Tag Archive | "North Haven"

Sag Harbor Likely to Move Forward with Traffic Calming This Spring

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An aerial map of Sag Harbor Village highlights key intersections being explored for improvement under a traffic calming initiative spearheaded by Serve Sag Harbor.

An aerial map of Sag Harbor Village highlights key intersections being explored for improvement under a traffic calming initiative spearheaded by Serve Sag Harbor.

By Kathryn G. Menu; images courtesy of Serve Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor officials appear ready to move forward with a pilot program to calm traffic at key intersections throughout the village.

The pilot program could be launched as soon as June of this year, said Mayor Brian Gilbride, following a presentation Tuesday night by the non-profit Serve Sag Harbor. The group wants to focus on passive ways the village can reduce the speed of vehicles and make its streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Serve Sag Harbor, and its sister non-profit Save Sag Harbor, have been working with Michael King of Nelson/Nygaard and Jonas Hagen, a Sag Harbor resident in the doctoral program in urban planning at Columbia University, on traffic calming solutions for the village since last October. With the village board’s approval, the organizations created an ad-hoc committee including Trustee Robby Stein to discuss the issue, with Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano and Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley tapped by the group for their input.

“This really all comes out of the idea of safety,” said John Shaka of Save Sag Harbor at Tuesday’s village board meeting. Mr. Shaka went on to describe several traffic related fatalities and a handful of non-fatal accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists in East Hampton and Southampton towns since 2012.

“I am here to tell you, I was shaken up by this—we were shaken up by this,” said Mr. Shaka.

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Mr. King noted vehicle speed literally is the difference between the severity of a traffic accident involving pedestrians or cyclists.

“If I get hit by someone driving 20 mph, the chances of me surviving is really, really good,” he said. “If I get hit by a car going 40, my chances of dying are really, really good.”

The organizations have tasked Mr. King and Mr. Hagen with planning for traffic calming solutions at a total of 19 intersections throughout the village. The pilot phase would involve the repainting of roadways, extending sidewalks, and strategically placing planters and garden beds. On Tuesday, Mr. King showed the board a handful of examples.

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The village board looked at options at Main and Union streets in front of the John Jermain Memorial Library and the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, as well as improvements at the intersections of Main and Glover streets, Main and John streets, Jermain Avenue and Madison Street, Jermain Avenue and Suffolk Street and Jermain and Oakland avenues.

Some intersections, noted Mr. King, involve large scale plans, while others are more simple. He suggested the trustees consider tackling two small intersections, and two complex intersections, in the first phase of the program in order to track the effectiveness of the traffic-calming solutions.

At Main and Union streets in front of the library, Mr. King has proposed the village bump out the sidewalk on all four sides of the intersection to increase public space, which could be lined with planters. Mr. King’s proposal also calls for four crosswalks to be painted—two on Main Street, one on Garden Street and one on Union Street—as a part of the plan and that Main Street be painted a different color at this intersection to create a plaza-like feel that will slow vehicles down.

Proposed traffic calming improvements at the intersection of Suffolk Street and Jermain Avenue.

Proposed traffic calming improvements at the intersection of Suffolk Street and Jermain Avenue.

At most of the remaining intersections, repainted crosswalks, small sidewalk bump-outs lined with planters, and small plazas in the middle of roads just before intersections entail most of the traffic calming improvements. The intersection of Jermain Avenue and Suffolk Street represents a more complex proposal, including a large interior plaza breaking up the roadway, and four crosswalks to ease pedestrian travel. In front of Pierson Middle-High School sidewalk extensions are also proposed as is the creation of a plaza-like road on Jermain Avenue to slow traffic.

“What I recommend always is pilot programs,” said Mr. King. “If you like it, you can get some more money and make it better. If you don’t like it, you can take it out.”

Serve Sag Harbor board member Susan Mead said the organization would like to work hand-in-hand with the village to select four intersections to focus on as a part of the pilot program.

