Tag Archive | "Noyac"

Sag Harbor Village Board Tweaks Budget

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Sag Municipal Building 

By Stephen J. Kotz

After an hour and a half of wrangling over spending, the Sag Harbor Village Board Wednesday added about $11,500 to a proposed $8.58 million budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The board expects to adopt the budget at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 14. Spending will increase about 1 percent, and the tax rate will go up about 2 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, to about $2.74.

At a sparsely attended hearing on the spending plan, Mayor Brian Gilbride announced that he had cut $40,000 earmarked for a new chief’s vehicle from the Sag Harbor Fire Department’s budget, but had added $10,000 to the line covering the length of service award program, which provides a minor pension payment to retired volunteers.

The mayor said he made the cut to make a proposed paid emergency services provider program for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps more palatable to residents who live in fire protection districts outside the village. Last week, the board agreed to add $110,000 to the budget to fund that program, which will provide an on-call EMT 12 hours a day seven days a week to provide backup for the corps’ volunteers.

Tom Gardella, the fire department’s first assistant chief, protested the mayor’s decision, saying the department had worked hard to present a budget that cut department spending by 4 percent and had provided for the funding required for the vehicle by moving funds from other lines.

“To me, if you take that vehicle out, you’re taking another $40,000 away from the fire department,” he said.

“I’m just looking at the big picture here,” replied Mr. Gilbride, noting that he was concerned about how the overall increase in spending would be viewed by residents of Noyac, Bay Point, North Haven, and a sliver of East Hampton Town who are in fire protection districts. “I tried to soften the blow the best I could.”

Other board members, who have been largely silent on the budget, then chimed in. Trustee Ken O’Donnell said he was concerned that the chief’s vehicle has more than 100,000 miles on it and said at least one police car is over that limit, with two others approaching it.

Trustee Ed Deyermond, noting that the village’s insurance company frowns on using high mileage cars for emergency services, successfully lobbied for the $30,000 to be restored and another $28,000, which had been cut at a previous budget work session, to be put back in the budget so the police department can buy a new car.

Mr. Gilbride, who said he thought both departments could get by for another year without new vehicles cast the sole dissenting vote.

Trustee Sandra Schroeder said she saw a number of items that warranted a second look, and convinced her colleagues to cut $15,000 from an allotment of $20,000 for outside engineer fees and another $4,000 from technology maintenance. The board did add back $2,500 for records management to cover the cost of additional scanning work and promised to revisit some of the other items Ms. Schroeder was concerned about before voting on the final budget.

DEC Denies Sand Land Application To Expand

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Sand Land

The DEC denied a Noyac sand mining facility’s application for a 20-percent expansion after environmentalists spoke out. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, citing several major objections, last week rejected the expansion of the Sand Land mine and mulching facility in Noyac.

The operation, located on a 50-acre site off Millstone Road and Middle Line Highway and owned by Wainscott Sand and Gravel, has been the source of controversy for years, as the surrounding area has been transformed from woods to housing and the old Bridgehampton Race Circuit gave way to the exclusive Bridge
golf club.

Last year, the company sought a permit to expand the area it is mining for sand and dig another 40 deeper. The property’s current elevation is about 175 feet above sea level, and it has already dug some 65 feet below grade.

Although the regional office of the DEC originally ruled the expansion would not have serious environmental repercussions, environmentalists, neighbors, and town and county officials begged to differ and eventually convinced the DEC to hold a hearing on the application last November.

Primarily, concerns were raised that pollutants from the mulching operation would leach into the groundwater below. The area is designated as an aquifer protection district.

“This is the way the system is supposed to work,” said Elena Loreto, the president of the Noyac Civic Council, which opposed the expansion, after announcing the decision at the group’s meeting this week.  “Sand Land cannot expand. The DEC honored Governor Cuomo’s commitment to clean water, and this is why we have a DEC. It was a bipartisan effort to make sure that the DEC in Albany was notified because a lot of what we said to the Stony Brook regional office fell on deaf ears.”

Bob DeLuca, the president of the environmental organization the Group for the East End, concurred with Ms. Loreto. “I’m very happy that the Albany office had the foresight to take a closer look” at the application, he said. “If nothing else, it is a vindication of everyone who testified.”

Mr. DeLuca said it “defied logic” that the regional office focused solely on the application for the expansion of a mining permit and failed to take into consideration “the giant composting operation right on top of it.”

But John Tintle, the owner of Wainscott Sand and Gravel, who has steadfastly maintained that operation has not caused any pollution and is an important resource for the East End, said he was stunned by the DEC’s decision and suggested it implied political meddling.

