, East Hampton, Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southold — should work together to create a Transportation Development District, as NYMTC recommended. However, at this moment, nothing seems to be moving forward on that front.

While he continues to hope the MTA will pull through and put its money where its mouth is, in the meantime Neely said efforts to rebuild and construct the towns of the East End in environmentally sustainable ways will have to be done on a local level. Southampton Town, for example, has adopted a Complete Streets policy that will encourage new developments to consider adding bike lanes and sidewalks, for example, when repaving town roads.

In the end, Neely hopes legislators will continue to work to get state funding to act on the SEEDS plan.

“Anything would be better than what we have right now,” he continued. “Which is nothing.”

Thiele Secures East End Forum on Stimulating the Local Economy

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This summer, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of regional councils statewide that will vie for funding for projects aimed at stimulating local economies.

And New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. wants to ensure the East End gets its own fair shake at the funding.

After issuing a statement last week with New York State Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Dan Losquadro calling for the Long Island Regional Economic Council to host a public forum on the East End, Thiele’s request was quickly approved by the Governor’s office.

On Wednesday morning, Thiele announced that the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council — one of 10 councils in the state charged with creating economic plans for their regions — will host an East End forum. The event will take place October 3 at the Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on East Main Street in Riverhead.

A time for the forum has yet to be announced, said Thiele.

Asking for the special session, said Thiele on Wednesday, was an effort to ensure the East End’s needs don’t get lost in the shuffle as the region’s economy differs from the remainder of Long Island.

“The regional council hosted public forums in Nassau County and the council had one in Melville, in western Suffolk, but we haven’t had one on the East End and they don’t call Long Island ‘long’ for nothing,” said Thiele.

So far, he said, the regional council has heard from communities that are largely suburban and densely populated, while the East End remains an agricultural Mecca, with an economy tied to the fishing industry and certainly, tourism and second homeowners.

“They are different issues at hand here, but no less important,” said Thiele.

At the forum, he said he expects local chambers of commerce to attend, as well as the Long Island Farm Bureau and the Long Island Wine Council, as well as representatives from the commercial and charter boat fishing industries.

“I just want to make sure our part of this region doesn’t get ignored, and I have to say, the governor’s office has been completely responsive to our requests.

Thiele has also asked the Long Island Development Council to revive the East End Economic and Environmental Task Force first created by Governor Mario Cuomo in 1994 to come up with new economic strategies for the East End.

Additionally, Thiele said he believes the council should consider specific policy initiatives, which could improve the East End economy, focusing on transportation, education, agriculture, fishing and the tourism industries.

Specifically, he would like the council to revive the repaving of Route 27 from County Road 39 to Montauk, and wants the council to explore the institution of a five town coordinated rail/bus shuttle system. Thiele also advocated the re-opening of the Southampton campus under the State University of New York (SUNY) banner, as well as the creation of a Regional Sustainability Institute.

To promote local farming and fishing industries, Thiele called the elimination of what he called “excessive paperwork” for local wineries and the promotion of aquaculture in general. He also called for state advocacy to revise fishing quotas that he deemed unfair for New York fishermen.

Thiele also said the council should revive a commitment in investing in land preservation and environmental infrastructure to protect the tourism and second homeowner industry, create a sales tax exemption at the pump for commercial fishermen and charter boats and revise the Resident State Income Tax on second homeowners.

All of these initiatives, argued Thiele, will benefit the East End economy as a whole.

A Safe Haven for the East End’s Homeless

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By Emily J Weitz

What would you do if when you walked out of a movie on a chilly winter evening, you found a homeless man slumped in the doorway, hiding from the cold? Would you offer him a dollar, or a blanket, or a place to stay?
These are questions that those who have lived in the city know all too well. But here on the East End, it’s much easier to believe that homelessness is not an issue. You don’t see wheelchairs parked outside 7-Eleven with people sleeping beside them. You don’t get hit up for a quarter every time you set foot on Main Street. But that doesn’t mean the problem isn’t there.

