Tag Archive | "East Hampton"

Lewis Black Brings His Pissed Off Optimism to Westhampton Beach

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Lewis Black

Lewis Black

By Dawn Watson

Acerbic, opinionated and frequently profane, Lewis Black might not be for fence sitters or the faint of heart. But for the people who love to laugh at the absurdities of life, he’s the comedic king of blistering social and political commentary.

Addressing hot topics such as mental health care, the NRA, activism, social media and fiscal entitlement, the two-time Grammy Award-winner and creator of the “Back in Black” commentary segment on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will not shy away from what he sees as the problems facing the world today during his “The Rant is Due Part Deux” stand-up routine at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 27. There, he’ll share his opinions, and hear those of East Enders, via a new, live interactive portion of the performance at the end of the night.

“It’ll be upbeat, happy, optimistic, joyous, almost Christian-like,” he joked during a telephone interview last week.

Since his tour schedule includes approximately 200 gigs a year, the comedian’s set list is fairly fluid, he said. It also promises to be peppered with tales of his experiences on the road, he reported during a brief stay between shows at his Manhattan home. And of course, since the performance will be here in the Hamptons, he’ll be sure to share his opinions about the 1 percent.

“They know what the score is,” the prolific and successful comic, actor, playwright and best-selling author said of high earners. “I know what the score is. I know that we have an advantage. It’s as simple as that.”

When it comes to philanthropy, the Yale Drama School graduate puts his money where his mouth is. A staunch believer in giving back, he supports a slate of charitable organizations, including the 52nd Street Project, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Autism Speaks, Wounded Warriors, the USO and The Brady Center. He is also heavily involved in the Ron Black Memorial Scholarship Fund, created for his late brother, the Rusty Magee Clinic for Families and Health and a slew of other education and arts programs. Additionally, he’s lending his name and the weight of his support to Flushing-based Vassilaros & Sons coffee company, which he says is “a miracle in a cup.”

The comedian is helping his friend John Vassilaros to put out a signature coffee line, the proceeds of which will benefit veterans, Black reported. After the point was made that it might seem ironic that he of the exaggeratedly tightly wound persona is the voice for a coffee company, he laughed.

“Works for me,” he said.

Paradoxically, the passionately outraged performer, who calls himself more “pissed-off optimist than mean-spirited curmudgeon” is also quite popular in animated television shows and films. He’s voiced characters on the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated” and “The Penguins of Madagascar,” among others. His latest role is that of the emotion Anger in the upcoming Pixar film “Inside Out,” which also stars the voice talents of Diane Lane, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling. Working with Pixar, he said, “was one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Black’s next voice role is in Pixar’s animated “Rock Dog” with Luke Wilson, J.K. Simmons and Eddie Izzard.

Splitting his downtime between homes in Manhattan and North Carolina—where he earned his undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina—the comic relishes his days off the road, he said. Traveling half the year via tour bus for work is one thing, he added, but making the nearly 100-mile schlep out to the Hamptons regularly is an entirely different undertaking.

“It’s just too far. How do people do it?,” he griped.

Trekking out to the Hamptons every weekend is definitely not for Black. Instead of participating in the hours-long traffic nightmare, he’s come up with his own solution that makes a lot more sense for New Yorkers who miss the ocean.

“They should just take sand and spread it around on Park Avenue and the Upper East Side and the let people sit out on their beach chairs so they don’t have to drive around for 2 hours,” he said, adding that he sympathizes with year-round East Enders, who should put up blockades to keep the seasonal crowds out. “I really don’t know how you guys allow it,” he said of the massive summer influx.

And though he did admit to enjoying a visit to Sag Harbor every once in a while, the comedian said he plans to stay put in New York City. If not for his peace of mind, then for his career.

“Sag Harbor is beautiful and serene,” he said. “I couldn’t live there though. I wouldn’t get anything done.”

Lewis Black will bring “The Rant is Due Part Deux” to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 27 at 8 p.m.  Tickets are $95, $125 and $150 and are available online at www.whbpac.org. 

