Tag Archive | "kevin Mcallister"

Boat Party in Jeopardy

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web Boat Party 2010

by David McCabe


The Sag Harbor Village’s Harbor Committee discussed issues related to an annual boat party in Sag Harbor during its meeting on Monday, opening up the possibility that village authorities could stop the event from happening this year.

Bruce Tait, the chair of the Harbor Committee, told the event’s organizer, Charles Canavan, that he could order a consistency review of the event — which assesses if a proposal is in line with the policies outlined in the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP). That would make it more difficult for the party to take place in Sag Harbor Cove, where it has been held since 2010.

Tait noted that if the board’s hypothetical review were to find the proposal inconsistent with LWRP policies, then the state would have to overrule the board before the event could take place.

The boat party, which drew some 150 to 200 vessels last year, has been in existence for around two decades. Every year, boats and their owners have converged at a location on the East End to eat, drink and listen to live bands which perform on a barge set up by organizers. However, that location has hardly remained constant. In the past, the event has been held within the jurisdiction of Shelter Island and East Hampton, but both town’s passed ordinances that would have required the party’s organizers to file for an event permit.

Now, it may be Sag Harbor’s turn to give the party the heave ho.

At the Harbor Committee meeting, members of that board, led by Tait, raised concerns about the potential environmental impacts of the event.

“We’re concerned about so many boats and so many people congregating in such an environmentally sensitive area,” Tait said.

Sag Harbor Cove, which is the site of multiple shellfish beds, has been the focus of studies in recent years that indicate it is particularly susceptible to environmental pollution, said Tait. When the State of New York conducted dye tests on the area — which involve pigment being released into the water to assess which way it flows and how fast —  Tait said the dye left the cove, but then went back in, indicating the cove has a weak “flush” system. In basic terms, this means that water does not strongly circulate through the cove.

The committee told Canavan, one of three people in attendance at the meeting, that it was worried party goers would need access to restroom facilities which would be unavailable on some of the smaller boats.

“I know that when I start drinking at 12 o’clock and go on to 6 o’clock that there’s a certain point that I would need to find the facilities,” said Tait.

“I know for a fact that there are many, many boats that are under 20 feet that don’t have holding tanks, that don’t have facilities,” Tait added.

Canavan protested that local authorities seem to like the party’s presence. He claimed that when he almost shut down last year’s boat party because of inclement weather, members of the police department urged him not to.

He also said the event serves people of all ages, from seniors down to children.

“What I’ve noticed in the past is grandparents dancing with their grandchildren,” he said.

Canavan said that his event will likely raise funds for the non-profit Peconic BayKeeper, which aims to protect the Peconic Bay. He indicated that the Peconic BayKeeper himself — Kevin MacAllister — would attend the Harbor Committee’s next meeting.

Tait expressed worry Wednesday that having McAllister give a statement on the environmental impact of the boat party when his group stands to gain financially from the event could create the appearance of impropriety.

“I’m a little concerned about the money trail on that,” he said.

Tait also said he is personally wary of an event that puts swimmers in close proximity to outboard motors.

“In this thing you have boats and swimmers co-mingling with no lines of delineation between the two,” he said.

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees has introduced legislation aimed at allowing the village to regulate mass gatherings — events over 75 people — even if it is held on the water. A public hearing on that legislation will be held at next month’s village board meeting on July 10.

The committee tabled the discussion, but Tait said he plans to bring it up at the Harbor Committee’s July 9 session.




Inspired by the Bays

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ghirsch

by Lucy de Souza

Artist Carol Boye is no stranger to East End. “I’ve grown up on the water out here, I’ve been sailing here my whole life,” she said. In her spare time, Boye enjoys being out on the water not only sailing but crabbing, clamming and even helping an 85 year-old friend set nets for fishing. However, in the past few years she has noticed a growing problem that has threatened the East End: the quality of local waters and sea-life have decreased. Like many concerned seafaring folk before her, Boye decided to take action. But perhaps in a more unconventional way: she decided to put together a cookbook.

Of all the different ways to support a cause, why a cookbook? “It just popped into my head and it just seemed like a really good idea to kind of tie my passions together.” Boye explained.

Following in this aquatic theme, the cookbook is entitled, “Go Fish” and is comprised of fish recipes by local residents, artists and chefs as well as images of local artwork depicting the East End.

The cookbook features 136 recipes, from the familiar baked clams to the more foreign “Mille Feuillie de Saumon Mordue d’Huites Grattinees”. Celebrity chef George Hirsch—who contributed a recipe for “Peconic Scallops and Pasta with Garlic Sauce”—described “Go Fish” as being special because it includes a wide assortment of meals. “It’s very varied and I think it’s really wonderful that [Boye] chose a whole variety of the community to come together…it’s just wonderful to have this collection of our community because everyone brings something to the table, so to speak.”

According to Chef Randy Reiss, of 230 Elm Street Catering, what makes “Go Fish” different than other fish cookbooks is that the fish in it can be caught and cooked in the area. He describes the flavors in “Go Fish” as one of a kind. “[The fish] are native to this area and you’re only going to get that unique flavor here.” he said, noting that there are some species of fish that exist here on the East End that don’t exist anywhere else in the world.

The recipes in the cookbook submitted by Reiss are “Grilled Oyster Lemon Lime Chive Buerr Blance with Caviar” and “Clams Casino,” both of which he said are big hits at parties he caters.

Reiss also applauded the cookbook for its friendliness towards the average cook who “wants to develop a palette for East End food” and “wants an adventure” when experimenting with new cuisine. Hirsch agrees. He describes the taste of East End fish as “pristine” and simple. It’s food you can take straight from the sea, to the flame, to the plate. “It’s already been well flavored just by living in our waters, no need to muck it up,” he said.

By supporting the “Go Fish” cookbook, readers also support the preservation of the East End’s unique qualities. “[“Go Fish”] will bring greater awareness to the connection between the people and the resource and hopefully they will no longer take for granted the bounty of the bay,” Peconic Baykeeper president Kevin McAllister said.

The book benefits two important programs: The Peconic Baykeeper, who plays guardian to local waters by enforcing protective policies; and the reseeding program, responsible for restocking the bays with shellfish.

“There’s something special about sitting at a seafood restaurant on the water and eating seafood caught out of that bay,” Boye added, “If you take that away from here, we lose a lot.”

“You gotta have a bowl of mussels or a lobster or a couple of dozen of clams over the course of the summer or else its not summer. It’s apart of what the summer time ritual is,” said Don Sullivan owner of Southampton Publick house and close friend of Boye.

Boye continued to say that passionate effort was put into the book by all of those involved. As Chef Reiss said, “It really comes from the heart.”

“Go Fish” is available for purchase at several East End locations. For the full list, visit www.gofishbenefit.com. The book sells for $24.95.

Paddle Power: Understanding Water Quality By Getting On It

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Heller_Paddle for the Bays '11_2856

By Emily J. Weitz

It was a misty morning when a committed group of about forty paddlers gathered at Havens Beach on Saturday in support of the efforts of Kevin McAllister, the Peconic Baykeeper. The event, the First Annual Paddle for the Bays, was organized to spread the mission of the Baykeeper.

“We’re part of the Waterkeeper Alliance,” explained McAllister as he dragged his kayak towards the water. “Our organization was formed in 1997 to protect and restore our bays. We are focused on clean water, and we rely on our citizen enforcer components.”

I looked around at the small army of citizen enforcers, ranging from strapping young surfers with tattooed arms to women in their 60s slathering sunscreen across their faces. It wasn’t a brigade I would want to mess with.

The Paddle was designed as a casual way to familiarize people with the beautiful waters. We pushed off a little after 9 a.m., cutting through the rippling bay in the direction of Little Northwest Creek. I was on a Stand Up Paddle (SUP) board lent to me by Larz of Main Beach Surf and Sport, who supports McAllister in any way he can. He, too, was on a SUP Board, and he looked back over his shoulder at me.

“You doin’ okay?” he asked. I nodded.

“I love this,” I said, drinking in the serene scene of dozens of water-lovers collectively drifting out to sea.

Getting up onto a SUP board is like claiming something back. There’s a sense of power, maybe because you’re nearly walking on water or maybe because you’ve stepped onto your own self-propelled craft. Whatever it is, once you’re up on a SUP board you feel aligned with nature.

