Tag Archive | "East Hampton Town Trustees"

Driver Finds Out Hard Way that Georgica Pond Cut Is Deep

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Georgica Pond was opened on October 15, and, as the driver of this Jeep discovered too late, the cut is too deep for vehicles. Jim Williams photo

 

The driver of a white Jeep apparently misjudged the depth of the cut at Georgica Pond on Sunday, resulting in a waterlogged vehicle.

East Hampton Town Trustee Clerk Diane McNally said on Monday that the Trustees, who usually try to open the pond to the ocean in mid-October, had done so right on schedule this year—on October 15.

“We don’t like to publicize it because it goes from a bucket width of about 5 feet to 20 feet real quickly,” she said. “It moves fast and can be very dangerous.”

Ms. McNally, who had not heard about Sunday’s mishap, said beach drivers should be careful when approaching the cut because it can be deceptively deep and the current can be strong.

East Hampton Town Police said Eric Berkowitz, 44, of Bridgehampton was driving his 2012 Jeep Wrangler westbound on the beach early Sunday afternoon when he tried to ford the Georgica cut. Mr. Berkowitz and a passenger were able to get out of the vehicle, which was submerged up to the top of the passenger side door. The vehicle was towed out by Balcun’s Service Center of East Hampton.

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 Farm Museum to Revive the Past

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The Selah Lester House at the corner of North Main and Cedar streets in East Hampton will open next week as a town farm museum, focusing on life at the dawn of the 20th century. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

In 1900, on the cusp of the 20th century, East Hampton was still a sleepy, farming and fishing community, with a growing summer colony, whose residents lived a life apart from the town’s year-round inhabitants. Modern conveniences, like electricity and indoor plumbing, were a luxury reserved for the well off. Other inventions, so common today, like the automobile, were still a novelty, rarely, if ever seen on local streets.

Within two decades, the United States had emerged from World War I, the women’s suffrage movement had been a success, and radios and telephones were in most houses. The modern world as we know it was in full swing.

A major goal of the East Hampton Town Historical Farm Museum, which opens on Saturday, October 11, in the Selah Lester House at the corner of North Main and Cedar streets in East Hampton, is to present a snap shot of what life was like in East Hampton during that period of transition.

“That’s why we picked 1900. It was a time of great change,” said Prudence Carabine, the chairwoman of the museum committee, who offered a preview tour to members of the press on Thursday, September 25.

“I also looked at all the other museums that are within a visitor’s driving distance, and none of them were focusing on this period,” she added. “I wanted to pick a timeframe that has never been explored.”

The three-acre property is owned by East Hampton Town, which also invested about $200,000 into renovating the 18th century farmhouse, which was moved to the site by sled from Amagansett in the late 1800s when Selah Lester bought the property.

Today, the two-bedroom cottage is freshly painted, with finished floors, including wide pine planks on the second floor. A collection of furnishings, kitchen utensils and other common farmhouse tools continues to grow, as Ms. Carabine and other volunteers plan ways to display it in a way that will allow school children the opportunity to handle objects, while protecting them from damage and possible theft.

“We want kids—and adults—to turn off their phones, turn off their gadgets,” said Ms. Carabine, “to see that things were different.”

A wood-burning stove—modern in that it was convertible to natural gas—that was salvaged from the Tillinghast house on Woods Lane sits in the kitchen. Nearby sits a wash tub with a handheld agitator that looks like a metal drain plunger, is in another corner. An old icebox sits in a side room, reminding the visitor that a cold beer was not always easy to come by.

Items ranging from old eyeglasses, tintype photos and hand tools rest on a table in a side room. In a dining room/parlor, dishes and silverware (from Sag Harbor’s Alvin Silver Company) are on the table, and a melodeon, a small pump organ, is on display.

Another side room is furnished with benches and a wide screen television. Rotating exhibits will be displayed on the walls, and a loop of videos, showing old East Hampton residents talking about the good old days, will be shown on the television.

On the second floor, two bedrooms are well furnished with beds typical of the era, bed clothing, and quilts and furnishings.

The museum committee is still in seeking donations of period clothing, toys and other artifacts that can be displayed at the site.

Ms. Carabine said the museum plans to have 50 to 70 docents trained, so it can be open at least one day a week with two on hand at all times. That way, volunteers would only have to work a day a year she said.

The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. At its grand opening, Gaynel Stone, the noted archaeologist, will oversee the start of a dig, which hopes to uncover the foundation of an old Dominy mill, which had been used as a wind-powered saw mill. Alex Balsam of Balsam Farms will lead volunteers in planting garlic, which Ms. Carabine hopes will deter deer from foraging in the period garden she hopes to plant behind the house. East Hampton native and teacher David Cataletto will sing songs from the era, and there will be cider and donuts.