Fire Destroys East Hampton House of Hard Rock Cafe Co-Founder

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Firefighters spent almost eight hours extinguishing a fire that destroyed the house at 57 West End Road. Photography by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

Seven fire departments spent most of the afternoon and evening of March 18  battling a fire that destroyed the East Hampton house of Hard Rock Café co-founder Peter Morton.

Strong winds fueled the fire, which otherwise “could have been manageable,” according to East Hampton Fire Department Chief Richard Osterberg. The oceanfront house at 57 West End Road caught fire apparently when construction workers used a torch on the roof. Pockets of fire continued to burn late that night. There were no injuries.

“The house is a total loss,” Chief Osterberg said over the phone on Friday. According to the chief, the 911 call came in at approximately 2:35 p.m.; nearly 100 firefighters responded to the call and the last tanker did not leave the scene until 10:30 p.m., almost eight hours later, he said.

Chief Osterberg said that the fire appeared to be accidental and that there was no reason to believe it was suspicious.

“The wind really didn’t do us any favors,” the chief said, noting that the house has wide open fields on one side and Georgica Pond on the other.

By the time the first firefighters were on the scene, it had become apparent that it would be too dangerous to allow firefighters into the building and instead they decided to attack the flames from the exterior, dousing the burning house with huge quantities of water.

Winter winds were blowing hot embers around and firefighters worried that the flames would spread. “The house to the east was our main concern,” the chief said. West End Road is long and narrow, Chief  Osterberg explained, making it difficult for firefighters to get water from their tankers to the pumpers.

Not long after the call came through, other nearby departments were called in to provide mutual aid, the chief said. The Amagansett Fire Department sent a tanker as well as an engine and helped to lay hose, Mr. Osterberg said.

Springs, Montauk, Sag Harbor,  and Southampton fire departments all responded to requests for mutual aid and provided more manpower and firefighting equipment.hellerfire

Members of the North Sea Fire Department were sent in to serve as standby at the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street in case another emergency call came in.

At approximately 5 p.m., the North Sea firefighters responded to an alarm at East Hampton Airport, when a plane skidded off the runway. With North Sea responding to that call, volunteers from Hampton Bays were brought in to stand by at the East Hampton headquartes on Cedar Street.

According to East Hampton Town Police, David Bulgin, 62, of Sag Harbor was the pilot and the sole occupant of the Beechcraft Baron BE 58 that skidded off the runway after experiencing a landing gear malfunction after landing on the main runway.

The plane was damaged and had to be removed from the runway. Mr. Bulgin walked away from the scene unscathed. The Federal Aviation Administration will conduct a full investigation on the incident, according to a release issued by the East Hampton Town Police.

“Out here we’re so lucky—everyone works so well together,” Chief Osterberg said. In addition to all the help from various fire departments, Amagansett and East Hampton Village sent ambulances to the fire near Georgica and the village police were “a tremendous help.”

By the mid-evening, an excavation crew from Keith Grimes, Inc. was working on removing debris from the property, and by the next morning, thanks to village police keeping an eye on the house, there was nothing left burning on the land.

“I feel I have a good department, to know you have friends that are willing to do whatever” is great, Chief Osterberg added.

Tensions Soar at East Hampton Airport Hearing as Critics and Supporters Air Their Views

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Andy Sabin warned the board that adopting the four proposed regulations would hurt the local economy. Photography by Michael Heller. 

By Mara Certic

Since proposed flight restrictions at East Hampton Airport were unveiled last month, many members of the local aviation community have argued the laws will surely result in increased taxes and the eventual closure of the airport.

According to some, the four restrictions the town board is considering would not only have repercussions on local aviators, but will also have a devastating domino effect on the local economy and would result in large swathes of summer visitors and second homeowners picking up shop and relocating to towns and villages that are friendlier to air traffic.

“We are a resort community dependent on seasonal traffic, and that can’t be ignored. Facilitating access to the Hamptons is what feeds our economy,” said local pilot and hangar-owner Rod Davidson at a hearing on the proposals on Thursday, March12.

“The proposed restrictions on aircraft traffic are a death sentence not only to the airport but to hundreds of jobs and countless businesses. I find it baffling that the town board continues to place the agenda of a handful of people above preserving one of its most important economic assets,” he said.

