Tag Archive | "Ken LaValle"

Thiele & LaValle Create CPF Advisory Opinions Bureau

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Since its inception in 1998, the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund has raised approximately $757 million, which the five East End towns have used to preserve open space, farmland, historic buildings and places as well as recreational fields. During its tenure as a resource for preservation, the bounds of the CPF have been questioned for concepts like a 2008 proposal between East Hampton, Southampton and Sag Harbor to use CPF funds to preserve Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, which was ultimately deemed a purchase that went beyond the intentions of the law.

The revenue for the fund is derived from a two-percent real estate transfer tax. It expires on December 31, 2030.

Last week, the architects of the CPF, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Ken LaValle, announced they have created a Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund Advisory Opinions Bureau in an effort to have a specific group ensure the effective and consistent administration of the fund.

The 11-member bureau will also provide legal opinions and interpretations regarding any questions that are raised about how the five East End towns — East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Southampton, Shelter Island and Riverhead — are expending their CPF monies.

A representative from each of the five towns, appointed by the town supervisor, will serve on the board as will a representative from each of the East End villages. Thiele and LaValle will also appoint five members of the public at large.

“This Advisory Bureau will institute oversight measures to help protect the integrity of the Community Preservation Fund,” said Thiele. “The Peconic Bay Region taxpayers and communities deserve to know that the Fund is being implemented appropriately and consistently throughout the region.”

“Transparency and accountability to taxpayers is essential to the fund’s continued success,” said Senator LaValle.

State Legislature Approves Property Tax Exemptions for Green Building

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This week, the New York State Legislature approved a law authored by local Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. that would provide a tax incentive to builders and homeowners constructing energy efficient green buildings.

Thiele said the “Energy Conservation Bill” is his most significant environmental legislation since the Community Preservation Fund was created for the five East End towns in 1999.

The bill passed in the Assembly and the State Senate unanimously.

The law, which must be ratified by Governor Andrew Cuomo, gives local governments or school districts the right to provide property tax exemptions —through a local law, ordinance or resolution — for construction or improvements made after January 1, 2013 that meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards for green buildings. This includes commercial or residential development.

In addition to LEED certification, the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes rating system, the American National Standards Institute, or other substantially equivalent standards for certification using a similar program for green buildings as determined by the municipal corporation would also be eligible for the exemption.

According to the legislation, eligible parties could receive a 100-percent property tax exemption if they meet Silver, Gold or Platinum LEED status for at least three years. After that the level of exemption — except for Platinum LEED status, declines by 20-percent each successive year. Those who achieve Platinum LEED status — the most difficult level to achieve — would be eligible for a 100-percent exemption for a total of six years.

To be eligible for the tax exemption, the construction must exceed $10,000, be certified as a green building, and be the subject of a valid building permit. Ordinary maintenance and repairs are not eligible for the exemption. The local assessor must approve the exemption.

“Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York has become pro-active in promoting efforts to reduce energy demands and greenhouse gas emissions by promoting energy efficiency in homes and businesses throughout the state,” said Thiele. “Significant measures have already been enacted in an effort to accomplish this goal such as on-bill financing, solar feed-in tariffs, and net metering. This legislation, my most significant environmental bill since the creation of the Community Preservation Fund (CPF), would provide another major incentive to promote energy efficiency and conservation. Not only will this legislation reduce energy demand, it will promote economic development by encouraging new construction that meets green building standards.”

“This bill will make a real difference in encouraging green construction for both homes and businesses,” he added. “It is imperative that we promote energy efficiency in our communities with whatever tools are at our disposal. These incentives will encourage the use of the highest level of energy design in new construction. We can reduce our costs and our reliance on expensive energy by reducing demand in the first place.”

The legislation was delivered to Governor Cuomo on July 6. He has until next Monday to ratify the law.

Fleming Announces Run For Senate

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In a video announcement on Wednesday, May 31, Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming unveiled her campaign for the New York State Senate.

The seat is currently held by Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, who has held the position since 1976.

In an interview on Friday, Fleming said she’s decided to make a bid for the long-held Senate seat because she wants to see change in Albany.

“From my leadership role at town government, I can see how issues in our community are being decided in Albany every day,” she said.

Significant issues include the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) payroll tax and local waterways, which she said are facing a “crisis” and “need to be monitored.”

Fleming added that her strength as a town official will serve her well against someone who’s been in office for 35 years.

“I was reelected by a very healthy margin,” she said, referring to her reelection this past November for her town council seat in which she took the lead over three other opponents. “I’ve demonstrated that I can win elections.”

Fleming referred to Long Island’s delegation to the New York State Senate as a “men’s club” and added, “It’s going to take someone who comes from a position of real strength to make inroads into that club. As an elected official, I come from a position of strength.”

Fleming once worked as an Assistant District Attorney in New York City, but now lives in Noyac and has a private law practice in Sag Harbor. Before taking on LaValle, she is set to run in a Democratic primary against Jennifer Maertz, an insurance litigation attorney from Rocky Point.

Maertz announced her campaign for Senate in February, after having previously run an unsuccessful campaign against LaValle in 2010.

“Of course I was surprised she would make that decision [to run],” Maertz said in an interview. She added that, based on how much time Fleming has spent in office, in Maertz’s opinion Fleming is essentially “reneging on the commitment she made to voters in Southampton.”

Fleming was reelected to her position on the Southampton Town Board this past November, after having initially joined the town board in a special election held in March of 2010. She succeeded then-councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst who vacated her seat to become Southampton Town Supervisor.