“This was something that was basically approved and then was denied by the Number 2 at  the DEC,” he said of the denial letter written by Marc S. Gerstman, the DEC’s executive deputy commissioner. “It’s not very often that the Number 2 comes down and weighs in on a mining permit decision.”

Mr. Tintle has charged that Robert Rubin, the owner of the neighboring Bridge golf club, who is required to provide extensive water monitoring on his own property, has stirred up opposition to Sand Land because it abuts a number of house lots that are part of his development.

He added that the reason the regional office did not take into consideration his mulching was that it has no jurisdiction over it. And he added, the DEC considers the construction debris recycling to be a minor use that requires a simple permit application.

Mr. Tintle has 30 days to appeal the decision, but said he did not want to discuss his plans.

Besides citing environmental concerns, including both the town’s and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ worries about groundwater pollution, Mr. Gerstman cited the death of a worker last year at another operation Mr. Tintle owns in East Quogue as well as other safety violations.

Although Mr. Tintle insisted that he has always remedied yet any violations he has been cited for, Mr. DeLuca said the DEC was wise in denying the application because if the operation were to pollute the groundwater, taxpayers would likely be on the hook for the for cleanup.

“We’re all better served by this approach,” he said. “If there is a way to protect the groundwater, we ought to do it now instead of waiting.”

Noyac Couple Count Its Easter Blessings

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Pastor Doug Kinney and his wife, Meg, in front of the Community Bible Church in Noyac. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz. 

By Mara Certic

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. But Pastor Doug Kinney never lost faith, even when both he and his wife were diagnosed with cancer within four months of each other.

Mr. Kinney, the pastor of the Community Bible Church in Noyac, his wife Meg and their six children have had a particularly tough winter, with cancer diagnoses, chemotherapy and operations dominating much of the past few months. This Easter Sunday, April 5, the Kinney family is feeling blessed by the Sag Harbor community and will more than ever celebrate the hope of eternal life.

“And we are so, so blessed,” Mrs. Kinney said, talking about the endless amount of support they have received from the Sag Harbor and church communities.

Since both parents were diagnosed, community members have reached out to help in some way: A group in the church set up a fund to help the Kinneys pay for medical bills that were not covered by insurance; a group of teachers have set up a collection for the family and friends have stepped in to take care of the Kinneys’ six children when they had to go to the city for treatment.

Their son Zebulun’s ninth grade class at Pierson High School got together this week to prepare meals for the family, and on Saturday, April 18, the Sag Harbor Fire Department and its Ladies Auxiliary are co-hosting a spaghetti and meatball dinner at the firehouse to raise money for the Kinneys.

“We’re so blessed by the community,” Mr. Kinney said.

For Pastor Kinney, cancer began with an intermittent toothache in one of his canines that started bothering him in June. Then it switched to the other one. And then it went away.

His dentist couldn’t find anything wrong, dismissed it as just one of those things and suggested that he take a Tylenol.

“Then all four of my teeth went numb,” Mr. Kinney said, and then that too went away. But a lingering feeling remained, a lingering feeling that something was not right.

In September, an oral surgeon diagnosed him with stage 4 lymphoma, which doctors at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center confirmed.

Mrs. Kinney travelled with her husband to Manhattan for treatment, where they’d stay for five days at a time, exploring the city between visits to Sloan Kettering.

“I was able to walk around with the bag of chemo,” Mr. Kinney said, adding that the side effects wouldn’t start to kick in until after the full five days of treatment, when he got back home to Noyac. Sixteen days after one series treatments, just as he would begin to feel normal again, it was back to the city for another round.

Three months into his chemotherapy, Mrs. Kinney went to the doctor for an overdue mammogram. While examining her neck, her doctor discovered a lump. Eleven needle biopsies later, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Mr. and Mrs. Kinney met in 1997 when he was a pastor’s assistant at the Community Bible Church, and she was a congregant.  They would only see each other when Mrs. Kinney would come back home for “the big holidays.” It was around Easter in 1997 when they fell in love, and two years later they were married.

In an odd twist of fate, Mrs. Kinney’s grandparents, Bill and Harriet Steck, were the founders of the church where she now plays the part of the “silent person” behind the scenes. In addition to their work with the church and raising their six children together, they also own and operate a 24-hour Christian radio station.

When Mrs. Kinney was diagnosed they kept asking themselves why. Why both of them? Mr. Kinney asked this so much that he convinced himself that their water could have been contaminated with something carcinogenic until he had it tested. But still, he didn’t lose faith.

“This is a time for your faith to kick in,” Mr. Kinney said. “This is a test for us.”