Several of those who attended the hearing to speak out in opposition of the proposed regulations were employed by Sound Aircraft Services, the 25-year-old business that provides fueling and ground services at the airport. Maureen Quigley, a 22-year-employee of Sound Aircraft, was adamant that the airport would not be able to survive a trial run of what she described were “egregious” restrictions.

“To some extent, any change in the airport affects the working people more than any other group in the town,” said Mitchell Moss from the New York University  Center for Transportation, because the working people work for many airport-users, he said.

Ms. Quigley added that the restrictions are in effect condemning her clients “for being rich and privileged.”

While those who complain about noise have for years asked the town board to consider their needs over the wealthy 1 percent who frequently use the airport, airport supporters tried to turn the tables when they said that the number of people who are actually affected by noise is actually just a small, but vocal, minority, compared to the number of people who benefit from the airport.

Local pilot Bruno Schreck had several large visual aids made for the hearing, and when his presentation was cut short because of a 3-minute limit on comments, he returned before the town board at its work session on Tuesday, March 17, to finish his presentation.

Mr. Schreck believes that the public has been misled by the presentation of complaint data in previous noise analyses prepared for the town. Mr. Schreck maintained that the town’s use of a logarithmic scale distorted the facts, and made it look as though more households had complained, when in fact, 10 houses represent one half of all complaints.

Mr. Schreck prepared one graph, which was intended to visually show the reward and risks of the airport. Mr. Schreck concluded that the rewards outweighs the risks, with the airport enabling 8,666 people to enjoy summertime on the East End and only ruining the summers of 200 local residents who are “frequent complainers.” Mr. Schreck’s figures are based on the assumption that there were approximately four passengers served in each of the 26,000 operations at the East Hampton Airport last year; he then divided 104,000 by 12, assuming that each of the passengers came to the East End for all 12 of the summer weekends.

Mr. Schreck also warned that if the airport is in fact shut down, planes will continue to travel overhead and disrupt residents as city-dwellers will still jet over the East End to second homes in Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, but will no longer contribute money to the local economy.

Amagansett resident Andrew Sabin said he moved to the area 24 years ago, and the airport was one of the big draws. Airport users pay a huge chunk of local taxes, Mr. Sabin said, and he, like many aviators, warned the town that these restrictions would likely result in lengthy litigation. The town has already earmarked $3 million for airport-related litigation.

“Wouldn’t this money be better spent helping charities in this town?” he asked. Mr. Sabin’s son Jonathan also warned the town board that restrictions would only succeed in enraging helicopter users and said that if the airport users got together and agreed not to pay their property taxes “the town would be broke over night.”

“I know quite a few of the helicopter users at the airport. I can tell you right now that each and every one of them could afford a yacht, with a helipad, and would gladly park their yacht right out on the water here and land right on the yachts,” he said. “It’s dangerous to enrage that demographic.”

And on the other side of the aisle…

For East End residents craving quieter skies, four proposed flight restrictions at East Hampton Airport are like the light at the end of 20-year-old tunnel.

Heller_EH Town Board Airport Hearing @ LTV 3-12-15_7185_LR

North Haven Village Trustee Dianne Skilbred asked the town to put in place all four of the regulations.

Now that restrictions are finally in sight, supporters spent their allotted individual 3 minutes of public comment at a hearing on the proposals at LTV Studios in Wainscott on Thursday, March 12, thanking the town board for its hard work and transparency and asking it to “hold fast” with the proposed legislation.

In addition to environmentalists and residents, elected officials from four East End towns and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski commended the members of the board for the courage they have shown in what has been described in acting for the greater good in what has become a regional issue.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming urged the town to continue with its airport diversion study, which seeks to find out where flights barred from East Hampton would ultimately end up. As the town’s liaison for both Noyac and Sag Harbor, she assured the town board “that there are many, many people in the community whose quality life is impacted” by aircraft noise.

“We thank you for your courage,” wrote Vincent Cavello in a letter to the town board read by Kathleen Cunningham of the Quiet Skies Coalition. “It is a sad truth that East Hampton is becoming a poster child for inequality in this country.”

