Tag Archive | "East Hampton"

“Five Presidents” & “The Darrell Hammond Project” Added to Bay Street Mainstage Season

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Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater announced Sunday it has added two new productions to its 2015 Mainstage Season—both East Coast premieres.

“Five Presidents,” a new play by Emmy Award winning writer Rick Cleveland (“Six Feet Under,” “The West Wing,” and “House of Cards”) will be directed by Mark Clements and will run June 23 through July 12. Originally produced at the Arizona Theatre Company and by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the funny and incisive drama is about the meeting of America’s most exclusive club—the ex-presents. Obliged to gather together on the day of Richard Nixon’s funeral, the four “exes” and one current Commander in Chief vent frustrations, revisit old grievances, and reveal the toll it takes on any person foolish enough to seek the highest office in the land.

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The second new production added to the Mainstage Season is “The Darrell Hammond Project,” which will have its East Coast premiere at Bay Street July 16 through July 26. Written and performed by Darrell Hammond with additional material by Elizabeth Stein and Christopher Ashley, the production will also be directed by Mr. Ashley. Originally produced at the La Jolla Playhouse, the production stars comedian Darrell Hammond, best known for spot on impressions of public figures and celebrities like Bill Clinton on “Saturday Night Live.” In “The Darrell Hammond Project” he recounts the harrowing events that gave birth to his talent, on a “detective story of his own life” as he delves into the trauma and tenacity that made him an entertainer. Full of raw emotion, humor and plenty of the impressions that made him famous, “The Darrell Hammond Project” is the story of how a brilliant star rose from the darkest corners of human experience.

The Mainstage Season will still begin with the World Premiere of “The New Sincerity,” a new comedy by Alena Smith and directed by Bob Balaban. That production will run May 26 through June 14. The season will end with “Grey Gardens: A Musical,” directed by Michael Wilson, which will run August 4 through August 30.

“Bay Street Theater is expanding and growing, and we are excited to now present four productions on the Mainstage this summer,” said Scott Schwartz, artistic director for Bay Street Theater. “Both of the plays that we are adding to our season are personal portraits of complicated men. “Five Presidents” explores not only politics, but also the humanity in our leaders. Rick Cleveland is a writer who knows Washington, and his imagining of a meeting of five of our presidents is riveting. Darrell Hammond’s intimate look at his life in his new solo show delves deep into the dark side of funny, and is a theatrical and searing portrait of how this brilliant comedian found his voice.  The artists we have added to our season in Rick, Darrell, and directors Christopher Ashley and Mark Clements are visionary voices in the American Theater and I can’t wait to share their work with our audience in the East End.”

To purchase a 2015 Mainstage Season subscription, visit baystreet.org or call (631) 725-9500. Individual ticket sales will launch May 15.

Refuse the Test Movement Growing on the East End

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Parents bring their children to the Sag Harbor Elementary School at the start of the school day. Photo by Michael Heller.

Parents bring their children to the Sag Harbor Elementary School at the start of the school day. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

A grassroots movement of parents who say the government is taking the creativity out of learning—and doing so in impractical ways that help neither students nor schools—is growing statewide and across the East End, with many parents refusing to let their children sit for the tests the state uses to judge public education.

Advocates for local control of education were outraged when Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed through sweeping education reforms as part of the New York State budget last week (see related story), which include further linking teacher and school performance with student performance on tests written by a private company, Pearson, rather than educators.

The Teachers Association of Sag Harbor (TASH) sent parents a letter last week clarifying its position on test refusal.

According to the letter, TASH “strongly supports a parent’s right to advocate for his/her child and refuse the New York State ELA and Mathematics assessments in grades 3-8. As a collective body, TASH believes that the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers and lifelong learners who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to live good and purpose-filled lives. We believe that the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice. TASH opposes the over-reliance on high-stakes testing that is currently being pushed by both the federal and New York State governments because this testing has not been used to further instruction, help children, or support their educational needs. These commercially prepared assessments are not transparent and teachers, parents, and students are not permitted to discuss the content or to know which questions students answered incorrectly.”

These tests are administered over the course of several weeks each spring in addition to other state-mandated tests throughout the year. Last year, the State Education Department administered the tests on the new federal Common Core curriculum before providing lesson plans or textbooks. This year, schools are more familiar with Common Core, but unions and school boards alike have expressed concern over the connection of a teacher’s or administrator’s employment with a test that doesn’t take into account outside factors such as poverty, non-English speaking students or parents, or what a teacher does in their classroom aside from drilling students for the test.

Parents can “refuse the test” by writing a letter to their child’s school requesting their child be excused from the tests. When other students are taking the test, those who have excused are provided with another space to be so as not to disturb the testing.

