Tag Archive | "North Haven"

Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Will Get Some Paid Help

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By Stephen J. Kotz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verizon Work at Ferry Slips

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 Loading and unloading the South Ferry’s North Haven slips won’t be quite as smooth for the next month because Verizon will use portions of the eastbound lane of Route 114 as a staging area for crews working on a cable project. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz. 

Starting today, Thursday, March 26, and continuing through the end of April, travelers to and from Shelter Island will see construction vehicles blocking regular access on the eastern lane of Route 114 near the South Ferry’s North Haven slips.

The vehicles will be part of Verizon’s efforts to relocate an existing communications cable in anticipation of Suffolk County’s planned dredging of the area immediately around the slips next winter.

In a press release, the South Ferry said it did not anticipate that Verizon’s presence would affect ferry service in any way, but the presence of the vehicles will require lane closures for a period of time that will affect usual boarding and disembarking of the vessels at North Haven.

The company has asked that as commuters crest the hill approaching the ferry or disembark the ferry, they watch closely for directions from the state Department of Transportation flag people and ferry staff. It also recommends that travelers allow an extra few minutes to ensure their  timely arrival at appointments while this job is in progress.

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

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

By Mara Certic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And on the other side of the aisle…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Haven Prepares for 4-Posters

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By Mara Certic

 As soon as the snow melts, several 4-poster stations will be installed around North Haven in an effort to tackle the tick problem, Mayor Jeff Sander announced this week.

The village has received a grant from the state to help cover the costs of the 4-poster systems, which are deer feeding stations that apply the insecticide permethrin to the head and shoulders of deer as they feed, killing the ticks that feed on them.

One limitation of the state grant, however, is that all of the money must be spent by the end of March, which means that village officials are now in a rush to pay for all of the necessary permits and equipment in the next four weeks.

“We’ll have paid a good portion of the expense,” Mayor Sander said at the board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 3, adding that the village board would have to account for summertime upkeep of the 4-poster systems in its  upcoming budget.

Although the village had previously discussed purchasing the feeding units from Shelter Island, which has used the insecticide-imbued feeders for several years, the village has since decided to buy its own units new.

The village board is also still considering building a shed to store both corn and the feeding units, and has a yearlong contract in place with its corn supplier.

The 10 units will be placed mostly on village property, Mr. Sander said, adding that a few will go on private land and a couple will be placed in North Haven Manor.

In other action, the village board approved a resolution to allow the i-tri youth triathlon to take place in the village this summer.

The race, which was formerly at Maidstone Park in Springs, is the culmination of a year of i-tri training, which empowers at-risk girls by training them for triathlons. The swimming and running portion of the event will take place along Long Beach, and the cycling will take place in bike lanes along Route 114 through North Haven, toward the Shelter Island ferry and back.

Theresa Roden, founder of i-tri, told the board on Tuesday that she had come up with the route with the help of Southampton Town Police Sergeant Susan Ralph, and that volunteer police officers and parents would be on hand to help direct both pedestrian, car and race traffic during the youth triathlon.

“Through this program, there will be another 100 safe bike riders on the road,” Ms. Roden said as she thanked the board for approving the race route.

This month also marks the beginning of budget season in North Haven Village as the board scheduled budget work sessions for Tuesday, March 17, Wednesday, March 25, and Tuesday, March 31. Although members of the village board are not planning on piercing the state-mandated 2-percent tax-cap, the board said it would hold a public hearing allowing them to do just that on Tuesday.

“Between now and April 7 there’s a lot of hard work to do on the budget,” said North Haven Village Clerk Georgia Welch.  The 2015-16 budget will be subject to public hearing on Tuesday, April 7.

 

Man Airlifted from Havens Beach

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A man was airlifted from Havens Beach in Sag Harbor after being injured in a fall at a construction site in North Haven. Photography by Gavin Menu. 

A man working construction in North Haven was medevaced to Stony Brook University Hospital on Friday morning after being injured in a fall.

At approximately 9 a.m. Friday morning a man working on a house at 19 South Harbor Drive “took a long fall and fell into a hole,” according to Sag Harbor Fire Chief Jim Frazier. He fell from over 10 feet, the chief said.

Rescue workers managed to carry the man out of the hole, the botton of which Chief Frazier said was frozen and hard.

