Tag Archive | "Larry Cantwell"

GOP Takes Aim at Cantwell’s Budget

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Democratic East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell retained Republican Len Bernard as the town’s budget officer when he was elected in 2013, but that hasn’t stopped the East Hampton Town Republican Committee from criticizing his proposed $71.5 million spending plan for the coming year.

In a press release, the committee called on Mr. Cantwell and the town board to provide greater transparency during the budget process and insisted that Mr. Cantwell justify his budget’s rosy revenue projections.

GOP Chairman Tom Knobel noted that Supervisor Cantwell’s budget relies heavily on one-shot revenue sources, raids on reserve funds, and unrealistic revenue projections to stay under the state mandated tax levy cap, and pledged that the Republican Committee would play an increasingly active oversight role during the upcoming budget hearing.

Mr. Knobel called upward of $2million of revenue forecasted for 2015 “unrealistic,” while also noting that the budget’s reliance on fees will increase the cost of living to East Hampton Town residents, providing pain, but no gain.

“Supervisor Cantwell’s budget proposal risks the dearly bought fiscal soundness of our town with reckless raids on needed reserves, reallocation of debt, a massive increase in fees, and other questionable moves,” Mr. Knobel said in a release. “After all the hard work that former Supervisor [Bill] Wilkinson did to fix our budgetary woes, it is troubling that Supervisor Cantwell is proposing many of the same unrealistic budget gimmicks that got us into trouble in the past.”

The Committee’s analysis suggests that expenditures will outpace revenues considerably in 2014, and additionally that at least $2 million of projected revenue in 2015 is either a one-shot raid on reserve funds or overly optimistic forecasting.

The town board is expected to hold a hearing on the proposed budget on Thursday, November 6.

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

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

By Mara Certic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Committee Says Airport Can Stand on its Own

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Members of East Hampton’s budget and financial advisory committee dropped a bit of a bombshell on Tuesday when they told the town board that the town would be able to continue operating the airport for the foreseeable future without accepting additional funding from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Whether the town could afford to maintain the facility without federal largesse has long been a bone of contention, with airport supporters saying the grants are needed to maintain the airport and opponents saying the town will not be able to control the facility as long as it continues accepting federal aid and the restrictions that come with it.

“Some people held the conclusion that the airport would fall apart if you did not take FAA money. This report disproves that,” said Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who nonetheless added he would not close the door on the possibility the town would need FAA funding in the future.

“Clearly, your financial analysis shows we can move forward at least in the immediate and interim future, that we can finance the airport, that we can keep it safe, and that we can make the improvements that are absolutely necessary and do that for some period of time without taking FAA money,” he said.

The report was presented to the board by Arthur Malman, the chairman of the budget advisory committee, and Peter Wadsworth, one of its authors, who told the board the airport will be able to generate enough cash flow to adequately cover its long term debt servicing needs.

Both men stressed that the group that worked on the report represented a cross-section of airport supporters and opponents and had reached their conclusion unanimously.

In compiling the report, the committee assumed varying scenarios, ranging from no changes in airport traffic to one in which there were no helicopter flights. They also assumed that the town could realize modest revenue growth by raising fees to offset expected increases in expenses.

The scenario is even more rosy, Mr. Wadsworth said, if the town takes advantage of a number of options to enhance revenue from the airport. Among the options the committee found beside raising landing fees and fuel charges include requiring paid parking, renegotiating hangar leases, possibly adding additional hangars, developing 15 vacant lots on Industrial Road as well as the potential for developing a massive solar farm on the northern end of the airport.

Mr. Malman added that the airport property encompasses some 600 acres, with much of it zoned for industrial uses, which is in high demand. He added, though, that any development schemes would require careful analysis by the town’s planning and natural resources departments.

He added that the town has the potential to turn the airport into a major source of revenue, when the last of the FAA grant restrictions expire in 2022. Because of those restrictions, any revenue raised at the airport must be spent there. But after they expire, the town would be able to use operating surpluses to reduce taxes.

“It may become a very significant source of nontax revenue,” he said. “The bad news is there has to be a little thought given as to how you set this thing up” to make sure the airport properly maintained.

Assembly Passes Tax Extension for East Hampton

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The New York State Assembly passed legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. this week that permits Suffolk County to extend the property tax payment deadline for residents of East Hampton Town this year to protect those residents from any penalties.

A computer system error in the town’s tax receiver’s office resulted in more than 5,000 property tax bills from being sent out in time to make the January 10 payment deadline. Because many residents did not receive their tax bills on time, the town approached Assemblyman Thiele, who sponsored the legislation to extend the deadline to January 31 and waive any interest and penalties.

