Tag Archive | "New York State Assembly"

Thiele Calls for Revisions to Redistricting Plan

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A New York State Legislature task force recently released redistricting recommendations that would join the East End under one legislative district – much to the ire of many North Fork politicians. Last week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said he believes the North Fork and the South Fork should have separate representation and the task force should go back to the drawing table.

On Wednesday, February 15 Thiele announced he has requested the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment revise its redistricting plan for the East End to establish a Brookhaven/North Fork District that would include northeast Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold. Thiele’s current district — the Second Assembly District — would encompass East Hampton, Southampton, Shelter Island and southeast Brookhaven.

In January, the task force released redistricting plans that would add one Assembly district to Long Island based on population increases, as laid out in the state’s Constitution.

Thiele, who has been critical that the New York State Legislature completed a redistricting proposal rather than have an independent party make recommendations, said last week he would support a redistricting plan that was truly independent and non-partisan. Thiele has already sponsored legislation in an effort to ensure the legislature would have to adhere to that standard in the future.

“I am disappointed that this year’s process was not independent,” said Thiele. “We must adopt a constitutional amendment that will insure that all future redistricting plans are prepared by an independent, non-partisan commission.”

Thiele said that while the Task Force proposal for the East End met non-partisan criteria such as equal population, contiguity, and not dividing political subdivisions, it was clear from public hearings and comments there was strong sentiment in Southold that the community should be part of the Brookhaven/North Fork District.

“I have enjoyed working with Southold Town government through the years including the Peconic Bay Estuary Program, the CommunityPreservation Fund, Five Town Rural Transit, Peconic County, the East End

Supervisors and Mayors Association, and the repeal of the MTA payroll tax and the saltwater fishing license,” said Thiele. “I would enthusiastically represent them in Albany. However, the state should not compound its failure to utilize an independent, non-partisan redistricting process by ignoring home rule. The final plan must accurately reflect the will of the public. The most important function of any elected official is to listen. Therefore, I have urged the Task Force to modify the plan.”

A final plan is expected to be approved in the next few weeks and will be in effect for the 2012 election

East End Digest: February 26, 2009

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Citarella to Open

The former location of the IGA in Bridgehampton will be opening under the name Citarella come April 2009. Citarella considers itself the “ultimate gourmet market.”
Clare Vail, a Southampton Town Planner said that applicant and property owner, Joe Gurrera, submitted an application of expedited review, “a speedy request,” on February 5, 2009.
The planning department held a favorable view and asked the applicant to submit the application on expedited review because there were only going to be minor changes to the building. The application was approved on February 12.
“The applicant wants to spruce up the building, and move the entrance way,” Vail said.
The entrance to the building will be moved to the north east side, from its original location on the west side facing the parking lot, according to the application.
Vail said the applicant wanted to add outdoor seating and improve the parking area – but that would need to undergo a full site plan review at a later date.

Sag Harbor
Library Moves on Building Plans

The John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees continue to work with Newman Architects to develop a library plan that will, in the words of the architects, “serve the Sag Harbor community’s library needs.” During the past weeks a number of firms working in conjunction with Newman have visited both John Jermain and the library’s property at 425 Main Street near Mashashimuet Park.
Philip Steiner, principal from Altieri Sebor and Weber structural engineers, spent January 27 at the library reviewing the mechanical systems, the exterior of the building, and the roof. On February 5, two preservationists, John Glavin and Michele Boyd, from Building Conservation Associates spent 10 hours with the director of the library, Catherine Creedon, touring the building and reviewing the history of John Jermain including photographs, newspapers clippings, blueprints and board reports. It was the third site visit from this firm, headed by Ray Pepi.
On February 13, Deborah McGuinness and Ed Meade, structural engineers for Robert Silman Associates spent the day in Sag Harbor, evaluating both sites with an emphasis on examining the roof, the exterior envelope, the brick wall, existing blueprints, and documentary evidence related to repairs, additions and renovations.
New York State has also proposed an 18% cut in funding to libraries for 2009.

Southampton Town
Interviews for Board Candidates

Southampton Town board members have decided to open an interview process for vacant and holdover positions.
The appointees who serve on the three boards have salaried positions over a specific term of office consistent with state law. Their decision-making powers are exercised by a majority vote of the membership to approve certain types of land use applications.
The Planning Board processes applications for subdivisions, site plans, special exception use permits, lot line modifications, and also renders advisory reports to the Town Board on amendments to the zoning code or requests for changes to the zoning map. The Zoning Board deliberates on requests for variances from zoning strictures on dimensional requirements, changes of use, abandonment proceedings, and appeals of denials or approvals rendered by the Town’s Building Inspector. The Conservation Board processes applications for construction near regulated wetlands areas and prepares advisory reports to the Planning Board and Zoning Board.
Candidates seeking to be considered should send a letter of interest to Supervisor Linda Kabot and members of the Town Board at Southampton Town Hall, 116 Hampton Road, Southampton, NY 11968 prior to February 27.

