Tag Archive | "Noyac"

Hampton Classic Unveils 2014 Poster Art

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The Hampton Classic Horse Show announced Monday that Julie Freund, a native of Westtown, New York, has been selected as its 2014 poster artist.

The Hampton Classic will return to Bridgehampton August 24 to 31 for its 39th year of equestrian competition.

“In many of my paintings I like to take the everyday images that equestrians see, and create a work of art that is recognizable and yet done in a way that emphasizes the beauty of the sport and of the animal,” said Ms. Freund of her inspiration for the poster, “Paseo.” “Equestrian sport requires training, precise technique and conditioning, just as the act of painting. Both require a knowledge of the materials and patience that when done right produce a wonderful connection to the human center.”

Equestrian sport has always been a big part of Mr. Freund’s life. She has shown in the hunter, jumper, and the equitation classes at many “A” rated competitions along the East Coast ranging from Lake Placid to Ocala, Florida. Ms. Freund attended Bridgewater College in central Virginia, where she majored in fine arts, before transferring to the Savannah College of Art and Design, from which she recently graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting and double minor in equestrian studies and art history. The artist currently works and lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she rides and trains sport horses at Vintage View Farm.

 

Local is Always Better, Says Carpenter of New Gig at Page at 63 Main

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Well known East End chef James Carpenter will lead the kitchen at Page at 63 Main

Well known East End chef James Carpenter will lead the kitchen at Page at 63 Main.

By Stephen J. Kotz

Workers are still building a rooftop garden to grow fresh salad greens and vegetables and completing a back terrace serving area at Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor, and the restaurant’s new chef, James Carpenter, who arrived just two weeks ago after his most recent stint at East Hampton Point, is busy himself, pulling together a new menu in time for the coming summer season.

The restaurant, once known as Spinnakers and now co-owned by Gerry Wawryk and Joe Traina, is undergoing a rebirth to a more sustainable, and health-conscious approach under Mr. Carpenter’s discerning eye. “I’m making the menu to be a little more seafood driven,” said Mr. Carpenter, who also has a reputation as a practitioner of slow food cuisine with an emphasis on locally grown ingredients.  So it is out with “the goopy, deep fried dishes,” and in with the freshest of ingredients, like those that will be grown on the roof and are already sprouting from a series of “aquaponic” gardens set up in a back dining room.

Mr. Carpenter, who came to the East End to open Savannah’s restaurant in Southampton Village, in the 1990s and was the longtime chef at Della Femina in East Hampton, said he joined Page because he was intrigued by the owners’ plans to develop the aquaponic gardens, which are fed with water that passes through fish tanks to provide the growing greens with a ready source of organic fertilizer.

“You can go to King Kullen and pick up a bag of mesclun mix and it tastes like water,” Mr. Carpenter said. “But if you try our salads, you’ll say, ‘This is the most flavorful salad I’ve ever had.’”

Besides the restaurant grown greens, Mr. Carpenter said the bounty of eastern Long Island’s farm fields and waters makes it easy to focus on locally grown ingredients.

So diners can expect fresh tomatoes and sweet corn from Balsam Farms in Amagansett, mushrooms and vegetables from Dave Falkowski’s Opened Minded Organics in Bridgehampton, and other fresh produce from the Green Thumb in Water Mill and Satur Farms in Cutchogue, as well as cheeses from the Ludlows’ Mecox Bay Dairy in Water Mill and Howard Pickerell’s “Peconic Pride” oysters, which are raised in Noyac.

Diners can expect to see such items as Carta de Musica, which literally means music paper in Italian, but is an appetizer of provencale mussel salad, tuna tartare and house grown salad greens on crispy flatbread. Among the main courses will be Mushroom Bolognese, made with Mr. Falkowski’s mushrooms as well as homemade fettuccine, sofrito and Grana Padano parmesan cheese. While the menu will have basics like cheeseburgers and steaks, Mr. Carpenter said it will include items like Organic Quinoa Linguine, which meets the vegan standards of the East End Wellness Challenge.

Mr. Carpenter, who was raised in Carmel, New York, left home to enter the U.S. Navy after high school, where he was trained as a chef and was soon traveling the world over on board the U.S.S. Midway, the last of the fleet’s diesel powered aircraft carriers. “It offered a great opportunity to taste foods from so many different cultures,” Mr. Carpenter said of his navy days.

After leaving Savannah, Mr. Carpenter served  an eight-year stint at Della Femina and also brought his skills to the Living Room @ c/o the Maidstone, whose owners were from Stockholm and who wanted to focus solely on Swedish cuisine, an approach he did not want to take. He also worked for a couple of years at the American Hotel and most recently at Ben Krupinski’s Cittanuova, 1770 House and East Hampton Point.

At all his stops, he said he focuses on bringing as much locally grown food to the table as possible. “It’s always better if it’s grown 5 miles away,” he said.

Page at 63 Main is located at 63 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, or to make a reservation, visit page63main.com or call 725-1810. 

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.

 

Gregor Offers Noyac Road Update to Civic Council

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor on Tuesday said he was optimistic a long awaited construction project on Noyac Road at Cromer’s Market should be completed by the end of June.