“We really believe part of the Christian faith promises that Christ will be with you at every trial,” he said.

“Life is full of potholes,” his wife added. “You just have to know how to deal with them.”

On March 6, after four months of chemotherapy, Mr. Kinney got the good news that he was in total remission and was entirely lymphoma-free. He will still go in for screenings and tests for the next two years as a precaution.

Almost two weeks later, Mrs. Kinney had her thyroid removed, along with five lymph nodes. She will learn more about what they discovered during surgery at a doctor’s appointment this week. She said the doctors have been positive about her prognosis but may recommend radioiodine treatment.

“The kids have been really great,” Mrs. Kinney said. It was hard enough for them when their father was diagnosed, but when both parents had cancer, “it was really difficult,” she added.

While parents always want to shield their children from pain, the Kinneys knew from the beginning they had to tell their kids about their diseases.

“We knew we were going to tell our congregation because we believe in prayer,” Mr. Kinney said. “There was no way to hide it from them.”

“But kids are just so resilient,” Mrs. Kinney said, as her 5-year-old daughter Campbelle climbed onto her lap.

“This Easter, we celebrate the hope of eternal life, but our biggest concerns are for the ones we’d leave behind,” he said.

On Easter Sunday, Pastor Kinney plans to speak about the Apostle Thomas, the disciple who did not believe Jesus had been crucified and risen from the dead until he could see and feel his wounds.

“Jesus answers those doubts,” Pastor Kinney said. “It’s not like he said, ‘Thomas, you’re fired.’ He showed him. And I think that’s what God does.”




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.

A New Look at Septic Systems

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Raun Norquist demonstrates Pirana septic system to officials earlier this year. Photo courtesy of danielgonzalezphotography.com.

By Stephen J. Kotz 

To hear Raun Norquist tell it, “we live in a flush and forget world and nobody wants to pay attention to the problem.”

Ms. Norquist, who now lives in Noyac not far from Sag Harbor Cove, in a house with an aging brick septic system built in the 1930s,  has been paying attention to that problem—the treatment of wastewater—for the better part of two decades.

“We need a paradigm shift in the way we think about treating our waste,” she said. Most methods “count on lots of water, and lots of space. And nobody is thinking about where we’re going to get it.”

Ms. Norquist represents a company called Pirana that was started by a California entrepreneur and inventor, Jerry Fife. It offers, she said, a simple method to boost the efficiency of a standard home septic system so that it releases much cleaner wastewater into the drainage field—the area surrounding the cesspool rings.

If such systems were to gain a foothold on Long Island, with its hundreds of thousands of private septic systems, there would be large scale reduction in groundwater pollution and leaching of septic waste into nearby surface waters, she said.

There would also be benefits to homeowners and local governments that must treat sludge from traditional systems.  “This system is digesting what you have on site,” Ms. Norquist said, noting that regular systems need to be pumped every few years. “Pumping is expensive, it stinks, and then you are shipping it down the road to be treated at a wastewater treatment plant.”

The secret to a cleaner system lies in introducing and cultivating a large number of voracious bacteria—far more than are found in a typical septic system—that gorge themselves on the stuff we don’t like to mention in polite company. The bacteria can survive aerobically (with oxygen) or anaerobically (without it). Because there are so many of the little critters, they flow with the wastewater into the drainage field. There, they help control the formation of  “biomat,” a sort of sludge formed by conventional anaerobic bacteria released by a traditional septic system and a major cause of failure.

The Pirana system that Ms. Norquist sells costs about $3,000. It consists of a 1-by-3-foot cylinder that is lowered into the existing septic tank. The cylinder has about 150 square feet of thin plastic lining coiled within it. That lining serves as a breeding ground for the bacteria that are introduced into the system in the form of a beeswax-like cake.  The final element is a small pump, which injects air into the system, to help the bacteria thrive.

Ms. Norquist said about eight years ago, she had one installed  in that 1930s-era septic system at her Noyac home, which was at the point of failure, and  within hours the odor was gone and within days the system was functioning properly again.

The system requires little in the way of maintenance, although she said people who shut their homes down in the winter would probably be wise to add bacteria each spring when they reopen it for the season. Although hardware stores typically carry bacteria additives for septic systems, Ms. Norquist said a quart added to a system each month would produce only a fraction of the bacteria that the Pirana system supports.

Ms. Norquist who had previously been involved with a company that used an earlier but more cumbersome technology to improve septic systems, eventually became a sales representative for the firm.

Now that East End communities have turned their attention to combating the pollution caused by wastewater, Ms. Norquist is hopeful they will at least be willing to give the Pirana system a try.

