Tag Archive | "Montauk"

Test Refusal Rates Soar Across the East End

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By Tessa Raebeck

For the first time, the New York State Education Department has asked the Board of Cooperative Educational Services to compile data from school districts to learn what percentage of students in the state refused to take its tests in grades three through eight. Parents who opposed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to linked overarching and controversial educational reforms to the state’s budget and the amount set aside for school aid, have voiced their dissent by having their children “refuse the tests,” or not sit for the exams, which cover English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics.

Nearly 40 percent of Sag Harbor students in grades three through eight did not sit for New York State’s standardized tests on Common Core mathematics last week, according to Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Katy Graves. The numbers represented a 9- percent increase in test refusal from the English Language Arts (ELA) in the same grades earlier this month. The decrease in participation is likely attributed to the increased publicity of the refuse the test movement statewide.

Although much higher than in previous years, test refusal rates on the East End were not as high as those in western Long Island, where refusal rates reached nearly 80 percent in some districts.

Some administrators fear the substantial non-participation rates seen across the state this month—the largest in recent memory, if not ever—will affect not only teachers’ jobs, who could be rated as ineffective and fired if enough students opt out, but also the data some schools use to drive curriculum.

But teachers’ unions, involved parents and education experts from around the country say the reforms are threatening the human, interactive aspects of education so many students need. By raising the high stakes on standardized tests even higher, they say the governor is encouraging “teaching to the test,” which they fear replaces creative projects and interactive lessons with redundant workbooks and monotonous drills, substituting “tricks” for ideas.

Both the overhaul and the reaction could leave many teachers and administrators out of jobs should their students not perform up to par—regardless of the socioeconomic environment they teach in. Many of the students refusing the tests are the same students who perform best on them, and schools like Sag Harbor, where students traditionally excel, could see their scores plummet as refusal rates rise.

Yet, since the governor’s budget passed at the end of March, advocates for public education—including many teachers who could lose their jobs as a result—have declared refusing the test as the only means of resistance left.

Academically but not legally, test data is considered invalid if participation is limited. The federal government calls for 95 percent participation on a state’s standardized tests, but it is unclear whether any action will be taken. New York State has made no announcement as to what will happen to districts that have high refusal rates—now nearly every district in New York—and some fear school districts that did not play ball with the governor will see their state aid slashed.

“I hear that there will be no action taken,” Ms. Graves told the Sag Harbor Board of Education on Monday, April 27. “We have not gotten any guidance documents from New York State yet, I will just keep everybody posted.”

“So at this point we don’t know if we lost the school aid or not,” explained Chris Tice, vice president of the school board.

In the Bridgehampton School District, 37 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 refused to take their respective mathematics exams and 34 percent refused to take the ELA tests, Superintendent/Principal Dr. Lois Favre reported.

“Parents are genuinely concerned about the tests,” she told the board of education at its April 22 meeting.

Southampton Middle School Principal Tim Frazier said 54 percent of his students had not sat for their mathematics exam and estimated the district wide refusal rate was 55 percent.

East Hampton had far lower refusal rates, with 9 percent of student opting out of ELA and 15 percent not taking the math exams. Last year, all but 2 percent participated.

“As a building principal, the testing gives us good data to support and help children, and to improve the teaching and learning in the building,” East Hampton Middle School Principal Charles Soriano said Wednesday, adding, “The Common Core linked testing provides another opportunity for our students to develop comfort and familiarity with the genre of times, standardized testing.”

At the Montauk School, 46 out of 208 students, or 22 percent, refused to take the mathematics exam, versus about five refusals last year. Principal Jack Perna said on Tuesday, April 28, that he has “no idea” how the test refusals will affect teacher evaluations and state aid for next year and that “the state seems to be ‘confused’ as well.”

“While the Common Core standards are good, the assessments are not,” he said, “and using them so strongly for teacher evaluation is wrong.”

The governor had voiced his desire for half of a teacher’s evaluation to rely on students’ scores—even if they do not teach the subjects that are tested—but the final percentages will be determined by the State Education Department.