In the coming weeks, she plans to hold a pumpkin-pie eating contest on the grounds as well as sponsor talks on a variety of topics, including one by Diane McNally, the clerk of the East Hampton Town Trustees, who, Ms. Carabine points out, would not have been eligible to vote in 1900.

“What we have is a gem, it really is,” she said of the Lester house.  “We are hoping to share it.”

CfAR Cheers Beach Access Ruling; But Suit Still Alive

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By Mara Certic

After almost five years in court, a decision has been made on two lawsuits filed against the East Hampton Town Trustees and the Town Board, determining that beachfront homeowners on Napeague do not own the stretches of beach in front of their houses.

In September 2009, home- and business-owners along the southern side of Napeague filed two separate suits against the town, claiming to own the ocean beach in an effort to prohibit vehicles from driving on it.

The first of the suits, named the “Seaview” case was filed by several Napeague homeowners associations claimed owners of oceanfront property owned a 4,000-foot stretch of beach along the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Trustees, who have jurisdiction over most town beaches. In a decision dated September 3, 2014, New York State Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo found that the homeowners do not have jurisdiction over the area between the beach grass and the high-water marks.

Affectionately and quite appropriately known as “truck beach,” the area has for years been popular with local families who access it in four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Soon after the lawsuit was filed, a grassroots, not-for-profit organization called Citizens for Access Rights (CfAR) was formed in order to oppose the privatization of East End beaches. CfAR, which is not affiliated with any political parties, raised thousands of dollars over the years in order to support the Trustees in the lawsuit.

White Sands Motel Holding Corporation filed another suit with the same claim over a smaller stretch of beach in front of the motel, further east than the “Seaview” property.

“There’s some pluses and minuses for both sides,” Tim Taylor, the president of CfAR, said of the recent decisions on Wednesday. “There are two separate cases so there are two separate rulings.”

The judge handled the two cases at the same time, he said, because “the plaintiffs in those cases are looking for the same results.”

“They found in the Seaview case that the homeowners of the subdivisions do not own between the edge of the beach grass and the mean high water. They did not find on the White Sands case, that the town owns that beach, but they did find that the homeowners don’t own it in the Seaview case,” he said.

The White Sands decision rejected the town’s effort to have the suit dismissed by a summary judgment, which basically determines the suit to be without merit.

The court did not rule that the White Sands beach property was owned by either the Trustees or the motel, but merely determined that the ownership was unclear, Mr. Taylor said.

“Either way we do expect an appeal process on both sides and we would just really hope the town Trustees and the town board continue their fight of this case and we don’t lose sight of what’s at stake here. It’s not really an all-out win for either side,” Mr. Taylor explained.

Assistant East Hampton Town Attorney John Jilnicki said Monday that the town was in the process of reviewing the decision in order to figure out how to proceed. “We could appeal it and not let it proceed to trial, but I don’t think the decision’s been made yet,” he said. He added the town hopes to have made a determination within the next week or so.

The East Hampton Town Trustees did not return phone calls by the time of this paper’s publication. Their attorney, Anthony Tohill, said he was not prepared to comment on the decision on Tuesday.

David Lys, founder of CfAR, was asked in a 2011 interview with The Sag Harbor Express if he thought property owners would ever stop seeking to privatize beaches on the East End. “Will it ever end?” he was asked.

“Unfortunately, I don’t believe it will,” he said. “With the turnover rate in housing out here, and the monetary wealth combined with the fact we live in a litigious society, people will throw their money around and sue over something like this because it is the easiest course of action they can take.”

Just last week those proposing a members-only club at East Deck in Montauk called for an adjournment on the decision after outcry from the public. Over 5,000 people signed a petition calling for the East Hampton Town Planning Board to deny the application or require an environmental impact study. The Ditch Plains Association held a memorial paddle-out where hundreds of surfers mourned the potential loss of the family friendly beach.

ED40 LLC., owner of the motel, issued a statement saying a significant number of public comments had led them to offer the land to the board for public acquisition. Mr. Taylor had no comment on the potential purchase of the land but said, “We hope that no matter what happens there, the public has access to that beach. Whether it is purchased by the town or whether some sort of development does go through there, we would just like to see that the public is able to use and access this beach.”

Indian Wells Beach Goes Dry

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After months of discussion and disagreement, East Hampton Town has adopted a law that will restrict alcohol at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett.

The East Hampton Town Board and Trustees had been negotiating provisions of the beach alcohol ban since complaints started flooding in recent years about inappropriate behavior and huge parties organized on social media at Indian Wells beach.