“Let’s pick two or four intersections, get some costs and then let the public see how they work,” said Mayor Gilbride.

“I think we will all work together to at least get some pilot projects started,” he added, saying that to measure the success of the improvements they should be completed prior to the busy summer season.

“The chief and Dee [Yardley] have to be involved in this 100 percent,” said Mayor Gilbride. “We have a couple months.”

Sag Harbor Fire Department First Assistant Chief James Frazier said it appears some of the intersection improvements block access to fire hydrants. Mayor Gilbride suggested the department attend the next traffic calming meeting to discuss that that issue.

In other village news, the board held a public hearing and adopted a new law establishing a board of ethics to implement the code of ethics written into the village code in 2009. According to village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr., while the village complied with state law by writing the code of ethics, it never established the ethics board, which will consist of three members to be appointed by the village board of trustees.

Trustee Robby Stein suggested the board look into installing attendant parking at the former National Grid gas ball site, located on Bridge Street and Long Island Avenue. The village current leases that property from the utility and uses it for parking. Mr. Stein said with attendant parking, the village could potentially see an additional 60 parking spaces in that lot.

“Where I am is there are companies that do this professionally and we know we have a parking problem in the village,” he said, suggesting the board invite some private firms to present the board with options.

 

Thiele Introduces Legislation to Regulate Running Bamboo

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has introduced legislation in the New York State Assembly that, if passed, would regulate “running bamboo.” The legislation is modeled after legislation enacted in Connecticut that took effect last October.

“Running bamboo,” and its complex root system, is an extremely fast growing plant which can spread horizontally beyond property lines and cause significant physical, biologic, and ecologic damage to abutting properties.

The legislation would require that anyone who plants running bamboo on his or her property would be required to keep it within his property lines, effective October 1. Any person who is found to be in violation would be liable for any damages caused to neighboring property by the bamboo.

The legislation will also limit where people can plant running bamboo within 100 feet of any abutting property or public right of way unless the planting is confined by a barrier system or above-ground container and does not come into contact with surrounding soil.

Violators of the law would be subject to penalties under the State Environmental Conservation Law.

The legislation also requires retail sellers or installers of running bamboo to provide customers who purchase the plant with a statement that discloses that running bamboo is a fast-growing plant that may spread if not properly contained and a plain language summary of the law.

The legislation would supersede all local legislation relating to “running bamboo.”

 

 

North Haven Adopts Budget with Little Fanfare

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Low budgets apparently equal low turnouts. Such was the case Tuesday in North Haven, where the village board received no comments when it held a hearing on a proposed $1.31 million budget that cuts spending by 4 percent.

Despite the reduction in spending, taxes will rise by 7 percent simply because the village, which has been dipping into its fund balance in recent years to hold taxes in check, has decided to put the brakes on that practice this year.

Last year, the village used nearly $370,000 from that balance to offset taxes. This year, it will use only $178,486.

“Over the years we have been using more and more fund balance due to lack of other revenues,” said Mayor Jeff Sander, who added that the board had decided to reduce the amount of reserve funds it was using by half. “The only other way to make up the difference is through taxes,” he said.

At a recent budget work session, Mr. Sander said the village, which is projecting a $690,000 fund balance at the end of the fiscal year, wants to maintain a fund balance of at least $500,000.

Even with the tax hike, the owner of a house valued at $1 million will pay about $56 in village taxes next year.

Mayor Sander said progress, while slow, is being made on the plan to place 4-Poster devices at various sites around the village in an effort to reduce tick-borne diseases. Four-Posters are feeding stations that require the deer to brush up against rollers that spread insecticide on their fur, killing ticks.

Installing the devices has been one part of the village’s strategy, along with the hiring of professional hunters, to cope with what officials say is a deer herd that is too large.