Personal Stylist Sisters Open Boutique “For Every Girl” on Southampton’s Jobs Lane

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Lisa and Cara Rooney of Girltauk, photographed in Montauk on 4/4/15

Sisters Lisa, left, and Cara Rooney, right, started Girltauk as an at-home boutique for their friends in Montauk, an opportunity for girl talk. Next month they’ll open the doors to new store on Jobs Lane. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic 

It’s been a hard few years for mom-and-pops on the East End, with rents continuing to increase and more and more money coming in from out-of-town. But next month, when sisters Cara and Lisa Rooney hold the grand opening of their new boutique in Southampton, it’ll be a small win for family businesses.

After over a year of looking for a way to make their dreams of success come true on the East End, Cara and Lisa finally found themselves a storefront and on May 1, the Rooney sisters will open the doors to their boutique and personal styling service, Girltauk, located at 10a Jobs Lane.

“The idea behind Girltauk, originally, was to get the local girls together, drink some wine and have girl talk,” said Lisa, 26, at her sister’s cottage last week. “And then on the side, do some shopping and get some cool clothes out of it, too.”

People often mistake Cara and Lisa for twins, but the sisters are two-and-a-half years apart and swear they couldn’t be more different.  Cara, 23, played competitive soccer all through school, garnering herself a scholarship to Fordham, where she played division one soccer and graduated from in 2013.

“Soccer was my job,” she said last week, adding that her background in competitive soccer has found her usually sporting comfortable, laid-back fashions. “And it kept me out of trouble,” she said.

Lisa agreed, and said that Cara’s discipline and dedication to soccer stopped her from repeating some of her big sister’s mistakes.

In terms of clothing, Lisa described herself as loud, showy, gaudy and edgy (“and always in high heels!”), and although very different from her sister, has been her style advisor since they were donning diapers. While Lisa never played competitive sports herself, she said, “the way Cara played soccer was the way I would work. I don’t think I’ve ever called in sick. I started my first job in Montauk at age 12.”

The sisters, originally from Whitestone, Queens, have spent their summers on the East End since their parents bought a house in Montauk in 1995. Lisa spent her adolescence working in different restaurants, eventually working her way up to the infamous graveyard shift at Salivar’s when she was just 17.

“Honestly Montauk saved my life. If I didn’t have Montauk to escape to, I would have felt very lost,” Lisa said. During high school she battled with eating disorders, which is a huge driving force behind the girls’ desire to make women look and feel beautiful.

“We’re trying to slowly, one outfit at a time, help women feel their best. Because there was a very long time when I didn’t,” she said.

“You want to surround yourself by people who feel good, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Lisa said. “And I think it takes a lot for women to feel good these days,” she added.

Growing up watching her big sister and style-guru struggle with eating disorders was enough to make Cara want to convince other women to feel comfortable and love their bodies, too.

Lisa worked in a few local boutiques to learn the retail business, employing the help of her sister every time she was in town. “We always had this idea that we’d love to have our own store,” Cara said.

In November 2012, Cara and Lisa’s older brother Eric died suddenly. “It was very life-changing and made us see it was time, it was time to cut the cord,” Lisa said.

“We realized that life’s too short to just have a passion for something, you might as well make your own dreams come true,” Cara added.

So the sisters did everything they could to make their dream of owning a store a reality. And then last year they started Girltauk, an at-home boutique trunk show, where their friends would come over, hang out, and buy clothes.

After almost two years of living room trunk shows, and the occasional pop-up shop, the Rooney sisters are now making their dreams of owning a store a reality, and now thanks to the 80-hour bartending weeks Lisa worked last summer and the 23 years of birthday money Cara has frugally saved, their shop will open up on Jobs Lane on May 1.

Girltauk will be sharing storefront space with Keogh, clothing designed by their new partner, Erin McQuail. “She’s a designer and we’re buyers so together it’ll flow nicely,” Lisa said.

“Girltauk is for every girl,” Lisa said. “She’s the beachy girl, she’s the business owner, she’s the stay at home mom. Everyone can walk away with something. And it works,” she said, “because Cara and I have such different styles.”

