Tag Archive | "East Hampton"

Writing about Nature with Poet Farmer Scott Chaskey

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Scott Chaskey

Scott Chaskey

By Emily J. Weitz

Scott Chaskey speaks for the land, and he does it with his hands as well as his words. Out in the fields at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett almost every day, Mr. Chaskey knows the soil, he knows the migratory patterns of birds, he knows the seasons. Through the two books he’s published in recent years, “This Common Ground” and “Seedtime,” Mr. Chaskey has spread his understanding across the country and has impacted the larger farm to table movement. But his roots are not in farming, and they’re not in nonfiction writing. Scott Chaskey was educated a poet.

Mr. Chaskey met his wife Megan, a Kundalini yoga teacher and poet herself, while earning his MFA degree in England. Ever since, they’ve both woven poetry into whatever they do. Now, as the Director of Quail Hill, his voice has become a significant contributor to the national conversation about farms and sustainability. And it only makes sense that in his poetry as well as his prose, nature is a great source of inspiration.

“We can connect with nature through the written word,” said Mr. Chaskey.

He hesitates to term himself a nature writer, though he has great respect for many others who are. John Fowles, who wrote “The Tree,” had a particular impact on him, and he quoted him in “Seedtime.” Other major influences include John Haye.

“He’s a spectacular writer about the natural world, and wrote in the mid to late 20th century,” said Mr. Chaskey.

His own teachers, first at SUNY Binghamton and then in graduate school, taught him a great deal about capturing the natural world with words.

At this point in our conversation, Mr. Chaskey gasped, then laughed.

“A bird just flew into my window!” he said. “I have to go!”

When he called back, he informed me that a sparrow had flown into the window of the shop at Quail Hill, where he was at work.

“Here we are talking about a connection with nature and a sparrow flies into the window,” he laughed. “I suppose nature is something you can’t get away from.”

It reminded him of an early connection he made between writing and nature. He was living in a fishing village in Cornwall, England while he pursued his MFA. His mentor was a poet named Edgar Wallace, and he also felt the connection between the beautiful cliff meadows and the urge to write.

“Edgar was part of the landscape,” recalls Mr. Chaskey. “I remember one day coming down the steep hill, and Edgar was coming the other way. And he walked over to a bush, and hugged the bush. It was his way of greeting me. He was so connected to the natural world that he hugged the bush.”

Mr. Chaskey feels that same kind of deep connection now, though he didn’t always. Growing up in the suburbs didn’t nurture that kind of connection. But he found it in Cornwall, and it’s only grown since.

“It took a while for that connection to surface,” he said, “but since I’ve lived on the cliffs of Cornwall and on this beautiful peninsula, it has become crisp.”

As well as being a farmer and poet, Mr. Chaskey is a teacher. He’s taught poetry to children, college students, and adults. Over the next two weeks, he will lead a workshop on writing about nature at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor.

“I want it to be open. I’ll present things that I think are wonderful examples of people writing about nature, and people will bring their own thoughts and favorite passages… It always bubbles up out of the experience of who’s in the room.”

There’s a line by the poet George Oppen: “There are things we live among, and to see them is to know ourselves.” Mr. Chaskey uses this as a guide to his practice of writing about nature.

“We have to be in it,” he said. “I advise walking as much as you can, looking and seeing, and combine that with reading other passages from writers you admire.”

Writing about Nature with Scott Chaskey will take place at Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street in Sag Harbor, on Thursday, February 19 and Thursday, February 26 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $75 for both sessions and registration is required. Call Canio’s Books at (631) 725-4926 or visit caniosbooks.com for more information.

 

 

 

Residents Concerned About What East Hampton Airport Regulations Could Mean for Montauk

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A grassroots organization in Montauk asked the town board to consider what regulations at East Hampton airport could mean for the island’s eastern most airport. Photo by Cara Rooney. 

By Mara Certic

As the East Hampton Town Board scheduled public hearings this week for controversial new airport regulations, which would effectively ban helicopters from East Hampton Airport on summer weekends as well as impose a strict nighttime curfew, another group aired concerns about the negative effects the laws could have on neighboring airports.

The town board on February 4 unveiled draft legislation, which it said would reduce airport traffic by a third, and is designed to tackle a large portion of the noise problem on the East End.

East Hampton officials maintain that they effectively gained proprietary control over the airport at the beginning of the year when the town’s commitments under Federal Aviation Administration grants expired, and the town opted out of future funding from the federal agency.

But Jeremy Samuelson, executive director of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, said the new restrictions on East Hampton Airport could have unintended consequences for the small Montauk Airport. He read a letter to the board on Tuesday, February 10, asking it to weigh those consequences.

“CCOM believes strongly that the town board has a responsibility to understand and describe possible impacts to Montauk stemming from the proposed legislation,” he said.  “Demonstrate whether alternatives to the proposed legislation could achieve similar results for East Hampton while minimizing or eliminating impacts for Montauk and identify specific measures that could minimize impacts to Montauk.”

There is concern that the new restrictions at the East Hampton Airport, could result in a spike in helicopter traffic over Montauk’s privately owned 40-acre airport.