Mayor Sander said he has been inquiring of homeowner associations to see if any were willing to have 4-Posters in their developments and help underwrite the cost of the stations. While some have expressed a willingness to help out, the village is still awaiting a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Chris Miller, a landscaper who has been helping the mayor negotiate the permit process, said he expected it to take about two months for the DEC to issue a permit. He said the village would be better off for the full number of stations in its initial permit application, even if it did not install them all at once.

One station should be enough to service an area of 40 to 60 acres, Mr. Miller said. The DEC also restricts the stations from being within 100 yards of a house or area where there are children, although if the stations are fenced in, the DEC might allow exceptions, he said.

Mayor Sander said the village might try to rent 4-Poster stations from Shelter Island, which has used them in the past. He said the village has no place to store them if it did buy its own stations.

The board held off on accepting a bid to replant the entire Route 114 traffic circle, which Summerhill Landscaping had offered to do for $5,565. The landscaping around the circle was damaged last winter when it was run over by a vehicle during a storm. Board members agreed they wanted the damage repaired but balked at the suggestion that all the plants needed to be replaced and agreed to first review the matter before approving the expenditure.

The board also agreed to hold a public hearing on May 6 to add persicaria perfoliata, also known as mile-a-minute weed, to a list of noxious plants that homeowners can eradicate without special permits.

That elicited a comment from a member of the sparse audience, who asked if the board had ever considered banning bamboo. Although the answer was no, board members discussed the problems rapidly spreading bamboo can cause to neighboring lawns and gardens.

 

Serve Sag Harbor to Present Traffic Study to Village Board Tuesday

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Proposed plans for traffic calming at the intersection of Main Street and Union Street in front of the John Jermain Memorial Library. According to Serve Sag Harbor member Eric Cohen, the plans are subject to change and represent ideas to make the intersection safer and more pedestrian friendly.

Proposed plans for traffic calming at the intersection of Main Street and Union Street in front of the John Jermain Memorial Library. According to Serve Sag Harbor member Eric Cohen, the plans are subject to change and represent ideas to make the intersection safer and more pedestrian friendly.

By Kathryn G. Menu; image courtesy of Serve Sag Harbor

Serve Sag Harbor board member Eric Cohen drives down Jermain Avenue daily on his way to work as the technology and media coordinator at the John Jermain Memorial Library.

“It’s a nightmare,” said Mr. Cohen of the intersection of Jermain Avenue and Madison Street. The intersection is just one of several the non-profit has asked Michael King of Nelson/Nygaard and Jonas Hagen, a Sag Harbor resident in the doctoral program in urban planning at Columbia University, to look at in the development of a pilot program to create traffic improvements throughout the village.

“We have a problem and that is clear, especially on Jermain Avenue where people cut through on their way to East Hampton,” said Mr. Cohen.

Mr. King, who has been educated in architecture and urban design and has worked in transportation for 20 years, will present a preliminary report to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees Tuesday, April 8, at 6 p.m.

In addition to presenting plans highlighting traffic improvements at key intersections throughout Sag Harbor, Serve Sag Harbor will also revive long-dormant plans once favored by trustees for a bike lane around the village, according to Save Sag Harbor board member John Shaka.

In an interview on Monday, Serve Sag Harbor board member Susan Mead noted that much of what Mr. King will present on Tuesday night involves improvements to intersections that can be made with the use of paint, occasionally planters, and little else, making them not only temporary and easily removable but cost-effective for a pilot program aimed at studying the effectiveness of these improvements.

“This set of plans is meant to acquaint people with the possibilities of what can be done at key intersections to facilitate traffic calming,” said Mr. Cohen. “There are a lot of options, and while some are very particular to a specific intersection—we take a look at Suffolk Street and Jermain Avenue, which is a really horrible intersection and the solution proposed there is very specific to that spot—others offer more generic solutions. “

Mr. Cohen added that the plans are not meant to be set in stone, but open for discussion and revision by the village board, if deemed necessary.