 Girltauk + Keogh will have its grand opening at 10a Jobs Lane on Friday, May 1. For more information, follow @girltauk on Instagram.

Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Will Get Some Paid Help

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps will join the growing number of East End emergency providers whose ranks will be bolstered by part-time, on-call paramedics.

Despite the misgivings of Mayor Brian Gilbride, who said he feared a paid program represented the beginning of “the end of volunteerism as we know it,” the village board earmarked $110,000 for the program in next year’s budget.

The program will enable the ambulance corps, which currently has only 27 members, about half of whom are trained as EMTs, to hire on-call professionals who will be on duty at the ambulance headquarters 24 hours a day, seven days a week to bolster both response times and the quality of initial care.

The village board will hold a public hearing at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, at the Municipal Building on the proposed $8.58 million budget, which increases spending by just under 1 percent.

According to village Treasurer Eileen Tuohy, the budget will result in “a very minor change to last year’s tax rate of $2.792 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, but that village officials were still waiting for the Southampton Town Assessor’s office to provide it with this year’s total assessed valuation, so the tax rate can be set.

Separately, the board has set a sewer fund budget of $581,143 that will be collected in fees from those businesses and residences that are connected to the village sewer line. That’s $40,000 less than a year ago and that reduction is the result of a $40,000 cut in the line budgeted for sludge removal fees.

All told, from the time the budget was introduced on February 25 until a tentative budget was set on March 25, village officials cut some $360,000 in spending, although the only matter discussed at length at three work sessions was whether or not to phase in the paid first responder program or introduce it all at once.

“I get the ambulance squad’s concerns,” said Mayor Gilbride. “It would be easier to phase it in seven days a week from June through September.”

Mr. Gilbride said he was concerned with the reaction of residents in fire protection districts in North Haven, Noyac, Bay Point, and East Hampton, which are served by the Sag Harbor Fire Department and ambulance corps, if they saw budget hikes of 32 or 33 percent when the towns begin working on their own budgets in September. In addition, he said, phasing the program in, would allow the program to be analyzed for its effectiveness.

“I’m just trying to preempt this,” he said of any outcry, although he did say that village officials had had a productive meeting with their North Haven counterparts to discuss the cost increases and that he wanted to schedule similar meetings with residents of Noyac and Bay Point.

“For a $500,000 assessment, it’s less than 3 cents a day,” said ambulance corps vice president Deborah O’Brien. “I don’t think it’s fair to do it for the tourists and summer people and not do it for the year-round people.”

She added that as ambulance corps members grow older, more of them go south for part of the winter, leaving the corps shorthanded at what used to be the quiet time of the year.

“Every year, calls seem to be increasing,” said Trustee Ed Deyermond. “People don’t come here from Memorial Day to Labor Day anymore. They come full-time. Montauk did try to phase it in, and that backfired.”

Mr. Deyermond added that residents of the fire protection districts need to pay for the services they receive and pointed out that Noyac residents accounted for 43 percent of ambulance calls last year.

Other board members agreed they wanted the money included in the budget, with Trustee Robby Stein pointing out that the stretch from Thanksgiving to Christmas is also a busy time for the volunteers.

Although Mr. Gilbride said he still wanted to meet with Noyac residents “so it’s not going to be a shock to anyone,” he agreed to the proposal. “Once people sit down and they start to understand the training, the refresher training and the time people commit to being volunteers, they’ll understand.”

Mr. Deyermond also raised doubts about the wisdom of reducing the amount of money allocated for sludge removal from $80,000 to $40,000, given that the village has already spent more than $50,000 this year and has a number of new developments coming on line this year, including the Watchcase condominiums and Baron’s Cove resort.

Trustee Sandra Schroeder said the village was counting on a pilot program that will use a new type of bacteria to treat a portion of the village’s sewage to reduce the amount of sludge it generates.

Police Chief Thomas Fabiano also asked that $28,000 that was cut from the police budget be restored so a new patrol car could be purchased. “Two have over 85,000 miles and one is over 100,000,” he said. “The mechanic has been telling me I have to start rotating in a new car.”

But Mr. Gilbride said the cut was made to help keep the budget under the tax cap and refused to consider restoring it.