New York State Assembly
No to Cap

Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr., the ranking republican on the Assembly Education Committee, blasted Governor Paterson’s proposal to cap state property tax payments to areas to school districts for state owned lands pursuant to existing state law. Under the Governor’s plan, payments to such areas would be permanently frozen.
The State of New York currently makes property tax payments to certain school districts for state lands. In Riverhead, including Southampton and Brookhaven, the payments are related to the Central Pine Barrens Preserve. Riverhead receives payments for all state alnds within the school district within the Town of Riverhead.
In 2007, Suffolk school district received around $20 million in such payments. A freeze in 2009 will cost these schools nearly $1 million. The freeze would be permanent and apply to all future years.
“There is no doubt that the costs diverted from communities hit by this tax freeze will be borne by local property taxpayers,” Thiele said. “This proposal assumes that school districts will decrease their spending. But the reality is that many districts are struggling in this tough economy.”
“It is the height of fiscal irresponsibility for state government to try and balance its budget on the backs of property owners. If the Governor truly wants to do the right thing for New Yorkers, he would support the swift passge of our ‘New York State Property Act.’ which would put the brakes on ever increasing property taxes and allow families and local eployers to stay in their communities,” Thiele continued.
Thiele said the legislation would prevent school district property tax levies from increasing by more than four percent each year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. It would also provide voters with the ability to override this limitation by a two-thirds majority vote. The initiative also provides significant unfunded mandate relief for school districts.
In other news, Thiele also introduced a comprehensive “home rule” plan to address the issue of school consolidation in the State of New York.
Thiele stated, “Exisitng state law inhibits the consideration of school consolidations. Many times school consolidation is derailed by special interests without even allowing the voters to be heard on the issue. In contrast, the Suozzi Commission has proposed a school consolidation procedure which would be imposed by the state with no local referendum. To be successful, we must first have an objective investigation of each potential consolidation in the state. Second, we must permit local voters the opportunity to evaluate these objectiv investigations and make the decision by referendum.”
Thieles bill includes several provisions. It would require the State Education Department (SED) to identify school districts that might benefit from consolidation. The study would include districts with 1,000 or fewer students and school districts that either share a common boundary with such a district, or school districts that have an existing contract with such a district to educate its students.

Suffolk County

Last week, the Suffolk County United Veterans Project and other local veterans organizations held a press conference to highlight the impact of Governor Paterson’s proposed budget cuts on homeless veterans in Suffolk County.
County Legislator Kate Browning joined the veterans organizations and spoke out against deep cuts to many of New York’s homelessness prevention and assistance programs. She endorsed the Fair Share Tax Reform as an alternative budget solution that can ensure vulnerable veterans continue to get the care they need.
The press conference was part of an ongoing compaign by the Long Island Fair Share Tax Reform Coalition to advocate for a fair budget solution.

East End Digest: December 11

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ARF: Cats and Dogs Calendar 


         The 2009 Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF) Pet Calendar is now on sale at area bookstores, galleries and specialty shops. There are more than 100 animals featured in the calendar including mutts, pedigrees, former shelter animals as well as ARF cats and dogs available for adoption. The cover features Mimi Vang Olsen’s painting of cats and dogs in a kingdom setting. The calendar also features many candid photographs, contributed by pet owners.

         “While it’s handy for keeping a busy 2009 schedule, the Pet Calendar is just as likely to find its home on a coffee table,” says Dick Huebner, an award-winning art director who designed the original calendar.

         Founded in 1974, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons has found loving homes for over 15,000 animals. ARF currently provides for the health and welfare of dogs and cats on the South Fork of Long Island and Shelter Island through shelter and adoption services, medical care, spaying and neutering programs, community outreach and humane education. The calendar retails for $25, the 2009 ARF Pet Calendar is also available at www.arfhamptons.org, as well as local retail locations and galleries.


Southampton Town: Justice Court Receives Grant


   According to Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, the Town of Southampton has been awarded a grant in the amount of $6,500 under the State’s Justice Court Assistance Program. The grants awarded through this program make it possible for the local justice courts to make renovations and purchase equipment to improve their operations and make their facilities more secure.

         Of the grant, the State’s chief Administrative Judge, Ann Pfau, said, “Town and Village Courts play a critical role in the justice system of our State. It is vital that these courts, whose jurisdiction includes non-felony criminal prosecutions, motor vehicle cases, small civil claims, and landlord-tenant disputes, be well equipped and secure. I am therefore pleased to announce Justice Court Assistance Program grants totaling almost $5 million, statewide, to help ensure that these courts which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, are prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

         Senator LaValle added, “Local courts are the closest to the people and are an integral component of our justice system. However, town and village budgetary issues can limit their resources. This grant will help the court to better serve the community and improve the administration of justice.”


County Road 39: Sign Change on CR 39


         Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy today said that billboards cautioning drivers to watch their speed while moving through the fixed portion of County Road 39 will be changed at the request of Southampton Town officials, including Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot and Councilwoman Anna Throne Holst.

         “After our project to provide a second eastbound lane was completed this spring, we felt it was necessary to properly warn drivers to maintain a safe speed,” said Levy. “This stretch of road was known for decades for being a bottleneck, and we did not want to be victims of our own success and have drivers speeding through the two smooth flowing lanes.”

         “Hopefully that message has been delivered this summer, both to visitors and to year-round residents, and we are happy to accede to the Town’s wish for more low-key speed warnings,” Levy continued.

         The billboards received a great deal of attention when they were vandalized in early December. An unknown vandal painted over the image of a police officer leaning onto his official vehicle, while pointing a radar gun at the oncoming traffic, covering it with white paint. The vandal spray-painted “Thank You” on the westbound side of the road and “Please” on the eastbound side.