“The aviation consultants working for East Hampton Town should be tasked with determining where traffic currently landing at East Hampton Airport is most likely to land in the event restrictions are adopted, including projections for Montauk Airport, Gabreski Airport and the Southampton Dune Road heliport,” Mr. Samuelson’s letter stated.

He added that the town should begin working with the FAA, Senator Charles Schumer and U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin to put in place a mandatory over-water approach for helicopters landing at Montauk Airport.

One change has already been made to the legislation, which was first proposed last week. That alteration is in the definition of the types of “noisy” aircraft that would be subjected to an extended curfew from 8 p.m. through to 9 a.m. These noisy aircraft would now just be those with published approach levels above 91 decibels for the purposes of the law.

The town will soon publish and make available lists of which aircraft fall into the noisy category. The amendment to the law means that the restrictions would now only affect 24 percent of all operations and would still address 67 percent of the complaints (without the change, it was estimated 31 percent of flights would be affected, dealing with 74 percent of the noise problem.)

Public hearings will take place for each of the four proposed airport regulations at a special early meeting at LTV Studios on Thursday, March 5, at 4:30 p.m. in order to provide substantial time for the ample public comment expected.

Targeting Share Houses

Assistant Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski presented the town board with the latest suggestions on how to tackle the problem of share houses and illegal rentals, which each year seems to become more prevalent on the East End.

When residents recoiled last year at the suggestion of a rental registration law, Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the town would look to strengthen its existing code in an effort to target the issue of illegally occupied housing.

“The over-arching and the number-one issue that should be addressed from an enforcement point of view is over-occupancy on a year-round basis,” Mr. Sendlenski said on Tuesday.

He recommended the whole section of the code be revised to create a better system. One idea is that certain things could be considered presumptive evidence of overcrowding, so code enforcement officers would not have to physically witness a large number of people staying in one room. For instance, three beds in one bedroom could be used to prove an unsafe situation, he said, rather than having to catch up with the individuals supposedly using them, which can be difficult in the transient environment of a share house.

“We would still be showing overcrowding by square footage, but this would provide us with not having to witness the individuals within that space,” he said.

Mr. Sendlenski also suggested increasing the maximum fine from $1,000 to $2,500 for the first offense. He recommended the fine be doubled for second offenders, and doubled again for third offenders.

Vaccine Debate Rages On in Sag Harbor

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Dr. Gail Schonfeld gives an injection to a little girl in January 2011. Photo by Michael Heller.

Dr. Gail Schonfeld gives an injection to a young girl. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

The recent measles outbreak, which started in California, has evoked fear among parents, painful memories among doctors, and intense debate, finger pointing and even name-calling from all sides nationwide. The outbreak has fueled discussion on playgrounds, in waiting rooms, and on Facebook groups here on the East End, where an estimated 3 percent of school children are not fully vaccinated.

Largely centered on the M.M.R. vaccine, which targets measles, mumps and rubella, the debate has made unlikely bedfellows of those on the far left and those on the far right. A growing number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children for a growing number of reasons, ranging from their belief in holistic medicine, the power of Mother Nature and the natural strength of the human body’s immune system, to a general mistrust of government, injections and in some cases, science itself.

An airborne disease that is highly contagious, measles was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000, but experts believe recent outbreaks originated with international travel to areas that have low or non-existent immunization rates, like parts of Africa.

“There’s measles in the world, there’s international travel and when you get below a certain percentage of people who are adequately immunized, the disease will start to spread and it will come back, and that is exactly what has happened,” said Dr. Gail Schonfeld, an East Hampton pediatrician who has been in practice for 33 years.

Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are often clustered in geographic hubs, making the disease’s spread more likely. The recent outbreak of measles in California, where a growing number of children are not vaccinated, has been linked to Disneyland, but originated outside the U.S.

Health experts believe outbreaks are limited when the population is above a certain immunization rate, due to a phenomenon called “herd immunity.” If a high enough percentage of the population is vaccinated, believed to be 95 percent for measles, the disease cannot spread to enough people during its incubation period to sustain itself, which is why recent outbreaks have been contained.

So, although recent outbreaks stem from international travel rather than non-vaccinated American children, if the numbers of unvaccinated children continue to rise, the disease will spread more easily the next time it comes to the U.S.

A measles outbreak in Ohio last June, connected to Amish missionaries returning from the Philippines, more than doubled in size in 10 days and eventually spread to 339 mostly unvaccinated Amish people, according to state health officials. Ohio granted more than three times as many religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccines to kindergarten students in 2013 than it did in 2000.

Unlike in Ohio and some other states, philosophical exemptions from vaccines are not permitted in New York, but the rate of religious exemptions has risen over the last decade, from 0.23 percent in 2000 to 0.45 percent in 2011, according to a 2013 study in the medical journal Pediatrics.

The current rate of immunization in the Bridgehampton School District is 98 percent, with all but three students fully vaccinated. Those children, the district said, are partially vaccinated, but have religious exemption from some vaccines.

In the Sag Harbor School District, 97 percent of students are vaccinated, with 3 percent exempt for religious and medical reasons, according to the district.