Suit Targets Montauk Revetment

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Part of Montauk’s downtown beach. Photo by Mara Certic.

Defend H2O and the Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation announced this week they had filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court seeking to halt the construction of a revetment by the Army Corps of Engineers along the Montauk oceanfront.

The suit names East Hampton Town, Suffolk County, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps for their role in approving the “Downtown Montauk Stabilization Project.”

The project consists of constructing a revetment measuring 3,100 feet in length extending from the Atlantic Terrace Motel to Emery Street. The revetment will be created by stacking 14,560 geotextile sandbags weighing approximately 1.7 tons each. As built, the 50-foot wide structure will span the narrow beach creating an unnatural “bump out.” The result of this shoreline hardening project is the inevitable loss of beach, the suit charges.

“The assertion by some officials that the geotextile sandbags are not shoreline

hardening, will have no adverse impacts to the beach and deemed a temporary action in the context of the prescribed plan is scientifically indefensible. Although officials were fully informed, they made a conscious decision to sacrifice a public beach in favor of private property interests,” said Kevin McAllister, the founder of Defend H20.

“If implemented, this project sets a terrible precedent for the Town of East Hampton, whose economy is largely driven by it natural beaches,” added Mike Bottin of the Surfrider Foundation.

Fire Destroys East Hampton House of Hard Rock Cafe Co-Founder

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Heller_EHFD Structure Fire 57 West End Road 3-18-15_7940_7x

Firefighters spent almost eight hours extinguishing a fire that destroyed the house at 57 West End Road. Photography by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

Seven fire departments spent most of the afternoon and evening of March 18  battling a fire that destroyed the East Hampton house of Hard Rock Café co-founder Peter Morton.

Strong winds fueled the fire, which otherwise “could have been manageable,” according to East Hampton Fire Department Chief Richard Osterberg. The oceanfront house at 57 West End Road caught fire apparently when construction workers used a torch on the roof. Pockets of fire continued to burn late that night. There were no injuries.

“The house is a total loss,” Chief Osterberg said over the phone on Friday. According to the chief, the 911 call came in at approximately 2:35 p.m.; nearly 100 firefighters responded to the call and the last tanker did not leave the scene until 10:30 p.m., almost eight hours later, he said.

Chief Osterberg said that the fire appeared to be accidental and that there was no reason to believe it was suspicious.

“The wind really didn’t do us any favors,” the chief said, noting that the house has wide open fields on one side and Georgica Pond on the other.

By the time the first firefighters were on the scene, it had become apparent that it would be too dangerous to allow firefighters into the building and instead they decided to attack the flames from the exterior, dousing the burning house with huge quantities of water.

Winter winds were blowing hot embers around and firefighters worried that the flames would spread. “The house to the east was our main concern,” the chief said. West End Road is long and narrow, Chief  Osterberg explained, making it difficult for firefighters to get water from their tankers to the pumpers.

Not long after the call came through, other nearby departments were called in to provide mutual aid, the chief said. The Amagansett Fire Department sent a tanker as well as an engine and helped to lay hose, Mr. Osterberg said.

Springs, Montauk, Sag Harbor,  and Southampton fire departments all responded to requests for mutual aid and provided more manpower and firefighting equipment.hellerfire

Members of the North Sea Fire Department were sent in to serve as standby at the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street in case another emergency call came in.

At approximately 5 p.m., the North Sea firefighters responded to an alarm at East Hampton Airport, when a plane skidded off the runway. With North Sea responding to that call, volunteers from Hampton Bays were brought in to stand by at the East Hampton headquartes on Cedar Street.

According to East Hampton Town Police, David Bulgin, 62, of Sag Harbor was the pilot and the sole occupant of the Beechcraft Baron BE 58 that skidded off the runway after experiencing a landing gear malfunction after landing on the main runway.

The plane was damaged and had to be removed from the runway. Mr. Bulgin walked away from the scene unscathed. The Federal Aviation Administration will conduct a full investigation on the incident, according to a release issued by the East Hampton Town Police.