“I appreciate the efforts of Assemblyman Fred Thiele passing legislation to extend the penalty deadline in light of issues that occurred in the town tax receiver’s office in January,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.

The bill has passed both houses of the legislature and must be presented to the governor for his signature. Once the bill becomes law, the Suffolk County Legislature must pass a resolution adopting the provisions within 30 days.

Oh Deer! East End Wildlife Groups Plan “No Cull” Rally for Saturday

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By Tessa Raebeck

Plans to unleash federal sharpshooters on the East End deer population have been met with bureaucratic setbacks and vocal opposition, but are moving forward nonetheless.

In coordination with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Long Island Farm Bureau (LIFB) plans to hire USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) sharpshooters to kill deer with high-powered rifles to cull the local herds.

In addition to carrying tick-borne illnesses, causing car accidents and adversely affecting other animal habitats, deer destroy an estimated $3 to $5 million worth of crops annually on the East End, according to Joe Gergela, LIFB executive director.

Gergela said the cull, which will be largely funded by a $200,000 state grant, aims to kill 1,500 to 2,000 deer. All processed meat will go to Island Harvest to feed the hungry on Long Island.

“We felt whatever we did with the grant should be for community as well as farming benefit,” Gergela said Wednesday, adding a cull is crucial to having a successful agricultural industry.

LIFB has asked that villages and towns who want the sharpshooters sign onto the program by committing $15,000 or $25,000, respectively.

The DEC has yet to reveal whether it will require a single permit for the program or make each municipality signing onto the program file individually. Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said Tuesday although many municipalities have expressed interest in joining the program, they don’t want the legal liability of having the permit in their name.

So far, East Hampton Village, Southold Town and the eastern part of Brookhaven Town have signed on.

North Haven Village opted out, but is pursuing its own organized cull.

Sagaponack Village’s participation is contingent on the participation of both East Hampton and Southampton towns.

Southampton Town has thus far stayed mute on the subject — which has been under public discussion since September. Calls to Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst were not returned as of press time.

The East Hampton Town Board, under the previous administration, adopted a deer management plan that included plans for a cull. On Tuesday, however, newly elected Supervisor Larry Cantwell said he was unsure if the town would, in fact, join the LIFB in this initiative.

“At the moment, it’s up in the air,” Cantwell said, adding he would like to see culling on a limited basis and there are advantages to participating, but the town’s decision will be based primarily on the opinions of its residents.

“To some extent,” said Cantwell, “this is happening fairly quickly in terms of building a community consensus moving forward.”

The East Hampton Group for the Wildlife, the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons and 13 individuals have filed suit against East Hampton Town, East Hampton Village and the East Hampton Town Trustees.

The lawsuit asks for a temporary restraining order against the town’s deer management plan and specifically, any proposal that calls for an organized cull.

“The lawsuit,” Cantwell said, “is certainly a factor in the decision-making process about this.”

Critics contend little information has been provided to show the cull is truly necessary.

“Killing other beings as a way of solving the problem is abhorrent, unethical and monstrous to me,” said East Hampton Group for the Wildlife President Bill Crain. “These are living beings with families and social lives and emotions, so to kill them just seems like a moral outrage.”

“It’s not about animal cruelty and all the nonsense that the Bambi lovers are spouting,” Gergela said. “If they would sit down and listen to people, they would realize there are no practical solutions other than to hunt or to cull.”

A petition on change.org to stop the “stealth plan to brutally slaughter 5,000 East End deer” had garnered over 10,600 signatures as of press time. In addition to local residents, activists from as far away as Belgium have signed the petition, which calls for the “unethical, ‘quick-fix,’ non-science-based plan” to “immediately cease and desist.”

A rally in protest of the cull will be held Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. at the Hook Mill in East Hampton.

Gergela dismissed the opposition as a “vocal minority” of non-locals with “no vested interest other than they enjoy animals and they enjoy their peaceful weekend on Long Island.”

“That’s very nice,” he added, “but for those of us that live here, whether you’re a farmer or a general citizen that’s had an accident, that has Lyme Disease or whatever, everybody says to me, ‘You’re doing a great thing.’”

Local hunters have also expressed their opposition to the cull, arguing if state and local governments lessened hunting restrictions, they themselves could thin the deer population.

Terry Crowley, a lifelong Sagaponack resident whose family has been hunting on the East End for generations, called the cull “a little ridiculous.”

“They should just change a few laws so more deer can be killed,” Crowley said Tuesday.

Thiele is working on legislation that would implement the state deer management plan, which has a number of recommendations to increase hunting opportunities, including expanding the January season to include weekends and allow bow and arrow hunting.