She recently had what she calls a “show and tell” at her home, to which she invited Southampton Town officials and pulled the lid off her own system and retrieved a sample from it. “It looks like pale tea, it has no odor and no particulates,” she boasted.

Not only can it work in home septic systems, but Ms. Norquist is starting a pilot program to work with the Sag Harbor sewage treatment plant that will involve setting up one of its smaller holding tanks with a Pirana system to reduce the amount of sludge that must be hauled away. “They are spending $80,000 to $100,000 to haul away sludge now,” she said.

She said she regretted that East Hampton Town decided to shut down its scavenger waste plant, which she said, would also have been a perfect facility for another pilot program.

“We’ve got to stop thinking about this heavy-handed, expensive way to find ways to force nature into doing what we want,” she said, “and let it do what it wants to do.”

For more information about Pirana systems, contact Ms. Norquist at raun@optonline.net .

Tintle Says Sand Land Has Long and Legal History

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By Stephen J. Kotz

To hear John Tintle tell it, the neighbors of his Sand Land mine, composting and recycling facility in Noyac simply want to make his business go away to increase their own property values.

“They don’t like it that we’re here,” he said on Friday, while giving a tour of the deep pit, where grinding machines and screeners process mountains of sand and gravel for the manufacture of the concrete used for roads and foundations; stumps and branches for compost and top soil used in landscaping; and construction debris for things like driveway bases. “Yet they all need what we sell.”

Those neighbors, and many other residents of Sag Harbor, Noyac, and Bridgehampton, as well as elected officials and environmentalists turned out last week in a bid to have the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation deny Sand Land’s request for an expansion of its mining permit—or at the very least require that an environmental impact statement be done to protect the groundwater and reduce the potential for other environmental harm at the site. That hearing is covered separately in this issue.

But Bob DeLuca, the president of the Group for the East End, who was among those who is calling for a DEIS, said “the idea you would not do a comprehensive environmental review would be laughable if it were not so disconcerting.” He criticized the DEC for not planning to hold a hearing on the matter until the public pressured it to do so.

He pointed out that sand mining only makes up a portion of the activity at the site—although Mr. Tintle says it accounts for about two-thirds of his business—and said environmentalists are more concerned about mulching, composting and construction debris recycling.

Sand Land sits atop the aquifer and chief among the concerns of Mr. DeLuca and other environmentalists is the potential for groundwater pollution.  He cites a DEC investigation of the Long Island Composting site on Horseblock Road in Yaphank, released in 2013, which showed sharply higher levels of manganese emanating from the site. As a result, Long Island Composting has agreed to build an indoor composting operation on a concrete pad with runoff contained on site.

“It’s kind of crazy to think of all the work we did to get rid of the landfills” in New York State, he said. “And then to allow an industrial waste site to continue operating” with no additional oversight.

“In my mind, projects like this over time should probably be amortized,” Mr. DeLuca said. “These places are grenades waiting to explode.”

The trouble for Sand Land—and Wainscott Sand and Gravel, which operates the 50-acre site off Millstone Road and Middle Line Highway, in the shadow of the exclusive Bridge golf club—began in 2005. A group of three neighbors, with financial backing from Robert Rubin, the golf club’s owner, sued. They sought to have the site declared a nuisance and shut down because of, among other things, its odor, noise and the hundreds of large dump trucks that rumble onto and off the site each day. The opposition came, Mr. Tintle said, despite the fact that the mine has been there for more than 50 years—and provided much of the sand used for fill when the World’s Fair was held at Flushing Meadows, Queens, in 1964—and was opened when the land was zoned for industrial uses and the nearest house was a quarter mile away.

The result of that suit was a protracted battle between Mr. Tintle and Southampton Town. In 2011, the town’s chief building inspector, Michael J. Benincasa, issued a certificate of occupancy that recognized that the mine was operating before 1972 when the town changed the zoning from industrial to residential. It also legalized the compost and mulch processing at the site. The neighbors, who had sued, Margo Gilman, Joseph Phair, and Amelia Doggwiler (who replaced Robert Flood, an original petitioner, after he sold his house), appealed the issuance of that C.O. to the town Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Z.B.A., in turn, “wanted to make everyone happy,” according to Mr. Tintle. “They wanted to split the baby in half.” In 2012, the ZBA ruled that while the sand mine was legal, the other activities were not, and ordered them shut down. Mr. Tintle sued, and last February, New York State Supreme Court Justice W. Gerard Asher, ruled in his companies’ favor, ordering the C.O. to be reinstated in its entirety.