Riverhead: Ribbon Cutting for New Unit


         On Thursday, December 4th, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, and Health Commissioner Dr. Humayun Chaudhry officially opened the county’s second state-of-the-art digital mammography unit in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The site of the new mammography unit is located at the Riverhead County Health Center.

         “This is a tremendous benefit for our patients,” said Suffolk County Health Services Commissioner Humayun Chaudhry. “We are proud that the county has taken such a proactive role in bringing this resource to our patients and in advancing the quality of health care services for our citizens.”

         The new unit in Riverhead is the second digital machine to come into operation in Suffolk under Levy’s leadership. In 2006, Levy sponsored a resolution to modify a portion of the first floor of the Health Center to accommodate the equipment, which was performed as part of the ongoing renovations to the Riverhead County Center. The first digital unit was installed in Coram in 2006; Suffolk is also proceeding with the availability of digital mammography equipment for its health centers in Shirley and Brentwood.



Suffolk County: A Gift of Food


         During their general meeting, on Tuesday, December 2, the Legislature by Certificates of Necessity adopted an amendment to the 2008 Operating Budget, which will provide an additional $20,000 of funding to the Island Harvest. Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman introduced the resolution that made these amendments possible, and was readily adopted in order to expeditiously make these funds available to Island Harvest. During this holiday season and in these challenging economic times, many more families will be able to receive additional food assistance.

         Island Harvest is one of Long Island’s largest hunger relief organizations that serve as the bridge between those who have surplus food and those who need it. Their volunteers and staff collect food from over 600 local restaurants, caterers, farms, and other food related businesses; and distribute it to a network of close to 500 soup kitchens, food pantries, residencies, shelters. Last year Island Harvest provided nearly 7 million pounds of food to local hunger relief organizations.


Suffolk County: Good Samaritan Diva


         Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) attended the Red Hat Divas Christmas luncheon to thank the ladies who collected supplies for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The divas collected donations from friends, family and neighbors over the last month. They contacted Legislator Schneiderman’s office, an official drop site for supplies donated to the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Legislator Schneiderman has been working with the Family Readiness Group representing the Fighting 69th Army Reserve National Guard, collecting donations for the servicemen and women. These items include AA batteries, insect repellant, flea collars, and bags of charcoal briquettes for troops stationed in Afghanistan.

         “The County of Suffolk and its residents owe a debt of gratitude to our brave servicemen and women who often find themselves in dangerous and hazardous circumstances and give their lives for their County, making the ultimate sacrifice in the service of others, ” Legislator Schneiderman said. “I am pleased to assist in any way possible and encourage donations of these items for our troops.”


New York State Assembly: Request for LIPA Audit


         State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., and State Kenneth P. LaValle have sent a letter to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli requesting that its current audit of LIPA include the Southampton to Bridgehampton Transmission Line Project.

         LIPA originally proposed an approximately nine-mile transmission on the South Fork in the Town of Southampton from Southampton Village to the Hamlet of Bridgehampton. LIPA had proposed that the transmission line be constructed 45% above ground and 55% below ground through the heart of the South Fork’s farm country, where substantial amounts of land and scenic vistas had been preserved with public dollars.

         There was universal community outrage and opposition to the LIPA proposal including litigation. In response, Thiele and LaValle mediated the dispute between LIPA and the Town and the community. After long and extremely difficult negotiations, an agreement was reached this spring. The project was completed this summer.

         The agreement provided that LIPA would contribute the cost of its original proposal towards payment of the project (estimated to be approximately $20 million.) The incremental cost of burying the remaining 45% would be borne by LIPA customers from Southampton Village to the Southampton/East Hampton town line. This charge would be based on the actual electric usage of LIPA customers in the benefited area. After the project was bid, it was estimated that the incremental cost would be about $8 million.

         LIPA authorized substantial overtime to complete the project. As a result, LIPA is now estimating that the incremental cost may be as much as $12 million. Thiele and LaValle have requested the State Comptroller determine the total cost of the project, determine whether the up to $4 million increase in the cost of the project was prudent and justified, and determine whether any portion of the up to $4 million increase should be legitimately borne by the VBA area.

         Thiele and LaValle stated that this additional expenditure of up to $4 million dollars does not in any way increase the visual benefits for those in the benefited area, if indeed such addition expenditures were prudent at all. It is certain that not all the additional expenditures were to construct only 45%, which was the subject of the VBA.





East End Digest – November 20

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75 Christmas Boxes & Counting

Thursday night’s “Wrap a Box of Kindness” event, sponsored by the Bridgehampton Parent Teacher Organization, brought many Bridgehampton families out to decorate and pack gifts into shoeboxes. These boxes will be delivered to needy children all over the world.

Operation Christmas Child is a project designed and operated by Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse. It began in 1993 and has grown each year into a worldwide endeavor. All the boxes collected from around the United States are brought to over 130 countries and hand-delivered into the arms of a child – who may have never received a gift before.

Sag Harbor ARB: Vets Get Fence

Ralph Ficorelli, commander of the Sag Harbor VFW Chelberg & Battle Post 388, approached the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board on Thursday, November 13 to request a fence at the VFW in order to ensure the building’s parking lot is reserved for members of the post, rather than the general population, which has been parking there.

