Tag Archive | "Long Beach"

Explosive Material Discovered in North Haven Detonated at Havens Beach Without Incident

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Photo by Bryan Boyhan; Sag Harbor Village Police and officers from Suffolk County Bomb Squad responded to Long Wharf on Tuesday night after a small amount of explosives were discovered in the truck of a man repairing the finger docks on the wharf.

By Kathryn G. Menu

On Tuesday night around 5:45 p.m., Sag Harbor’s Long Wharf was cordoned off after village police said a man working on repairs to the village’s finger docks approached police and said he found explosive material in North Haven. Police said the man brought the material to Long Wharf where he was working and flagged down a police officer.

According to Sag Harbor Village Police Detective Jeff Proctor, the material was found in a mass of rocks the marine contractor was restoring in front of a private home in North Haven Village.

Detective Proctor said he believes what happened was the rocks used in the revetment replacement were sourced from a quarry, which used the explosives to break up larger boulders and then payload the smaller rocks into a dump truck where they are delivered to the work site. This material, said Detective Proctor, did not detonate.

According to Detective Proctor, who was on duty Tuesday evening with officer Nick Samot, police immediately decided to air on the side of caution, cordoned off Long Wharf and contacted Suffolk County Emergency Services bomb squad. The squad arrived around 7 p.m., said Detective Proctor, and safely transported the explosives in a secure container to Havens Beach, where it was detonated.

Residents around Sag Harbor were contacted by Suffolk County Police via a recorded message to warn them about the detonation, which was heard as far away as North Haven Village.

Proctor and Samot were the only officers on duty Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Detective Proctor said because of that, an alarm call had to wait two hours while the explosives were secured.

“Obviously, safety comes before security,” he said.

Board Questions Operation of YARD Summer Beach Program

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By Claire Walla


The future of the Youth Advocacy and Resource Development (YARD) summer beach program is in flux. Again. And the Sag Harbor Board of Education remains at a standstill.

Last year around this time, school board members discussed the feasibility of continuing to run the summer beach program at Long Beach in Sag Harbor. The question was not the viability of the program — board members agreed it served an important function for the community, catering to 60 to 80 kids a night — but rather the manner in which it operated.

Issues first arose a few years ago when auditors discovered that while YARD had long operated autonomously from the district — running programs without formal approval from the school board — its finances had in fact been funneled through the district.

This was mitigated last year when the YARD board formed a non-profit entity, “Friends of YARD,” to collect all funds solicited for the program.

However, Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Dr. Gratto pointed out that last year the school board decided not to be involved in the summer beach program after summer 2011, leaving the organization to find another entity to oversee its operations going forward.

YARD has been in discussions with Southampton Town, which is a big proponent of the summer beach program. However, according to Russel Kratoville, Southampton Town Management Services Administrator, while the town will continue to fund the program with its annual contribution of $15,000, it does not have the means run the program. (This would require hiring additional staff.)

Now, as discussed at a school board meeting last Monday, June 4, the board faces many of the same problems it faced last year.

The nut of the issue comes down to a simple philosophical question, Dr. Gratto said: should the district be responsible for administering a summer program?

If the district decided to formally take on the program, one necessary course of action would be to assign district supervision, which Mary Anne Miller, school board president, said is necessary for any district program. Not only might this involve extra costs, she went on, but it would add more to administrators’ summer schedules.

“I don’t think our administrators are looking for more work,” board member Walter Wilcoxen added. If the district was responsible for the program, he continued, “There are many costs in the YARD function we may end up paying for.”

Currently, the school contributes $10,000 annually to YARD.

The total cost of YARD services, including both the summer beach program and the afterschool program during the school year, is about $80,000, according to school board member and YARD Board of Directors member Sandi Kruel. And $23,000 of that goes to the summer beach program.

Kruel went on to explain that the vast majority of funding for the program comes not from the school district, but from different municipalities: New York State, Suffolk County, Southampton Town, Sag Harbor and even North Haven Village.

She said cost isn’t an issue.

“We haven’t been short on money in 13 years [since YARD was founded],” a noticeably frustrated Kruel stated. “I don’t foresee us coming up short this year.”

For the school to run a program that incorporates donations from several different municipalities, however, Dr. Gratto explained the district would need each entity to sign what’s called a Municipal Cooperative Agreement. He is currently figuring out how long that agreement — requiring signatures from the village, town, county and state — would take to get finalized.

Board members Miller and Wilcoxen additionally expressed concern that they still had not seen contracts from any entity other than Southampton Town, and would not be confident with YARD’s funding going forward until they could be certain these funding streams were officially designated for the year.

Kruel said she would like for the summer program to begin the week after graduation.