According to Drew Biondo, director of communications for Senator Ken LaValle, the senator has no comment at this time.

Montauketts Vie For State Recognition

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By Claire Walla


The fight to preserve Native American cultures on the East End of Long Island gained momentum this past year when the Shinnecock Indian Nation finally received federal recognition in 2010. Now, thanks to support from Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, the Montaukett Indian Nation is fighting a similar battle, this time with the state.

The tribe actually lost its recognition from New York State over 100 years ago after a court case that officially dissolved the tribe’s status as a recognized nation based on the argument that the tribe had dispersed.

“Currently, they are not recognized by the state as an Indian Nation,” Thiele declared. “The important part about that is that if you’re recognized under state laws, you can receive both education and health benefits.”

Bob Pharaoh, the tribe’s current chief and a resident of Sag Harbor, said that receiving benefits through the state is one of the perks to being a recognized tribe. But for him, the real advantage to state recognition is the ability to spread knowledge of Montaukett culture, and the tribe’s storied history.

The 1910 court case, which Pharaoh said essentially labeled the tribe “extinct,” was spurred by the relocation of many Montaukett Indian Nation members who, for financial reasons, moved further west.

“At that point, the tribe had no money,” he said. “[Tribe members] were exhausted, so they broke up and scattered to try to make a living however they could.”

While the tribe currently has close to 1,000 members total, he said there are only a handful of Montauketts still living on the East End.

Pharaoh said the Montauketts attempted to apply for federal recognition back in 1996, but the process proved to be too grueling.

“I just decided to back away from that, thinking state recognition would be faster,” he explained. “Anyway, it’s more advantageous to us now.”

With the legislation recently drafted by Senator LaValle and Assemblyman Thiele, Pharaoh said he hopes to negotiate with the state for a piece of property in Montauk to be “just for tribal use.”

“I want to try to [establish] a cultural center,” he continued. “Somewhere where people can go and see where we lived and what happened to us. My goal is to try to perpetuate the culture so that we’re not forgotten.”

There is a plethora of Montaukett artifacts now on display at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. Pharaoh said he has a good relationship with the museum and will be able to secure much of the collection for the cultural center he envisions for the East End, for which there is already a concept in place.

“I want to keep it natural,” he explained. “The design I have for the building is very unique.”

Pharaoh has already met with the architect who designed the Pequot Museum in Connecticut (a close friend) to hash-out plans for the proposed Montaukett cultural center. While he didn’t want to get into details, he insisted the East End has never seen anything like it.

“Let’s just say, unless you know where it is, you won’t be able to see it,” Pharaoh hinted. “It’s self-operating, self-powering and it’s underground.”

Assemblyman Thiele said the legislation to he drafted with Senator LaValle will probably be addressed in the spring.

“It’s important to right this wrong,” said Thiele. “This doesn’t have anything to do with casinos and gambling. It’s just fundamental fairness. To me, as an attorney, the decision that basically determined that the Montauketts were no longer a tribe was one of the great legal injustices in the state of New York.”

College Suit Settled

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By Claire Walla


More than a year after students of Stony Brook Southampton College pressed charges against Stony Brook University after university president Samuel Stanley closed the satellite campus without fair warning, all litigation has come to an end.

The settlement — agreed upon by the students involved, members of grassroots organization Save the College and officials of Stony Brook University — entails four main components: the university will pay for the students’ outstanding attorneys fees, the Sustainability Program at Stony Brook’s main campus will be guaranteed through 2014, the state university system will fund a sustainability conference at the Southampton Campus in 2014 and University President Samuel Stanley will formally apologize to the students who were impacted by the closing of the campus.

“It certainly wasn’t everything everyone wanted, but it was important to ensuring the future of the college and, certainly, from a point of view of justice, it was important for the students, who were very much wronged, to bring this to court—and to win,” said Assemblyman Fred Thiele this week.

Along with Senator Ken LaValle, Thiele has been instrumental in reestablishing activity on the satellite campus, which this year has been completely shuttered, save for graduate programs in writing and marine sciences. The campus is an important issue for both legislators, both of whom played pivotal roles in getting the State University of New York (SUNY) to purchase the campus from Long Island University back in 2006.

President Stanley announced the campus’ closure last April, just three months before the start of the coming school year, citing the impact of state budget cuts. He came under fire for the move in large part because he had failed to consult the school’s University Council before coming to his decision. By university law, the president is obligated to consult with the council before making any “major plans,” such as closing a campus.

“In a perfect world we would have brought the sustainability program back to Southampton. [It is now being bolstered on Stony Brook’s main campus.] That is the one disappointment here,” Thiele continued. “But, we did get justice for the students.”

Thiele said his goals while guiding students through their lawsuit were, first and foremost, to achieve justice; but also to assure that the program will continue.

Now, with much of the controversy behind them, both Thiele and LaValle are looking to the future of the campus.

In a press release last week, he announced $6.9 million had been re-appropriated to the Southampton campus for a new marine sciences building, and Stony Brook recently issued $7.5 million for a new student center. Construction on both projects is expected to start within a year. These contributions exemplify what Thiele referred to in the press release as an “ambitious vision” on the part of he and Senator LaValle “that would make the campus a busy academic hub benefiting all of Eastern Long Island.”

“I see now the potential for a very bright future,” Thiele continued. He said the arts program will be “the keystone” of the future of the college, but expanded programs in marine sciences, the creation of a sustainability institute and construction on a new medical facility that will bridge a partnership between the college and Southampton Hospital will see the school into the future.