Tag Archive | "nancy graboski"

Bridgehampton Residents Plead For Traffic Relief

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web Bridge CAC

By Marianna Levine

It was a night of heavy traffic at the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Council. The Monday night meeting which drew a large audience including Southampton Town Council Members Nancy Graboski and Chris Nuzzi, Tom Neely, the Southampton Director of Public Transportation and Traffic Safety, and two candidates running for election in Southampton, Bridget Flemming and John McGann, was held primarily to talk about congestion on the streets of Bridgehampton.

Bridgehampton CAC President Fred Cammann had requested that representatives of the Southampton Police Force come to the CAC’s August meeting in order to listen to residents’ concerns. Town Supervisor Linda Kabot’s office sent Captain Anthony Tenaglia, and Officer Thomas Schmidt to converse with CAC members.

CAC member Peter Wilson started the discussion with “We’re all suffering from the back up on the highway. There’s a real conflict between the through traffic and local traffic. I do think the problem of the highway may be unresolveable but in the meantime our neighborhoods are being cut in half and eroded. People are a bit callous to the fact that there are homes here.”

Cammann stated, “There’s no question that everyone is on cell phones and speeding, but it’s a lot cheaper to solve the traffic problems than to fly more helicopters from here to Stony Brook.”

Capt. Tenaglia requested that residents be as specific as possible about their concerns noting, “we can’t take away the problems but we can try to be helpful.”

Several people who live on streets that are used to by-pass the highway, such as Lumber and Narrow lanes, aired their grievances. Everyone agreed the traffic was getting more severe and dangerous.

CAC Secretary Richard Bruce noted, “More and more people are discovering the back roads and it’s going to get worse.” He went on to request that the town focus less on parking tickets and more on catching speeding cars.

Amy Halsey, who lives on a by-pass road near the Bridgehampton School, made an impassioned plea for better patrolling of the back streets.

“The problem is that these streets are very narrow and suddenly we have heavy traffic coming through – trucks, big buses, moving vans, and any kind of equipment you want to tow, and these streets are too narrow for normal two way traffic in the first place,said Halsey. “I have seen many near collisions out my window. People will drive on the grass to get around slow traffic, and this all starts at 6 a.m.”

Halsey as well as several other residents mentioned that it gets hard to pull out of their driveways when traffic is heavy and moving at a high speed on these roads. They also complained about the lack of shoulders or sidewalks for bicyclists and pedestrians. Several people mentioned they no longer walk or bicycle in the hamlet because of the traffic. 

Cammann stressed the biggest concern was for the children in the community. He told the town council members, “I don’t care if you never pave another road, but we should keep our children safe.”

CAC member Jeffery Vogel, who said he still likes to ride his bike in the hamlet, said “People are on their cell phones not paying attention and weaving around, and it gets extremely dangerous because they don’t respect the bike lanes when we have them.”

Another area of specific concern was the four-way stop on Ocean and Sagaponack roads. Cammann thought no one really understood how it was supposed to work. Shira Kalish thought the intersection was too large and that people couldn’t really see all the traffic clearly.

Wilson suggested, “ You need a traffic circle or traffic light to make it work.”

Halsey and others wanted some sort of resolution, which Cammann answered, was not what the CAC can do.

However, Capt. Tenaglia made some suggestions: “I have heard you, but you have to have realistic expectations of what we can do. Before you get to the boiling point, please call us.” He also said that perhaps during the summer they could put extra officers in a particular area, especially as the hamlet is such a busy sector.

In other CAC news, there was a brief discussion led by Councilman Nuzzi about the proposed amended membership rules for the Southampton Zoning Board of Appeals and for the Town Planning Board. Although Nuzzi suggested that these bodies should make sure to have professionals in the field, Vogel cautioned that this might lead to more conflicts of interest. Nuzzi explained that the majority of the board would still remain lay people.

Also Vogel announced at the close of the meeting that the Bridgehampton CAC finally had a website that would post the meetings minutes as well as the CAC’s hamlet study.

Above: Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, a Bridgehampton resident speaks with Police Captain Anthony Tenaglia about controlling traffic in the hamlet.