On Monday, February 9, the New York State Department of Health sent a letter to all school superintendents in the state reminding schools to follow the requirements for vaccinations.

“Given the recent media attention and the fact that DOH has confirmed three cases of measles in New York State, including New York City, we write to remind you to continue to take all appropriate measures to protect New York’s students through your responsibility to oversee children’s admissions to school,” said the letter.

Under state law, children must receive vaccinations before attending public or private school, unless a doctor confirms that vaccines will harm the child or a parent provides a written explanation of a “genuine and sincere” religious objection, which school officials can accept or reject.

Parties on all sides of the debate are guilty of fear mongering; Some M.M.R. opponents link the vaccine to autism, despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support their claim, while some vaccine proponents incorrectly assert that the instances of measles are testament to a rapidly approaching epidemic that immediately puts all American babies at risk. The extent of loud, often misinformed opinions on both sides can make researching vaccines difficult for the average parent.

Elizabeth Schmitt, an East Hampton mother who decided against vaccinating her eldest daughter Ruby, first became aware of the arguments against vaccines through an Internet message board, branched off of Parents.com. As she continued to “read around” online, the new mother quickly became “really scared.”

As Ruby neared kindergarten age, her younger brother, Cole, at the time about 15 months old and also not vaccinated, started to show strange symptoms: he stopped talking, started twitching and had a high fever.

“It was just all these really scary symptoms out of the blue,” said Ms. Schmitt, “and the funny thing was that all these symptoms were what people kept saying would happen to kids after the M.M.R., but he never had it, so that had me rethinking things really fast.”

“I was looking at a lot of different websites that, I guess in hindsight, aren’t as credible as I thought they were at the time, so then I started looking at the sources. If the site had an article about a certain study, instead of just reading the article, I started reading the study—and realized that the study didn’t say anything that the guy said in the article, and that was really aggravating,” she added.

Ms. Schmitt changed her opinion after further research, and now her children, Ruby, Cole, and 23-month-old Andy, are all fully vaccinated.

“Even the parents who choose not to vaccinate now, we’re all just on the same team, really, everybody’s just really scared about the whole thing,” she said, adding that the “real information” and scientific studies are far more difficult to find, read and understand than the anti-vaccine “sites that we have, like Natural News and the crazy stuff that’s not even true, but so user-friendly and so easy to read, that we didn’t find reason not to believe it.”

While Dr. Schonfeld said she understands “completely and absolutely where the misinformation is coming from and why people are saying and doing what they’re doing,” the pediatrician recently announced that families who choose not to vaccinate are no longer welcome in her practice, as she has “no question [that decision is] wrong on every level.”

“I think what people have to understand is the balance between personal choice and safety and social responsibility. This is the United States and we’re all about personal choice, but when your personal choice endangers the safety of your child and others around you, that’s the line you cannot cross,” she said.

Although she finds many parents’ fear of vaccines unfounded, Dr. Schonfeld’s experience practicing medicine before some of them were invented gives her a larger, more tangible fear: the return of measles and other preventable diseases.

“I’ve personally known and diagnosed children with several of the diseases that we now prevent with the vaccines, and I’ve seen some horrible, horrible things in my time—and I’ve seen the changes, so I understand it from a very different point of view,” she said. “I have very clear memories of the pain and suffering and death of these children and what their families went through…but I also have seen how it’s changed my life to not have these sudden life-threatening infections occurring in children. It’s very challenging to diagnose and treat them and have them survive.”

Although recent measles outbreaks in the U.S. are “horrible,” Dr. Schonfeld believes the incidence of measles is not high enough to justify a routine immunization at six months of age, rather than the standard 12 months.

“I am a firm believer of science and not emotion when it comes to the practice of medicine…When there is as much measles in the United States as there is in, say, parts of Africa where there is no vaccination, yes, we would go back to doing [immunizations before 12 months]—I just don’t think I could stand it if we got to that point,” she said. “I’m really thinking maximum one or two children dying, people are going to get it and stop doing this.”

One Billion Rising

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On Friday, February 13 at 5 p.m., local dance and theatre company, the Neo-Political Cowgirls, in partnership with The Retreat and the Sag Harbor-based Dodds & Eder, will hold a “One Billion Rising” event for its third year. This global event began as a call to action over the staggering statistic that one-in-three-women in the world experiences physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.  “One Billion Rising,” orchestrated by playwright Eve Ensler, was created to compel women and men across every country to rise up, dance and raise awareness to the injustices women suffer.

“Neo-Political Cowgirls is committed to producing provocative and inspiring theatrical works for and about women,” said Kate Mueth, founder and artistic director of NPC.  “Being able to show our support for such a critical cause and bring attention to it through performance is incredibly rewarding.”

The event will take place at Dodds & Eder, 11 Bridge Street in Sag Harbor from 5 to 7 p.m. and is for all ages. The event will include a flash mob dance, poetic readings, and musical performances by Skylar Day, Lynn Blue and the East Hampton High School Key Club.

Alex Feleppa

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Alex Feleppa is the new horticulturist at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. He spoke with us about his new position and some upcoming winter events.