Ficorelli, accompanied by a number Sag Harbor veterans, requested a four-foot high, 261-foot long chain link fence, covered in green vinyl for the south and west sides of the VFW.

“The main reason we are doing this is because it is being used as a public parking lot and members down there, we have trouble finding places to park our cars,” explained Ficorelli.

The board had no quandary with the fence, but was concerned about residents on Rysam Street having to look at a green, vinyl chain link fence – which would generally not be approved in a residential neighborhood in the historic district of Sag Harbor.

Ficorelli argued that the green coating would help blend in the fence to the surrounding area and that the VFW intended to plant shrubbery around the fence to help shield it.

The board agreed to approve the fence with the caveat that the fence be shielded with shrubbery and the entry gate on Rysam be made partially of wood in keeping with the residential character of the neighborhood.

In other ARB news, Howard Kanovitz was approved to replace a historic column and repaint the historic residence at 27 Suffolk Street. Kanovitz also has sought to replace the windows, although the board has asked he look into restoration. Sean Murphy was approved to replace French doors at 27 Garden Street, Harbor Heights Gas Station was approved for new signs at their Hampton Street business, Anastasia Cole was approved for a picket fence at 3 Bay Street, Michael Butler was approved for building alterations at 37 Eastville Avenue and Blair and Cheryl Effron were granted permission for the demolition of an existing house at 34 Long Point Road and for a new two-story residence at the same site.

Suffolk Community College: Thanksgiving For The Needy

Faculty and students at the Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts Center will be partnering with the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service located in Hampton Bays to prepare and individually package more than 150 dinners that will assist in feeding those in need for Thanksgiving.

Under the direction of chef/instructor Jerry Dececco, preparation for this event will take place at the Culinary Arts Center located at 20 East Main Street in Riverhead on Tuesday, November 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The menu will consist of roast turkey with giblet gravy, seasoned cranberry bread stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans Almondine, dinner rolls, apple pie and pumpkin pie.

New York State Assembly: Update On Fiscal Crisis

In accordance with a new law enacted last year to help increase fiscal accountability and transparency in state government, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., a member of the ways and means committee, joined Assembly minority leader James Tedisco and the Assembly Minority Conference last week to formally submit their assessment of New York’s current fiscal condition. The report outlines estimates of the conference’s disbursements for public assistance, Medicaid and school aid, along with estimates for tax receipts and lottery receipts.

“Our state is facing tough economic times ahead that will require us to tighten our belts and exercise true fiscal discipline to ensure New York can weather this fiscal storm,” said Thiele. “Our conference’s report is comprehensive and forecasts a continued decline in state revenues while emphasizing the need for fiscally sound proposals to close the budget deficit without doing so on the backs of taxpayers.”

In its report, the Assembly Minority Ways and Means Committee estimated the public assistance rolls will closeout the current fiscal year with 501,096 cases, that total expenditures for public assistance in the state will be $2.158 billion and that the state share of those expenditures will be $828.8 million. The conference also estimated that public assistance caseload for the 2009-10 fiscal year will be 512,683, with total expenditures of $2.212 billion at a state share of $848.6 million. The 2009-10 estimates represent a 3.2 increase in caseload and a 2.3 percent increase in costs to the state.

According to Thiele, the conference has also estimated the Medicaid rolls will increase by 2.8 percent in the current fiscal year – resulting in a total enrollment of 3.6 million individuals. The ways and means committee expects the state share for the current fiscal year to be $17.7 billion. They also estimate that enrollment for the 2009-10 fiscal year will rise 4.8 percent, for a total of 3.8 million individuals with a state share of $19.4 billion and a local cap of $965 million.

Additionally, the committee forecast state school aid to increase by en estimated $1.9 billion for the 2009-10 school year. The increase would bring total funding for annual state school aid to $23 billion. The estimate is based upon May data provided by the state education department.

The state division of the budget’s mid-year update projects that New York State is facing a $1.5 billion budget gap this year and a $12.5 billion budget gap next year. The minority conference fiscal analysis suggests the gap is likely to be $1.2 billion this year and $11.6 billion next year.

Nature Conservancy: Clam Population Recovering

The Nature Conservancy and Suffolk County today announced study results that show early signs of a recovery for the bay’s hard clam population.

Four years ago, The Nature Conservancy, backed by a wide range of public and private supporters, took a chance – embarking on a shellfish restoration to “make the Great South bay Great Again” by restoring its hard clam population.

Hard clams play a vital role in the bay, helping maintain water quality by filtering debris and plankton out of the water as they feed. At the start of this effort the Bay’s clam population was so low that in much of the bay they were no longer reproducing successfully.  To help boost natural reproduction, the Conservancy-led partnership added over three million adult clams to the Bay in the last four years, creating a network of over 50 sites, or sanctuaries, where adult clams could grow and reproduce without disturbance.

Carl LoBue, senior marine scientist for The Nature Conservancy on Long Island said, “Our summer survey of the bay bottom revealed over 250 million juvenile clams which we believe to be offspring of the adult clams that we have been stocking in the Bay. That represents a 4,000 percent increase in the clam population of the central part of the bay since 2006. This is a very positive sign that we are on track towards meeting our restoration objectives. However recurring episodes of brown tide and natural predators are a continued threat. We must continue working with our partners to do what we can to ensure the continued success of this exciting restoration project.” 