When reached by email overseas on Tuesday, Mr. King said rather than looking at a strategy, he sought to identify the issues in order to come up with a solution for some of the traffic woes in Sag Harbor. He identified issues like too much traffic, traffic moving too fast, bypass traffic, and streets bisecting village institutions like schools and the library when the streets could be used to bring them together. He also focused on issues such as too few children walking to school and gaining an inherent sense of independence, as well as traffic calming improvements that were economical, he said.

“I’m a strong believer in organic, iterative design especially in the public realm,” wrote Mr. King. “When altering public space, it is almost impossible to predict how people will react, so best start with something malleable. We use the best models and predictions, but nobody is perfect. Also, pilot projects make the changes real, which tends to diffuse acrimony and sharpen everyone’s focus (pro and con).”

If adopted by the village board, Sag Harbor Village would not be the first community to look to Mr. King to help address traffic woes. He has launched pilot projects in New Paltz and St. Louis. Ossining should be rolling out a pilot project on its Main Street this spring, he said.

In addition to the $13,000 the organization has spent to fund the traffic improvement study, both Ms. Mead and Mr. Cohen said with the village board’s approval the organization is committed to raising enough support through fundraising to fund all of the temporary traffic improvements as part of this pilot program.

“We want to give this a real shot,” said Mr. Cohen.

If the improvements are deemed successful, said Ms. Mead, the village could explore expanding the program, and in that case, Serve Sag Harbor would aid trustees in looking at county, state and federal grants to continue to make village streets safer for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

“This is a first step,” said Mr. Cohen, “And if this works out we would want to look at a total of 19 intersections throughout the village and maybe make more significant improvements.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Ribbon Cutting at New Hellenic Center

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Archbishop Demetrios, the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, will formally open the Nicholas S. Zoullas Hellenic Center at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons after the church’s Divine Liturgy at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 6.

The center was designed to become the gathering place for the cultural, educational, and social events of the parish. Expected to be used for art exhibitions, lectures, and musical concerts, the new structure, with expansive arched windows on all sides, hardwood floors and room for 250 people, will become home to a myriad of cultural and community events hosted by the Greek Orthodox congregation in Southampton.

The Nicholas S. Zoullas Hellenic Center is the third and final stage in the construction of a new church complex for the parish. In all, the complex includes the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Sanctuary, a cruciform Byzantine church; the Johnides Family Cultural Center, with state-of-the-art classroom, office, meeting, and kitchen space; and the Nicholas S. Zoullas Center.

Mr. Zoullas, a philanthropist and shipping executive, has been a longtime steward of Orthodoxy and Hellenism.

SoMAS “State of the Bays” Report to be Delivered This Friday in Southampton

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Gober, Christopher

Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Studies will present “State of the Bays, 2014: Nitrogen Loading, Estuarine Flushing and the Fate of Long Island’s Coastal Waters” in the Duke Lecture Hall of Chancellors Hall on the Stony Brook-Southampton campus this Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m.

The talk will introduce a new organization, The Long Island Coastal Conservation and Research Alliance, whose mission will be to engage in coastal research and monitoring that can be used to protect and restore Long Island coastal ecosystems. The seminar will also highlight recent observations and research important for the conservation of these ecosystems.

Over the course of the last year, awareness has grown about the negative effects of excessive nitrogen loading on Long Island’s coastal waters. This attention was partly driven by the continuous outbreaks of red tides, brown tides, rust tides, blue green algal blooms, Ulva blooms, and dead zones in Long Island’s estuaries during May through October of 2013, notes Dr. Gobler in his talk, an excerpt of which was issued via a press release this week. At the same time, research findings have emerged connecting excessive nitrogen loading and the intensity and toxicity of marine and freshwater algal blooms. New evidence has also emerged, according to the release, that estuaries in the region that have successfully reduced nitrogen loading are now experiencing a resurgence in water quality and fish habitats. The talk will also focus on the benefits of enhanced flushing, which can protect bays against the threats brought about by excessive nitrogen.

The event is free and open to the public.