How did you become involved in horticulture?

I grew up out here, in Amagansett. As the bad joke goes, I was tired of the service industry. I got my start at Marders in Bridgehampton, doing cashier and delivery work, and every year I slowly built on that. About four or five years later I learned there was a career to have in horticulture. There were so many clever twists of fate over the years, because I thought I was leaving nature behind, and then there was a great green movement taking hold in the city. I was managing a garden store in New York and giving people what I thought was common knowledge. I realized there I had a tendency toward the whole nonprofit thing.

From there I learned about School of Professional Horticulture. The ironic thing about LongHouse, as it relates to my history, I was living in Queens in a mouse-infested apartment, going through this amazing program at the botanic garden, realizing my interest in horticulture and nonprofits when I was invited to a wedding and it was at LongHouse. That was the summer of 2005. It was the first time I’d ever heard of it. I laugh with people that it was so ironic. There I was in the city, and then realized that this oasis existed in my own backyard.

How did you get from a wedding guest at LongHouse to a full-time employee? 

My then girlfriend and I married and came out here and realized over the course of a snowy winter that our city life was up. For me being a horticulturist and her a veterinary nurse, we knew we could go anywhere, it was just a matter of where. In Spring 2012 we moved home. The first thing I did was to write a letter of interest to Jack Larsen [founder of LongHouse Reserve] and Matko Tomicic [the executive director] introducing myself, saying I was local, but I had this formal training. I guess the letter went over well, they had me in for a meeting not long after, and we all really hit it off.

It was a matter of funding. At that time it didn’t exist, but they were persistent and amazing. They worked at it and over the course of two and half years were able to come up with the funding for my full-time, year-round salary. For me it was a dream come true.

What are some of your new responsibilities at LongHouse?

One of the many hats I’m wearing is trying to increase our programming to be on more of a year-round basis, because there are four seasons of interest. . Our season is typically late April until late November. The goal is always to reach out to as many people as we can and invite as many people as we can. One great little insight is that there we’re always open by appointment—people can always call. This Saturday I’m leading a winter garden walk at LongHouse.

What can you actually see at LongHouse in darkest February?

 As I like to say, winter’s a great time to really see the bones of the garden. Because Jack has been building up the garden since he took ownership in 1970, there are trees and shrubs and garden areas that have beautiful structure and texture and grace in every season. For this weekend, we’ll bundle up and we will look at all different kinds of plants throughout the landscape. The emphasis for Saturday will be the witch hazel collection, a number of different evergreen specimens, which are some of the biggest in the North East and which are really mature and exceptional. We’ll look at some of the sculpture and how the snow takes on a very different look. Right after Juno, I had to walk around and survey the scene—the best way to do it is on snowshoes. I definitely want to do snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at LongHouse in the future.

The winter walk at LongHouse will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 7. The cost is $10, and free for members. LongHouse will hold its winter benefit at the Hearst Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday, February 25. Tickets start at $100. For more information about either event visit longhouse.org

East Hampton Requests Proposals for New, Improved Town Hall Campus

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By Mara Certic 

The East Hampton Town Board took a step toward providing better public access to its facilities when it issued a request for proposals to reconstruct and reorganize the Town Hall campus.

The board is looking to redesign the town hall campus in order to bring all town departments to one central location, if possible.

Copies of the RFP have been made available to architects since Thursday, January 22. On February 4 interested architects have been invited to attend meeting at the East Hampton Town Hall to hear more about the board’s vision for the future of the town hall campus.

“The ultimate goal is to try to get all our employees in one area, one campus if you will, so we don’t have everybody spread out,” Alex Walter, executive assistant to Supervisor Larry Cantwell, said on Tuesday.

“We also would like to be able to make it easier for the public to access the offices,” he added.

A lot of the “high traffic” departments, Mr. Walter said, are very spread out.

The old town hall building has been empty since 2010 when the last offices that had been housed there were moved to town-owned condominiums at 300 Pantigo Place.

The building is in need of serious repairs, including mold removal, a new roof and a new interior, so the town will consider proposals that suggest renovating the building and those that plan to knock it down and start from scratch.

The 1747 Baker House and barn and the Peach farm building, which were donated to the town by Adelaide de Menil, may all become new on-campus offices.

There are also some departments that are housed in locations in town: land management and animal control offices work out of the Emergency Services Building on North Main Street, and the East Hampton Town Trustees operate out of the Lamb Building on Bluff Road in Amagansett. The remodeling project would also look to bring those employees back to one centralized location.

The town board is also looking to reconfigure the current parking lot, which “really needs to be done,” Mr. Walter said. “And we have room to do it.”

A space needs committee was created and has analyzed the town’s situation, and made some decisions about the best options. The same committee said its preferred option would be to raze the old building and create a new 14,000-square-foot space and use the historic buildings as additional office space. This plan would cost an estimated $5.5 million.

The committee estimates a less favored option, which would repurpose the building and add a 4,000-square foot addition to it, would cost approximately $2.95 million.

The town has $4.9 million already, which could go toward the renovation, and selling the suites at Pantigo Place could provide further funds.