Speaking to the Noyac Civic Council, Mr. Gregor said PSEG Long Island had finished moving electric lines serving the area to new poles and that he was waiting for Cablevision and Verizon to move their lines. Verizon crews will then be in charge of removing the old utility poles before DeLalio Construction begins to work on the road itself.

“Since we had such a hard winter, we had a hard time getting the utilities motivated,” said Mr. Gregor, who added that he hoped that the poles would be moved by the end of this month. “The contractor will need two months to complete the project.”

The project is expected to improve traffic at a busy and dangerous curve, improve traffic circulation to Cromer’s and other businesses and side streets, and reduce stormwater runoff.

Mr. Gregor was joined at Tuesday’s meeting by Supervisor Anna Throne Holst, Councilwomen Christine Scalera and Brigid Fleming and Tom Neely, the town’s director of public transportation and traffic safety.

The town officials also answered committee members’ questions on other topics, including deer and the East Hampton Airport, although Noyac Road took center stage.

Improving the short stretch of road has proven to be a controversial project. First proposed seven years ago, the project went through numerous changes before ground was finally broken this year.

Mr. Gregor said that it had already been decided that Noyac Road is too busy even during the offseason for any work to be done on the weekends. Crews will work five days a week, he said, and try to keep two lanes open at all times. He said he expected the project to be wrapped up by the end of June, but if weather, or some other situation slows work and traffic becomes “too horrendous,” crews will not work on Mondays and Fridays during the latter stages of the project, to reduce traffic tieups around busy weekends.

Despite the fact that the project has been discussed for years, some council members said they were concerned it would not do much to improve traffic on the curve.

Glenn Paul said the new layout, which would require vehicles entering and leaving Cromer’s to do so at either end of the store’s parking lot, would result in tie-ups and more congestion.

“Do you think that will alleviate accidents at that spot?” he asked.

“That’s what we’re working on,” replied Mr. Gregor. “There has been some skepticism, but we think this is an improvement.

The highway superintendent said he expected a newly designed drainage system would dramatically reduce the amount of stormwater that runs down Bay Avenue and Dogwood and Elm Streets to the bay.

Mr. Gregor said he was pleased to report that he road work would cost about $521,000, well below initial estimates of $780,000 or more.

Other council members asked if a major repaving project on Montauk Highway from Southampton to East Hampton might result in traffic being diverted to Noyac Road, but Mr. Neely said there were no such plans, and he added that he expected contraction crews to have made their way through Bridgehampton, moving eastward, within three weeks.

Dorothy Frankel said she was happy to see the Cromer’s corner being dealt with, but said the time had come to do something to reduce speeding along the rest of Noyac Road. She suggested reducing the speed limit, adding lane dividers at key places or even designating part of the shoulders as bicycle lanes.

The only solution, Mr. Gregor said, was for the town to either increase the number of police enforcing the speed limit, which he said would provide spotty coverage, or installing a speed limit camera that would record a vehicle’s speed, take a photo of its license plate automatically generate a ticket.

Ms. Throne Holst said the town has requested that such cameras be placed along Noyac Road, but said that they are only legal in New York State in school zones.

“Speed cameras, we think, would be the perfect solution for Noyac Road,” she said, “Once you get that picture of your license in the mail and a whopping ticket, you start to notice it.”

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Grossman Named to Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame

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Karl Grossman, an investigative reporter who lives in Noyac, has been named to the inaugural class of inductees to the new Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame.

Mr. Grossman, who is also a professor of journalism in the Media and Communications program at SUNY College at Old Westbury, will be inducted into the hall of fame at the Press Club of Long Island’s media awards dinner on June 5 at the Woodbury Country Club. The Press Club of Long Island, the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, created the hall of fame to recognize trailblazing journalists, past and present.

Mr. Grossman joins 23 inductees, including Walt Whitman. Mr. Grossman earned an automatic induction  as a past winner of the Press Club of Long Island’s Outstanding Long Island Journalist Award.

Mr. Grossman has been a professor at Old Westbury, where he teaches investigative reporting, for nearly 35 years, and has specialized in reporting on issues related to the environment and nuclear technology. He is also the author of books including, “Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed To Know About Nuclear Power,” “Power Crazy,” and “The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet.”

Mr. Grossman also hosts the television program, “Enviro Close-Up,” and has written and narrated television documentaries including “Three Mile Island Revisited,” “Nukes in Space,” and “The Push to Revive Nuclear Power.”

Mr. Grossman writes a column, Suffolk Close-Up, which appears in The Sag Harbor Express. 

Regional Drug Court Creates Path for Sobriety

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Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein, Shelter Island Justice Helen Rosenblum and Riverhead Justice Allen Smith at the Southampton Town Drug Court on Tuesday. 

By Kathryn G. Menu; Michael Heller photography

Almost two decades ago, Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein was on the bench before a case involving an 18-year-old from Noyac, facing marijuana possession charges, a violation in the eyes of the court. She agreed to adjourn the case in contemplation of dismissal for one year’s time, a common decision but a moment that would change her life forever.