The law, which will go into effect in August, will prohibit drinking within 1,000 feet on either side of the entrance to the beach, during lifeguarding hours on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays until the law sunsets on September 30, 2014.

Amagansett resident Stuart Vorpahl spoke out to say that a law could have been in place throughout the summer had only the board “recognized the sovereign authority of the Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of East Hampton.”

“Instead,” he continued,  “you folks grabbed on to illegal New York State Legislature,” he said of municipal Laws, which allowed the town board to adopt this law without the Trustees’ input.

Brian Byrnes, an East Hampton Town Trustee, thanked the board for working with the Trustees on the issue.

“I’m very thankful we have the board that we have today and not the board of the past. I don’t think we would have gotten nearly as far,” he said.

“I don’t necessarily think everybody’s happy, but I think this is something we can live with,” Mr. Byrnes said. “And I’ve been down at the beach on a number of occasions and it’s good to see a police presence there.”

“I have a good feeling,” he said. “I think we worked well together.”

Proposed Beach Alcohol Ban Has East Hampton Town Boards at Odds

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By Mara Certic

A proposed ban on alcohol at two beaches in Amagansett has the two elected branches of East Hampton Town’s government at odds.

The East Hampton Town Board has suggested a ban on drinking at Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue Beaches in Amagansett during lifeguarding hours in the summer months in an effort to curtail what many believe to be inappropriate behavior that has become more prevalent over the past few years.

One speaker at the public hearing on Thursday, Mark Schultz, referred to Indian Wells Beach as “frat beach.”

But the town board’s proposal has frustrated many of the Trustees, who obtained their power from King James II in 1686 and to this day own and manage the beaches on behalf of the commonality.

In the past few years, Indian Wells Beach has transformed. In 2012 the family-friendly beach in Amagansett began to host a different sort of beach-goer after various media began advertising the town beach as “the place to party.”

According to Police Chief Michael Sarlo, this resulted in hundreds of people showing up to the beach on weekends with coolers, kegs and loud music—and about 60 summons a year, roughly half of which were issued for open containers of alcohol in the parking lot, the rest for public urination, littering and failure to follow posted regulations or directions from the lifeguards.

The situation “became dangerous” and the “flow of traffic became burdensome,” according to Chief Sarlo. The problem, however, is difficult to enforce, as officers must physically witness violations in order to issue a summons.

Another problem, according to the police chief, is that the acts that are being committed do not actually rise to the level required by the New York State penal code, even though they “may be offensive to some, and may be morally questionable.”

For example, he explained, according to state law, the revelers cannot be cited for unlawful assembly unless their reason for congregating is to engage or prepare to engage in tumultuous or violent conduct.  “Once again,” he said. “[Unlawful assembly is] a class b misdemeanor and the courts have not found, unfortunately, that beer funnels or drinking games are tumultuous and violent conduct.”

The proposed ban would prohibit drinking alcohol from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, in an area spanning 3,000 feet—1,500 feet both east and west of the road end.

The Trustees had suggested that the ban be in effect only on weekends and only in 500 feet in each direction from the parking lot.

Trustee Deborah Klughers expressed concern that increasing the area of the alcohol ban would, in fact, worsen the current situation, because the revelers would move farther down the beach, out of lifeguarded areas and farther away from garbage cans and the restrooms. “They will be urinating in the dunes, they will be littering more,” she said. “Pushing these people away will push them even farther away, to other beaches in our community.”

Many of those who spoke on Thursday—both for and against the law—said that this was a problem unique to Indian Wells Beach, and they did not understand why the beach at Atlantic Avenue was included.

Ms. Klughers said in Thursday’s meeting that Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc had forwarded her e-mails that the town board had received from the public concerning this issue, but that they mentioned solely Indian Wells as the problem beach in the town. “They were clear in their e-mails that they were in favor of banning at Indian Wells, but not at Atlantic,” she said.

Mr. Schultz, who is in favor of the ban, spoke after Ms. Klughers and said “I agree, this is an Indian Wells problem, for now.”

In an interview on Tuesday, East Hampton Town Trustee Clerk Diane McNally said that the town board had included the beach at Atlantic Avenue into this law “just because of its close proximity” to Indian Wells.

Ms. McNally said that the Trustees “were hoping that the issues of public intoxication or disorderly conduct could be addressed in another fashion instead of a new law.” What the alternative could be, however, she was “not clear on,” she said.

“We want to just be sure that we’re not going to inadvertently cause more problems,” she said.

Diane Walker spoke out in favor of the ban on Thursday: “The East Hampton Town Trustees who are the property managers for our beaches want peace and good order,” she said.  The East Hampton Town Trustees are conditioned to be defensive about their jurisdictions. The East Hampton Town Trustees sometimes lose perspective. What must be agreed upon is a good faith experiment to restore peace and good order at Atlantic and Indian Wells Beaches.