Architects who want to take part in the competition have been urged to attend a pre-proposal meeting in the Town Hall meeting room, at 159 Pantigo Road, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, February 4. The meeting will give architects the opportunity to take a look at the various structures and to get more of an idea of what the town is looking for, Mr. Walter said.

RFPs can been found at the purchasing department, and proposals are due on Thursday, February 19.

STORM UPDATE: Travel Restrictions Lifted in Southampton, Still in Place in East Hampton

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Ten plow trucks and two pay loaders have been clearing Sag Harbor roads since Monday night. Photo by Michael Heller.

UPDATE: 7:30 a.m. Wednesday

A travel ban was lifted in Southampton Town at 6 a.m. this morning, while officials in East Hampton are still asking residents to stay put, as highway workers continue to clear the 20 or so inches of snow that fell on the East End this week.

Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst declared a travel ban on Monday evening, which made all nonessential or emergency driving illegal.  Southampton Town Hall will open at noon today.

In East Hampton Town, however, the town offices will remain closed all day to nonessential personnel. According to Alex Walter, executive assistant to the Supervisor, town officials will meet today to discuss when they will lift restrictions in East Hampton.

 

UPDATE: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday

Government officials and local police continue to ask East End residents to stay home as highway workers attempt to clear snow after what many are saying was a historic blizzard.

According to East Hampton Highway Superintendent Steve Lynch, roads in the town remain “full of snow.” East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said it has been difficult to gauge exactly how much snow has fallen in East Hampton Town, but the current reports vary between 18 and 22 inches.

The National Weather Service reports snowfall of 28 inches in Southampton and 20.3 inches in Noyac.

“It’s still snowing and the snow is really deep so [clearing the roads] takes a lot longer to do,” Mr. Lynch said on Tuesday afternoon. “It would be really good if people could stay off the roads,” he added. Mr. Lynch said his department have had to deal with several cars that got stuck while driving around, including a pick-up truck which was abandoned Hands Creek Road.

Several plow trucks have gotten stuck already trying to assist vehicles that had hit snow banks, Mr. Lynch said.

The East Hampton Town Police are pulling over cars on the road, Chief Sarlo said “asking them what their business is on the road and turning them around.” They have not issued any summonses or fines, he said, because of some confusion this morning after Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted the travel ban.

“That was a mistake, it was supposed to still be in effect in Suffolk County,” Chief Sarlo said.

Chief Sarlo also said that people should stay put because the excess weight on the icy roads will only worsen conditions.

According to Mr. Lynch, there are currently has 80 to 90 pieces of equipment out on East Hampton roads this evening.

“We’ve got pretty much all the main roads open,” Mr. Lynch said, but added that workers are still trying to widen the roadways. With any hope the town’s secondary roads will be cleared by tomorrow afternoon, he said.

“We ask people to be patient,” Chief Sarlo said. He also asked that those in walking distance of elderly or shut-in neighbors keep an eye on them.

“If we get emergency calls, we’re going in with a snow plow,” he said. For now, the town has only had to respond to a couple of routine ambulance calls and call for help from vehicles stranded in snow banks.

With snow still falling along much of the East End and two to four inches expected to accumulate before nightfall, it looks as though tomorrow will be another day off work for many in eastern Suffolk County.

“Our company line is that the schools are closed tomorrow and it’ll take most of the day to get roads back together,” Chief Sarlo said.

“As a community, we should be patient and take tomorrow as a day to dig ourselves out,” Chief Sarlo said.

Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton schools will be closed tomorrow.

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. Tuesday

Emergency orders remain in effect in Sag Harbor Village, where the highway department has been trying to clear roads for the past 30 hours, according to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride.

“It really is a pretty tough storm,” Mr. Gilbride said over the phone on Tuesday afternoon. While driving through the village, he has seen areas of two to three feet as snow, and some snowdrifts as high as five feet, he said.

“I see people out, there’s no real reason to be going out because there’s no stores open, there’s nothing open. It’s best if everybody just stays home and gives these guys a chance,” Mr. Gilbride said.

In the village, nine trucks and two pay loaders have been out since 5 p.m. last night, Mr. Gilbride said. The vehicles have plowed the streets of the village nine times so far, but the wind continues to blow snow back into the streets. They are now going to take a short break before getting back to work through the night.

“We’ve got another day ahead of us,” Mr. Gilbride said, before the roads in the village are clear.

As of now, Sag Harbor has not seen any coastal flooding, the mayor said, apart from some slight flooding on Glover Street due to slush clogging a street drain.

“The city lucked out this time,” Mr. Gilbride said, “And we didn’t.”

 

UPDATE: 11 a.m. Tuesday

The twin forks bore the brunt of the blizzard of the year, which continues on in the Eastern most parts of Suffolk County.

High winds and periods of heavy snow have dropped two to three feet of powder across the East End, with many roads still cut off and unplowed.

Although a travel ban has been lifted in New Jersey and in other parts of Long Island, it remains in effect in East Hampton and Southampton Towns.

According to the Southampton Town Police, most people obeyed the 11 p.m. travel ban ordered by Governor Andrew Cuomo last night and stayed off the roads.