“Out here we’re so lucky—everyone works so well together,” Chief Osterberg said. In addition to all the help from various fire departments, Amagansett and East Hampton Village sent ambulances to the fire near Georgica and the village police were “a tremendous help.”

By the mid-evening, an excavation crew from Keith Grimes, Inc. was working on removing debris from the property, and by the next morning, thanks to village police keeping an eye on the house, there was nothing left burning on the land.

“I feel I have a good department, to know you have friends that are willing to do whatever” is great, Chief Osterberg added.

Tensions Soar at East Hampton Airport Hearing as Critics and Supporters Air Their Views

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Heller_EH Town Board Airport Hearing @ LTV 3-12-15_7268_LR

Andy Sabin warned the board that adopting the four proposed regulations would hurt the local economy. Photography by Michael Heller. 

By Mara Certic

Since proposed flight restrictions at East Hampton Airport were unveiled last month, many members of the local aviation community have argued the laws will surely result in increased taxes and the eventual closure of the airport.

According to some, the four restrictions the town board is considering would not only have repercussions on local aviators, but will also have a devastating domino effect on the local economy and would result in large swathes of summer visitors and second homeowners picking up shop and relocating to towns and villages that are friendlier to air traffic.

“We are a resort community dependent on seasonal traffic, and that can’t be ignored. Facilitating access to the Hamptons is what feeds our economy,” said local pilot and hangar-owner Rod Davidson at a hearing on the proposals on Thursday, March12.

“The proposed restrictions on aircraft traffic are a death sentence not only to the airport but to hundreds of jobs and countless businesses. I find it baffling that the town board continues to place the agenda of a handful of people above preserving one of its most important economic assets,” he said.

Several of those who attended the hearing to speak out in opposition of the proposed regulations were employed by Sound Aircraft Services, the 25-year-old business that provides fueling and ground services at the airport. Maureen Quigley, a 22-year-employee of Sound Aircraft, was adamant that the airport would not be able to survive a trial run of what she described were “egregious” restrictions.

“To some extent, any change in the airport affects the working people more than any other group in the town,” said Mitchell Moss from the New York University  Center for Transportation, because the working people work for many airport-users, he said.

Ms. Quigley added that the restrictions are in effect condemning her clients “for being rich and privileged.”

While those who complain about noise have for years asked the town board to consider their needs over the wealthy 1 percent who frequently use the airport, airport supporters tried to turn the tables when they said that the number of people who are actually affected by noise is actually just a small, but vocal, minority, compared to the number of people who benefit from the airport.

Local pilot Bruno Schreck had several large visual aids made for the hearing, and when his presentation was cut short because of a 3-minute limit on comments, he returned before the town board at its work session on Tuesday, March 17, to finish his presentation.

Mr. Schreck believes that the public has been misled by the presentation of complaint data in previous noise analyses prepared for the town. Mr. Schreck maintained that the town’s use of a logarithmic scale distorted the facts, and made it look as though more households had complained, when in fact, 10 houses represent one half of all complaints.

Mr. Schreck prepared one graph, which was intended to visually show the reward and risks of the airport. Mr. Schreck concluded that the rewards outweighs the risks, with the airport enabling 8,666 people to enjoy summertime on the East End and only ruining the summers of 200 local residents who are “frequent complainers.” Mr. Schreck’s figures are based on the assumption that there were approximately four passengers served in each of the 26,000 operations at the East Hampton Airport last year; he then divided 104,000 by 12, assuming that each of the passengers came to the East End for all 12 of the summer weekends.

Mr. Schreck also warned that if the airport is in fact shut down, planes will continue to travel overhead and disrupt residents as city-dwellers will still jet over the East End to second homes in Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, but will no longer contribute money to the local economy.

Amagansett resident Andrew Sabin said he moved to the area 24 years ago, and the airport was one of the big draws. Airport users pay a huge chunk of local taxes, Mr. Sabin said, and he, like many aviators, warned the town that these restrictions would likely result in lengthy litigation. The town has already earmarked $3 million for airport-related litigation.

“Wouldn’t this money be better spent helping charities in this town?” he asked. Mr. Sabin’s son Jonathan also warned the town board that restrictions would only succeed in enraging helicopter users and said that if the airport users got together and agreed not to pay their property taxes “the town would be broke over night.”