“He was conscious but in a lot of pain,” Chief Frazier said, adding that he was not sure the extent of his injuries.

He was then transported to Havens Beach, where they were met with a helicopter which took off toward Stony Brook a little after 10 a.m.

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North Haven Village Board Amends Dock Law, Provides Updates on Other Programs

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By Mara Certic

The North Haven Village Board on Tuesday, December 2, unanimously added a number of minor amendments to the dock law it adopted last year.

Mayor Jeff Sander explained that amendments were intended to remedy unforeseen “glitches” in the law as written. The law now allows the board of trustees to consider lowering dock heights to 3 feet, rather than 4, above the high water elevation.

The modification of the law allowed the North Haven Village Board to approve a ramp included in a dock application filed by Bay Partners, Inc. and Larry and Maria Baum. Mr. Sander and Trustee Dianne Skilbred said they looked at nearby docks and walked along the beach at the applicants’ behest and observed that lowering the dock “really won’t affect anything.”

The village recently received a grant from the Archive Unit of the New York State Department of Education to digitally scan its files, which Village Clerk Georgia Welch described as an “arduous project.” Ms. Welch explained that hiring a consulting firm will allow the village to ensure it complies with all of the conditions of the grant. The village could receive as much as $41,811 for the work.

For example, Ms. Welch said there is a condition which stipulates grant-receivers must use “companies for the disabled, or woman-owned businesses,” in their digitizing process.

“My preferred contractor I can’t go with because they don’t meet the disability or women rule and so now I’m forced to go with another company—which I think will be fine,” she said.

Ms. Welch said she has an interview with a company that does meet the criteria scheduled for later this week.

Mr. Sander offered an update on the historic Point House, which he said is on its way to soon being placed onto a foundation closer to the road and having “a permanent home.”

“I’ll be glad to see it getting restored and get a foundation,” he added.

In other action, one could almost hear the children of North Haven rejoice on Tuesday evening when Ms. Skilbred gave a progress report on playground renovations.

Ms. Skilbred and a committee of two women have looked at roughly a dozen playground equipment suppliers and will present their short list of three, along with price quotes, to the village board at its January meeting, she said.

Mr. Sander explained on Tuesday evening that the 20-year-old playground is in need of some upgrades. According to Ms. Skilbred, the range of available flooring for outdoor playgrounds has increased in recent years and that there are many softer, safer materials now on the market.

Trustee Jim Laspesa, who is an architect, has offered to help Ms. Skilbred come up with a landscaping plan for the new play area, she said. Mr. Laspesa asked his fellow board members to also consider replacing the backboard of the North Haven basketball hoop. “It’s in pretty sorry shape,” he said.

 

County Officials Say Guardrail’s Here to Stay

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Engineers from the DPW informed residents on Tuesday evening the new guardrail along Short Beach Road won’t be removed any time soon. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

Tension and frustration soared during a meeting on Tuesday night, when critics of a newly installed guardrail along Short Beach Road were told the galvanized steel structures wouldn’t be removed any time soon.

There was quite the outcry from Bay Point, Noyac, North Haven and Sag Harbor Village residents one morning in June when they awoke to find the Suffolk County Department of Public Works installing guardrails along the previously open road that runs between Long Beach and Sag Harbor Cove.

After a change.org petition started by local artist and North Haven resident April Gornik reached over 600 signatures, a public meeting was set up for residents to air their concerns about the guardrail—which they criticized both for being dangerous and unattractive—with members of the DPW and County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

The meeting, which took place at the North Haven Village Hall on Tuesday evening attracted a large crowd. Ten minutes before it was slated to begin, the parking lot was full and several residents had to stand in the back of the room throughout the 90-minute meeting.

Bill Hillman and Bill Colavito, both of the DPW, answered questions from the public and attempted to explain why the guardrails were installed.

Mr. Hillman, chief engineer for DPW, said he received a letter from a member of the Noyac Citizens Advisory Committee, alerting the county to a safety issue along Short Beach Road—the lack of guardrails.

“There’s criteria that needs to be met to install guiderail,” Mr. Hillman said. “We don’t install guiderail lightly.” He added it’s his job to removed fixed objects from highways. “In most times we’re denying requests for guiderail,” he added.