While the Friends of the East Hampton Airport Coalition, a group made up of several New Jersey-based aviation businesses, and other entities have filed suit against the town, Mr. Cavello’s letter said the board “responded to these and other lawsuits without breaking stride, knowing that the law is on the side of those who own the airport—the citizens of East Hampton—not those who exploit the airport and the town for their own economic gain.”

David Gruber, who has been an airport opponent for decades, said that the rumors that the proposed laws would make the airport financially unviable were “theatrical nonsense.” He also referred to a group of pilots filing suits against the town who call themselves the friends of the East Hampton Airport as “the self-serving operators from far away.”

Mr. Gruber serves on the town’s airport budget and finance advisory committee), which has been so far unable to come to a consensus about the economic impacts on the airport if the proposed rules are implemented. Members of the aviation community have said this inability to reach a consensus shows that the proposed restrictions are discriminatory and extreme. Those who complain about the noise had a different take.

“The airport can easily support itself without any need of FAA grants or taxpayer subsidies. Its income of more than $1 million a year is more than enough for all of its capital budget and other needs,” Mr. Gruber said.

He conceded the town would have to find ways to replace landing and fuel revenue if the town adopted the restrictions.

“A 50-percent landing fee increase would almost surely suffice. It sounds like a lot only because landing fees have been kept artificially low for years by FAA subsidies. The landing fee for a small aircraft would increase to $16.50—less than parking at Main Beach,” he said.

“The additional $330 for a $36 million Gulf Stream 5 that costs $7,500 an hour to operate would also be the cost of three minutes of flight time. This relationship that the fee increase equals about three minutes of flight time holds true across the board. It is a trivial amount,” he added.

Tensions rose on Thursday night when Wainscott resident Irving Paler began naming those who have logged the most complaints against the East Hampton Airport, asking them “Where do you find the time?”

Not only did those supporting the regulations begin applauding the top-complainers, but East Hampton resident Paul Keeber took it upon himself to respond to Mr. Paler’s question.

“I’m sitting with my beautiful wife, at our beautiful home on the back deck. Suddenly the overwhelming noise from a helicopter’s blade forces me to stop speaking to my wife. At that moment we pick up the phone right next to us and call the complaint line. Eight minutes later, a helicopter blade overhead forces me to stop speaking to my wife and I pick up the phone and I call the complaint line. And then 14 minutes later a helicopter blade overhead forces me to stop speaking to my wife so we call the complaint line,” he explained.

Many supporters of the legislation likened the regulations to any other laws that aim to conserve and preserve. “These resolutions embody a time-honored tradition of policy for the greater good, to help industry bring its standards up to community values,” Ms. Cunningham said on Thursday. “We are not asking people not to come here, we’re asking them to come quietly,” she added.

In response to claims that many people come to East Hampton simply because they can fly here in helicopters in less than an hour, Sag Harbor’s Patricia Currie responded “such people are mythical beasts, they’re unicorns, they don’t exist.”

Ms. Currie reminded the room that visitors have been making the long trip to the East End since the horse and buggy.

“If there are people who won’t live here without helicopters, they will be replaced by others who will,” Ms. Currie added.

“We need helicopters like Shelter Island needs a bridge and Montauk needs high speed ferry service to Connecticut casinos. Please pass the restrictions,” she said. “We will survive.”

Tensions Soar Over Proposed Airport Restrictions In East Hampton

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helicopters

By Mara Certic

Tensions soared on Thursday evening, as two sides battled it out during a public hearing on four proposed laws designed to curb the noise problem at East Hampton Airport.

Members of the aviation industry, local pilots and some business owners sparred with environmentalists and residents from four different East End towns at a hearing on proposed restrictions which would theoretically limit operations at East Hampton Airport by approximately one third while addressing almost two thirds of the noise problem.

Over 70 people addressed the East Hampton Town Board during a three-and-a-half-hour-long meeting on Thursday, March 12 at LTV Studios, however unlike previous meetings where the speakers were predominately those spear-heading the noise abatement movement, those involved in aviation were also out in full force.

Members of the Quiet Skies Coalition, and other like-minded individuals, lined up to thank the board for their hard work and to lend support to their four proposed restrictions which in their minds have not gone far enough to tackle the problem of noise on the East End.