“I know quite a few of the helicopter users at the airport. I can tell you right now that each and every one of them could afford a yacht, with a helipad, and would gladly park their yacht right out on the water here and land right on the yachts,” he said. “It’s dangerous to enrage that demographic.”

And on the other side of the aisle…

For East End residents craving quieter skies, four proposed flight restrictions at East Hampton Airport are like the light at the end of 20-year-old tunnel.

Heller_EH Town Board Airport Hearing @ LTV 3-12-15_7185_LR

North Haven Village Trustee Dianne Skilbred asked the town to put in place all four of the regulations.

Now that restrictions are finally in sight, supporters spent their allotted individual 3 minutes of public comment at a hearing on the proposals at LTV Studios in Wainscott on Thursday, March 12, thanking the town board for its hard work and transparency and asking it to “hold fast” with the proposed legislation.

In addition to environmentalists and residents, elected officials from four East End towns and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski commended the members of the board for the courage they have shown in what has been described in acting for the greater good in what has become a regional issue.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming urged the town to continue with its airport diversion study, which seeks to find out where flights barred from East Hampton would ultimately end up. As the town’s liaison for both Noyac and Sag Harbor, she assured the town board “that there are many, many people in the community whose quality life is impacted” by aircraft noise.

“We thank you for your courage,” wrote Vincent Cavello in a letter to the town board read by Kathleen Cunningham of the Quiet Skies Coalition. “It is a sad truth that East Hampton is becoming a poster child for inequality in this country.”

While the Friends of the East Hampton Airport Coalition, a group made up of several New Jersey-based aviation businesses, and other entities have filed suit against the town, Mr. Cavello’s letter said the board “responded to these and other lawsuits without breaking stride, knowing that the law is on the side of those who own the airport—the citizens of East Hampton—not those who exploit the airport and the town for their own economic gain.”

David Gruber, who has been an airport opponent for decades, said that the rumors that the proposed laws would make the airport financially unviable were “theatrical nonsense.” He also referred to a group of pilots filing suits against the town who call themselves the friends of the East Hampton Airport as “the self-serving operators from far away.”

Mr. Gruber serves on the town’s airport budget and finance advisory committee), which has been so far unable to come to a consensus about the economic impacts on the airport if the proposed rules are implemented. Members of the aviation community have said this inability to reach a consensus shows that the proposed restrictions are discriminatory and extreme. Those who complain about the noise had a different take.

“The airport can easily support itself without any need of FAA grants or taxpayer subsidies. Its income of more than $1 million a year is more than enough for all of its capital budget and other needs,” Mr. Gruber said.

He conceded the town would have to find ways to replace landing and fuel revenue if the town adopted the restrictions.

“A 50-percent landing fee increase would almost surely suffice. It sounds like a lot only because landing fees have been kept artificially low for years by FAA subsidies. The landing fee for a small aircraft would increase to $16.50—less than parking at Main Beach,” he said.

“The additional $330 for a $36 million Gulf Stream 5 that costs $7,500 an hour to operate would also be the cost of three minutes of flight time. This relationship that the fee increase equals about three minutes of flight time holds true across the board. It is a trivial amount,” he added.

Tensions rose on Thursday night when Wainscott resident Irving Paler began naming those who have logged the most complaints against the East Hampton Airport, asking them “Where do you find the time?”

Not only did those supporting the regulations begin applauding the top-complainers, but East Hampton resident Paul Keeber took it upon himself to respond to Mr. Paler’s question.

“I’m sitting with my beautiful wife, at our beautiful home on the back deck. Suddenly the overwhelming noise from a helicopter’s blade forces me to stop speaking to my wife. At that moment we pick up the phone right next to us and call the complaint line. Eight minutes later, a helicopter blade overhead forces me to stop speaking to my wife and I pick up the phone and I call the complaint line. And then 14 minutes later a helicopter blade overhead forces me to stop speaking to my wife so we call the complaint line,” he explained.