Cantwell voiced his support of such legislation.

“I certainly want to work with the local hunters who want to take deer,” the supervisor said Tuesday, “because I do think that removing some deer from the population on an ongoing basis is necessary to control the population.”

New Supervisor, New Era in East Hampton

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East Hampton Town Justice James Ketcham swears in Larry Cantwell during a swearing-in ceremony prior to the start of the first town board meeting of 2014 last Thursday. 

By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell opened the inaugural town board meeting of 2014 last Thursday by making a pledge to usher in what he said would be a town board open to divergent opinions, one that is transparent and focused on quality of life issues, affordable housing, and ensuring the town remains fiscally solvent.

Cantwell, who ran unopposed to earn his seat as town supervisor, was sworn in Thursday morning, alongside new board members Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Fred Overton, the lone Republican now sitting on the East Hampton Town Board. They join Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc, the latter of whom was named deputy supervisor during the organizational meeting.

Town clerk Carol Brennan, highway superintendent Stephen Lynch and Justice Steven Tekulsky were also sworn into office Thursday morning.

The board unanimously appointed Job Potter, a former town councilman and planning board member, to a seven-year term on the planning board, replacing J.P. Foster. Potter ran unsuccessfully for town board alongside Cantwell and Burke-Gonzalez on the Democratic ticket this past fall.

Cate Rogers was appointed to the town’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA), and will serve as vice chair of that board.

“We begin the New Year with great hope and expectations,” said Cantwell in his opening remarks. “We face many challenges and it will not always be easy. I know there will be disagreements from divergent points of view, but if we work together to find common ground and maintain our small town values, if we respect each other and our different opinions, if we continue the stewardship of our extraordinary natural environment, if we demonstrate our compassion for the elderly, fragile, and those new to our community and if we support working class families who are the backbone of East Hampton then this great more than 350 year old town will survive and prosper.”

Cantwell went on to dedicate the meeting to Lee Hayes, an East Hampton resident and former Tuskegee Airman who died in December.

“It saddens me how little we recognized and celebrated him during his lifetime,” said Cantwell of Hayes. “Over the many years that I knew Lee, he always went about his businesses contributing to the community. He educated us about the need to move our society forward.”

Cantwell said priorities for the new town board include a commitment to transparency, promising board agendas and minutes will be made public two days in advance of any meeting.

“No walk-on resolutions will be permitted unless there is a time is of the essence deadline and then only with the unanimous consent of the town board,” added Cantwell to applause from the audience.

While the town board will have to abide by the 2014 budget approved under the Wilkinson administration, Cantwell said this board is committed to addressing quality of life issues, and will demand town code enforcement become a priority.

“We request the housing authority, the housing office and local not-for-profits identify and propose new affordable housing projects that will meet the needs of local families,” he added.

Creating mitigation, resiliency and recovery plans to contend with erosion and the impact of storm events is another priority, said Cantwell.

“We request the Natural Resources Department to work with coastal scientists and engineers to assist the town in working with the Army Corps of Engineers and completing the project for downtown Montauk as soon as possible, and seek federal and state funding for beach replenishment for Ditch Plains,” he added.

Cantwell also called for a complete financial analysis of the East Hampton Airport to look at funding needed for capital projects while also completing a study of the airport to determine how best to mitigate noise.

Protecting surface and ground water, preserving land, and tying up loose ends in the town code are additional priorities Cantwell said the board would focus on.

Cantwell Announces Town Attorney Appointments

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While Larry Cantwell will not officially be sworn is as the new supervisor of East Hampton Town until January 2, this week he announced appointments to the town attorney’s office on behalf of the incoming town board.

Elizabeth Vail has been selected as town attorney, according to Cantwell. A graduate of St. John’s University School of Law with eight years experience as an assistant town attorney in Southampton Town and three years with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Vail’s municipal experience is something Cantwell said will enable her to manage the legal affairs of East Hampton Town and the leadership skills to “guide the town attorney’s office with integrity and independent judgment.”

Elizabeth Baldwin and Michael Sendlenski will join Vail as assistant town attorneys. Baldwin is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law and a former Assistant Town Attorney in East Hampton where she served for five years. Baldwin, known as Beth, has experience in planning, zoning, and housing and land acquisitions, noted Cantwell. She has been a practicing attorney for 10 years and for the past two years served as Associate Director and Counsel to the North Shore Land Alliance.

Sendlenski is a graduate of Harvard University and Suffolk University Law School and has served as Assistant Town Attorney in Southampton since 2007.