David Gruber, who has been an open opponent to the airport for some time, said that the rumors that the proposed laws would make the airport financially unviable were “theatrical nonsense.” He also said referred to a group of aviators filing suits against the town who call themselves the friends of the East Hampton Airport “the self-serving operators from far away.”

One self-proclaimed friend of the airport took it upon himself to name the names of the top complainers of noise at East Hampton Airport, in an effort to show that the problem is not as widespread as community members would have the board think. This then spurred applause from members of the noise-affected community, who believe that the number of complainants is way lower than those who claim to be plagued and tortured by the noise.

Other members of the aviation community were adamant that the proposed restrictions would be detrimental to the region at large, and would result in a huge hit to the East End economy, as they claim the airport draws in visitors who otherwise would not be spending their time or money on the East End.

Montauk and Southampton residents expressed some concern that the proposed laws would have an unforeseen negative impact on neighboring hamlets if flights and helicopter operations were to move to nearby airports.

The public comment period will remain open in East Hampton Town until the end of business of Friday, March 20.

 

 

Trustees Talk Role in the Modern World

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By Gianna Volpe

About 50 residents and community members gathered at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons on Monday at which representatives of the East Hampton and Southampton Town Trustees discussed their role in modern government.

The Trustees of both towns trace their authority to colonial-era patents and were once the local governing bodies when King James II was on the throne in England. They remain to this day, with a primary focus on protecting the East End’s undeveloped common lands, including beaches and the bottomlands of ponds.

The forum took place at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton.

“The Trustees were the governing board long before there was a town board, long before there was a supervisor, long before there was a United States of America, so our patents are recognized right up ’til now,” explained Southampton Town Trustee Ed Warner Jr. “We had a lot of natural product that was here and was very important to England and that’s why they made sure we had good management practices in the colonies.”

Mr. Warner, a commercial fisherman, said this focus on protecting natural resources has led to his interest in educating the town board and others on the ways of the bays and oceans, particularly in terms of the town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

“When I first became involved in this program they didn’t even recognize sea level rise,” Mr. Warner said of Southampton’s LWRP. “One of the things that I brought to the Urban Harbor Institute is the understanding that we live on a barrier beach…that protects the mainland, and the town or the village is allowing people to build very big residences right close to the dunes…. Something that should be incorporated into this is a fallback plan. Basically, these houses should be moved back as the dunes and the beaches wash away slowly, which is inevitable.”

He said such plans should focus on things like making sure hard structures like rock abatements and bulkheads are avoided or only temporary solutions, and said care should be given to dredging projects.

“You can only dig so much sand out of the ocean, and you’re losing fish habitat,” he said of the importance of doing environmental impact studies of dredging projects. “I’m a commercial fisherman and my son is a dragger and we work in these areas every year. It’s one of the most productive squid fisheries on the East Coast. It’s a multi-million dollar fishery, and if we take away the habitat for these squid, which is a bait for larger fish like striped bass, we’re going to lose all the bigger fisheries out here.”

East Hampton Town Trustee Diane McNally stressed the importance of establishing such plans when there is not an emergency.

“The LWRP was drafted at a time when everyone was…thinking about the resources on multiple levels as they need to be protected,” she said. “When people see that water coming at them, they panic and that’s when mistakes get made.”

Southampton Town Trustee Scott Horowitz said he is interested in working respectfully alongside the town board when it comes to resolving such issues.

“I think it’s important that there is a mutual understanding and a respect that each board has an authority and a jurisdiction and if there’s a respect for that, I think we can get along and work together just fine,” he said. “The press always likes to paint that there’s a big rift or a problem. Sometimes we do disagree, but there’s a lot of things we do have common ground on, that we do have respect for each other and we work hard on, but people don’t want to write about the train running on time, they write about the train wrecks…I’m very, very happy to work with whatever department it is – federal, state, the town, the county whoever it is…. The only thing I require is a mutual respect back and forth to the fact that we’re trying to solve a problem in the best interest of the people we represent.”

That resonated with Southampton Town Board member Bridget Fleming, who said she came to the meeting because she also believes board and Trustee members should work closely with one another.