Many supporters of the legislation likened the regulations to any other laws that aim to conserve and preserve. “These resolutions embody a time-honored tradition of policy for the greater good, to help industry bring its standards up to community values,” Ms. Cunningham said on Thursday. “We are not asking people not to come here, we’re asking them to come quietly,” she added.

In response to claims that many people come to East Hampton simply because they can fly here in helicopters in less than an hour, Sag Harbor’s Patricia Currie responded “such people are mythical beasts, they’re unicorns, they don’t exist.”

Ms. Currie reminded the room that visitors have been making the long trip to the East End since the horse and buggy.

“If there are people who won’t live here without helicopters, they will be replaced by others who will,” Ms. Currie added.

“We need helicopters like Shelter Island needs a bridge and Montauk needs high speed ferry service to Connecticut casinos. Please pass the restrictions,” she said. “We will survive.”

Terry Watson

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terry watson

Terry Watson will be the grand marshal of Montauk’s 53rd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 22. She has lived in Montauk for 42 years and  spoke about St. Patrick’s Day traditions and the changing face of Montauk.

When did you hear that you had been named this year’s grand marshal?

I’m not sure exactly of the date, but it was early in January, and I was in St. John, in the Virgin Islands, and I got a phone call and at first I didn’t take it seriously. You know George [Terry’s husband George Watson, owner of The Dock, is known to appreciate a good joke]. I didn’t take the phone call seriously at all, I just thought it was someone putting on an Irish accent and teasing me, You know what Montauk’s like. But then they asked me and I was stunned, and honored and humbled. I started to get pretty emotional, and so when they asked “Will you?” I just said “Yes… Okay, bye!” and hung up on them! I just had to get off the phone, I thought I was going to cry. It’s so exciting.

Has George been Montauk’s Grand Marshal before?

Yes he is, and I think we’re the third married couple to be grand marshals, separately of course.

Do you have a St. Patrick’s Day tradition of your own?

Actually, not so much anymore. When my children were younger, we always went to the parade, and when they went to high school they went to LaSalle and they always marched in the parade. So all the traditions we had kind of ended as they grew up, and it just became a question of walking down town and meeting friends. I did have a tradition with some women I played poker with; we would meet after the parade for an Irish whiskey toast.

So you’ve lived in Montauk for 42 years. You’ve seen it transformed over the years. Do you think Montauk is changing in a way that’s irreversible?

 I’ve seen the most drastic change say within the last five, maybe even 10 years. Beginning with the Surf Lodge, and then going to the Ronjo and more recently the sale of East Deck and the proposed and pending sales of a few other places that certainly impact the nature of the community as it used to be, but could I say what that change means? I think it’s probably too soon to tell. Most of what’s happened is just an influx of new people and very, very busier seasons right now. It seems to be a different tourism, based more on a younger, maybe, dare I say, more moneyed group,  than the families and fishermen that we used to. So yeah, there is a change, what it means I’m not sure. My husband is still very, very active in the business, and our son Chris is, and now there’s a third generation with baby Hayes [Ms. Watson’s newest grandson] growing up in the harbor area as well. We’re not changing, obviously, we’re just doing what we do.

What St. Patrick’s Day festivities are on your schedule for the next few days?

Well the parade [in the City] was on Tuesday, which I have to say was absolutely glorious because the sun came out and the St. Patrick’s Day feel in New York City, and in particular that part on Fifth Avenue, is really just great. So that got me all set. The next thing in a luncheon at Gurney’s on Friday, which is a tradition started by John and Marilyn Behan of grand marshals of the past honoring the current grand marshal, and it evolved from that. Joan Lycke will be hosting that. Then Saturday, also at Gurney’s, there will be a more music-centered, festive cocktail party. And then Sunday is the parade.  I hope it’s a beautiful sunny day. Being grand marshal does involve doing a little bit of a pub crawl with the Friends of Erin, which is nice because the businesses are just opening back up for the season. Even if it snows, it’s still St. Patrick’s Day, you still know that the light has changed, the air has changed, and it’s coming.

Montauk’s 53rd St. Patrick’s Day Parade will start at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 22 on Edgemere Road. The parade will move from Edgemere Road down Main Street to downtown Montauk. For more information visit montaukfriendsoferin.org.