We paddled through the rippling waters as the fog slowly began to lift. As we each navigated our own little Zen vessels, I realized what a brilliant idea it was. Who better to protect these waters than those who fall in love with them? And how better to fall in love than like this, on a lazy morning in May, in a casual regatta of kayaks, canoes, surfboards, and Stand Up Paddle boards, stroking towards the marshy wetlands.

McAllister wanted everyone to just enjoy, but he laced in his wisdom and some harsh realities along the way.

“It was only a few years ago (in 2004),” he explained, “that we advanced a No-Discharge Zone here at Havens.”

That means that prior to that, the hundreds of boats that anchored there in the summers could just dump their waste (including human excrement) right into the waters.

“And there’s still a ditch here that discharges storm water filled with lawn fertilizers and pesticides into this water,” McAllister added. “As a credit to Sag Harbor, they have committed to make changes to the ditch to filter storm water.”

I looked back at the swing sets and slides at Havens, recalling a recent moment when my two-year-old dashed without a care towards the gentle sea. Human excrement? Pesticides? I was convinced: The citizen enforcers were indispensable.

“The thing is,” McAllister said as he guided his kayak through the water, “we should not take these waters for granted relative to water quality. People think water quality is an up-island problem, but it’s not true. There were shellfish closures in Shinnecock Bay three or four weeks ago because of toxic red tide.”

And if that’s still far enough west to push it out of your realm of consideration, consider this: Last year, bacteria in Northwest Creek in Sag Harbor was discovered to consist of 67% human source.

“Our water is polluted by too much nitrogen,” says McAllister, “which comes from cesspools.” The hope comes from the fact that advocacy efforts are starting to pay off. Sag Harbor has committed to cleaning up the water quality at Havens Beach. But that’s exactly why McAllister adds, “If you’re about this beach, you’ve got to show up at the town meetings.”

I looked out at the group, everyone going at their own pace, having their own experience, connecting with nature in their own way. A young guy in a wetsuit lay across his surf board, the smooth strokes of his arms propelling him. A pair in a two-person kayak shrank to a dot in the distance, their power pulling them ahead. An older man in a canoe sat back, just taking it all in. I wondered who of us would show up.

I broke off from the group to make my return voyage alone. Alongside the desolate beach I traveled, dipping the paddle in the cool water in long, slow strokes. The trees jutted out of the sandy cliffs, the sound of birds skipped across the water, and I, in my soundless vessel, felt like a part of something bigger. And that’s what McAllister wanted for us. The hope is that if we love it, and we teach our children to love it, then maybe we’ll show up to save it.

Havens Beach Study to Continue Through Summer

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Havens Study Will Continue
By Marissa Maier