Shona Gawronski has had five children attend Sag Harbor’s schools, and this year she is  refusing the test for her youngest two, a son in fourth grade and a daughter in seventh grade, as a form of activism in support of strong public education.

“I’ve been a parent [in the Sag Harbor School District] for 18 years and I’ve seen such a…decline in not the quality of the teaching but the parameters in which the teachers can be creative in their teaching,” she said. “Everything is evolved around these state tests—math, science and reading—and not so much the arts and…the more creative aspects of education.”

Tim Frazier, principal at the Southampton Intermediate School, said that, as of the start of the April break last Friday, about 10 percent of his students had refused, and he expects that number to increase by test time next week.

Aside from the political message it sends Albany, the movement to refuse the tests could have big implications on the performance of teachers and schools. Often, the students refusing to take the test are those who will do the best.

“Those scores will be reflecting the performance of my school and the performance of my teachers, so it’s really not a good place to be as an administrator at a public school right now—especially if a high percentage of students refused to take the test,” he said.

“There are so many other factors that go into making a ‘highly effective’ or highly performing teacher than just how…students do on a test score,” he added. “The state minimizes it to look at just that number instead of looking at all the other factors.”

Many teachers don’t actually teach the subjects being tested and are evaluated based on students they have hardly any contact with. A special education, technology or health teacher will get a score linked to how their students do in English language arts and mathematics.

But with the bill already passed and the governor showing no signs of changing his mind, advocates for education say refusing the test as their best option.

“When Washington, D.C., linked 50 percent of teacher evaluations to standardized test scores, teacher turnover increased to 82 percent, schools in communities with high poverty rates showed large or moderate declines in student outcomes, and the combined poverty gap for D.C. expanded by 44 scale-score points, causing poor students to fall even further behind their affluent peers,” said Anthony Chase Mallia, a seventh grade mathematics teacher at Pierson Middle/High School in Sag Harbor. “It is time to begin to acknowledge that the accountability movement has failed.”

 

The Teachers Association of Sag Harbor is inviting those seeking more information on test refusal to attend a forum on Thursday, April 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Whalers’ Church, located at 44 Union Street in Sag Harbor. For more information on test refusal and other commonly asked questions, visit the New York State Allies for Public Education website, nysape.org.

Wainscott Housing Project Tweaked

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Michael DiSario, chairman of an organization proposing a 49-unit affordable housing project in Wainscott, explained to the East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday that plans had been amended so it does not overwhelm the tiny Wainscott School District with a large influx new students.

Earlier this year, the Wainscott School Board released a study estimating that the housing project on Stephen Hands Path would increase the number of students by 43 within the next 10 years.

East Hampton Planner Eric Shantz presented the town’s own study which projected roughly 38 students would be added to the district in the next 10 years if the project moves forward. Ten of those students would have moved to the district regardless of the project, based on enrollment trends, he said.

Mr. DiSario explained that in order to keep the number of new students down, more one-bedroom units have been proposed and 15 units would be set aside for the elderly, the disabled and veterans. There are currently 1,100 people on the waiting list for affordable housing in East Hampton. He asked the town board to schedule a public hearing to discuss zoning for the property.

“This is going to be a four-year process if we’re lucky,” he added.

In other action, the town board will soon hold a public hearing on an alcohol ban at Indian Wells Beach for this summer. Supervisor Larry Cantwell said that he had spoken with the Trustees and that the law would be the same as last year’s, which banned alcohol consumption on the beach during lifeguarding hours on weekends and holidays. The ban would end on September 30. The town will notice the law for public hearing within the next week.

 

 

Ashram: Art & Architecture’s Lasting Gesture

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Daniel Ashram's Hooded Figure.

Daniel Ashram’s The Formless Figure

By Dawn Watson

Architecture is more than the study of blueprints and building specs for Daniel Arsham. It’s a living, breathing thing to be experienced. It’s art.

Creating site-specific sculpture directly relating to the space in which it’s erected, the artist’s aim is to transform the entire area into a visceral, yet playful, interaction with the viewer.

“When we think about architecture, it’s the most lasting gesture we can make as human beings—art too, I suppose, although one could argue that architecture is the most visible and present,” says Arsham. “Therefore its disruption can be very uncanny and powerful, and this is where I’m trying to allow the work to reside, a place where people are a little bit shaken by the disruption of the familiar and the everyday.”

He is now working to install his newest piece, “The Formless Figure,” made of fiberglass, metal and plaster, at the Watermill Center. Located in the Water Mill-based artistic laboratory’s main rehearsal studio, the “draped figure, minus the figure,” according to exhibit curator Daneyal Mahmood, will be on view starting Saturday, April 4.

“The form, generated through negative space, looks like a plaster form coming through the wall,” he said during a telephone interview on Monday morning. “Imagine if, as when you were a child, you put a sheet over your head like you were pretending to be a ghost.”

The slightly larger than life-size sculpture, blends directly into the wall, creating an interaction between the work and the building, said Watermill Center special events manager Elise Herget during Monday’s interview with Mr. Mahmood. “It shows, as Daniel’s work often does, of how we walk into a space every single day without noticing our own interaction with that space. What he’s done is to mold or melt that space around you. It’s an amazing duo.”

Arsham, a growing name on the contemporary art circuit, is well known for his work in “Snarkitecture,” a collaborative and experimental artistic expression that he and co-creator Alex Mustonen dreamed up. The name pays homage to the Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of The Snark,” which describes an “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature.”

“Snarkitecture investigates the unknown within architecture – the indefinable moments created by manipulating and reinterpreting existing materials, structures and programs to spectacular effect,” says Arsham. “Snarkitecture makes architecture perform the unexpected.”

The work is “simply hypnotic,” said Mr. Mahmood, who described himself as a big fan. One of the things he loves most, he said, is that it’s instantly accessible to everyone, from children to art critics. “Whether you have a vocabulary about contemporary art or not, Daniel resonates with everybody.”

The busy artist is in high demand as of late. He’s currently collaborating on a film project with Watermill Founder Robert Wilson, who says he appreciates the arresting quality to Arsham’s work.

“I see in Daniel’s work something very personal, a unique visual vocabulary,” he said. “Through sculpture, drawing and performance, Arsham challenges our perceptions of physical space in order to make architecture perform the improbable. The surfaces of walls appear to melt, erode and ripple. Animals contemplate the emergence of floating shapes in nature. Sculptures from antiquity are infused with rigid, geometric forms.”

The New York-based artist recently completed a project with musician and producer Pharrell Williams. For that collaboration, Arsham recreated Williams’s first keyboard, presented as a relic, in volcanic ash. He’s also recently worked with actor James Franco on a “The Future Relic” film series based on his casts everyday objects—such as eroding laptops, cell phones, and cameras—made to resemble archaeological finds made from volcanic ash and plaster.

Current and upcoming exhibitions include:” A Special Project for Leica” at the Leica Gallery in Los Angeles, “Remember the Future” at the CAC in Cincinatti, and solo exhibits at Galerie Perrotin in Manhattan in November and at SCAD in Savannah next spring. Additionally, Arsham’s work has been shown at MoMA PS1 in New York, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, The Athens Bienniale in Greece, The New Museum In New York, Mills College Art Museum in California and Carré d’Art de Nîmes in France.

“The Formless Figure” will open with a public reception at the Watermill Center on Saturday, April 4, from 4 to 6 p.m. Arsham will give an artist’s talk at Watermill on June 6 at 4 p.m. For more information, visit watermillcenter.org

School Merger Forum

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With property taxes on the rise and tuition rates a bone of contention, the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons will hold a forum, “School Mergers: What You Need to Know,” at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 13, at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

The program will feature a panel of experts including New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who will speak on the state’s role in school mergers; Eastern Suffolk BOCES chief operating officer Dr. Julie Lutz, who will explain BOCES’ role; Tuckahoe Superintendent of Schools Chris Dyer, who will address the academic and extracurricular impact on students of merging or not merging; and Southampton School Board President Heather McCallion, who will cover the financial impact on budgets and taxes of merging or not.

The panel will be moderated by Judi Roth, the league’s Education Committee chairwoman, who will also field questions from the audience.

“I encourage stakeholders from all Hampton districts to attend; we plan to recognize audience members who wish to add to this on-going conversation,” said Ms. Roth.

Southampton Town’s SEA-TV, Channel 22, will tape and later air the program. For more information, contact Ms. Roth at 283-0759.

Towns to Hold Mental Health Awareness Day

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East Hampton and Southampton towns will once again join forces to host the 12th annual East End Mental Health Awareness Day, “Changing Times, Changing Minds,” on Saturday, April 11, from 9 to 3 p.m. at Southampton High School.

The guest speakers will be Kristie Golden, Ph.D., the associate director operations, neurosciences, at Stony Brook Medicine, and Jeffrey Steigman, Psy.D, the chief administrative officer with the Family Service League.

They will discuss the new South Fork Behavioral Health Initiative, which is bringing additional mental health services to the East End, and the Medicaid Redesign, which will affect how health care is delivered to all residents.

There will be morning and afternoon workshops, a panel discussion, and vendors on hand all day. The event is open to anyone concerned with mental health issues including family members, individuals living with a mental illness, community members and professionals.

The event is free, but organizers have requested attendees register in advance at southamptontownny.gov/mentalhealthday  Although online registration is encouraged, registration brochures are available at local libraries and the East Hampton and Southampton Town halls. To request a registration brochure, call (631) 702-2445.

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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Heller_EH Town Board Airport Hearing @ LTV 3-12-15_7268_LR

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.