The End for Montauk?



Still not convinced that Montauk has jumped the shark? The place once known for commercial and recreational fishing, surfing and little else has been overrun by hipsters the last few years, with seedy watering holes turned into elegant bars and restaurants and rundown motels turned into five-star resorts.

Now, it seems the place known as the “The End” or “The Last Resort” will be the backdrop for yet another reality show.

According to Casting Loop, Brooke Thomas Casting in New York is looking for New York City professional men and women between the ages of 25 and 35 for a new reality show called, originally enough, “Montauk.”

“We are looking for peeps who have full-time jobs in the city but who can hop on the Jitney or train and head to the Hamptons every weekend in July and August,” the release says. “We’re looking for all types of professionals from lawyers, advertising peeps, doctors, brokers actors, bankers, agents, real estate peeps, nurses, models, fashionistas, socialites….”

 The pay is a free summer share house, which, it should be pointed out, are illegal in East Hampton Town, and “the best parties and summer you will ever have.”

If you know any peeps who would be interested, direct them to talent@BrookeThomasCasting.com.

Tensions Soar Over Proposed Airport Restrictions In East Hampton

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By Mara Certic

Tensions soared on Thursday evening, as two sides battled it out during a public hearing on four proposed laws designed to curb the noise problem at East Hampton Airport.

Members of the aviation industry, local pilots and some business owners sparred with environmentalists and residents from four different East End towns at a hearing on proposed restrictions which would theoretically limit operations at East Hampton Airport by approximately one third while addressing almost two thirds of the noise problem.

Over 70 people addressed the East Hampton Town Board during a three-and-a-half-hour-long meeting on Thursday, March 12 at LTV Studios, however unlike previous meetings where the speakers were predominately those spear-heading the noise abatement movement, those involved in aviation were also out in full force.

Members of the Quiet Skies Coalition, and other like-minded individuals, lined up to thank the board for their hard work and to lend support to their four proposed restrictions which in their minds have not gone far enough to tackle the problem of noise on the East End.

David Gruber, who has been an open opponent to the airport for some time, said that the rumors that the proposed laws would make the airport financially unviable were “theatrical nonsense.” He also said referred to a group of aviators filing suits against the town who call themselves the friends of the East Hampton Airport “the self-serving operators from far away.”

One self-proclaimed friend of the airport took it upon himself to name the names of the top complainers of noise at East Hampton Airport, in an effort to show that the problem is not as widespread as community members would have the board think. This then spurred applause from members of the noise-affected community, who believe that the number of complainants is way lower than those who claim to be plagued and tortured by the noise.

Other members of the aviation community were adamant that the proposed restrictions would be detrimental to the region at large, and would result in a huge hit to the East End economy, as they claim the airport draws in visitors who otherwise would not be spending their time or money on the East End.

Montauk and Southampton residents expressed some concern that the proposed laws would have an unforeseen negative impact on neighboring hamlets if flights and helicopter operations were to move to nearby airports.

The public comment period will remain open in East Hampton Town until the end of business of Friday, March 20.



Army Corps Montauk Project Opposed

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Surrider website photoThe Eastern Long Island Chapter the Surfrider Foundation has launched a petition drive on Change.org against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to bolster the beach at Montauk with geotextile bags and tubes 10.5 high and 35 feet wide and sand berms along some 3,100 feet of oceanfront. The project would require 100,000 cubic yards of sand, most of which would be trucked in from a quarry.

The berm and a portion of the seawall would be located in what is known as the ocean intertidal zone, which is covered by water at high tide. The group says the project would be susceptible to more erosion and require taxpayers to pay the costs of maintaining the artificial dune, which it estimates could cost up to $1 million a year, with Suffolk County providing no more than half that cost.

Proposals to protect private property should not be approved if they will result in the destruction, or degradation, of the public beach. This proposal will compound the mistakes made in the 1960s and 1970s when development destroyed the protective primary dune; if implemented, it will result in the destruction of the natural beach as well, Surfrider says.

The petition can be accessed by visiting the chapter’s website.