The homeless population on the East End is significant — an estimated 400 to 500 people are currently living out of their cars or in the woods. And as the nights get longer and colder, these people need the help of their community if they’re going to survive. Maureen’s Haven, an East End organization devoted to serving the community’s homeless, invites people to spend the night in a place that’s safe, warm, and just as important, dignified.

Maureen’s Haven was founded in 2002 by Kay Kidde, who financially supported the effort on her own at first. Since then it has grown into a non-profit that offers housing to the homeless on both forks of the East End seven nights a week during the coldest months of the year, from November 1 through March 1. There are 14 host houses of worship across the East End that serve as temporary accommodations for guests. Every day, while many of us are driving by obliviously, people congregate at the railroad stations in Riverhead, East Hampton, Hampton Bays, and Montauk. There they are screened for behavior and drug and alcohol use. Then they’re shuttled to the host place for the evening, where they’re provided with a warm meal prepared by volunteers. After sleeping over, they get breakfast and a bagged lunch to take on their way.

“It’s important to have tolerance towards people who are homeless,” says Tracey Lutz, Program Director of Maureen’s Haven. “It’s not just people who have drug or alcohol problems or who are criminals. Some people have just hit on hard times.”

The philosophy of this organization is rooted in respect and Lutz notes this respect is evident in the quality of the services the guests receive, such as the meals carefully prepared meals. Lutz calls a recent dinner “Lovely. We walked into the church and there were no paper plates. There was regular dinnerware with silverware and candles. It was like walking into a restaurant.” Guests sit together, with volunteers and staff, and eat. They share their stories. They make connections.

Father Shawn Williams, of Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor, recalls the first time his parish hosted Maureen’s Haven last year.

“We slept on air mattresses on floors with the guys that were there. You realize that there is a lot more of a homeless population you might have ever thought,” says Williams. “I have never failed to find that people in this situation are unfailingly polite. They really do appreciate when people extend themselves for them. I don’t know if people always have that expectation.”

Williams remembers waking up in the morning “at an ungodly hour,” beside a man who “had been a little cranky… But he knew what he had to do and he had his routine. I kept thinking about this guy having to make sure everything was in order for that day, making sure he could get someplace where it wasn’t too cold. This guy has been reduced to this small amount of stuff. It really nails you … It’s a lot of work just living.”

It begs the question: between breakfast at one church and dinner at the next, where do these people go?

“Some of them work full time jobs,” says Lutz. “They just still don’t get paid enough to put a roof over their heads.”

Others are day laborers, and some attend programs for mental health issues.

“One lady spends a lot of time on the bus,” says Lutz. “She’ll do the Montauk to Orient loop and back. That’ll take up a day. Others will go to McDonalds and buy a cup of coffee and sit for two hours reading the paper. Holidays are the hardest time for our guests because everything’s closed and they have nowhere to go.”

That’s why on Christmas Eve, the doors of the hosting church will open early, at 1 p.m. That evening, guests will join the congregation to watch the Christmas play and celebrate the holiday. Lutz notes that because Maureen’s Haven is known as a safe haven for the homeless, a real community has developed around it.

“We have a core group of regulars and we are their extended family,” says Lutz. “Some of our guests, when asked to list the next of kin in case of emergency, list us.”

And , she adds, they unite with one another as well.
“There was a woman in the program who was diagnosed with terminal cancer,” says Lutz. “Everyone took care of her in her final days. They made sure she had a permanent place to stay the last weeks of her life. Everyone chipped in and gave her a proper funeral. That’s what happens in the program. You get connected to them.”

Volunteers make the work of Maureen’s Haven possible, and many parishioners at the participating church have jumped in to lend a hand.
“There were people in my congregation up to 80 years old, plus teens helping set up,” says Father Williams. “I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t appreciate the opportunity to be of help to people, or who didn’t grasp what it was they were seeing. Given the chance, most people do want to help.”