“Our coastal resources are our greatest assets, so we have to work closely with the Trustees who have so much experience,” said Ms. Fleming. “They’re out there on the bays every day, so I really admire the effort and the experience. I think it’s always best for the community when two important decision making boards are working…with mutual understanding because we do sometimes have different points of view, different interests and different constituencies protecting different parts of our coastal assets and our resources, but if we have mutual respect we can learn from experience.”

 

 

Battle Lines Are Drawn as Public Hearing Looms on East Hampton Airport

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Meeting with local officials from the North and South Forks, newly elected U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin held a press conference on Sunday at Southold Town Hall stressing the need for finding a solution to the helicopter noise issue on the East End.

“The persistent issue of helicopter noise on the East End, summer after summer, has become an increasing impediment on the quality of life of many of my constituents,” said Mr. Zeldin, the vice chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, in a release. “That’s why I am calling on the FAA to find an immediate solution for this problem, especially since it continues to get worse.”

The East Hampton Town Board is set to hold a hearing on Thursday, March 12, on proposed restrictions aimed at reducing East Hampton Airport noise complaints. The hearing was originally scheduled for last week, but was canceled due to a severe snow storm.

The hearing will take place at 4:30 p.m. at LTV Studios on Industrial Road in Wainscott, just south of the airport, as originally planned last week.

The town will listen to comment on four separate proposals. One would ban helicopters from landing or taking off at the airport during summer weekends. Another would impose a curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. for all aircraft  and a third would impose an even stricter curfew for “noisy” aircraft. A fourth law is aimed at limiting the number of touch-and-go operations, in which pilots practice landings and takeoffs, allowed by louder aircraft at the airport during the summer season.

Noise complaints, which once came from residents living on either side of the airport in East Hampton and Southampton towns, have expanded to include North Haven, Shelter Island, and Southold Town.

“Helicopter noise continues to be a substantial problem on the East End. It has, and will continue to negatively affect the quality of life for year-round residents and adversely impact our regional economy dependent on tourism and the second home industry,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. “East End elected officials, representing all levels of government, must renew efforts to work together to facilitate an end point which is favorable to all of our constituents and the Town of East Hampton.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell thanked Mr. Zeldin, who was elected in November, for his support for “local control of the East Hampton Airport, the epicenter of the aircraft noise issue, in the ongoing effort to mitigate this noise, which affects so many residents across the East End.”

“Those who enjoy the benefits of the helicopter flights should endure the noise and pollution,” added Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty. “It’s as simple as that.”

“We are delighted and extremely grateful to the congressman for making aircraft noise abatement his first official act as our federally elected representative,” said Kathleen Cunningham, chairwoman of the Quiet Skies Coalition. “The East Hampton Town Board has worked in a transparent and comprehensive way to propose policy that will protect the public from the adverse health, environmental and economic impacts of aircraft noise, while supporting a safely maintained, recreational airport.  In league with our Congressman’s efforts on the federal level, the noise affected can finally feel confident that their concerns are being effectively addressed.”

As the town board prepares to take action on the airport, the battle lines have been clearly drawn.

Last week, on the eve of the originally scheduled hearing, the town’s Budget and Finance Advisory Committee informed the town board that it would not be able to deliver a promised report on the potential impact the four laws would have on the airport’s bottom line.

Shortly after that announcement, Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesman for Friends of the East Hampton Airport, sent out a release calling the committee’s failure to produce the report a “major blow” to the town’s proposed legislation.

“The finance committee’s refusal to sign off on this deeply misguided proposal confirms the true economic hazards of the plan and the town board’s blatant disregard for these risks,” he stated.

Later in the week, fliers from the Friends of the East Hampton Airport were distributed around town, urging residents to oppose restrictions to the airport, stating the town board was poised to “vote to virtually shut down our airport this summer, which will be a punch in the gut to the local economy.”

The flier says the restrictions will result in lost jobs, local businesses closing, millions of dollars in lost economic activity, higher property taxes and lower property values. It urges residents to call at least 10 friends or family members and ask them to come out in support of the airport.

The budget committee is made up of both aviation interests as well as a group drawn from airport opponents. Representatives from the latter group cried foul, saying the pro-airport members of the group had intentionally refused to sign off on its findings. Since the committee operated on a consensus basis in which all members had to agree to its findings, the actions of the aviation interests effectively sabotaged the report, they said.