North Haven Tentative Budget Pierces Cap

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Following two work sessions this week, the North Haven Village Board will hold a public hearing on its tentative 2014-15 budget when it meets on Tuesday, April 1.

The budget calls for $1,305,331 in spending. A total of $836,155 will be raised through property taxes, another $294,134 will come from village revenues and $175,042 will be used from the village fund balance.

The budget pierces a state mandated tax levy cap. In March, the village board passed a resolution allowing it to pierce the cap, which otherwise requires local governments to limit any tax levy increase to no more than 2 percent.

The tentative budget actually represents a 4-percent spending cut. The adopted 2013-14 budget was for $1.355 million. Mayor Jeff Sander said the village board has committed to not to spend any more than $175,000 in fund balance to offset the budget, which has resulted in a tax rate increase of 7 percent, and a tax levy increase of 8 percent.

Last year, the village board appropriated $369,997 from its fund balance to help offset spending and avoid a tax increase. During a work session on Tuesday, Mayor Sander said the village anticipates having a fund balance of $690,000 on hand at the end of May and it wants to maintain at least $500,000 in fund balance in case an emergency arises.

According to Mayor Sander, $10,000 has been budgeted for “animal control,” which includes the cost of removing deer hit by vehicles from village roadways.

No funding has been budgeted for the purchase of 4-Poster devices, which are one element of a tick abatement program the village has discussed implementing. The 4 –Poster devices are feeding stations for deer that apply a powerful pesticide to the deer, which then kills ticks.

On Tuesday, Mayor Sander said he was still working with state officials, including New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Ken LaValle, in the hopes of securing a state grant for the use of 4-Poster devices in North Haven Village.

The village is also reaching out to homeowner associations, added Mayor Sander, to see if they would be willing to designate places for 4-Poster devices in their neighborhoods, and also if they would be willing to pay for the maintenance cost. Resident Chris Miller, said Mayor Sander, is certified to maintain 4-Poster devices and will give the board an estimate on the cost of weekly maintenance. The village is also speaking with the Shelter Island Deer and Tick Management Foundation to see if donations can be made through that non-profit to help pay for the systems.

The village plans to give an update on this issue, said Mayor Sander, at its April 1 meeting.

 

The Sounds of Silence

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The silence emanating from the North Haven Village Board over its decision last month to hire a private company to undertake a deer cull in that community is frustrating for anyone who wants to know what their government is up to and downright childish on the part of the board.

Readers may recall that last year the village, after holding a series of very public and well attended meetings, determined that its longtime efforts to control the deer population needed to be improved because of concern over the rise of tick-borne illnesses, safety on the roads, and damage to lawns and gardens.

In February, the board authorized Mayor Jeff Sander to negotiate a contract with White Buffalo, a Connecticut firm that specializes in reducing the deer population of suburban communities. At the time, Mayor Sander explained that the company would bring in hunters, armed with shotguns, who would be charged with reducing the size of the village’s deer herd to about 100, a process, he said, that could take several years.

But the village’s decision just happened to coincide with the hullabaloo surrounding a broader deer cull championed by the Long Island Farm Bureau and involving sharpshooters from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services. Once opponents of that effort went to court and East Hampton Town and Village dropped out of the Farm Bureau program, North Haven officials, no doubt concerned over the threat that they too would face a legal challenge, clammed up.

Requests from this newspaper and others for the most basic of information about the village’s deal with White Buffalo have gone unanswered. Village officials will not say whether the village has been sued, whether a contract has even been signed, how much the hunt is expected to cost or what it will do if it can’t strike a deal before spring arrives, the trees fill out and seasonal weekenders return, making a hunt both impractical and dangerous.

The board’s refusal to discuss its deer cull is ironic in light of the fact that, judging by the attendance—or more accurately the lack of attendance—at recent board meetings, village residents either completely agree with the policy or simply don’t care one way or the other about it. Contrast that to the scene 20 years ago when the board, faced with a growing deer population and angry residents who didn’t want to see their expensive (and often inappropriate ) landscapes being denuded by hungry deer, agreed to allow bowhunting within the village limits. Opponents of hunting crowded Village Hall for months before and months after the board made that decision, with meetings often devolving into angry shouting matches between the two camps.