Mr. Colavito, the DPW’s director of highway design, explained some of the guardrail guidelines.

“It was really a no-brainer of a situation,” he said. Mr. Colavito explained the county inputs information into a chart—the speed limit is, any hazardous slopes, the average number of cars that use the road, any potential danger and enough of a “clear zone” to allow a driver to recuperate if they need to swerve for any reason.

Guardrail skeptics said Short Beach Road has heavy pedestrian traffic and accused the DPW of not considering the issue of pedestrian and cyclist safety. Many said they believe the new guardrails could be much more dangerous to those traveling by foot or on two wheels, who now would have nowhere to turn if a vehicle swerved off the road.

“About 8,000 vehicles use that roadway every day, clearly there are not 8,000 pedestrians or cyclists using it every day,” Mr. Hillman said. “We have 8,000 opportunities for [cars] to veer into the water. What’s the likelihood of that compared to having a cyclist or pedestrian being at that same spot at that exact time?” he said.

David Beard, president of the Bay Point Property Owners Association expressed particular concern about one stretch of the road. When drivers traveling west try to turn left onto Bay Point, he explained, the cars behind zip quickly around them, potentially forcing walkers or joggers into the guardrail. Mr. Beard asked what could be done to alleviate the traffic situation before next summer.

“There’s no silver bullet, there’s no one thing we can do,” said Mr. Hillman. “We’re just not going to remove the guiderail. You guys are entitled to your opinion, but I’m the one who makes this decision.”

Mr. Hillman and Mr. Schneiderman explained the county is hesitant to remove the guardrails because of liability. Mr. Hillman added that the county would probably be willing to sell or give the road to the Town of Southampton, which could then choose to do with the road what it wishes.

Mr. Schneiderman said he would be in touch with Supervisor Throne-Holst and added it might not be out of the realm of possibility, considering Noyac Road was county-owned until Southampton Town took over responsibility for it a few years ago.  But he added “the town might not want it.”

Conversation then turned to a complete redesign of the road, in an effort to make it as safe and pleasant as possible for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike.

North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander, Deputy Mayor Dianne Skilbred and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. brought up past traffic calming studies and suggested a similar study might be the answer for this particular stretch of road.

“Sometimes these things provide an opportunity to do something greater,” Mr. Thiele said, “in my opinion we should be looking at traffic calming for the entire quarter.”

Mr. Thiele said he and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle would look into funding for a large traffic calming study and redesign. “I hope this moves forward and we can come up with something we could all be proud of at the end of the day,” he said.

Mr. Hillman said he would see if any funds were available in the DPW’s capital program in order to conduct an initial study right away. Still, he said, this process would be very costly and would likely take three to four years.

“We’re willing to take a look at everything,” Mr. Hillman said. “There’s a legitimate safety concern.”

 

 

East End Towns and Villages Pursue Regional Ban on Bags

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After much discussion and gentle encouragement from local sustainability committees, the mayors and supervisors of several East End municipalities announced today they would pursue a coordinated effort to implement a regional ban on single-use plastic bags by Earth Day, April 22, 2015.

Elected officials from Southampton, East Hampton, Riverhead, Sag Harbor, Sagaponack, North Haven, West Hampton Dunes and Quogue agreed to either hold work sessions on the subject or to introduce the legislation within the month, in order to seek out public comment.

“Environmental protection is always a priority for the Village of Sag Harbor, and the proposed ban would be yet another measure to help ensure our beaches, woods and waterways are protected from one of the most common and detrimental forms of litter.  If we can implement the initiative on a larger, regional scale, it will only be more beneficial,” said Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride.

“Worldwide, the accumulation of plastic pollutes miles upon miles of shoreline and extends to all depths of the sea, harming our environment and ourselves, as well as marine and other wildlife.  Without this regional effort among local towns and villages, the plastic bags targeted by this initiative would only continue the detrimental build-up of litter across the East End and beyond,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.

North Haven Village Mayor Jeff Sanders added, “The Village of North Haven lends its full support to the plastic bag ban effort and urges other municipalities to do the same.”

Guardrails To Be Discussed

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When the Suffolk County Department of Public Works installed new guardrails along a stretch of Long Beach Road between North Haven and Noyac, there was a groundswell of criticism from residents who said the new rails both spoiled the view and could pose a safety hazard for bicyclists and pedestrians.