Tracey Lutz agrees.
“It’s remarkable how people come together as a group to do something so loving and caring,” she says. “Without the volunteers we have, we’d never be able to offer this service. We have 1,500 volunteers who take the time to make meals and treat their fellow human beings with love and care, which is just a beautiful thing.”

The shelter service is only one part of what Maureen’s Haven does. There’s also the HOPE line, which is a walk-in center and hotline number (1-877-727-6820) that people who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness can use as a resource for assistance in securing housing or jobs. And then there’s an achievement center, located in Riverhead, where individuals can get help with their GEDs, job applications, and resume writing. They can even get appropriate clothes to wear in preparation for interviews.

High Surf Alert for Weekend

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Both Hurricane Igor and Tropical Storm Julia are still spinning in the Atlantic Ocean this weekend, far away from Long Island and not forecast to make landfall anywhere along the east coast of North America.

The pair produced a meteorological phenomenon unseen since the 1920s by simultaneously recording 131-mile-an-hour-plus winds earlier this week, each reaching what is described as “Category Four Hurricane” status; only Category Five storms with winds of 155-miles-an-hour-plus rate higher.

While the two storms have stirred up the mid-Atlantic, at more than 1700 nautical miles south-southeast of Montauk, both have been at enough of a distance to have little effect here.

That will change this weekend, waves from Igor rolling in today and staying on through Tuesday as the storm tracks towards the North Atlantic while Julia continues to fade well out at sea.


Waves, Sweeps and Swells

On Friday, Atlantic-facing locales from the Delmarva Peninsula through Cape Cod saw the ocean disturbed by a frontal system that moved off the East Coast Thursday evening.

That fast-moving energetic low-pressure system, which spawned tornado-like conditions in Queens Thursday night, created a powerful east-to-west sand-chewing sweep along our local ocean beaches yesterday and steep, erratic waves for local surfers.

Swellinfo.com, an online weather and surf-forecasting site, reported Friday, Hurricane Igor wave energy “had not yet propagated north of the Outer Banks, although Mid-Atlantic buoys north of the Outer Banks were starting to picking up long period swells.”

Those are the swells to be on the rise locally the next few days.

Ocean-goers will see the energy from Igor in a distinct pattern of line-like waves appearing in somewhat far-apart intervals and moving through the water from the southeast in discernable groupings, or “sets”.

Those swells will start to fill in today, but the greatest rise in surf heights is likely to be most noticeable Sunday morning before finally peaking out late afternoon Monday and dropping off quickly Tuesday afternoon.


Igor to Stay Off Shore

As of 5 a.m. this morning, Igor was a churning Category 2 powerhouse, packing sustained winds of 109 miles-per-hour and in-storm waves topping 40 feet, 510 nautical miles south-southeast of Bermuda and over 1100 nautical miles south-southeast of Montauk.

Igor is expected to gain strength later today and become a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained 120-mile-an-hour winds, before dropping off in intensity during the day on Monday.

According to swellinfo, Igor’s projected path is likely to be close to that of Hurricane Danielle, an August storm running an arcing course parallel the Atlantic seaboard and never making landfall.

Danielle, which came within 840 nautical miles southeast of Montauk as a Category 1 storm, produced rip currents and storm surges that cut into East End ocean beaches and spiraled out sets that kept surfers busy for a four-day stretch.

Igor is forecast to come as close as 620 nautical miles as a Category 2 Monday morning before turning northeast towards the Grand Banks and diminishing Wednesday and Thursday off Newfoundland.

Anyone going to ocean beaches the next four days to watch the surf should be careful along the water’s edge and be aware that hurricanes produce irregular surges and forceful undertow.


Sick Day

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Health care. Do you have it? If not, you’re out of luck. If so, you’re one of the lucky ones. Especially if your employer picks up the entire premium for you. Or maybe your health care cup is half full. Yes, you have health insurance — but your employer pays half or less of the premium. Which means, given the cost of premiums these days, much of your salary goes just to ensure you have coverage.