But whether it will have untangled all these details before then remains to be seen.

Wedding Belles

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By Claire Walla


Nearly 75 people dug their toes, or the soles of their dressy shoes, into the sandy shore in the middle of Long Beach last Thursday, August 4. They came from as far away as Florida and from as close by as a beach blanket no more than 30 feet away from the white chuppah, a square-shaped canopy made with four poles and a sheer piece of fabric used in the Jewish tradition to perform a wedding ceremony.

Against a late-day, periwinkle sky pierced by a deep, tangerine-colored sun, Rena Rosenfeld and Marilyn Mercogliano stepped out of their car and faced the crowd. Holding hands, in addition to a leash belonging to their dog Shayna Maydala (which means “pretty girl” in Yiddish), they approached their chuppah.

“After 28 years, there is not much I can tell you that you don’t know already,” Justice Andrea Schiavoni said aloud to the couple, and to the cluster of smiling faces gathered around them. “But I can say that marriage does make a difference. Vows do make a difference. And rings do make a difference.”

Before the couple said I do, they faced one another.

“Marilyn, you have my heart,” Rosenfeld began. “I love you, as the Jews say, 120 years.”

Her spouse, Marilyn, responded with a smile: “I am the luckiest person, because I get to live the dream.”

There was hardly a dry eye on the beach as the two brides kissed. And with that, the first gay marriage was performed by the Sag Harbor Village Justice.

Rosenfeld and Mercogliano never thought they’d be married. Even though the two have been together for 28 years, built a home together in Sag Harbor and have a legally recognized domestic partnership, marriage was never an option.

“We wouldn’t even dream about it,” Mercogliano said in an interview after the ceremony. “We wouldn’t let ourselves. It’s hurtful to think that someone doesn’t think you should have rights.”

Even though gay marriage was legal in five U.S. states, as well as Canada, it remained illegal in New York, even after former Governor David Paterson introduced legislation to legalize same-sex unions in 2009. (It was defeated by the Senate.) Even though, theoretically, the couple could have been wed elsewhere, Rosenfeld noted that she and Mercogliano didn’t even consider going out of state to tie the knot.

“I said to Marilyn, no. Sag Harbor is our home,’” Rosenfeld recalled. If she and her partner were going to wed, they decided, it was going to be here.

Though they said they didn’t expect that day to ever come, much to their surprise it finally did. On the night of Friday, June 24, Rosenfeld and Mercogliano were glued to their television set. After several long, grueling hours of discussions, filled with positive comments and sharp criticisms, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act into law. They were overjoyed.

“We’re just so proud of Andrew Cuomo,” Mercogliano exclaimed this week, still noticeably excited by the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal in her home state. “He did such a wonderful thing for us.”

On Mercogliano’s birthday, July 4, as she and Rosenfeld celebrated with Mercogliano’s family at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor, Rosenfeld presented her with a cake — but, it didn’t say “Happy Birthday.” Instead, Rosenfeld had written: “It’s Time to Get Married.”

“We thought we’d do it quietly,” Mercogliano began. While the couple certainly didn’t overlook the importance of confirming their commitment to one another, this legal union had much broader implications not only for them, but for the gay community as a whole. With marriage came over 1,000 rights that had not been in the realm of possibilities before, including hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights, among others. (The couple said that especially as they begin to age — both women are in their 60s — these issues have become more pronounced.)

Initially, they figured they’d go to town hall for a basic service.

“But then we told our friends, and they said, you can’t do that! I want to be there,” Mercogliano recalled with a grin. “For our community, this is a very big deal.”

It’s proven to be significant for the larger Sag Harbor community, as well. Mercogliano said the couple’s mail girl “was jumping out of her skin!” with excitement when she found out the two were getting married. And their fed-ex man was equally enthused: “He said ‘Mazel Tov’ and he kissed me!” Rosenfeld grinned. She added that she even got free bagels from Bagel Buoy when an employee heard the good news. “It’s an awesome community here,” Rosenfeld continued. “We’re very lucky.”

They planned their wedding in just two weeks’ time, and ended up with what both women have called the wedding of their dreams.

Rosenfeld said their wedding ceremony has been a big step for the gay community as a whole. As they were the first couple in their group of friends to get married on the East End, she said their wedding has already empowered some of their friends to take steps toward marriage. (She added that some of them are already planning to request Justice Schiavoni.) “I think we gave them a bit of the impetus to go out and do it.”