Police and town officials continue to urge residents to stay home and hunker down.

A blizzard warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. this evening, although the heaviest snow and strongest winds have likely passed, according to the weather service.

 

UPDATE: 4 p.m. Monday

The Town of East Hampton has issued a state of emergency, effective 4 p.m. this afternoon, urging residents to refrain from travelling through Tuesday. All

As in Southampton Town, parking on public roadways is prohibited and vehicles will be towed.

Southampton Hospital cancelled all nonessential services at 3 p.m. today. Dialysis will be available through tonight’s shift, but will be closed tomorrow; emergency dialysis will be available. All Meeting House Lane medical practices will be closed tomorrow. The hospital departments are all prepared for the blizzard, they said, and have taken all the necessary precautions.

Southampton will be in a state of emergency at 7 p.m., at which point any nonessential driving will be illegal, according to a press release issued by the town.

“High winds, high accumulation and drifting snow, frigid temperatures, power outages and local flooding are expected. The storm is forecast to last through Wednesday morning. Residents in low lying areas or without an adequate alternative heating or power source should consider evacuating prior to the full onset of the storm and before the effective time of the state of emergency (7PM),” they said.

There will be a full travel ban in effect in Long Island as of 11 p.m. tonight, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon.

Southampton Town residents with special medical needs should call (631) 728-1235 before 5 p.m. if they anticipate needing assistance. Residents who may need to shelter pets should call (631) 728-7387. Local emergencies can be reported to (631) 728-3400. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911.

 

UPDATE: Noon Monday

The Town of Southampton will be calling a state of emergency at 7 p.m. this evening, according to Southampton Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, which means non-essential vehicles must be off the road by that time.

“Don’t be out driving tonight and please don’t park on public roads or parking lots,” Mr. Gregor said. Those parked on the road after that time will be ticketed and towed at the driver’s expense.

“But please just don’t go out in the snow, please don’t walk on the side of the road. We can’t see you if you’re walking in whiteout conditions,” he added.

The town is organizing 50 trucks with plows and their 10 pay loaders; as weather conditions worsen, more trucks and vehicles from large East End subcontractors will hit the roads.

The town will be responsible for plowing the 950 miles of town-maintained roads, as well as 100 miles of smaller, secondary roads in areas of Noyac and North Sea, Mr. Gregor said. Once they begin to see snows of 2 to 3 inches, they will hold off on plowing the roads until the heaviest snow stops.

There will also be a flood watch in effect; those in Sag Harbor Cove, Pine Neck and Bay Point should be particularly vigilant, Mr. Gregor said.

County Executive Steve Bellone is scheduled to give a press conference on the upcoming storm at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, which will be broadcast on local news channels.

 

UPDATE: 9:30 a.m. Monday

Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton Schools will have early dismissal on Monday and will be closed all day Tuesday in preparation for the potentially historic storm expected to hit Long Island Monday afternoon.

Students at Pierson-Middle High School will be dismissed at noon today, and elementary students will be dismissed at 12:45 p.m. There will be no afternoon Pre-K classes. All sports, SHAEP, after school and evening activities on Monday and Tuesday have been cancelled.

All students at Bridgehampton School will be dismissed at 12:45 p.m. on Monday, and the school will be closed on Tuesday. All sports and after school activities, including ASPIRE, have been cancelled.

The Sag Harbor Board of Education meeting scheduled for this evening will now be moved to Monday, February 2.

Original Story:

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the East End, with one to three feet of snow expected to accumulate from Monday afternoon through Tuesday night.

The storm, which will likely begin around 1 p.m. on Monday, could be “crippling and potentially historic,” according to the weather service.

Light snow in the morning will pick up intensity in the evening, with the heaviest winds and snowfall starting Monday at midnight and lasting through Tuesday afternoon.

The weather service discourages all unnecessary travel starting on Monday afternoon, as whiteout conditions are expected. If travel is absolutely necessary, the weather service advises having a winter survival kit. The weather service has says that it may become impossible to drive on secondary roads and advises those who get stranded in their vehicles to remain there.

The Town of East Hampton has advised residents to refrain from driving on Monday evening and all day Tuesday in a message posted on its website (www.town.east-hampton.ny.us) on Sunday.

“All residents are urged to monitor the National Weather Service advisories, network news channels, LTV channels 20 & 22, and this website for further information,” the message reads.

“Regardless of the track of this storm it appears that a significant snowfall is likely, and residents should take all necessary precautions prior to Monday afternoon,” it continues.

A moderate flood warning will be in effect in low-lying coastal areas from late Monday night through Tuesday morning; shore road closures may be necessary.

High winds Monday night and Tuesday could cause trees to fall. To report an outage to PSEG-Long Island, call 1-800-490-0075, text OUT to 773454 or through their website psegliny.com.

i-Tri Girls Find Self-Empowerment Through Triathlons

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Guadalupe Rojas mentally prepares for the race in i-tri. Photo courtesy Theresa Roden.

Guadalupe Rojas mentally prepares for the race in i-tri. Photo courtesy Theresa Roden.