“The report of the committee is not merely delayed or untimely. It will never be issued, because members of the committee with aviation interests will not permit a report that shows any circumstances under which the airport will be self-sustaining,” said David Gruber, a committee member and longtime airport critic.

Petition Calls on Sag Harbor Village to Stem the Tide of Development

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A house on Howard Street, one of many currently under re-development in Sag Harbor. Stephen J. Kotz photo.

A house on Howard Street, one of many currently under re-development in Sag Harbor. Stephen J. Kotz photo.

By Stephen J. Kotz

A petition drive launched by the civic organization, Save Sag Harbor, which decries over-development in the village and demands local government take steps to control it and protect the village’s historic character, has already been signed by more than 750 people, according to organizers.

And they say they are heartened by the fact that approximately one-third of those signing on have taken the extra step to add their own comments to the petition, which appears on the group’s website, savesagharbor.com.

“It is going exceedingly well. We are amazed and encouraged by the outpouring,” said Jayne Young, a member of Save Sag Harbor’s board. “And the attention to this is not flagging at all. People are staying with it.”

The response, added Randy Croxton, another board member, indicates that the changes that have been occurring in the village, especially its historic district, have “really struck a nerve.”

The petition drive, which was launched in February, describes the village as at risk and cites “an unprecedented and damaging flood of development” that has resulted in the demolition of historic houses and the construction of oversized ones in their place.

It calls for village regulatory boards to take three steps to help stem the tide. The first is for the village Zoning Board of Appeals to stop granting variances “for houses which are excessively large and are incongruous in character to existing house in our historic neighborhoods.”

The petition also calls for the Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review to stop approving “over-sized construction and additions that are out of context in scale and placement with the neighboring environment.”

Finally, it urges the ZBA to consult with the ARB before ruling on applications to ensure that they are appropriate for the historic district.

Although the petition drive clearly seeks changes to the way business is conducted in the village, Ms. Young said she was not prepared to talk about additional steps the organization believes will need to be taken to protect the village.

Mr. Croxton said the Save Sag Harbor board would meet regularly in the coming months to work on more formal recommendations to the village, which would likely begin with asking it to hire a historic preservation consultant, as once was the case, to help the boards navigate the process.

He said the effort was not meant as an attack on the volunteer members who now serve on the village’s various review boards, who, he said are doing the best they can. But he added the changes occurring across the village are “showing where there are weaknesses in the interpretation of the code.”

He added that he hoped people who have signed the petition would take a leadership role in helping the village come up with solutions. “What we are assuming and hoping for going forward is a kind of passionate outpouring from the people who really have an interest,” he said.

Anton Hagen, the chairman of the village Zoning Board of Appeals, agreed with at least one aspect of the petition. “It really is incumbent upon us to have better communication,” he said of the ZBA and the ARB.

But he added that it is difficult for the ZBA to turn down applications for bigger houses, especially after it has previously issued variances for similar sized houses and noted that real estate investors have learned how to effectively game the system by seeking approval for the largest possible house. “You can say it kind of snuck up on Sag Harbor, this maxing out of lots,” he said. “We have to get ahead of the curve.”

He added he would like to see the village changing its code to adopt a maximum gross floor area ratio provision, as other neighboring communities, including North Haven, have already done. Such a code would limit the size of a house to the size of the given lot, as opposed to allowing a set size.

Mayor Brian Gilbride said village officials have begun looking into the possibility of adopting a floor area ratio amendment to the code, but said it was part of an ongoing process on the part of the village to correct problems in its code.

“Tonight we’ll extend the wetlands permit moratorium” he said on Tuesday, referring to that evening’s village board meeting. “Hopefully we’ll get that revised law done and we can move on. These are not quick fixes.”

The mayor suggested that Save Sag Harbor members may want to take a more active role, by appearing before the ZBA, ARB or planning board to voice their concerns.

Sag Harbor, he said, is facing the same kinds of pressures other East End communities have experienced. “It’s not a factory town anymore, it’s not a blue collar town anymore,” he said. “People are buying houses for a million dollars, knocking them down and building bigger houses.”

Mr. Croxton said there were still “a lot of people who have held on in a multi-generational way, who insist on passing down the houses they have and the community that they have.”