Ms. Walker suggested a mobile court to allow arrests to be adjudicated at the scene.

The town board and the Trustees will continue their discussions over the coming weeks, according to Ms. McNally.

 

Suit Filed Over Deer Cull in East Hampton

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Two not-for-profit wildlife organizations and a group of individuals have banded together and filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent a regional plan to cull deer with federal sharpshooters beginning this winter.

The Montauk-based East Hampton Group for the Wildlife and the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons in Hampton Bays, along with 15 residents, filed suit in Supreme Court Thursday against East Hampton Town, East Hampton Village and the East Hampton Town Trustees. In the suit, they ask for a temporary restraining order against the town’s comprehensive deer management plan, and specifically any proposal within that plan that calls for the organized culling of the whitetail deer.

While the lawsuit was served on the town last Thursday and the village on Friday, that same day, the East Hampton Village Board moved forward by passing a resolution to join the Long Island Farm Bureau’s (LIFB) proposal to bring in federal sharpshooters to cull deer herds in municipalities across the East End.

The LIFB’s plan, which it is coordinating with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), entails bringing United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sharpshooters to the East End to cull the herd. The program will be funded by the LIFB through $200,000 in funding through the 2013 state budget.

The Farm Bureau has asked East End villages and towns to sign onto the program by committing $15,000 to $25,000, respectively, to have federal riflemen come to their municipalities. The cull will take place in a four or five week window beginning in February, timing Farm Bureau Executive Director Joe Gergela noted was designed to give local hunters a chance to cull the herd themselves during deer season, which runs through late January.

The goal, said Gergela in an interview earlier this month, is to cull 1,000 to 2,000 deer from across the East End. The meat from the culled deer will go to Island Harvest to feed the hungry on Long Island.

The USDA sharpshooters use suppressed rifles and depending on terrain, either trap deer with a drop net, work as a mobile team with a driver, spotter and shooter, or shoot from tree stands. The Farm Bureau will coordinate efforts with municipalities that sign onto the program to identify areas deer herds tend to populate the most.

East Hampton Village has agreed to pay $15,000 into the program and joins East Hampton and Southold town, who have both agreed to provide $25,000 in funding.  Southampton Town has yet to decide on whether or not it will join the regional cull, and Sagaponack officials have said that village would wait until both towns sign on before making its own commitment. The Village of North Haven is pursuing its own organized cull.

While supporters of the plan point to the incidences of tick borne illnesses on the East End, public safety concerns connected to deer and motor vehicle accidents, as well as the financial impact on farms and on private landscaping, critics contend there has been little information provided to show the cull is truly necessary. Local hunters have also opposed the cull, arguing if New York State, and the towns and villages, opened up hunting restrictions, they could thin the deer population themselves.

“There is not enough proof that there is the kind of population that would warrant this,” said Virginia Frati, the Executive Director and Founder of the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center. “How can we do this without proof of that?”

“We are not convinced there is an overpopulation of deer,” she continued. “Where is the proof that an overwhelming majority of residents are even for this? Even the hunters are not in favor of this.”

CfAR Presents $5,000 to East Hampton Town Trustees

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This past weekend offered prime September beach days and on Sunday, a not-for-profit dedicated to ensuring all residents in East Hampton Town have the right to continue enjoying the town’s beaches, handed an oversized check to the town trustees in an effort to fulfill their mission.

On Sunday, September 23 Citizens for Access Rights or “CfAR” presented a check for $5,000 to the East Hampton Town Trustees at their Bluff Point Road, Amagansett headquarters during the trustees’ annual largest clam contest. The funds are designated to be used to help in the defense of current lawsuits that have been filed by some waterfront homeowners in an effort to privatize a popular public bathing beach off the Napeague Stretch.

This is the second $5,000 check CfAR has presented to the town trustees. The not-for-profit’s first donation was made in October 2011.

“If we can keep doing this year after year we should be able to at least make a dent in the kind of funding the trustees need in this effort,” said CfAR board member Nicole Starr Castillo on Monday.

CfAR was founded by a group of East End residents who support open access to local beaches. In response to two lawsuits in which private individuals are claiming to own the ocean beach at Napeague, CfAR has come together to support the trustees, the East Hampton Town Board and any other governmental body willing to oppose the privatization of local beaches. CfAR is not affiliated with any political party and its objectives include the preservation of residents’ right to enjoy local beaches and donating funds to the town trustees for beach stewardship.

For more information on CfAR, visit www.citizensforaccessrights.com.