Members of the Stony Brook University research team, who have been testing for harmful levels of bacteria at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor for almost a year, say their work will continue through the summer. Chris Gobler, a Stony Brook Southampton associate professor and the director of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Program, has spearheaded the team with help from graduate and doctorate students, like Florian Koch.
Koch was on hand at a recent Coastal and Estuarine Research Program environmental symposium with a poster showing the testing data as of March 2009. The team, in conjunction with Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister, has been studying the site since April 2008 and say the data they have collected is alarming.
“I think the data speaks for itself … The water quality in this area is being negatively affected, but this isn’t a new issue,” said McAllister. “Hopefully, this report will place a spotlight on Havens and be a call to action for the village and the harbor committee.”
According to data presented by Koch at the symposium, levels of harmful bacteria have exceeded healthy thresholds for bathing and shell fishing throughout the year. From April 2008 to early April 2009, testing from the receding water stations located in the bay showed bacteria levels were above adequate standards for shell fishing 31 percent of the time during testing and 44 percent of the time for bathing thresholds. These numbers pertain to results collected from three testing stations set-up in the water.
At three “source” stations — which consist of a ditch, a culvert leading to the beach and a steady stream of water flowing from the beach into the bay — levels were even higher. When averaging the whole year, the source station surpassed healthy standards 70 percent of the time for shell fishing and 60 percent of the time for bathing.
Because the source stations indicated more frequent high bacterium levels than the receding water stations, Gobler said his team studied the source stations to ascertain where the bacterium was coming from. That research is ongoing.
Koch and his fellow researchers tested the beach on a monthly to bi-monthly basis, but did responsive testing after heavy rainfalls. The ditch, or the first “source” station, collects storm water run-off for a 275-acre area, said McAllister, through a complicated network of piping. According to McAllister, the water collected at the ditch, seeking the lowest elevation, then flows into Havens Beach by way of the culvert. Gobler added that it is possible the ditch is also subject to ground water seepage.
As the Stony Brook team has been conducting their research, Suffolk County has been testing the waters of Havens Beach.
“By law, the county tests Havens and all other beaches on a weekly basis,” said Sag Harbor Village Mayor, Greg Ferraris. “Suffolk County has never issued a directive to close the beach.”
McAllister said the discrepancy between the county’s and Stony Brook’s results could be attributed to the Stony Brook team’s responsive testing after heavy rainfall. He noted that contaminates are more likely to flow into the ditch when it rains, but in drier weather are likely to stay put.
Village planner Richard Warren, who also operates an environmental consulting firm, said the discrepancy could also be attributed to different testing methodologies. He added that he would like to sit down and review side by side the county’s results and the Stony Brook results, with the help of Chris Gobler.
“With Kevin [McAllister] and Chris [Gobler], I hope we can set aside a testing protocol and start having a dialogue,” said Warren.
Village officials said they weren’t contacted before the yearly results were presented at the symposium and felt this went against a communications protocol established by both parties.
“We expected once the testing was complete to meet and discuss the findings,” Ferraris noted. “[We hope] to review the data and come up with a plan of action.”
Although the Stony Brook team planned to test for only a year, Koch said they would continue through the summer with no fixed end point in mind. Gobler added that the team believes it is important to continue monitoring the site and he also wishes to set up testing sites to the east and west of the beach.
McAllister noted that beyond testing, actual measures would need to be implemented in the future.
“Havens Beach and this ditch is a problem,” he said. “But developing this data will hopefully lead to a remediation project. It is going to cost money to deal with this and I recognize the challenges the village is facing. Are they going to be able to finance a project that is going to eliminate this pollution problem?”

Appeal in Erosion Complaint

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An appeal has been filed for a Sagaponack erosion case by attorney Gary Ireland who is arguing that groins put in place in East Hampton are the cause of erosion of beaches to the west and is asking the county take responsibility for damage from erosion and removal of the groins.

Ireland, who is representing his mother Cynthia Ireland, filed the appeal in late September because he believes the implementation of groins in the Georgica area of East Hampton have caused his mother to move her house back twice due to beach erosion. The county also filed its own cross-appeal to the decision earlier this month.

The original decision was made on August 27 issued by U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Brian M. Cogan. His decision said that the county would not be responsible to pay for damage incurred by the Sagaponack homeowners or the removal of the groins. Further, this decision would not require the county to replenish beaches due to erosion said to be caused by the Georgica groins.

Ireland said that there is substantial evidence in his favor and that is why he filed an appeal.

“We have support from various environmental organizations to support our claim,” said Ireland. “We respectfully disagree with the judge.”

Ireland said the court ruling was based on the fact that erosion is a natural occurrence. But Ireland along with some experts, believe the groins have sped up this process. Bob DeLuca, President of Group for the East End, testified during the trial and said that he has been involved in coastal planning on the East End for 16 to 18 years and has seen a lot of erosion in the area west of the groins.

“The area to the east of the groins is stable, and that was the point of putting them there by the Army Corp of Engineers in the 1960s,” he said on Tuesday. 

Kevin McAllister of the Peconic Baykeeper, also argues that the groins have caused the erosion to happen at a faster rate. He said that the currents and winds move the sand from east to west and the jetties interfere with that movement.

During the trial, which was held last April, geologist and engineer, Dr. David Aubrey said that he believes the sand flows in both directions.

On Tuesday, Sagaponack Mayor Donald Louchheim said, “I think there is ample evidence that the Georgica groins have contributed to beach erosion in neighboring Sagaponack. I would like to see appeal and the groins removed.”