A petition seeking their removal has gained 572 signatures, and Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman has agreed to meet  with foes of the project as well as North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander and county highway officials to discuss the issue.

The meeting, open to the public, will take place at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 21, at North Haven Village Hall on Ferry Road.

Wanted: Portrait of a Lady

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John Limpert is searching for this portrait of his mother, which was last seen on Thistle Patch Lane in North Haven in the 1990s.

By Mara Certic

For the most part, ads in local newspapers offer business services, sales or other specials. But at the end of August, an ad appeared in the pages of The Sag Harbor Express that was looking for something a little more obscure.

The ad, placed by John Limpert,  was searching for a missing portrait of a lady, a portrait Mr. Limpert said he always loved. It was a painting of his mother, done by an artist whose name is long forgotten. According to Mr. Limpert, the portrait was painted toward the end of World War II, by a woman who lived next door to his family.

“We lived in Prospect Park South in Brooklyn, [the artist] wanted to do a portrait of my mother,” he said. After finishing the painting, “she brought it over and hung it in our living room and turned to me and said ‘What do you think, Jack?’” Mr. Limpert recalled.

“I said, ‘Well, that’s Mother,’” Mr. Limpert said. And he loved the picture from that moment on.

But when his father returned home from work that evening, he hated the portrait.

“My mother suffered from manic depression,” Mr. Limpert explained. “She had some severe episodes, some of them required hospitalization. But when she was up, she was fabulous,” he said. “We always urged her to have parties, because she was at her best when she was entertaining,” Mr. Limpert added.

The portrait shows a despondent woman, looking off into what seems to be nothingness. It was a part of her that her husband rarely saw; according to Mr. Limpert, his mother always made an effort to be her bubbly, vibrant self when her husband came home from work.

“The portrait is very wistful, that’s the expression she wore all day. He didn’t see the other side,” Mr. Limpert said. “But I loved it right from the beginning,” he added.

Much to his father’s dismay, the painting remained in the living room until his mother’s death in 1984. Mr. Limpert said he “dimly remembers” that his sister, Elaine Limpert Horak, brought the portrait to the funeral service.

After the funeral, the painting ended up going back with Ms. Limpert Horak to her home on North Haven’s Thistle Patch Lane. No one remembers the exact address of the house, merely that it had a fenced-in swimming pool and “it was only two or maybe three houses in on Thistle Patch Lane,” Mr. Limpert wrote in an e-mail.

Ms. Limpert Horak had worked at Time magazine as a researcher and was, according to her brother, the first American woman accepted to study and work in the Comédie Française when she lived in Paris.

“She was interested in theater,” Mr. Limpert said of his sister. She founded the Professional Theater Wing in New York City, and even “put on something at Lincoln Center,” her brother said. She was also a very accomplished pianist, he said.

“She had more brains than her three brothers combined,” Mr. Limpert added.

Ms. Limpert Horak lost her battle with leukemia in 1995 and with her death, the painting disappeared. Mr. Limpert said he didn’t know when the portrait of his mother was lost, but speculated “it probably disappeared at some point in the early 1990s.”

“I also dimly remember that at one point she said to me, ‘I have a friend who’s crazy about this portrait.’ She may have sold this portrait. I’m sure she felt the portrait is as much hers as anyone’s,” Mr. Limpert said.

For years, the Limpert family accepted they would never see the portrait of their matriarch again. “About two years ago my sister’s son called me up and said you’re not going to believe what I’m going to tell you,” Mr. Limpert recounted.

His nephew, Philip A. Amara, had found a Polaroid photograph taken of the portrait years before, when they had been conducting a full inventory of the house. “Only today’s computer technology enabled us to have a decent facsimile,” Mr. Limpert said, adding he was able to get the Polaroid enlarged.

And once he had made decent copies, he decided to put in an ad looking for the portrait of a missing lady. He knows it’s a very outside chance; Mr. Limpert remembers very little from his sister’s life here, other than the road she lived on and her house’s fence and pool. He doesn’t remember what she did here, how she spent her time, or whom she might have given that painting to, but Mr. Limpert’s trying nonetheless.

“Finding the portrait was always a long shot,” he said. “but it has been gratifying to make the effort.”