After 60 Years, Long Beach Dedicated to Man Who Molded Its Image

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Clifford Foster, a Sagaponack farmer, a President of the Sag Harbor Savings Bank and last private owner of Long Beach, had a clear vision for his 13-acre property which connected Noyac to North Haven. Seven years after his death in 1943, Foster’s sons Charles and Everett deeded the stretch of shoreline to Southampton Town. As per their father’s wish, the gift came with four explicit demands, which would ultimately shape the future use of this popular Sag Harbor swimming spot.

Firstly, the beach would be known as the Clifford J. Foster Memorial Park. Secondly, no dwellings or campsites would be built upon it. Camping was prohibited along with any private use of the land. Thirdly, liquor and alcohol sales were banned. Lastly, and most importantly, “no regulation shall be enacted which may exclude any resident of the incorporated village of Sag Harbor from the privileges granted to the town of Southampton.”

Above: Clifford Foster’s grandson with Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, and Councilman Chris Nuzzi.

Sag Harbor Historical Society member Jean Held, who curated a show with Dorothy Zaykowski on the multifaceted history of Long Beach, theorized that Foster’s first three provisions weren’t born out of prudishness or curmudgeonly inclinations. Instead, Held believes, Foster wished to preserve the waterfront as a family friendly spot, which children and adults alike could enjoy in a safe and wholesome environment.

Today, in an age when legacies are often dissolved to suit contemporary agendas, Foster’s intentions for Long Beach have been preserved.

During humid summer evenings the parking lot is overrun with preteens and teenagers playing volleyball, noshing on popcorn, and listening to live music during the YARD program’s “Safe Summer Beach” nights. By day, the sandy shores are dotted with multi-colored umbrellas shading sleeping toddlers and octogenarians looking out at the placid bay. Families wade into the salt water, careful to sidestep any jellyfish. And joggers, cyclists or people simply walking their dog travel up and down the length of the Long Beach. Even Foster’s mandate to provide access to all Sag Harbor Village residents is upheld, allowing residents of the East Hampton Town side of the village to purchase beach privileges at the town resident’s rate, Held added.

Although Foster’s wishes endure, many are unfamiliar with his generous donation. Passersby at the parking lot may remark on a large boulder with a greenish metal plaque commemorating January 19, 1950, the day the Foster sons gifted the land, and announcing the beach’s official name of Clifford J. Foster Memorial Park.

Due to the cold weather, or other reasons unknown, at the time of the endowment, the town never held an official dedication ceremony to formally thank the Foster family. Over 60 years later, on Saturday, August 21, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Councilwoman Nancy Graboski and Councilman Chris Nuzzi held an official re-dedication ceremony to coincide with the Long Beach show currently on view at the Sag Harbor Historical Society.

Southampton Town officials presented Foster’s grandson Clifford, his wife Lee and other family members with a proclamation noting highlights from the property’s storied history and explaining how Foster came into possession of the land. In 1777, Lieutenant Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs landed on the shores with 234 men in 13 whale boats to attack British troops in Sag Harbor. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, Long Beach served as an access point to North Haven for many villagers unwilling to pay bridge tolls. Starting at the end of the 19th century, the E.W. Bliss Company held torpedo tests near the Short Beach area for roughly 25 years. Throughout the years, the waterfront remained a popular recreation spot, due in no small part to the rotating number of businesses located on a separate parcel at the western end of Long Beach. Beginning with Lenny’s “casino,” the spot later became home to the Salty Dog, the Waterside, and McNally’s; and nearby was the Shack and the Oasis.

By 1925, Foster, the son of a prominent captain and landowner, paid Suffolk County $16.24 in unpaid taxes on behalf of the heirs of the Charles Lamont Estate, thus taking possession of the beach land. A year later, Foster bought an additional 13-acre, triangular piece of property, which borders Payne’s Creek and Noyac Road, from Lamont’s son Gerald for $100.

“As a Noyac resident, I have the privilege and pleasure of seeing Long Beach everyday, but I was unaware of its rich history,” Throne-Holst said at the ceremony. “I cannot think of a greater gift a family could give to its community, and I thank the Historical Society for creating a wonderful exhibit so that we can all share in the history of this beloved place.”

“There are millions of stories about Long Beach,” curator Held said of the research she and Zaykowski compiled over the last two years in anticipation of the exhibit. “I feel like I have talked to thousands of people and they all love Long Beach.”

The exhibit will remain open for viewing through the month of September from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and by appointment. For further information, or to arrange a visit, please contact 725-5092.