“Michael has specific experience in drafting and enforcing quality of life, environmental and conservation law, obtaining search warrants, and prosecuting zoning and code violations in town and State Supreme Courts and has litigated and argued appeals on municipal matters in the Second Department Appellate Division,” said Cantwell in a press release issued Sunday. “He also served as Chief of Staff for the Committee on Public Safety of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

John Jilnicki, who has served as the current town attorney, is a graduate of St. Johns University School of Law and has served as East Hampton Town Attorney and Assistant Town Attorney for over 20 years.

“John has comprehensive knowledge of town government and the legal affairs of the town and has been a dedicated public servant,” said Cantwell. “He will be an integral part of the town Attorney’s Office.”

“Together these attorneys have broad experience and knowledge of municipal law and proven dedication to public service,” said Cantwell. “We look forward to a town attorney’s office that maintains the highest ethical standards and provides solid legal support to town government. In addition to broad knowledge of municipal legal affairs the individual specialized skills of this team will bring experienced legal advice to the town board in many key areas of concern including, planning and zoning, litigation, and effective enforcement of town codes.”

Cantwell will join his Democratic Party running mate Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Republican Fred Overton in being sworn into the East Hampton Town Board on January 2 with a reception at 9 a.m. and swearing in at 9:30 a.m. An organizational meeting will begin at 10 a.m.

East Hampton: Overton, Burke-Gonzalez Earn Town Board Seats

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Supervisor elect Larry Cantwell with running mates Job Potter and Kathee Burke-Gonzalez on Tuesday night at Democratic Party headquarters at Rowdy Hall in East Hampton.

By Kathryn G. Menu

The East Hampton Town Board will welcome two new members this January with the election of Democrat Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Republican candidate Fred Overton during Tuesday’s town elections.

According to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Overton — the town clerk — had the most support with 3,216 votes or 28.2 percent of ballots cast in Tuesday’s town board race. Burke-Gonzalez followed with 3,125 votes, carrying 27.4 percent of the vote. Her running mate, Democrat Job Potter, placed third with 2,764 votes, followed by the lone incumbent in Tuesday’s town board race, Republican Dominick Stanzione, who earned 2,293 votes.

For Overton, who is not affiliated with any party, but ran with the support of the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, Tuesday’s election to the town board extends his career in public service, which began 50 years ago.

“I ran on my record,” said Overton Wednesday morning. “I have served this community for 50 years, working in the town as assessor and then town clerk for 25 years. People know me. They know I am fair and reasonable and I act with common sense and I think that resonated with people.”

Overton will join a town board made up entirely of Democrats, including Supervisor-elect Larry Cantwell, Burke-Gonzalez and incumbents Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc.

“If I am going to be of any value to the community I have to develop a working relationship with the board,” said Overton. “I have worked with Sylvia and Peter for two years, I am lifelong friends with Larry, so I think I have a head start.”

“It’s been an incredible, incredible journey,” said Burke-Gonzalez Wednesday. “It was a growth experience for me and the support I got from this community was so incredibly rewarding.”

Burke-Gonzalez, a Springs resident and former member of the Springs School Board of Education, credited her family’s involvement in the community for giving her an edge in the race.

“I think people related to the fact that we are working people and this was an opportunity to give a voice to working people,” said Burke-Gonzalez. “On the school board I am also a firm believer in participatory leadership. I don’t have all the answers and I never will. I want to hear what other people think.”

Cantwell, the former East Hampton Village administrator who ran unopposed in his bid for supervisor, said Wednesday the town will face serious challenges in the next two years.

“I am looking forward to working with each one of the new members of the town board,” said Cantwell. “We will invite Fred Overton to be a full participant in all of our decisions. I want him to feel included in what we do. If any of us disagree, I expect we will do it with respect and appreciation of each other’s point of view, but the overall goal will be to do what is right for this community.”

“We have a requirement to address regional issues,” continued Cantwell. “I extend my hand to [Southampton Town Supervisor] Anna Throne-Holst, I extend my hand to [Sag Harbor Mayor] Brian Gilbride and [East Hampton Village Mayor] Paul Rickenbach, and all of the East End mayors and supervisors to do all we can do to preserve the Peconic Estuary, address airport issues and look at transportation.”

In other East Hampton election news, Democrat Steven Tekulsky was successful in his bid for town justice, besting Republican Carl Irace, and Eugene De Pasquale III was re-elected as the town assessor over Republican challenger Joseph Bloecker. In the town trustee race Deborah Klughers, Stephen Lester, Timothy Bock, Stephanie Talmage-Forsberg, Sean McCaffrey, Diane McNally, Nathaniel Miller, Brian Byrnes and Dennis Curles earned election to that board. In uncontested races, Carol Brennan was elected town clerk and Stephen Lynch earned a second term as the town’s superintendent of highways.