And Ms. Young said the village still had a vibrant future in front of it. “More people are raising their families here, more people are coming out for longer weekends, and there is a corps of people from the surrounding area who rely on it.”

East Hampton GOP to Hold Screenings

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The East Hampton Town Republican Committee announced this week that it will hold screenings for the positions of highway superintendent, town justice, town assessor and town Trustee on Wednesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at the American Legion in Amagansett.

The committee has already nominated Amos Goodman as its candidate to run for the Suffolk County Legislature seat that will be vacated by Jay Schneiderman at the end of the year.

It plans to screen candidates for town supervisor and the two open seats on the town board at a later date. With three Democrats, Supervisor Larry Cantwell and incumbent Town Board members Peter Van Scoyoc and Sylvia Overby, all facing reelection, control of the town board is at stake in this year’s election.

Prospective candidates for any of the positions listed above and those who would like to attend the screening have been asked to call the committee’s chairman, Tom Knobel, at (631) 875-8652.

PechaKucha Returns to the Parrish

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PechaKucha Hamptons circle lg

The Parrish Art Museum will present volume 11 of its popular PechaKucha Night Hamptons on Friday, March 6 at 6 p.m. with a group of speakers delivering rapid fire presentations on what it is to live creatively on the East End. Each speaker shows 20 slides for 20 seconds each, resulting in a compelling six-minute, 40-second long presentation.

PechaKucha Night Hamptons spotlights the staggering number of creative individuals who live on the East End,” said series organizer Andrea Grover, Century Arts Foundation Curator of Special Projects at the Parrish. “Their collective energy and inventiveness has made this program one of our main attractions.”

PechaKucha Night Hamptons, Vol. 11 presenters include writer and restaurateur Bruce Buschel; artist hi and lifestyle health coach and self-proclaimed “Kraut Kween” Nadia Ernestus; photographer Francine Fleischer; close-up magician and author Allan Kronzek; digital entrepreneurs Julie and Dan Resnick; artist Christine Sciulli; poet Julie Sheehan; and master beader and Shinnecock ceremonial dancer Tohanash Tarrant.

The Parrish Art Museum joins over 700 cities globally in hosting these events. Named for the sound of “chit-chat” in Japanese, PechaKucha Nights is the international, fast-paced presentation series founded in Tokyo by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture in 2003. Tickets for PechaKucha Night Hamptons Vol. 11 are currently sold out, however tickets may become available through the Parrish website (parrishart.org) this week. In addition, an in-person wait list will begin at 5pm on March 6th in the Museum lobby. Ticket prices are $10, free for members, children, and students, and include Museum admission.

 

Grant for Project MOST

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Heller_Project MOST at John Marshall Elementary 2-23-15_4484_LR

From left to right, County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, East Hampton Town Trustees Debra Klughers and Tim Bock, and Amos Goodman, who recently announced he would seek the seat Mr. Schneiderman is vacating, at a tour of Project MOST at John Marshall Elementary School in East Hampton on Monday.

State Farm Insurance has awarded Project MOST, the East Hampton after-school program, with a $31,000 grant to create Google Chrome labs at the John Marshall Elementary School in East Hampton and the Springs School, where Project MOST offers its daily programs.

The program was unveiled at a press conference and tour for elected officials at John Marshall Elementary School on Monday, February 23.

Among the elected officials attending were U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., East Hampton Town Board members Peter Van Scoyoc, Sylvia Overby, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Trustees Tim Bock and Debra Klughers.

State Farm was represented by Dermot Dolan, Rachael Risinger and Naomi Johnson.

The grant is called “Igniting Minds in the 21st Century Classroom” and will become an enrichment activity at Project MOST, which has been supporting an expanded education model for students for the past 10 years.

Both schools are currently using Google Chromebooks as an educational tool to improve learning. The State Farm-funded program will supplement the current curriculum by having youth leaders teach students educational applications.

“Being on the State Farm Youth Advisory Board has allowed me to share my passion for service-learning with other highly motivated young people, and helped develop me as an individual,” said Marissa Brophy, a sophomore at East Hampton High School who is currently acting as the liaison between the high school students and the project.