Hard clams once were so abundant that Great South Bay supplied over 50 percent of the entire nation’s hard clams. Today the reported commercial harvest is down by more than 99 percent. Not only does the decline of shellfish have economic impacts, but water quality is also affected.  Chronic algal blooms (such as brown tide), which negatively impact marine life in the Great South Bay, have been linked to declining clam populations. Clams filter water and help keep the algae in control.

Inspired by its initial success, The Nature Conservancy will continue to work with partners on the Bluepoints Bottomlands Council on additional restoration activities, with the goal of eventually stepping back as nature takes over and the clams become self-sustaining.

Southampton Hospital: Recruits Genetic Counselor

Southampton Hospital is proud to announce the recruitment of the first Genetic Counselor to the East End of Long Island. Emily Smith, MS has joined Southampton Hospital this month to develop cancer counseling through genetic testing for ovarian and breast cancer (BRCA 1 & BRCA 2). She will serve as a resource for local physicians to explain the science of genetics, walk people through the decision of having a test and make recommendations on a case-by-case basis.

In the process of genetic counseling, family history and medical records are evaluated. At the patients request genetic tests are ordered and the results are assessed.  Counseling and psychological support are provided to enable the patient to reach a decision to learn more. 

Genetic counseling gives people an opportunity to sit down with a trained health professional to discuss their risk for a genetic disease and to help people learn more about the causes of genetic conditions and how they may be affected.

Previously, patients had to travel to Stony Brook Medical Center or Good Samaritan Hospital for genetic testing.

“I am anxious to provide this service to this great community, a service that many other parts of the country have had for more than 10 years,” said Smith.  She adds that the test results generally take approximately three-to-four weeks with a 99 percent level of accuracy.

“We plan to provide the state-of-the-art care that everyone deserves,” said Smith. 

Ms. Smith, a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, is a graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and has varied clinical experience in the Genetic Counseling field.  According to Frederic Weinbaum, MD, Chief Medical Officer, “Offering this new service to the community is indicative of Southampton Hospital’s direction.  We are striving to provide the most advanced medical care available and will continue in this direction with the communities support.”

Smith was hired to be working specifically within the Breast Health Center providing genetic counseling for ovarian and breast cancer but she hopes that the department will expand into other aspects of genetic counseling.  She also plans to hold an informational seminar on genetic counseling during the upcoming Health Insights lecture series this winter.

Additional information is available on the Hospital website at www.southamptonhospital.org or contact Emily Smith to schedule an appointment at 377-3477.





East End Digest – October 23

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Carvers’ Carnival

The Bridgehampton Lions Club will host its pumpkin carving contest on Monday, October 27 at 5 p.m., rain or shine, at the Bridgehampton Community House with a performance by Liz Joyce’s Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre expected. All carving should be done in advance and lighting for jack-o-lanterns must be provided by the carver. In addition to the traditional Classic Jack and Classic Jill categories, the carving contest will also award prizes to gourds carved in themes like Pulp Politico, Sea Screecher, Mother Groosesome and Freaky Tiki. For more information, visit bridgehamptonlions.org.

photo by john musnicki

New York State Assembly: Calling for Compliance

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. released a copy of a letter this week that he has sent to six petroleum companies informing them of New York’s new law on the prohibition of zone pricing on gasoline sales. The letter was sent to Exxon Mobil, Hess, Citgo, Sunoco, Gulf Oil and Shell Oil Company.

“I wanted to take the opportunity to inform these companies that New York has taken steps to protect its residents and motorists from artificially high gasoline prices,” said Thiele. “Although we are seeing a national downward trend in prices, I am hopeful they will comply and motorists, especially on the East End, will see prices that are more comparable with retailers located further west.”

In his letter, dated October 16, Thiele writes, “As a result, there has been a movement statewide to eliminate zone pricing. It has affected other areas of the state and is having the same result on New York’s motorists. While I can appreciate and respect your position in operating a private business, entrepreneurs cannot continue to monetarily penalize individuals who must rely on personal transportation on a daily basis.”

Southampton: Preserves Bullhead Bay

After a century and a half of continuous ownership, the Corwin Family’s 19th century estate on Bullhead Bay has passed into the protection of Southampton Town’s Community Preservation Program, according to Supervisor Linda Kabot.

Consisting of 21.7 acres of pristine property, the land is located at the southwest corner of West Neck Road and Millstone Brook Road and lies within the Little Sebonac Creek Target Area. The vicinity is so designated by the Town’s Community Preservation Project Plan, which identifies areas and properties for acquisition for park, recreation, open space, and conservation purposes. Known for its marshes, inter-tidal creeks, wetlands, and oak-heath woods, Little Sebonac Creek “plays a vital role in maintaining the health of the Peconic Bay,” said Kabot.

Because of its environmental significance and abundant acreage, the parcel has been on the town’s preservation “wish list” for some time, having undergone appraisals, public hearings, and an authorizing resolution approved in August. Earlier in the year, the land was part of a 28.8-acre parcel, but owner Tim Corwin of Southampton subdivided the latter and retained 7.1 acres with existing residences and accessory structures.