By Tessa Raebeck 

Theresa Roden’s motivation to run a triathlon came from a somewhat surprising source of inspiration: sitting on the beach. While visiting Block Island, Ms. Roden, who lives in Springs, saw a group of jubilant runners dart by, turned to her family and said, quite simply, “I’m going to do this next year.”

“They all looked at me like I had 25 heads,” said Ms. Roden, who not only ran, swam and biked across Block Island the following year, but also encouraged a group of some 20 East Enders to do the same. In 2010, she founded i-tri, a six-month program that uses training for a triathlon to teach local girls about health and nutrition, self-empowerment, and camaraderie.

“For me, it was the first time in my entire life that I cut myself some slack,” Ms. Roden said of her training. “I changed that inner dialogue. We all have that negative self-talk that we do to ourselves and I, for the first time, discovered I didn’t have to be so critical and if I was just a little kinder to myself, things were a lot easier. I just totally changed the way that I felt about myself and I talked about myself and to myself—and everything started to change.”

(L to R) Marissa Harry, Kaya Mulligan, Alicia Benis  finish the i-tri race. Photo courtesy Theresa Roden.

(L to R) Marissa Harry, Kaya Mulligan, Alicia Benis finish the i-tri race. Photo courtesy Theresa Roden.

Lamenting that she hadn’t changed her self-talk 20 years earlier, when her daughter Abby entered the sixth grade, Ms. Roden created i-tri for Abby and seven other girls in her class at Springs School. I-tri expanded to the Montauk School in 2012 and to Southampton last year, and on Monday, January 26, the Sag Harbor Board of Education will vote on whether to adopt the program at Pierson Middle School.

Offered free of charge to every participant, i-tri consists of triathlon-specific training of swimming, biking or running on Saturdays, weekly group lessons focused on self-esteem building and leadership skills, after-school fitness classes such as yoga and spinning, and hands-on nutrition classes, which families are welcome to attend.

The school district is asked to provide a space for i-tri to hold the in-school sessions and possibly the nighttime nutrition sessions, for support from relevant personnel such as guidance counselors, and possibly also for transportation to certain meetings. Training and classes start in March, culminating with the race in mid-July.

While training is limited to sixth, seventh and eighth grade girls, i-tri graduates often remain involved through mentorship. The eight girls who took part the first year are now juniors at East Hampton High School, and several of them started an i-tri-inspired empowerment club that meets periodically and invites successful, local women to come speak to students.

Although crossing the finish line is the most tangible reward, i-tri is at its core about empowering the girls in all aspects of their lives.

“It’s not all about training for the race,” said Maria Chavez, a freshman at East Hampton High School who started the program as a sixth grader in Springs and plans to race again this year, adding that i-tri encouraged the girls and “made us feel confident about ourselves…and we weren’t afraid to tell each other anything; we had so much support.”

“It’s all about feeling good,” said Ms. Roden. “There’s nothing more important than that I feel good, because when I feel good I have more to give the world and when I give to the world, I get back.”

Airport Noise Committee Recommends Curfews, Limits and Banning The Loudest Choppers

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helicopters

By Mara Certic

If the East Hampton Airport Planning Committee’s noise subcommittee get its way, strict curfews, limits on weekly operations and a complete ban on the loudest helicopters could be in effect by Memorial Day of this year.

Those were among the key recommendations made by the group to the town board in its final report, which was delivered on Tuesday, January 21.

The subcommittee, which is made up of members of the community on the East End who say they have suffered from airport noise, has held bimonthly meetings since it was formed early last year, to discuss the best way to tackle what many say is a decades-old problem.

David Gruber, chairman of the subcommittee, presented the recommendations to the town board.

“Noise due to aircraft has vexed this community for 30 years,” Mr. Gruber said, adding that the community has consistently asked the airport remain small and recreational, and that it not be allowed to be expanded into a busy commercial airport.

The first two phases of an independent noise analysis study contracted by the town were presented at the end of last year and corroborated much of what the anti-noise community had been saying for years: They are most bothered by aircraft arriving late at night and early in the morning and especially when there is a high frequency of flights, such as on busy summer weekends.

The analyses, the last of which will be presented on Tuesday, February 3, provided much of the basis for the noise committee’s suggestions.

The group’s proposal, which was endorsed by the Quiet Skies Coalition in a press release distributed on Tuesday afternoon, first recommends aircraft be rated into three categories: noisiest, noisy and quiet.

The noisiest aircraft tend to be helicopters and jets, while the quietest ones tend to be aircraft flown by recreational pilots. According to the Quiet Skies Coalition, this demonstrates the subcommittee’s “support for continued unlimited access to the airport by local pilots.”

According to flight information determined by Vector Reports, only 27 percent of the airport’s fleet, both those based there and those that visit, would fall into the noisiest category.

The noisiest aircraft, however, account for 54 percent of all landings at the airport.

The committee then proposed a number of restrictions based on those three categories.

The first is that operations by the noisiest types of aircraft (which measure in at more than 91 decibels) would be prohibited from 5 p.m. until 9 a.m. every day and be restricted to conducting just one trip per week, year-round. These noisiest aircraft would also be subjected to a noise pollution surcharge during summer weekends and holidays.