In his ruling, Justice Asher gave considerable weight to the testimony of people like Bill Masterson, the former Southampton Town highway superintendent, and Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, who was formerly the town’s director of sanitation. In affidavits, they and others who worked at the site or made deliveries, described an ongoing operation that had been in place for decades.

Mr. Tintle said in 2013, the Suffolk County Department of Health Service asked to test the water from wells used to supply both his office at the Sand Land site and in an irrigation system that is run during the dry summer months to keep dust down. The tests have shown no sign of any contamination, he said.

“If the DEC wants me to put in test wells, I will, but I’ll be the only [sand mine] place on Long Island to have them,” he said.

Mr. Tintle says much of the public opposition to his plans have been stirred up by Mr. Rubin. House lots approved as part of the Bridge development back up to Sand Land, and Mr. Tintle showed a reporter photographs of surveillance cameras he says are on the Bridge property overlooking his mine. “I’m under a microscope here,” he said.

He also charges that Mr. Rubin has enlisted the Group for the East End to fight the battle for him. Mr. DeLuca dismisses those claims, while acknowledging that Mr. Rubin is a contributor to the Group and has attended its annual benefits.

“We made Bob Rubin’s life very difficult for three years” during the review of his golf course, Mr. DeLuca said, with the result that he now spends an estimated $200,000 to 300,000 annually to monitor the groundwater. “The bottom line is our position is consistent, whether it’s been Bob Rubin’s or this project,” Mr. DeLuca said.

“He’s in a position where he feels this is personal,” Mr. DeLuca added. “But it’s not like somebody went to the phone book, found this guy and decided to pick on him.”


Hearing on Sand Land Permit

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, November 19, on the permit of the Sand Land Corporation to continue mining sand at its site on Millstone Road in Noyac.

The hearing, which will be presided over by an administrative law judge, will take place at 6 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Community House at 2357 Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.

Sand Land wants to expand its mine by 4.9 acres and to excavate 40 feet deeper than authorized under the facility’s existing permit. The mine has been permitted by DEC and operating since 1981. The Mined Land Reclamation Act was enacted by the State Legislature to ensure that reclamation of permitted mine sites occurs after mining operations are completed.

The DEC determined that the hearing was needed after receiving many written comments after notice of the application was published in the Environmental Notice Bulletin on July 23.

The DEC will accept oral or written comments on the application during the public hearing. Equal weight will be given to both oral and written statements.

Written comments about the permit application must be received by November 21. They can be sent to: NYSDEC Region 1, Att. Mark Carrara, Deputy Permit Administrator, SUNY Stony Brook, 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790.

A copy of the permit application is on file at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton or by contacting Mr. Carrara at the above address or by telephone at (631) 444-0374.

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.”



Sag Harbor Schools Defended at Noyac Civic Council Meeting

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By Tessa Raebeck

Members of the Noyac Civic Council expressed a grim outlook for the future Tuesday evening when they gathered in the Old Schoolhouse in Noyac to hear a presentation from Sag Harbor School District administrators.

Some 15 people, including Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and Sandi Kruel, a member of the school board, heard presentations by Superintendent Katy Graves and School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi on testing results, the Common Core, the district’s financial status and other topics chosen by the council, such as “plans to improve student achievement.”

Ms. Graves and Ms. Buscemi, who are both in their first year with the district, introduced themselves to the group and stressed the strength of Sag Harbor’s students and schools. Those gathered in the room were predominately retired members of the community who do not have children who attend schools in the district.

“My guiding principle is, I do what’s best for children, what’s fair for adults and what the community can sustain,” Ms. Graves told the group, adding that she always has time to speak with all community members. She expressed the need for school administrators to communicate with the many families who are not connected to the district because they do not send their children there, but who pay taxes to the schools and “want to know what the value is.”

Ms. Graves shared figures and charts on Sag Harbor’s performance on mandated state, federal and local tests for students. “Assessment is only one piece, but we have a really shiny piece,” she said.

Despite data, information and personal anecdotes from Ms. Graves and Ms. Buscemi about the district’s financial health, “extraordinary” programs, staff and students, the room appeared unconvinced.

“Katy,” John Arendt, a Noyac resident, said to Ms. Graves, “we love our results here, but let’s fact it, we’re inundated every day with the failure of our education system, so we want to see results.”

“They don’t even teach penmanship anymore,” said Noyac resident Vincent Starace.

Although students still learn how to write, New York State no longer requires cursive instruction.

Other members of the council said teenagers no longer have summer jobs, “can’t write a sentence” by the time they get to college, and raised concerns over drug use, as well as teacher benefits and salaries.

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.