Public Dissent on Dark Skies

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When the “Dark Skies” legislation was first proposed by Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, it appeared to be praised by members of the public. Local citizen advisory groups, including the Sag Harbor CAC, had long asked the town for laws impeding light pollution to be put on the books.
Oddly enough, at the first public hearing held on Tuesday, the “Dark Skies” law was met with both outrage and congratulations from local residents.
Richard Warren, the village’s planning consultant, spoke against the draft law on behalf of the Southampton Business Alliance.
“This will incur significant costs for [residents] personally. I know from my own experience an electrician can cost $250 just to come to your house,” said Warren, who is the president of the alliance. He added that the legislation should apply to only new construction or a homeowner building a new addition. Warren believes the town should create incentives for people with pre-existing outdoor lighting to adopt “Dark Skies” lighting. In the current version of the law, all pre-existing outdoor lighting must be brought into compliance within 10 years of the legislation becoming effective.
Some supporters of the law, including a representative from the Group for the East End, suggested town residents be given only five years to become compliant.
Bob Schepps, president of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce, said the legislation would essentially over regulate town residents.
Assistant town attorney Joe Burke said the intent of the law was to reduce light pollution, to cut down on electricity waste and to prevent the glare or “sky glow” which can infringe on the night sky vista.
“We don’t regulate lighting at all right now,” reported supervisor Linda Kabot. “What Nancy is trying to do is put a comprehensive lighting code on the books.”
Graboski adjourned the hearing and carried it over to the June 23 town board meeting at 6 p.m.

Young Vets Get Benefits of Affordable Housing
In a previous Southampton Town board meeting, the resolution giving military veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan first priority on certain affordable housing properties received criticism from the public. Some said it was unfair to single out one particular group of veterans to benefit from the program, though councilman Christopher Nuzzi, who sponsored the legislation, said all income-eligible veterans are included in the general lottery. During Tuesday’s board meeting, however, town residents came out in support of the legislation.
“This law was inspired by several non-profit housing organizations looking to do something good for returning veterans. These young people who go off to war often have to delay a career,” said former town supervisor Patrick “Skip” Heaney, the current county economic development and workforce housing commissioner. Heaney added that the law piggybacks a similar one passed by the county.
“This is aimed at first time home buyers,” continued Heaney.
Daniel Stebbins, a 43-year-old veteran, said housing prices in the town are prohibitively expensive for young residents, forcing them to move elsewhere.
“It would be a shame if in 50 years, there were no vets here,” noted Stebbins.
The board passed the legislation becoming the first town within the county to do so.
“It is great to have Southampton be the model. We hope other towns will meld this into their own code,” remarked Kabot.

Town to Buy Pike Farm, Waiting for County
In a partnership with the county, the town plans to buy the development rights to a 7.4 acre farm on Sagg Main Street in Sagaponack, where the Pike Farm Stand operates. The rights will be purchased from the Peconic Land Trust for around $6.4 million. Suffolk County has promised to pay 70 percent of the purchase price.
“This is a community treasure — that is why you see the county stepping up to the plate,” said Kabot, but added that the purchase was contingent on the county partnership.
Mary Wilson, the town’s community preservation fund manager, wasn’t sure if the county’s recent plan to use their main open space funding source to abate county property taxes would affect the purchase of the development rights. During a later interview, county legislator Jay Schneiderman said open space projects are now on hold until the county votes on this legislation, which is expected to be up for a vote in the coming weeks.

Southampton Town Picks New Comptroller

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Southampton Town Hall will undergo an administrative reshuffling in the Comptroller’s office. During a work session on Friday, May 22, town supervisor Linda Kabot announced by way of a resolution that as of June 1, Tamara Wright will be appointed as the town comptroller. Wright will serve out the remainder of current comptroller Steve Brautigam’s term, which expires in December 2009.

Since July 2008, Wright has worked as a financial consultant to the town. Brautigam will take over the position of Assistant Town Management Services Administrator, working under the authority of Richard Blowes, the town services administrator.

In addition to the new appointments, the duties of comptroller and assistant town administrator will be segregated. As always, the comptroller will oversee the financial reporting and accounting for the town, but the assistant town administrator will be responsible for many of the functions of the town’s capital program. Steve Brautigam will also coordinate between the town and the state comptroller, when the state conducts a risk analysis and audit. The state will likely commence the audit at the end of the summer or early fall, according to deputy supervisor Bill Jones.

“The intent of the re-organization is to provide greater leadership and strategic management for the comptroller’s office in terms of financial reporting and use of technology and staff resources to accomplish critical accounting duties for the town,” said Kabot in a press release distributed by the town last week.

“This reflects what I proposed several weeks ago,” councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst chimed in. “This comes at a time when we need to re-organize our financial oversight in the town.”

The decision appeared unanimous on the board, until councilman Chris Nuzzi raised complaints over Wright and Brautigam’s appointments.

“For months, I have raised numerous questions regarding how our current comptroller is performing in his job … Now it is my understanding that this inability is being rewarded with a $100,000 a year taxpayer-funded job offering … full benefits. This is completely and utterly unacceptable,” said Nuzzi in a statement released on Friday.

“In light of the continuing deliberation on budgetary numbers, capital dollars authorized and spent, authorized and unspent, fund balance amounts and budget reconciliations that have yet to be completed, I am calling for the withdrawal of this resolution,” continued Nuzzi.

According to Nuzzi, the resolution was previously discussed at a meeting attended by only four other board members, excluding himself, the supervisor’s office and the office of general services. He added that the decision of the new appointments was made “under the cloak of darkness” and that it was imprudent to vote on the resolution before a holiday weekend.

In his statement, Nuzzi recommended the town advertise for the comptroller’s position, conduct interviews in June and hold off on creating a new position in the office of general services.

Other members of the board, including Throne-Holst and councilwoman Sally Pope, strongly disagreed with Nuzzi’s statements saying the board had discussed the reorganization of the comptroller’s office for several months.

“We have discussed this issue for far too long without taking action. Yes we could have voted [on this resolution] at a regular board meeting, but we are not adding budget line. We are doing what we should have done a long time ago,” countered Throne-Holst.

“We have multiple audits underway. There is no question that our staff is being pulled away from the day to day operations of the town,” added councilwoman Nancy Graboski. “we need to have financial personnel who are on the inside.”

Kabot informed the audience that the resolution was budget neutral, meaning the town had already budgeted for the salaries of the comptroller and assistant town administrator. Wright will earn $115,000 a year, while Brautigam will earn $100,000. The town will also eliminate the director of audit and control position with a salary of $85,000.

Nuzzi’s comments did little to sway the other board member’s opinions and the resolution was passed.

Darker Skies Ahead, but Town Says It’s a Good Thing

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by Marissa Maier 

 One advantage to living on the East End is a clear view of the night sky. But as residential and commercial development grows, so does the glow of outdoor lighting which infringes upon this vista. Following the steps of neighboring municipalities including Sag Harbor Village, the Southampton Town Board is considering implementing “Dark Skies” legislation in an effort to cut down on evening light pollution.

 Nearly two weeks ago, the town passed a resolution designating the week of April 20 to April 26 as “Dark Sky” week. The resolution document determined the night sky was a natural resource to be protected by the town. The board asked residents to reduce their use of outdoor lighting and wattage.

 During a town work session, on Friday, April 24, Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski presented a comprehensive draft of an updated town lighting code.

 “This is a preview meeting,” said Graboski at the work session. “We wanted to bring the board into the loop and take this draft to circulate to the various stakeholders, [including] the Green Committee, the Business Alliance and the CACs … We intend to incorporate any preliminary comments.”

 Graboski and her team — planner Janice Scherer, assistant town attorney Joseph Burke, and concerned citizens Susan Harder and Gail Clyma — worked on the lighting code draft for over a year and used legislation in cities across the nation, like Boulder, Colorado, and neighboring towns, from East Hampton to Brookhaven, as models for Southampton.

 The group’s draft includes guidelines on light usage for both residential and commercial properties. For private homes, the draft legislation sets a maximum height for a mounted light fixture at 14 feet, regulates light bulb strength to 100 watts or below and determines that non-essential outdoor lighting is prohibited from dusk to dawn. The town also encourages homeowners to purchase lighting with automated shut off controls.

 Commercial lighting is subject to a different, and more detailed, set of standards. The maximum wattage for light fixtures is set at 100, but a mounted light cannot exceed 12 feet and a light attached to a pole cannot exceed 14 feet. If the legislation passes in its current form, both non-conforming and conforming light fixtures must be shut off within half an hour of the close of the business. Safety and emergency lights will be controlled by photocells, timers or motion sensors and all commercial interior lighting must be off when the facility is closed.

 Graboski said “dark skies” sensitive light fixtures were already in place on the streets of Sag Harbor, with a particularly good example in front of the Whaling Museum. Overhead lighting near the museum is directed downward and the bulbs are encased in glass, which reduces glare.

 Certain light fixtures would be exempt from this legislation, such as holiday, emergency, runway, road construction and communication tower lighting.

 “Any pre-existing lighting would be classified as non-conforming,” noted Scherer, who added that this lighting would be grandfathered in, but subject to code compliance if the property was renovated. Scherer believes much of the lighting in the town already complies with the standards in the draft as the planning board has been following similar criteria for several years.

 “This law will codify the standards and clarify what those standards are,” said Graboski of the draft.

 Provisions similar to the Southampton Town lighting code draft can be found in the proposed Sag Harbor Village zoning code update. If the village code is enacted, lighting fixtures on commercial buildings must be mounted at 12 feet and under. Mercury vapor, laser and neon lighting — if not pre-existing — is explicitly banned. Outdoor commercial lighting must be turned off an hour after a business closes.

 In Southampton, Graboski told the board that an update of the draft legislation will be discussed at a follow-up work session in the coming weeks. A date for the public hearing on the new town lighting code is tentatively set for June 9.

Southampton Town to Examine all Capital Projects

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Town Board Meets to Discuss Capital Accounts

At a Southampton Town Board work session on Friday, board members gathered to talk about the discrepancies in the capital accounts. At last week’s work session, council members discovered that there was an approximate $19 million difference between the $16 million actual cash on hand and the $35 million the department heads thought they had in their accounts. Town supervisor Linda Kabot said that this difference in figures could be due to bonds being authorized, but never issued. Now, the board will be looking to go back through all the outstanding capital projects to determine which ones will be priority.

At Friday’s meeting, the town’s management service administrator, Richard Blowes, Tamara Wright, a finance consultant and comptroller Steve Brautigam met with the board members to discuss their plan of action.

Councilwoman Nancy Graboski first spoke at the meeting, giving insight as to what she believes will be the best way to move forward. Graboski and councilwoman Sally Pope were in several meetings this week with the town’s audit committee on the topic.

Graboski said that this issue is particularly disconcerting now because of the current state of the economy.

“This is top priority as far as I’m concerned,” she said on Friday.

Graboski stated that the audit committee intends to gain a full understanding of why these issues have arisen and then put forth their plan of action. She explained that a piece of software called, Team Budget could be utilized to prevent these types of situations in the future.

When Blowes tried to offer the board a history of what has occurred with capital accounts over the past few years, board members Chris Nuzzi and Anna Throne-Holst questioned why they weren’t getting all the account information at Friday’s meeting.

“I appreciate the accounting of what’s happened,” Nuzzi said. “I thought today would be over the capital budget and what happened this year.”

Blowes explained that he was told by Graboski that a good idea would be to go over the chronological history of what has been happening with the accounts over the past few years, so that he may bring the town board up to speed.

“My concern is there is not sufficient time to provide in that level of detail,” Blowes responded.

Throne-Holst agreed with Nuzzi, saying she thought the meeting was going to be held to discuss the realistic situation of the accounts.

“This has not been made clear, and certainly not to me,” the councilwoman said and added she has been requesting a copy of the capital budget for a while.

“What we have is some numbers,” councilwoman Graboski said, “there isn’t anyone willing to stand behind those numbers…then and only then will we be able to state with certainties that we can go forward with the systems and complete the computer software we need in the first quarter to get these numbers and this research back up.”

“Time is up now, I don’t think the board and the public can except to wait until April,” Throne-Holst maintained.  

Kabot explained that at first, the priority was on the $7.5 million deficit that was accumulated over the years 2004 through 2007 for police, highway, and waste management expenses, in the $82.5 million operating budget.

“We needed to fix it and go line by line and expense by expense,” she said before adding that now, the capital plan will be priority.

“Let the process and the priorities be laid out, hypocritical doesn’t work here,” the supervisor said.

“We are trying to take the bull by the horns at this point,” Graboski added.

Kabot said that the town hired a financial consultant to go over the information, and a Microsoft consultant to go over the software and address these problems.

“We now have all the cash accounts reconciled through November,” explained Wright. What she was advocating for at the meeting was the implementation of Team Budget, a budgeting software tool. She said that the software consultant said it was never fully implemented but now her plan is to bring the software consultants back in.

“As soon as an account goes negative, and you know you need to bond, it [the computer program] will trigger it is time to borrow,” Wright said.

“This is so you don’t prematurely borrow when you are not ready,” Kabot explained.

“They are coming in February and will install it,” Wright added. “So starting in the first quarter, department heads can work on their budgets.”

Comptroller Brautigam explained the reason for the so-called “missing funds” is because the “computer program is saying there is much more because the town board approved the projects.” Brautigam further explained that sometimes the projects are approved but the money wasn’t borrowed straight away, which is common because it saves money on interest and bond council costs.

For example he explained that he recently got a quote for a $20 million bond and the interest rate was 3.85 percent. But for a bond of $2.5 million the rate was two percent. 

Kabot said that there may be critical projects such as building or road repairs, but added, “We are not floating another bond until we have a good handle on our bonded indebtedness.”

Nuzzi asked for an immediate list of projects so that the board may consider those that may be of priority, like projects in the highway department or public works.

“What may be a greater issue is why are we authorizing projects that are not being done right away,” he asked.

“You’ve hit the nail on the head,” said Kabot. The supervisor said there are some projects that could have been given dual names in an account.

“We will scrutinize all of it,” said Nuzzi of all capital projects.

The board will meet on February 13, for a work session on public works, to see if there are any projects that need to be handled immediately.

County Road 39 to Change

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According to supervisor Linda Kabot, the Southampton Town board needs to make a final decision on what will happen to County Road (CR) 39 – or the “funds will disappear.”

Last week, members of the town board met in a work session to discuss the Long Term Plan (LTP) for CR 39, all in agreement that they need to approve the interim plan that the county is suggesting, in order to comply with a January 2010 federal deadline.

Kabot’s goal on Friday was to get all the board members to co-sponsor a draft resolution, which affirms support for the Highway Improvement Plan, and provides Suffolk County with overall guidance for further development of a proposed LTP design concept.

The chief engineer from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, William Hillman, presented a “funding situation” to the Southampton Town Board in late November, explaining that the county will be making improvements to the eastern portion of CR 39 similar to those completed on the western portion of the road in 2007-2008 as part of an interim plan. These additional interim plan improvements will not affect a Long Term Plan, or the funding of it, either positively or negatively, according to Hillman.

On Friday, at a work session, the board members met with Tom Neely, Southampton Town Transportation and Traffic Safety Director, to finalize a resolution to approve the county’s changes to CR 39.

Some of the major changes planned for CR 39 include utilizing a median where possible, and the use of a center turn lane in place of the median in specific high left turn rate locations, such as those along the business corridor immediately west of Tuckahoe Lane. Other changes included in the plan are the creation of right turn lanes where feasible, and inclusion of roundabouts and creating shoulders where feasible. Also set out in the long-term plan are bus shelters and bus turnouts at sites coordinated with Suffolk County Transit.

Neely explained that funding for the LTP is in question because the federal “10 year rule” deadline will be reached in January 2010. In order to keep this project eligible for federal funding, by that date, the county has to begin acquisition of commercial and residential land along the shoulder areas and the planned roundabout at the intersection where Flying Point Road and Route 27 meet CR 39.

The goals of the LTP and changes to CR 39 are to improve safety, traffic flow, adjacent property access and roadway aesthetics. The draft resolution, which was being discussed at the work session on Friday states that intentions include minimizing the roadway width and takings as well as encourage the use of public transportation.

Neely explained that the LTP must be done in phases, and will take approximately five years to complete.

At the work session, Neely gave an update on what has occurred over the last few years in response to the changes along CR 39. He explained that the town held special public meetings with emergency services, the various Citizens Advisory Committees (CACs) and members of the police force in 2007. In February 2008, there was a broader meeting, in which the county and the town met with property owners along CR 39. At the meeting, the town was able to get “good feedback” according to Neely.

“We don’t want to be portrayed as not being supportive of this plan,” Kabot said on Friday about the LTP. She informed the room that the federal government is funding 80 percent of this $50 million project and “we don’t want that money to disappear,” she continued.

Neely gave explanations as to why all these topics have to be covered in the final plan. He said that the bus route along CR 39 – the S92 – is the second most popular bus route in the county.

Further he said, pedestrians and their safety is a major concern, for both business owners and traffic moving through the area. Pedestrians crossing CR 39 have been a great cause for concern, but so has the reduced number of pedestrians frequenting businesses along the road.

“It is even hard with the sidewalk that is there now,” councilwoman Nancy Graboski said.

“Which is why the long term plan is so critical,” Kabot responded, turning everyone’s attention back to the draft resolution on the table for discussion. “We don’t want to lose this money from the federal government.”

The supervisor also said that a big concern is for water connections for fire hydrants along the CR 39, adding them to both sides of the road. She said running a fire hose across the road would cause 30,000 vehicles to use an alternative route – old Montauk Highway – and could potentially stop traffic for three to four hours.

“But that will be costly,” she added.

“All this is, is a joint letter of the town board, saying that we support this,” Kabot said of the draft resolution.

If approved at the next town board meeting, the draft resolution will be sent to local politicians including Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., Senator Kenneth LaValle, and Congressman Tim Bishop.

Town changes “Green” Pool Codes

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January 1, 2009 was supposed to be the date that all heated swimming pools in the Town of Southampton were required by law to use solar power as the major source of heat in an effort to reduce residents’ energy consumption.
Last Friday, that original legislation was changed, however. Now, all residents with heated swimming pools are not mandated to have solar power as the main energy component. Instead they will have to make other changes to conform to the new regulations, which include use of items such as energy efficient pipes, pumps and covers.
After numerous work sessions with members of the Pool and Spa Association and members of Southampton Town’s green committee, the town board unanimously adopted the new legislation at a regular board meeting on Friday giving pool industry professionals alternative options for reducing energy, effective January 1, 2009.
The new legislation, sponsored by councilwoman, Nancy Graboski, states that the intent of the law is to provide a more comprehensive program “obtaining efficiencies beyond the mere measure of pool heating” which, it said, “will have a far greater impact on energy than a solar heating mandate.”
The new requirements for pools constructed or reconstructed after January 1, include use of piping at least two inches in diameter and sweeping elbows instead of right-angle pipes. Also, pumps installed after the effective date must be determined by the size of the pool — the bigger the pool, the more stringent the requirement.
In terms of the heating component, the new legislation states that pool heaters must meet minimum energy efficiency requirements as set by the United States Department of Energy. Also, continuously burning pilot lights are prohibited and all heated outdoor pools built or reconstructed after January 1 must have covers that cover the surface of the pool when it is not in use.
According to Sheryl Heather of the Sustainable Southampton Advisory Committee — the town’s green committee — 322 pool permits were issued for the year as of November 7, 2008.
In July, the town board voted in favor of what some called the “strictest energy codes in the country,” in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of town residents. Those regulations included a tiered proposal for new and substantially renovated energy star rated homes as well as the solar mandate for heated pools.
The Southampton Town Board back-peddled on the original legislation, however, and decided in the fall to implement less stringent energy requirements for homes. The legislation regarding swimming pools has also been reduced in stringency from its original content.
Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst, who was the sponsor for the original legislation on energy standards of both homes and pools, is not certain this was the right move.
“Anything that helps reduce our carbon footprint is a positive,” Throne-Holst said on Friday. But, she added, she still feels the original legislation was good.
“The pool industry people simply were not ready to make that change and to start re-tooling for solar powering,” Throne-Holst said. “It’s a leap that I guess we just weren’t ready to make yet.”
The councilwoman also said that she believes the board may look back at this move and think twice about the decision.
“I think we will see what is happening on a federal level and see that we were a small step ahead,” she added.
John Tortorella, owner of J. Tortorella Custom Gunite Pools, sat on a committee which he said helped to come up with the new legislation.
“The town left it up to us,” Tortorella said on Tuesday. The committee, he said, was made up of a few people from eastern Long Island in conjunction with the Pool and Spa Association.
“For us, there is no change at all,” he said and added that his business has already incorporated these regulations into their pool design, as did other large pool companies. But the new legislation may affect smaller pool companies.
The cost to a homeowner considering building or renovating a pool, according to Tortorella, could be between $1,500 and $2,200 for these additional requirements.
Councilman Chris Nuzzi, a co-sponsor of the new legislation, believes it is a good compromise for the residents and pool industry professionals.
“We did now what should have happened in the first place,” Nuzzi said on Monday, “and that was to involve the professionals in the industry and come forward with energy efficient ways to construct it [the legislation].”
“Instead of mandating for solar, I still believe we should provide incentives,” said Nuzzi who currently has a form of incentive legislation on the table for the New Year, which would offer rebates to consumers who use alternative energy sources.
“Let’s partner with the community and not over regulate and that is how we will be successful,” he said.
“I think we are going to have to be cognizant with the green legislations,” he continued, “We still have to see what works and what doesn’t.”

Cablevision Changing Channels

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On Wednesday, Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski was taking a tour of the town’s public television station’s new facilities. SEA-TV has set up new studios on the Stony Brook Southampton campus where they edit footage from local events and town meetings and create programming, which is broadcast over channel 22.

But since September, many subscribers to Cablevision have discovered they no longer are receiving the public access channels from the town. Indeed, public access channels East End-wide seem to have vanished from the basic tier of services the cable provider offers. The loss to subscribers is a concern expressed in village meetings and local citizen advisory committees as well, including Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton and Noyac.

A few weeks ago the Village of Sagaponack received a letter from Graboski, who is the town’s cable liaison, regarding the removal of channels 20 and 22 from the basic tier package and analog format of Cablevision. This means cable subscribers with basic service need to upgrade to a higher level of service in order to continue receiving the two channels.

Graboski said in an interview this week the town is investigating the issue with the four other East End towns in order to force Cablevision to restore the channels to basic tier packages.

Graboski said that many people she has spoken with are confused about what has happened.

 “I can’t make heads or tails of it,” Sagaponack village board member Alfred Kelman said during their meeting Monday.

“It’s hard to get your arms around the issue which unfortunately impacts our seniors and others on limited incomes much harder, since many can’t afford a higher tier of service,” Graboski said.

According to Graboski, the two channels were eliminated so that more bandwidth could be freed up and allow for more high definition channels to be offered. In 2004, the town and Cablevision signed a franchise agreement – approving the allowance of free access to both channels, according to the councilwoman.

However, Patrick MacElroy, a spokesperson for Cablevision, explained that 90 percent of subscribers would not be impacted by this change since they are not basic subscribers. The other 10 percent that were notified in the summer of the change were offered one free digital converter box, if they asked for it prior to the December 31 deadline.

Even customers with digital televisions are having a problem receiving the channels if they are subscribers at the basic tier. Graboski mentioned one of the town’s attorneys has been unable to connect, although she added there is a way of re-programming the sets to receive the channels.


According to Graboski, Cablevision attempted to rectify the issue by providing a “dumbed-down” cable box for subscribers with the basic tier packages so that both channels can be converted from digital back to analog and viewers can access them. But Graboski says that is not enough, because it will only work for one television per household. Further, Graboski argues that this solution will not help students in local schools who can no longer receive the channels in their classrooms and the same goes for those who are in hospitals and town hall.

MacElroy explained that back in 1972, when cable television first came on the scene, the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) mandated that public access and government channels be made available on cable systems. Those channels, he noted, have never been available on satellite or phone company provided television.

Graboski argues that its important for all residents to have access to the channels without additional cost or equipment, particularly because they are advised to tune into channel 22 in case of emergency, natural disaster or otherwise. She added that a similar matter has been the subject of litigation in Dearborn, Michigan, regarding another cable company, Comcast. The court issued a temporary restraining order against Comcast, pending an opinion from the FCC, according to the councilwoman.

Graboski said they are waiting to hear the outcome of the Dearborn case, and have considered legal action to restore the channels.

Representatives of the East End Towns met with Cablevision representatives one week ago, but she has not heard whether the company intends to meet the towns’ request.

 “Our goal is simple,” said Graboski, “we want Cablevision to reinstate channels 20 and 22 to the analog basic tier… and we want Cablevision to replicate the level of service that we had prior to September 15, with reception on all TV sets in a household, with no added costs for subscribers.”


Alternatives for Solar Heating Pools

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Last Friday, George Kazdin, owner of Kazdin Pools & Spas in Southampton and a member of the Pool and Spa Association, and Sheryl Heather of the Sustainable Southampton Advisory Committee (Green Committee) met in a work session with members of the Southampton Town Board to offer a “cool pool” presentation and alternative methods to reducing energy consumption for pools in the community.
“I hope we have a win-win for everybody,” Heather said at the start of the meeting.
Recently enacted Southampton Town legislation, slated to go into effect on January 1, 2009, mandates that new pools built within the town be solar heated. Kazdin and Heather’s presentation outlined new, alternative ways for pool companies and owners to reduce energy consumption without going solar.
Last June, the town board adopted the new ‘green’ legislation in an effort to reduce the town’s carbon footprint — included in that legislation was a mandate for solar heating for pools. After much outcry on the pool portion of the new law, board members offered to delay the implementation of the legislation from its original date of October 1 to January 1.
Heather explained that at present, 322 pool permits were issued for 2008, and her guess is that approximately 300 new pools will be built in 2009. Heather argued that better plumbing practices, increased pipe size and a decrease in right-angled pumps would equal less energy use.
“The size and speed of the pump and design of the pump are keys to achieving and conserving energy for pools,” Heather said on Friday.
Heather also recommended that energy could be conserved through correct usage of pool covers, responsible heating, replacement pumps, pool maintenance and proper filtration. She also said that pool pumps are the number one source of energy consumption by pools. She recommended that the typical 90-degree pipes be replaced with sweep fittings, which are more aerodynamic and allow water to pass through much faster.
Heather also proposed that continuously burning pilot lights not be banned, as called for in the legislation.
Heather’s proposal also calls for the use of mandatory energy efficient pumps in new pool construction. By choosing a multi-speed pump for replacement, Heather notes that consumers with an existing pool will see significant energy savings – but as is the case in other Energy Star rated appliances, there is an increased cost.
“Pump rebates will help consumers to make the right choice,” Heather said, “and save energy.”
Heather said that alternatives for mandating solar heating could be achieved through incentive programs, encouragement, informational websites, public service announcements and community outreach and added that pool installers are currently encouraging solar installations.
“The bigger the pool the bigger the energy savings,” Heather said, “and this puts the ‘cool pool’ program on par with the town’s tiered energy star requirements for new home construction.”
Currently, she added, there are 11,000 pools in Southampton Town. Heather also argued that more energy will be saved by existing pools than on the construction of new pools and the potential savings can be achieved through an aggressive education program.
Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst, who sponsored the original legislation, expressed discontent for the emission of a solar component completely in Heather’s presentation. She said though the presentation was good, it left out the very obvious.
“If you are using solar panels, there is no consumption of gas or oil — [with this plan] the fossil fuel component is still there…we would be completely moving away from a reduction in fossil fuel consumption.”
Heather said that there are three levels of energy efficiency, the good, the better and the best. Heather said that this proposal is still at the ‘best’ level.
Throne-Holst asked Long Island Pool and Spa Association representative George Kazdin how the new legislation compares to the optimum energy benefit for energy codes already on the books for pools.
“We are practically at the highest level,” Kazdin said.
Throne-Holst reiterated that the best option, though, would be to implement the solar mandate.
On Friday, Graboski, gave board members a draft of the new legislation, which would allow for public comment at a public hearing on December 9.