It’s a good bet the village attorney has advised board members to zip their lips because of the threat of a lawsuit. That would be understandable if reporters were trying to ferret out details of the village’s legal strategy, but they are not. They are simply inquiring about a decision adopted by an elected board on behalf of its citizenry.

That’s what North Haven Village Board members have seemed to forgotten: They have been elected to do the public’s work—and to do it in public. They might be able to get away with silence now because of the lack of interest in the deer cull, but some day they will touch a nerve, and their constituents will be well justified in demanding answers.

Suffolk County to Create Tick Advisory Committee

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At its March 4 meeting, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by County Legislator Jay Schneiderman to create a tick control advisory committee. The committee will advise the county’s Division of Vector Control on developing a plan to reduce tick-borne illnesses in the county.

The committee will consist of 12 members, including a person knowledgeable in the area of tick control designated by the commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services who will serve as the chair. Mr. Schneiderman will also be on the committee, as will County Executive Steve Bellone, Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, Legislator Al Krupski, the chair of the Legislature’s Public Works Committee; Legislator William Spencer, the chair of the Legislature’s Health Committee, Commissioner Greg Dawson of Suffolk County Parks, a representative of an environmental advocacy group, a public health professional, a representative of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association and a representative of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

In 2013, Legislator Schneiderman sponsored a resolution that requires the division of Suffolk County Vector Control to submit a yearly plan to reduce the incidence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 300,000 yearly cases of Lyme disease. There are 1,000 cases of West Nile per year, making it 300 times more likely that a Suffolk County resident will contract Lyme disease than West Nile virus, said Legislator Schneiderman.

“A primary function of government is to protect the health and welfare of residents of Suffolk County,” he said. “This committee will help Vector Control develop a plan to reduce the incidence of tick borne illnesses.”

North Haven Woman Charged in Serial Burglary Case

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By Kathryn G. Menu

A North Haven resident was arrested last week and charged in connection with a string of burglaries in East Hampton in 2013.

On Monday, March 3, Erin Reiser, 32, turned herself into East Hampton Town Police, Captain Chris Anderson confirmed on Wednesday. Ms. Reiser was charged with three counts of criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, a felony crime, as well as a felony count of possession of stolen property in the fourth degree and two counts of possession of stolen property in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor.

According to police, Ms. Reiser was the girlfriend of Justin Bennett, a resident of Springs who was arrested in October and charged in connection with a rash of burglaries on the South Fork. On Wednesday, Capt. Anderson confirmed that Ms. Reiser was in a 2003 Toyota sedan occupied by Mr. Bennett when detectives pulled the vehicle over on Route 114 in October.

“We recovered from the interior of the vehicle jewelry, with some electronics, and that is what these charges are connected too,” said Capt. Anderson.

In November, Mr. Bennett pled not guilty to 25 counts of burglary in the second degree, one count of attempted burglary in the second degree and one count of attempted burglary in the third degree, all felony crimes. According to police, beginning in January of 2013, Mr. Bennett burglarized 25 homes in East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Southampton.

The thefts totaled over $126,000 in cash, jewelry and prescription medications, according to the indictment. Mr. Bennett admitted to police that he suffered from a severe heroin addiction, which led him to commit the crimes.

He has been held in lieu of $200,000 cash bail or a $400,000 bond, at Suffolk County Jail in Yaphank.

The charges Ms. Reiser faces in connection to the case are directly tied to the evidence police recovered from the Toyota in October, said Capt. Anderson, adding that Ms. Reiser’s arrest was delayed as a result of the ongoing investigation.

Ms. Reiser was arraigned on March 3 before East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky, and posted $2,500 bail at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside.