Tag Archive | "east hampton town"

David Alicea

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David Alicea is part of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which aims to unite grassroots activists around the country in order to move past the nation’s dependence on coal. Here he discusses the upcoming Rally for Renewables and other ways to move toward energy independence.

Last month, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Manhattan for the People’s Climate March. Now on this Thursday, October 30, the Sierra Club is hosting a rally for renewables. What is that in aid of?

Well it’s an hour before LIPA’s board meeting. They have two board meetings left in the year, on October 30 and December 17. We expect on December 17 they will make a decision whether to move forward or not on an offshore wind project 30 miles off of Montauk. So we saw this board meeting in October as kind of the last public opportunity to really come out there and show the overwhelming support for wind energy from a diversity of voices and to really make it known we’re going to have to rally.

Who are some of the people slated to speak at Thursday’s rally?

We have a pretty good lineup. There will be Lisa Tyson from the Long Island Progressive Coalition, Maureen Murphy for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Stephan Edel from the Center of Working Families, Jeremy Samuelson from the Concerned Citizens of Montauk is trying to make his way out, Gordian Raacke from Renewable Energy Long Island and Catherine Bowes from the National Wildlife Federation. We have some of your basic environmental groups, we have progressive voices, we have conservation focus groups who ask hard questions about new development projects. We’ll also have some staff from elected officials offices in the board meeting itself to also deliver statements on behalf of their legislators.

Do you have any sort of inkling as to whether or not the LIPA board and Governor Cuomo will approve the Deepwater ONE project? 

In August there was some concern that they were going to put all of their decisions on hold. We were pretty concerned because—“On hold ’til when?” Originally, the commitment for 400 MW of renewable energy was made in 2012. Then you had LIPA reorganization, which delayed things, but they promised us they still would make a decision once reorganization settled down. And so we put a lot of pressure on the governor and LIPA over summer and they promised they would make a decision by the end of the year, which I think was a big victory. This process is the best chance for offshore wind. Which way LIPA and the governor will go, I don’t know. I think we’ve been pretty good in showing the overwhelming purport. We have polling data that shows more than 80 percent of Long Islanders support this, we should have at least 50 people there for Thursday’s middle-of-the-day event and normally no one goes to LIPA board meetings. But, the decision will be made behind closed doors sometime over the next month, or month and a half.

Election Day is just around the corner. What are some of the things our elected officials should be doing to continue to combat climate change? 

We’ve seen the Town of East Hampton with its 100-percent by 2020 goal. Honestly, this is like a national example of leadership on climate issues. So I think now it’s operationalizing and making sure they reach that goal is the challenge they have. And that’s where we feel the Deepwater project fits in, in really helping them achieve that, but I think they’re going to keep doing great things to sort of make sure that comes through and we’ve been working really closely with Senator LaValle and others on being on the forefront of wind energy. We’ve just sent a letter to the governor about this. So I think it’s really having them keep doing the great work they’re doing and having the East End serve as a real example. We could set the stage for the rest of Long Island, for the state and the nation. It’s a really exciting movement.

The Rally for Renewable Energy will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, October 30, at LIPA HQ, 333 Earle Ovington Boulevard in Uniondale. Those interested in carpooling from the East End should call Dea Million at (612) 644-1162.

 

 

LaValle and Thiele Secure $700,000 to Fund a Roundabout on Route 114

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Elected officials gathered at the intersection of Route 114 and Toilsome Lane to announce that $700,000 had been secured to fund the construction of a roundabout at this location. From left to right are, East Hampton Village Superintendent of Public Works Scott Pithian, East Hampton Village Trustees Barbara Borsack and Richard Lawler, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., and East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced a state partnership with East Hampton Village to fund and construct a roundabout at the troublesome five-corner intersection of State Route 114 and Toilsome Lane on Monday, October 27.

“As you can see, this is a very interesting intersection, and so I think it’s been on the drawing board, or discussed, for many years, how we can traverse the intersection in the safest way possible,” Senator LaValle said just yards away from the busy intersection on Monday afternoon.

“The Village of East Hampton made a request and Assemblyman Thiele and I were able to meet the request of the village,” he said.

“The hard work was done here by the village,” the assemblyman said, which managed to reach community consensus on the proposed roundabout.

“It involves a state highway that’s part of this, and the Department of Transportation is fond of saying ‘Oh we’ll give you the permit for it, but we don’t have any money to pay for it,’” Mr. Thiele said.  ”So we wanted to try to eliminate that particular problem and that’s why the senator and I were able to get $700,000 toward the cost of this — which is not the entire cost but is a substantial portion to help the village.”

“This is one of those rare occasions where all levels of government have worked together,” said East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. “I’m very, very pleased,” he added.

“All the engineering and planning has been done so this can move forward,” Mr. Thiele said. The roundabout will have a raised, mountable and landscaped center island. The project will involve the installation of improved drainage structures as well as certain traffic-calming and pedestrian-safety measures.

Mr. Rickenbach said the project was a “work in progress,” but added the village hopes to have it completed within the next year.

Assemblyman Thiele added he and Mr. LaValle are going to be asking the DOT to look at other issues along Route 114, including speed limits and the need to repave the road from the Sag Harbor line through to East Hampton Village. “Route 114 is next for us to look at,” he said.

Rental Registry Law Angers Residents

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Critics of a proposed rental registration law showed up in droves to air their opposition at East Hampton Town’s first informational session on the law.

Assistant Town Attorney Michael Sendlensky, who wrote the legislation, explained the ins and outs of the law on Tuesday’s work session.

The law would require anyone who rents their home in the town to register the property with the town. When registering, homeowners would have to state the number of bedrooms and rooms in their home. There would be a registration fee, the amount of which has yet to be decided.

“We’re not changing any of the current restrictions, we’re just requiring it be registered, so it can be monitored,” Mr. Sendlensky said.

“The renting of one’s home has been a tradition here in East Hampton since the early 1900s and it is a major source of income for many. It helps pay for the mortgage, it pays for college tuitions, it pays for vacations. And rental registry does not deal with, nor will it discourage, overcrowding in homes or the multiple rentals. There are laws on the books that limit the number of occupants in the house,” said Margaret Turner, the director of the East Hampton Business Alliance, at Tuesday’s work session.
“Creating more legislation does not fix the problem. It will hurt the legitimate, law-abiding landlords and create hardships for the renters,” she said.

“The dynamics and the importance of the rental business, if you will, is a dynamic that has a deep history in the community and is a very important economic driver in the town for people’s lives as well as for the local economy and we get that,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.

“The last thing we want to do is take that away, it’s not a threat on our part. We’re simply trying to address this question of those who are abusing this situation.”

The board will seek more public comment on the law at its next informational session, which will take place on Tuesday, November 11, at the Montauk Firehouse.

Sag Harbor Hires New Senior Building Inspector

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By Stephen J. Kotz

East Hampton Town’s current chief building inspector, Tom Preiato, will join Sag Harbor Village as its senior building inspector on November 7.

Jose Escalante, who was hired this summer to replace Tim Platt as village inspector, will stay on for now as a building inspector and work under Mr. Preiato.

Mr. Preiato was one of the finalists for the opening last summer but said he withdrew from consideration in part because taking the job would have required a major pay cut.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Tuesday morning said the village board saw an opportunity to improve the efficiency of its building department at a time when the village is undergoing a major building boom by reaching out to Mr. Preiato, who has more than 15 years of experience as a building inspector with East Hampton Town.

“He’s been in the trenches a long time,” Mr. Gilbride said.

“No disrespect to Jose,” the mayor added. “He didn’t have the field experience. It was baptism by fire for him.”

The village’s move came as a surprise to many employees at the Municipal Building, who said they knew nothing about the village’s intention to hire a new building inspector until this week.

Mr. Preiato, who is a Sag Harbor resident, said he was looking forward to his new position. “I’m ready to jump right in,” he said. “I know there is a backlog. But I think I bring a lot to the table.”

Mr. Gilbride said the village board decided to act in large part because members were concerned about the growing backlog of building permit applications, a backlog, he added, that was already posing a problem when Mr. Platt resigned last summer.

At their October 14 meeting, board members expressed surprise that Building Department revenue had declined for the year to date, despite signs of ongoing construction work in nearly every village neighborhood.

Mr. Gilbride said after that meeting, he drove around the village and noticed that many projects were proceeding without posted building permits.

With the Watchcase condominiums under construction in the old Bulova building, Barons Cove being redeveloped and the Harbor’s Edge condominiums nearing completion, not to mention dozens of other smaller projects scattered throughout the village, Mr. Gilbride said the time to bolster the department was now.

“Before things got too out of hand, we decided to act,” Mr. Gilbride said. “Hopefully, we can now break through this backlog.”

Mr. Gilbride added that the village is looking for ways to streamline the permit process, so building permits for simple projects can be issued more quickly. “If all the paperwork is in and it doesn’t need a board approval, it shouldn’t sit 17, 18 down on the pile before it is issued,” he said.

Mr. Preiato will be paid $75,000 in his new position. The mayor said Mr. Escalante is being paid approximately $42,500 in large part because he has less experience. Mr. Escalante is a probationary employee until December.

Mr. Gilbride, who prides himself on his tight budget practices, said the increase in spending was justified. “At the end of the day, in all honesty, Tim Platt was a very valuable guy,” the mayor said. “We probably weren’t paying him what he was worth.”

Mr. Gilbride met with East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell on Monday to discuss the matter.

Mr. Cantwell said the town is shorthanded in its own building department but would work quickly to replace Mr. Preiato.

“The building department is a very busy office,” Mr. Cantwell said, “a very busy operation, and we are going to do everything we can to keep it operating effectively.”

Mr. Preiato has served as the town’s provisional chief building inspector since late 2013. A provisional appointment is made when there is no updated Civil Service list of qualified candidates available, Mr. Cantwell said.

With Mr. Preiato leaving the town in just two weeks, the town will be down to one building inspector, Dan Casey. Another building inspector, Robert Fisher, is currently serving a work-related suspension.

Mr. Cantwell said East Hampton has already hired one retired building inspector to work on a part-time basis. He said the board would likely appoint two new full-time inspectors when it meets on November 6. It is also considering hiring another part-time inspector, he added.

The village board made the appointment at a special meeting on Tuesday morning. The village Building Department was closed afterward for a staff meeting.

 

East End Supervisors Budget $200,000 for Wastewater Management Plans

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Southampton Town Supervisor allotted $100,000 in her tentative budget for 2015 to found a partnership with Stony Brook University. They intend to do nitrogen mapping in an attempt to prevent future toxic algal blooms, like the one that took place in Sag Harbor Cove, above, this summer. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and her East Hampton counterpart, Larry Cantwell, have both advocated for improving water quality on Long Island, and in their proposed budgets for 2015, each has allotted $100,000 to wastewater management plans.

Eastern Long Island lies over a sole source aquifer, meaning all of the drinking water in East Hampton and Southampton comes from one groundwater supply. There is no external source of water to import, and both private wells and “public water,” installed by the Suffolk County Water Authority, get their supply from the groundwater.

In his budget message, Mr. Cantwell said, “Management of wastewater is a challenge staring us straight in the eye.  The town needs to continue developing a town-wide wastewater management plan to address this key issue.”

“To date, the town through its staff and outside consultants has begun to gather, sort and analyze data that will eventually result in a comprehensive wastewater management plan for the town,” he continued.

According to East Hampton Budget Officer Len Bernard, the next phase is a continuation of the work Pio Lombardo of Lombardo Associates has been doing. Mr. Lombardo has written a draft wastewater management plan for the town, which includes neighborhood wastewater treatment centers and enforcing septic system inspections.

The management plan is concise and provides information for the many different areas of East Hampton Town and tentative solutions for each issue. “All the background numbers are done. Now they’re going toward specific actions with specific places,” said Mr. Bernard.

“I have included $100,000 in the tentative budget to begin the development of specific actions of the plan, recognizing that once the basic plan is completed and presented to the public, capital-funded construction and improvements will be required to carry out its recommendations,” Mr. Cantwell said.

“In order to reach that point, however, we need to fund the groundwork that must be performed now,” he said. That groundwork, Mr. Bernard said, will include the formation of “working groups” for different areas and neighborhoods. Those groups will have meetings Mr. Lombardo will attend in order to come up with appropriate wastewater management systems for each part of the town.

Mr. Cantwell also included an extra $10,000, for a total of $20,000, to go toward water quality testing in East Hampton.

This money, the supervisor said, is “for the specific purpose of performing more water quality testing to ensure water bodies that should be open are open and those that should be closed are closed, with the causes identified and mitigation plans established.”

According to Mr. Bernard, the water testing will be done jointly in conjunction with the East Hampton Town Trustees and will involve the same scientist they use for their testing, Dr. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

Ms. Throne-Holst put $100,000 into Southampton’s operating budget to fund a partnership with Stony Brook University that will seek to mitigate excessive nitrogen in town waters.

Dr. Gobler himself compiled the partnership proposal for the town, which has two main objectives. The first is to attempt to identify the amount of nitrogen that needs to be removed from specific waterways in order to improve water quality.

According to Mr. Gobler, “Recently, a series of serious water quality impairments have emerged within Southampton Town waters including harmful algal blooms that have led to declines in seagrasses and fisheries.” One of the prime causes identified as intensifying the algal blooms is excessive nitrogen loading.

In the past two years, thanks to support from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Dr. Gobler has collected enough data to identify how much nitrogen loads must be reduced by in order to minimize the effect of toxic algal blooms on waterways and their ecosystems.

The second prong of this partnership will be to promote an awareness program about nitrogen loading for the residents of Southampton. According to Jen Garvey, Ms. Throne-Holst’s deputy chief-of-staff, some of Mr. Gobler’s doctoral students have developed a “nitrogen home footprint model.”

In this model, which will be available through the town website, homeowners can enter the size of their property, what fertilizer they use, the number of bathrooms, information about their septic systems, and so on. The model then estimates their household nitrogen output and offers personalized solutions for how to remove nitrogen from wastewater.

According to Dr. Gobler, “this proposal seeks to support the Town of Southampton within both efforts by enhancing public awareness of the nitrogen loading problem, how it has changed with time, and how they contribute to the problem, as well as by identifying specific nitrogen loading rate reduction strategies that will lead to improved water quality and ecosystems within Town of Southampton waters.”

East Hampton Plans to Ban Plastic Bags By Earth Day

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PIC DAVID CRUMP.TESCO PLASTIC BAGS

By Mara Certic

While banning plastic bags may not be the lynchpin in solving the world’s environmental crisis, according to East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby it is at least a step in the right direction.

East Hampton’s celebration of Recycling Awareness Month was in full swing at their first work session of the month on Tuesday, October 7, when Ms. Overby discussed a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags.

“It’s a small step, it’s not going to solve all the problems,” Ms. Overby said. “It will be something that I think is going to be important to start making those steps,” she said.

The towns of Southampton, Southold and Shelter Island have all put their support behind a regional ban on plastic bags, the world’s largest consumer item. Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said last month the town will hold a public hearing on the ban the first week in December, and the idea is to implement a regional ban by Earth Day, 2015.

John Botos of East Hampton’s Natural Resources Department has been working with Ms. Overby on the draft legislation. Using data from the EPA, Mr. Botos estimates the town – excluding the village, which banned the bags back in 2011 – uses approximately 10 million bags a year.

Frank Dalene, president of the East Hampton Energy Sustainability Committee gave a few statistics from the Citizens Campaign for the Environment: the plastic offenders are used for an average of 12 minutes, he said, but they never fully break down, just becoming smaller and smaller particles of petrochemicals.

According to Mr. Dalene, 2.2 billion pounds of fossil fuels and 3.9 billion gallons of fresh water are needed to make the 100 billion plastic bags that American consumers use each year. As it stands today, there are approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean, he said.

Ms. Overby has been working closely with business-owners, and added “We’re really delighted and happy because we really worked well with the business community.”

In fact Catherine Foley, who with her husband Stuart owns Air and Speed Surf Shop in Montauk, spoke up during Tuesday’s work session to lend her support to the ban. “The public is ready,” she said, “they just need continued encouragement, guidance and support.”

East Hampton Town Trustee and Chair of the Litter Committee Deborah Klughers did an online poll regarding the ban, she said, and found that 92-percent of her sample of the community were in favor of the ban. “It’s looking really good, it would be good for the planet,” she said.

Ms. Overby said she is still working on a draft of the public hearing for the ban, but welcomes anyone interested to take a look and give the board some feedback on it as written. In the meantime, the town is dedicated to helping to educate the public and business-owners about the ban and about the BYOB initiative – “bring your own bag.”

Ms. Klughers discussed some of the other activities going on in conjunction with recycling awareness month on Tuesday.  A “Kids Can Recycle” campaign has students in East Hampton Town competing to see who can collect and recycle the largest number of aluminum cans; the winning school will win an evergreen tree.

The last week of October will be dedicated to recycling cardboard, she said. Businesses, residents and even out-of-towners are invited to drop off their (flattened) cardboard at the town recycling centers during that week.

Ms. Klughers also announced the Trustees have begun a new, very different recycling campaign. “Don’t chuck it if you shuck it,” is the motto for the Trustees’ new seashell recycling initiative. Bivalve-enthusiasts are asked to drop off their clam, oyster and scallop shells for the town to reintroduce to the local waters in order to provide habitats for other sea creatures.

Mr. Botos announced the town has been awarded a $13,000 grant to install an electric car charging station outside town hall. Work on that, he said, may begin next month.

The town is working on different ways to educate the public about energy conservation and sustainability. Mr. Botos said their main priority now is to educate people about “phantom-load energy,” which is the energy used by appliances that are not running, but are plugged in.

Although a microwave might only be on for a couple of minutes a day, he explained, if it is plugged in, it is still drawing out energy and costing the homeowner. The Natural Resources Department is looking to use social media networks to spread this message and will be using the hashtags #unplugeasthampton and #unplugeh.

 

East Hampton Calls for Volunteers for Beach Cleanup

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The East Hampton Town Recycling and Litter Committee announced this week that it will participate in the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day this Saturday, September 20.

The program asks volunteers to come out and clean up any local beaches while recording the types of trash found on the beaches, according to a press release from Councilwoman Sylvia Overby on September 16.

“This information will help the Conservancy collect and analyze data that will raise awareness, identify debris hotspots of unusual trash events and can help communities adopt policies that will work towards cleaner oceans,” the release read.

Garbage bags and disposable gloves will be supplied by the town of East Hampton; anyone interested in participating can pick up free bags and gloves and a data collection form from Town Hall through Friday, September 19. Volunteers can leave full trash bags by town garbage cans on Saturday and they will be picked up by the parks department.

Volunteers who document their day of cleanup on Saturday are asked to e-mail them to soverby@ehamptonny.gov so they can put on the town’s website. For more information about the Ocean Conservancy’s Coastal Cleanup Day, visit oceanconservancy.org.

 

Rental Registry

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The East Hampton Town Board scheduled two informational meetings about its proposed rental registry law for the work sessions on Tuesday, October 14, in Montauk and on Tuesday, October 21 at Town Hall.

The proposed law would require all rental properties to register with the town before renting out their properties, in order to deal with the problem of illegal rentals and excessive turnover.

Georgica Pond Water Quality Restoration Plan

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Following the closure of Georgica Pond to shellfishing and fishing this summer due to potentially toxic levels of blue-green algae, the East Hampton Town Board, Town Trustees, Village Board and the town Natural Resources Department are working together with engineers and environmentalists to develop a water quality restoration plan.

Kim Shaw, the director of the Natural Resources Department, told the board on Tuesday it is coming up with plans to open the pond to the ocean more frequently and for longer periods of time. The department is also considering developing a watershed management plan. The permit to dredge Georgica Pond must be renewed with the DEC, she said.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell suggested all of the boards adopt resolutions to agree to the outline of a restoration plan.

Over 300 Show Up to Discuss Aircraft Noise in East Hampton

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Helicopters at the East Hampton Airport on Wednesday evening, just down the road from where over 300 residents gathered to discuss the aircraft noise problem. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

More than 325 people from all over the East End turned up to a special meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the East Hampton Airport.

For almost three hours, residents from East Hampton, Southampton, Noyac, North Haven, Shelter Island and the North Fork told the board their concerns, their stories, and their solutions. Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who acts as the board’s airport liaison made a statement before the public hearing began. She assured the public the town board was committed to do everything they can legally do to address the problem.

She also asked those who had signed up to speak to stay respectful of each other, and the board, and said “I request everyone observe basic rules of civility.”

Ms. Burke-Gonzalez’s wish came true. There was a sense of support and unity among the residents and elected officials who gathered to speak at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Southold, Southampton, Shelter Island, North Haven and Noyac passed memorializing resolutions in the past few weeks, all calling for the East Hampton Town Board to refuse any future grant money from the FAA and then impose regulations on the airport.

Currently, the board is receiving grant assurances from the FAA, which will expire on December 31, 2014. “We implore you to not accept the funding from the FAA,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I can just tell you that from a North Haven standpoint, we’ll do everything to try and support you,” said Jeff Sander, Mayor of North Haven Village. This feeling was repeated throughout the evening, by residents as well as elected officials.

“We’re behind you 100%,” said Shelter Island resident Jim Colligan.  ”Don’t be in fear of those helicopter companies, if we need to rally behind you, we will definitely rally behind you.”

Speakers expressed concern about non-stop noise, which many say goes from as early as 5 a.m. to as late as 2:45 a.m. Frank Dalene, who sits on two of East Hampton’s Airport subcommittees, likened the endless noise to torture. “Will there be satisfaction if you just stop the torture?” he asked. “The only relief is to stop torture. We will not be satisfied until helicopters stop.”

As well as noise, many brought up issues of health and safety. A specialist in animal behaviorism and a Northwest resident explained that the “looming” sound of the helicopters has damaged wild life on the East End, and could be damaging people, too.

Solutions were put forward by the public, as well. Many called for banning helicopters, some called for shutting down all commercial operations in and out of the airport.  Certain residents suggested closing the East Hampton Airport and moving operations to Montauk Airport. This may prove slightly difficult as the 40 acres of the Montauk Airport is less than a tenth of the size of the East Hampton Airport.

“It’s truly a pleasure to listen to th voices on the East End and the conduct at this meeting was exemplary,” Supervisor Cantwell said on Wednesday.