Time and Tide

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By Julie Penny

About a year and a half ago I started noticing that the tides lapping Long Beach, both on its bay side and on its cove side, seemed to be getting higher. Was it my imagination? Perhaps you had noticed this too, or the similar rise in some other tidal body of water near you. Not only did the tides seem higher but the low tides didn’t seem all that much lower to me. Or, as low as I remembered them being. That is, in my transits along Long Beach, there never seemed to be very much difference in the tides. This being my little part of the world, it was something I was bound to see. I wondered if others were seeing a rise in tides in other parts of town. Surprisingly, when I asked my naturalist husband if he’d noticed a similar phenomenon taking place along East Hampton’s bays, he hadn’t. At the time I asked him, he, himself, hadn’t really even noticed any difference in the tide along Long Beach on his trips back and forth to work. He chalked up my observation to being “neap” tides. I remembered the term from my Earth Science class in high school. It’s when high tides are lower than average, and low tides are higher than average.

Both the sun and moon exert their gravitational pull on the earth’s tides — the moon’s pull being stronger than the sun’s. Neap tides occur twice in every 28-day lunar cycle when the moon is at first quarter or third quarter. By contrast, spring tides—which, incidentally, have nothing to do with the season — occur around the new and full moon, when the sun, moon, and earth are aligned in a straight line. This creates a stronger gravitational pull so that the high tides are higher than average and the low tides lower than average. In this sense, “spring” connotes a jump, a bounce, when the forces of gravity are pulling at their greatest upon the ocean.

 Secretly, I suspected that maybe what I was witnessing was due to global warming —after all, the world’s glaciers have been melting at an unprecedented and unexpected rate, along with the Arctic icepack. After existing for millennia they’ve now been disappearing in a veritable geological blink of an eye. What seemed to be happening with the water level in the bay didn’t seem to be related to the waxing and waning of the moon as described by spring and neap tides. If anything, they seemed a hybrid of them both: very high, high tides, and very high, low tides.

In the fall of 2008, I took a walk and photographic foray along Long Beach with Jean Held who, always with camera in hand, chronicles our natural world as well as all things of historic interest. We started on the southern side by Noyac Road walking north towards the North Haven side. Though there had not been any recent storm, the sea-wrack brought in on the tide was far up the beach, the closest I had ever seen it to the parking lot. It was practically touching it in spots where the Clifford Foster monument is located at Long Beach’s midpoint — sitting on the cusp of beach and parking lot. Foster is the benefactor whose family bequeathed this beautiful natural resource to the town for our enjoyment. Here, by his memorial rock, the tide had driven clear up to the concrete slab it rests on. In fact, there were even long horizontal eddies of water close to it and to one of the many benches that necklace the rim of the beach in memory of loved ones. These elongated, half-foot deep, self-contained eddies of the type that little kids love to splash and play in, and that can form near shore in the wake of receding tides, were still in place; seemingly fed by fingers of water indenting far up onto the shoreline. In fact, while Jean was photographing the monument and documenting other evidence of the water’s influx, we got chased by tongues of incoming tide.

Ten months later, I spied a headline in one of the local papers that said high tides were affecting all of the East Coast, especially the mid-Atlantic region. Aha! I hadn’t lost my marbles. I felt vindicated. What I’d been noticing was real and unusual. By June 2009, waterfront homeowners, scientists, and concerned citizens from Maine to Florida had been calling government agencies and marine science centers about rising tides. Experts checked and found that high tides had been rising anywhere between six inches to two feet above usual norms.

This onslaught by Mother Nature baffled the experts; even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weren’t quite sure they’d ever recorded an event like this — a sudden rise. Scientists thought we were seeing the beginning of a decade-long trend brought on by an “El Nino-like effect in the Atlantic” or that it could be the result of shifts in atmospheric pressure and wind known as North Atlantic Oscillations which, in effect, can affect ocean circulation. These extreme tides have happened before, they claim, before reverting back to normal. (Does anyone else remember this happening before in our area? I don’t. And, I don’t see that they’ve reverted back to normal either. Noyac Bay still seems elevated to me, and the tides higher.) What scientists can’t explain is what causes these anomalous tides to occur. They say that in 30 or 40 years this could be the norm due to the warming in ocean temperatures. And, of course, there’s the elephant in the room. Scientists have seen that the Greenland glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, their melt water flowing off land and into the ocean faster than they’d anticipated. Recently, an ice shelf the size of Rhode Island broke off the continent of Antarctica and into the sea. Just another in a string of ice shelves that have been falling off and into the Antarctic ocean.

Whereas the icepack that melts in the Arctic doesn’t affect sea-rise because the water is already displaced (just as ice-cubes in a drink don’t overflow your glass when they melt), the glaciers on land—as on Greenland and the Antarctic—add volume to the ocean once they melt or collapse into it, causing the sea-level to rise.

Even now, the tides at Long Beach seem sustained at high levels. Some days wind-driven waters spray over the tumble of boulders at its far northern end and close to the roadbed as we whiz by—this seems to be the new normal.