The noisiest helicopters would be banned entirely.  According to Mr. Gruber, the three most popular types of helicopters, the Sikorsky S-76, the Airbus Helicopters Écureuil, and the Airbus Helicopters TwinStar, account for two- thirds of all helicopter operations at the airport. They all also would be classified as the noisiest type and would be banned, under the rules. At 95.6 decibels, the Sikorsky helicopters are the loudest regularly using the airport.

The aircraft classified as merely noisy would only be subjected to a late curfew, and would not be allowed to land or take off after 7 p.m. or before 8 a.m.

“We believe it is time for the town to ask all airport users to employ the best and quietest aviation,” Mr. Gruber said, adding that there are many quiet alternatives available for all different kinds of aircraft.

“Helicopters in the Noisy (but not Noisiest) class, that would therefore be subject only to a late curfew, include the Eurocopter EC-155, the Eurocopter EC-120 Colibri, and the MD Helicopters MD600,” Mr. Gruber said.

“Of 13,000 landing operations last year, two-thirds were by commercial operators,” Mr. Gruber said. The remaining third, Mr. Gruber said, the local recreational pilots, would only be affected by the new curfew rule, as their aircraft tend to be the quietest.

“Local aviators have never been the problem,” former Town Councilman, noise subcommittee member and member of the Quiet Skies Coalition Pat Trunzo said in a press release from the Quiet Skies Coalition.

“Noise complaint data coupled with the proposed noise emissions categorization support that,” he added.

Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesperson for the Friends of the East Hampton Airport released the following statement:

“While we had hoped the committee would offer new ideas that could generate a meaningful debate, instead they offered a set of old proposals that are ultimately aimed at closing the airport. Enacting these plans will severely impact local businesses and the local economy and create a huge gap in the town budget that taxpayers will ultimately have to make up for with higher property taxes. Rather than trying to close the airport, we should be working together to find common-sense solutions that protect our community’s access to aviation and the economic benefits that the airport provides.”

Also during Tuesday’s work session, Barry Holden, one of just three Southampton Town residents on the airport noise subcommittee, submitted a petition with more than 700 signatures to the town, echoing the recommendations of his group.

HMMH, the company conducting phase three of the noise analysis, will present its findings to the board on February 3. The firm will also present its recommended legislation which “may or may not be based on the noise committee’s recommendation,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said on Tuesday.

The East Hampton Town Board had a special meeting in executive session on Wednesday, January 21, with their attorneys and outside counsel to discuss both pending and potential litigation related to the airport, Mr. Cantwell said.

 

 

 

 

 

Dock to Dish Opens Florida’s First Community Supported Fishery

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docktodish

Dock to Dish, the first community and restaurant supported fishery program anchored in Montauk, announced last week it would open Florida’s first ever Community Supported Fishery (CSF) in Key West in February of this year. The program is being developed in conjunction with Key West restaurateur Chris Holland and the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association. According to Dock to Dish founder Sean Barrett, the goal of this new enterprise is to bring the health benefits of locally harvested fish and seafood back to local consumers while also strengthening the in-state commercial fishing industry.

“This is the first small step in what we hope will become a Florida-wide enterprise that brings commercial fisherman, consumers, and restaurant owners together in a cause that will improve the community’s health and businesses,” said Mr. Barrett. “And do so deliciously.”

Mr. Barrett said that he picked Key West to be the second Dock to Dish market for one reason—Mr. Holland.

“We get contacted regularly about all kinds of things, but when Chris reached out we immediately knew this was a special situation,” said Mr. Barrett. “He has been working in Key West on solving the same problems we are working on in Montauk, where all too often what we see on the menus and in the grocery stores comes far from our local waters. Chris is solution-driven and speaks the language of ‘fresh’ fluently.”

“Americans need to take a stand now against the large Asian and South American fish farms that are negatively impacting our commercial fishing industry and poisoning unsuspecting consumers,” said Mr. Holland, owner of the Stoned Crab Restaurant. “People think that the fish they are buying in supermarkets is safe, inspected, and healthy — when it is none of these things. In fact, nearly 90-percent of all the seafood consumed by Americans is imported and much of the fish that is imported comes from sources that are barely regulated or often completely unregulated.”

According to Mr. Barrett and Mr. Holland, the new Dock to Dish Key West Community Supported Fishery will be launched in support of and in conjunction with the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, under the leadership of executive director Bill Kelly.

“We are proud to be a part of this historic enterprise to bring fresh seafood back to Key West and strengthen the livelihoods of our commercial fishermen and our island economy,” said Mr. Kelly. “Seafood is a renewable natural resource and cooperative efforts between fishery managers and stakeholders have kept all key indicator species in the Florida Keys at sustainable levels. Every year, our fleet harvests responsible amounts of seafood, which allows for stocks to rebuild themselves.”

Initial plans call for Dock to Dish to launch its Community Supported Fishery memberships by June 2015 at a Dock to Dish Seafood Market that will open at the IBIS Bay Beach Resort, 3101 North Roosevelt Boulevard in Key West on February 14, Valentine’s Day.