At the time of the public hearing over whether to authorize the land’s purchase, Corwin told the town board the family did not want to sell to developers, but found the increasing property tax burden too much to bear. With its sale to the town for $6,000,000, the property will remain perpetually protected.

East End Women: Obama: Take Two

On Sunday, October 26 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. women from all over the East End will meet at 1 Tradesman’s Path at Butter Lane in Bridgehampton in a show of support for Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy for President of the United States. Several women will be interviewed on Sunday at the event, titled “East End Women for Obama: Take II,” and during the next week videographer Phillipe Cheng will host one-to-one interviews during which the participants will tell their personal stories about how they think an Obama presidential administration will change their lives, and what this historic moment would mean to them.

This is the second event of its kind for East End women. Close to 500 women fathered on a moment’s notice for an earlier rally on September 21 at the Topping Farm in East Hampton to show support for the candidacy of Obama and vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, and to demonstrate that the nomination of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket did not automatically garner female support towards that ticket. For more information on the event, call Linda Shapiro at 329-5480.

Southampton Town: Recognizing Employees

Stepping out of the budget spotlight of the past few weeks, Southampton Town Board members turned their attention from tax rates, revenue projections, and surplus allocations to momentarily recognize two employees and the charitable efforts of a women’s health organization.

After a brief introduction from Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot, Justice Tom DeMayo took to the podium “in grateful acknowledgement” of court employees Ana Garcia and Mark Sidor. Justice DeMayo praised Garcia’s Spanish-translation ability as an “invaluable asset” to the court, while Sidor’s 25 years of experience as Chief Court Officer have made him a fixture there.

“As elected officials, we can have goals and lead by example, but it is our dedicated staff members that truly deserve the credit for helping us get there,” said Kabot. “These are the individuals that deal directly with the public and give residents their first, and sometimes only, impression of town government.”

The day’s events also included a visit from representatives of Southampton Hospital and Katie Diamond of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Earlier this year, the latter group held a “Super Saturday” fundraiser, and donated $35,000 of the proceeds to the hospital. Among those present to receive the check were Southampton Hospital CEO Bob Chaloner, as well as Community Relations Director and former Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor, Robert Ross.

A national non-profit group, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund’s mission is to fund research for early detection methods and ultimately a cure for ovarian cancer.

East Hampton: Retreat Event

In honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month The Retreat is holding a wine and cheese event at Paumanok Vineyards in Aqueboque, on Thursday, October 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Retreat is the only non-profit domestic violence agency serving the East End. The event is $50 per person and includes various award-winning Paumanok wines and an assortment of cheeses. 

To buy tickets for this event call 329-4398.

Statistics show that incidents of domestic abuse rise during times of financial stress and considering the toll the recent economy has taken on average American families, this is a difficult time for many. During the first week of October, which happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month, The Retreat’s residential shelter showed an occupancy rate of 100 percent. In 2007, the average shelter occupancy rate was 86 percent. Within the last month, The Retreat’s clients for non-residential services (legal advocacy, counseling, support groups and hotline calls) have dramatically increased. Unfortunately and ironically, while abuse increases in times of financial stress, the donations that the agency relies on to provide their services, often decline.

Southampton & East Hampton: Budget Hearings

The Southampton Town Board has scheduled two public hearings on the 2009 preliminary budget and the 2008-2017 Capital Program on Friday, October 24, at 1 p.m. and Tuesday, October 28, at 6 p.m. at Southampton Town Hall. The East Hampton Town Board has also scheduled its own budget hearing for its proposed 2009 spending plan. It will be held at East Hampton Town Hall on Tuesday, October 28 at 10:30 a.m.

The Southampton Town proposed budget is available on line at www.southamptontownny.gov and in the office of the town clerk. That town’s proposed budget is approximately $82.5 million and according to Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot’s office the preliminary tax rate is $1.32 per $1,000 assessed valuation, which is a five percent tax rate increase over 2008 and 2007.

In East Hampton, copies of the proposed budget are available for review at the town clerk’s office. That town has proposed a spending plan of $67 million for the 2009 fiscal year. The proposed budget represents an almost $8 million drop from the approved 2008 budget of $75 million, however, town residents are still looking at a tax increase of 18 percent, with those living in the village looking at a 28 percent tax increase.



East End Digest – October 16, 2008

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Spooky Spirits in Southampton

The Southampton Historical Museums and Research Center will host “Spooky Spirits in the Barn” for children nine years old and under from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 25 at Rogers Mansion, 17 Meeting House Lane in Southampton, a property owned by the Southampton Historical Museums and Research Center. The event will follow Southampton Village Rag-A-Muffin parade.

Southampton Town: Noyac Preservation

With appraisals in, authorizing resolutions adopted, and negotiations concluded, Southampton Town has become the owner of nine acres of land located on Old Sag Harbor Road in Noyac.

The property is comprised of two vacant parcels designated in the Eastern GEIS area of the Town’s Community Preservation Project Plan, which identifies target properties, and is bordered by substantial tracts of already preserved land.

“This was an opportunity for the Town to add to its park, recreation, and open space holdings,” said supervisor Linda Kabot. “It links contiguous woodland properties and is in close proximity to a trail system.”