Unless of course, you have Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield. In which case, right now, your hard earned dollars are going to a company that says you can’t even use your insurance at the three nearest hospitals.

Hmmm. And people are saying we don’t need health care reform in this country? That’s just sick.

It’s time for real and civilized debate on this topic. Let’s stop all this dog and pony show nonsense. Because this system just ain’t working.

Storm Warning

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By Karl Grossman

We dodged another hurricane bullet last weekend—Hurricane Bill veered to the northeast and missed Long Island. But sooner or later, we’ll be hit again—and by a big hurricane. We’re due.

Long Island stands to suffer major, potentially catastrophic damage. Construction has boomed along the coastline for years, unmindful of the inevitable consequences of building in the teeth of the ocean. As to the threat of sea-level rise caused by global warming, Long Island and much of the world remain asleep.

It looked for a time that Bill might head for Long Island. A LIPA spokesman said Bill “could significantly impact Long Island….We have to let the storm run its track.” Luckily, a front moving from the west nudged Bill eastward.

LIPA and emergency management agencies of the state, Suffolk and Nassau Counties conducted a Hurricane Preparedness Drill. “Our greatest defense…is to be prepared,” said LIPA President Kevin Law.

But in a broader sense, are we prepared or, in fact, heading in the other direction?

 “Liquid Assets, Seaside Homes for Those Who Love The Shore,” was a recent headline in the real estate section of Newsday focusing on the “shameless love affair between Long Islanders and our ocean beaches…For some, these weekend flings will never be enough: Some need to commit. To make a life together. To possess.” The two-page spread featured a collection of available seafront houses including a $2.35 million number in Westhampton Beach. “Like our own personal red carpet,” it comes with a “private boardwalk” that “stretches…50 feet…through the dunes, all the way down to the sandy shore.” Very nice, but how will it do when the next hurricane strikes?

The Hurricane of ’38 wiped out virtually every house from the Westhampton Beach barrier beach, now relined with many more and bigger structures.

Amid the vested interests in the U.S., beach house homeowners have been highly active. There’s an organization called the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association which this year named Fire Island the winner of its Best Restored Beach Award. Fire Island was cited for a program of dumping sand on its beaches. The sand is sure to last—until the next big storm.

The organization’s website (www.asbpa.org) describes it as “active in persuading the Congress to enact legislation authorizing federal sharing of the cost” of coastal sand-dumping, which it prefers to call “beach nourishment.”

Through malleable members of Congress, this group, and similar ones, have gotten taxpayer dollars—billions of them—spent to try to protect beach houses from the ravages of the sea.

Its website speaks of its “outrage” when the White House Office of Management and Budget recently “pulled funding” from a variety of Army Corps of Engineers seaside sand-dumping projects. “The projects on the Corps’ list were shovel-ready,” it declared. It said in 2007 “beaches contributed $322 billion to America’s economy…At a time of economic recession, the beach is an even more desirable and affordable…This is not the time for the federal government to abandon coastal communities.”

Beach house interests—with political contributions—will try to get Congress to overturn the Office of Management and Budget’s sensible effort to restrain taxpayer-supported shoreline sand-dumping.

Meanwhile, there is global warming. “Three key facts about rising sea levels need to be hammered home to the world’s politicians and planners: sea-level rise is now inevitable” and “will happen faster than most of us thought,” said the respected British publication, New Scientist, in an editorial last month. “Even if greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow, the oceans will continue to swell…as glaciers and ice sheets melt.” 

 “None of this means we should despair and stop trying to curb emissions,” said the New Scientist. But “alongside these efforts…we must stop building in the danger zone.” It cited the “countless billions” now being spent worldwide on “constructing homes, offices, factories…in vulnerable coastal areas…If we want to build a lasting legacy for our descendants, we should do so on the plentiful land that is in no danger from the sea.”