The property was purchased from the Texas Beverly Company, a 12-year old investment corporation owned by Morgan Brown and Catherine Nelson Brown, who are the daughter and ex-wife of famed developer Harry Joe “Coco” Brown Jr. Born to a prominent Hollywood family, the Beverly Hills native made his first major real estate score in buying 188 acres atop Beverly Hills, and building 115 houses there. In the mid-1990s, locals learned the name when Brown acquired 56 acres for his “Houses at Sagaponac” development and enlisted 34 leading architects to design each home.

A public hearing was held before the town board on April 8 as part of the Community Preservation Project Plan to determine if the town should acquire the Noyac parcels with Community Preservation Funds. The board then decided it to be “the best alternative for the protection of community character.” In adopting an authorizing resolution later that day, the town board allocated $1.9 million for the purchase.

New York State Assembly: CPA Requirement For Comptrollers

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced on Friday, October 10 that he will introduce legislation requiring any town comptroller in a first or second class town with a population of 15,000 to be a certified public accountant pursuant to New York State Education Law.

“Our towns have annual budgets that are in the tens of millions of dollars,” said Thiele. “The Community Preservation Fund alone generated over $90 million on the East End last year. Town budgets receive the bulk of their revenue from the property tax. Our taxpayers deserve to know that a true professional is handling and investing their money. The town comptroller’s position should not be just another patronage job.”

“At a time when the entire nation is in a financial crisis, every town is forced to make difficult decisions about their finances,” he continued. “Now, more than ever, we should ensure the town comptroller has the financial expertise needed to keep town finances operating smoothly.”

All towns on Long Island would be required to meet the requirements of the proposed law, with the exception of Shelter Island, according to Thiele. The bill will be formally introduced for the 2009 legislative session in January.

John Jermain Memorial Library: Architects Forum

The public workshop with architects Herbert S. Newman and Partners – the Connecticut-based firm selected by Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library to design the next phase of the library – will be held on Saturday October 25 from 9 a.m. to noon, in the Pierson High School cafeteria. This event will provide a forum for the community to participate in focused small-group discussions about library services, collections and programming, according to library director Cathy Creedon.

The information generated at the workshop will be used for future discussions about space, program division and location. 

“I am excited about this event, and can think of no better way to celebrate the building’s 98th birthday and no better way to guarantee the library’s centennial is all it can be,” said Creedon. The library building’s birthday was on Friday, October 10.

Southampton Hospital: Free Flu Clinic

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year.

Southampton Hospital will be holding a free flu clinic for adults only on Wednesday, October 29 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The clinic will be held in Parrish Memorial Hall, which is located on the northeast corner of Lewis Street and Herrick Road in Southampton. For more information please call 726-8700.

East Hampton: Group for Wildlife

Responding to the East Hampton Town Board’s decision to expand hunting in seven town areas, the attorney for the East Hampton Group for Wildlife has sent the town a notice of dangerous condition. The notice says the expansion of hunting “may cause serious injuries to the general public” and includes risks such as the possible shooting of pets and deer/vehicle collisions resulting from “frightened animals running into the roadway.” The notice puts the town on warning, and it could be used in court in the event that a citizen suffers harm from the expansion of hunting and files a claim against the town.

The hunting decision was made at a town board meeting on August 5. The notice was mailed to the town on September 30.

“The decision to expand waterfowl hunting to a place such as Gerard Drive in Springs, with its numerous homes, creates unnecessary risks,” said William Crain, president of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife.

The notice adds that recent expansion of hunting areas “exacerbates risks created by the expansion of hunting to Jacob’s Farm and other areas in 2004,” as well as the town’s permission to hunt on lands that border residential areas or include hiking trails.

For more information, residents can call Crain at 668-3384 or e-mail billcrain@aol.com.

Bay Street Theatre: Election Night Coverage

Tired of watching the political debates at home by yourself? Wish you could share the ups and downs of the evening with your neighbors and friends but don’t have a big enough screen? Come to Bay Street. On Wednesday, October 15, as the presidential candidates gathered at Hofstra for the final debate, Bay Street hosted the community as the event as it unfolded on a feature-film size screen.

And, whether you are Republican, Democrat, Independent or undecided, cast your vote on November 4 and then join your friends again for Election night fun.

“These political evenings afford Bay Street the opportunity to be a gathering place for our community”, said general manager Tracy Mitchell.


East End Digest: August 21

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Posthumous MVP Award

Brenda Siemer Scheider displays commemorative t-shirt and pendant presented to her by jewelry designer and publicist John Wegorzewski just prior to the start of the 60th Annual Artists & Writers softball game. The pendent is a 14-karat hold baseball mitt with rotating ball, designed by Wegorzewski in honor of Siemer Scheider’s late husband, Roy Scheider. Roy’s illness had prevented an earlier presentation of the honor so Brenda requested it be given on the pitcher’s mound where Roy tossed out the first ball last year. The game was played in his honor with the teams wearing commemorative t-shirts bearing his name. 

Assemblyman Thiele: East Hampton Funding

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced this week that the town and village of East Hampton will receive over $31,000 in grants funded through the Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund to help them manage records and archival information.

“I am very happy to see funds distributed to educational programs,” said Thiele. “It is necessary to make sure that historical records are archived and made accessible to the public. Being educated about our past is very important, whether it be our local or national history.”

According to the New York State Archives Web site, grants and awards are offered to “support, promote and recognize sound archival and records management practices, as well as to encourage creative and valuable uses of archival records.”

“I am positive that East Hampton will put these funds to great use.  I applaud them for going through the application process and receiving the grant,” said Thiele.

Specifically, the Town of East Hampton will receive $20,000 and the Village of East Hampton will receive $11,400.

Ellen’s Run: 1,001 Participants

Ellen’s Run, the East Hampton race to benefit breast cancer patient services, attracted more than 1000 participants to this past Sunday’s 13th annual 5K race. The event raised a record $180,000 from race registration, sponsors of the run and donations related to the race. Proceeds benefit breast cancer patient services on the East End.

Luis German of Southampton won the race in 16:34 and Jessica Van Binsbergen of East Hampton was the first female finisher in 18:55. The first breast cancer survivor across the line was Karen McGlade of Amagansett at 21:27. Twenty-four breast cancer survivors finished the run.

The ages of runners and walkers in the event ranged from six to 83. The 3.1-mile course started and ended at the East Hampton High School on Long Lane.

Ellen’s Run Director Julie Ratner said the perfect weather and the first Ellen’s Run Health and Wellness Fair all added to the celebratory atmosphere of the event.

“It’s about memory and love as well as the racing and walking, she said.

Suffolk County: ADA-Compliant Buses

Seeking to make mass transit friendlier and more accessible to all passengers, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy announced last week that all Suffolk Transit fleet buses will be equipped with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant automated bus stop annunciators.

By the end of the year passengers riding any of Suffolk Transit’s 162 buses will be informed of what stop they are approaching, as well as the bus’s final destination, via a pre-recorded announcement. An electronic sign will also be positioned inside at the front of the bus as visual notification of the next stop on the bus’s route.

Levy secured 90 percent aid for this project from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Suffolk will be responcible for covering the remaining 10 percent of the $430,000 total cost associated with providing the automated annunciators in 55 Suffolk buses which have yet to be outfitted with the devices; the other 107 buses have already been retrofitted with the technology over the past year.

“Suffolk’s bus system has always been ADA-compliant, following all federal mandates to announce upcoming bus stops,” said Levy. “However, in the past, our bus drivers would be the ones to announce an approaching destination. Having an automated system is a more efficient system, as the automated announcer speaks loud and clearly enough for everyone to understand.”

Levy’s annunciator initiative comes just weeks after launching a progressive mass transit program to outfit all county buses with bicycle racks for those bus patrons who wish to ride their bikes to and from transit hubs.

“Tough economic times and the advent of $4 per gallon gasoline have led to an increased reliance on mass transportation,” said Levy. “That is why we must make our Suffolk bus system as accessible as possible for all people.”

Southampton Rotary Club: North Pole Journey

Southampton Rotary Club President Kevin Luss announced last week that the club has extended an invitation to the community to attend their September 4 meeting to hear the dramatic and inspirational account of 76-year-old Barbara Hillary’s quest to reach the North Pole.

In 2007, Hillary, a retired nurse, community activist and lung cancer survivor became the first African American women on record and one of the oldest people to reach the North Pole – the literal top of the world. The New York native is training and raising funds for another trip, now to the South Pole, in December. She will be the first African American woman to reach both poles, and one of the oldest as well.

The event will take place at 12:15 p.m. at the Southampton Village Levitas Cultural Center at 25 Pond Lane.

Congressman Bishop: “River Keeper”

Last week, Congressman Tim Bishop was recognized by Save the Forge River as its 2008 “River Keeper,” the organization’s highest award, for his extensive work to help clean up the Forge River in Mastic Beach.

??”The Forge’s health has been wrecked by too many chemicals and other forms of pollution and decisive action is needed,” said Bishop. “Save the Forge River has been an outstanding partner in this vital effort and I am grateful for this honor from them. The Forge has been crying out for help, and because of the community’s efforts, all the way to the United States Capitol, people are listening.”

??“Congressman Bishop has been one of the best friends to the Forge River,” said Ron Lupski, President of Save the Forge River. “Not only did he help lead the way to get the federal government involved in protecting the Forge River, he even got personally involved by participating in our cleanup. We will bring the Forge River back to health and one of the main reasons why is Congressman Tim Bishop.”??

Bishop, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, successfully passed legislation to authorize a critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Reconnaissance Study of the severely polluted Forge River. Launched last year, the $100,000 study will assess environmental problems and determine if there is a federal interest in conducting an environmental restoration project, as well as what local resources are available to partner with federal agencies. In addition to his work in Congress to protect the Forge, Bishop personally took part in a cleanup of the watershed earlier this year, which was organized by Save the Forge River. ??Last week Congressman Bishop chaired a meeting with representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers, representatives of Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Brookhaven Supervisor Brian Foley, Legislator Kate Browning and other Suffolk County officials, and Save the Forge River to ensure that all parties are coordinating their efforts. One of the goals of the meeting was to see what could be done to expedite the process and bring help to the river sooner. Bishop is working to make sure the Army Corps has data which has been compiled by local researchers at Stony Brook University and the Suffolk County Department of Health, which can help with their study.?? Polluted by increasing runoff over several decades, the Forge River has become nearly uninhabitable to wildlife. In response, environmental advocates – led by Save the Forge River and the Peconic Baykeeper – have mobilized to protect the Forge.