During the course of that year, the young man died of a heroin overdose. His older sister was a court clerk, and Justice Kooperstein attended the man’s wake in a moment of solidarity with her colleague.

“He was 18 years old, and there I was looking at him in a funeral parlor in Hampton Bays,” she said. “It just shook me. I cried the entire way home to Bridgehampton. I just kept asking myself, how does someone go from smoking pot to this?”

The moment led Justice Kooperstein to begin researching a restorative model of justice that would ultimately lead to the founding of the East End Regional Intervention Court, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in February.

The court—often referred to as drug court—is available to those over the age of 16 who face non-violent, drug-related charges on the East End. According to the court coordinator Charlene Mascia, EERIC has served 146 participants to date, with 83 of those individuals officially graduating from the program.

“We average about 25 participants a year,” said Ms. Mascia. “There have been times when we have had 40 participants and times when we’ve had 20.”

To officially become part of the program, individuals must enter a guilty plea with the court and sign a contract that lays out an alternate sentence they will face if they don’t follow the court’s orders or if they leave the program. Often, that sentence is jail time.

The court is held weekly in Southampton and Riverhead Justice Courts, with Justice Kooperstein, Riverhead Town Justice Allen Smith, Southold Town Justice William Price and Shelter Island Justice Helen Rubenstein presiding on the bench. However, an interdisciplinary team, including probation officers and clinicians, offer participants a comprehensive strategy toward a drug-free, and crime-free, life.

According to Justice Kooperstein, who was instrumental in the founding of EERIC, the drug court has a 75-percent success rate in terms of its graduates going on to lead healthy, successful lives, and not face prison time. Conversely, she said, those who are incarcerated have a 75-percent likelihood of ending up back in that system within a five-year period.

While the drug court helps those facing a variety of substance abuse problems, “nothing is cheaper than heroin,” said Justice Kooperstein.

“Most of the people we have right now are heroin addicts,” she said. “It’s a real struggle.”

Justice Kooperstein said from the bench she has seen the impact of heroin in every demographic.

“I would say it’s substantially increased in use in the upper and middle classes, people with businesses,” Justice Koooperstein said.

EERIC, she said, currently has participants as young as 18 and as old as 47 years old. Last week, a 58 year-old graduated from the program.

Justice Kooperstein said she had learned from speaking with those involved in drug court that while heroin use is common among many participants in the program, often drug abuse starts early, with substances like marijuana, and increasingly what is found in the unlocked medicine cabinet. From there, it can escalate.

At the drug court, participants attend weekly meetings and must adhere to court orders as far reaching as a requirement for in-patient rehab to whom one can communicate with on the telephone. In addition to the justices, probation officers and a assistant district attorney, participants in the drug court work with clinicians like Jack Hoffmann, LCSW, of Eastern Long Island Hospital. Mr. Hoffman is a Sag Harbor resident with a private practice as well.

Both Mr. Hoffman and Justice Kooperstein said while the court is strict, with penalties including incarceration on the table, its goal is success.

“It takes a lot for us to let someone fail,” said Mr. Hoffman. “The judges are rigorous in their encouraging people to remain with the program and my role is to continue to offer education to the court about psychological and social needs, what treatments people may need.”

Upon graduation, which can occur a year or more after a defendant signs up for drug court, misdemeanor charges are reduced or sometimes dropped altogether.

Jacquie Gettling was 18 when she began using drugs. Her drug of choice was cocaine. She began by snorting it, before moving on to freebasing the drug before finally trying crack cocaine.

“I used off and on for more than 20 years,” said Ms. Gettling, an East Hampton resident. “My drug use almost cost me everything. Thank God for drug court.”

Ms. Gettling, now 50, was 40 years old when she was stopped for speeding in Southampton Village.

“I was carrying about $200 worth of crack cocaine in my pocket at the time,” said Ms. Gettling. “This offense would have landed me in prison for 18 months. As a mother of three and the proprietor of a kids’ karate school, this was definitely my rock bottom.”

Ms. Gettling’s husband spoke with Justice Barbara Wilson and told her his wife was battling a drug problem. Justice Wilson recommended that she go to drug court.

When Ms. Gettling reported to the program, she was told she could either accept the court’s help or go to jail for 18 months.

“At the time I thought, of course I would take drug court because I didn’t want to go to jail for 18 months,” she said, “not because I wanted to stop doing drugs.”

She agreed to the terms of the court, which included abstinence from all alcohol and drugs. Justice Kooperstein stressed the importance of honesty and abstinence.

“Immediately upon leaving court, I went and got high again,” she said.

When Ms. Gettling tested positive for drug use it wasn’t the drug use that led Justice Kooperstein to send her to the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside—it was the fact she lied about it.

“You see, the court knows drug use is an addiction and there is a very high chance you will relapse,” she said. “So from that I learned that honesty is the best policy.”

That night in jail changed Ms. Gettling.

“My program was to show up on time,” she said. “To be accountable for my actions; to refrain from the use of all drugs and alcohol; to attend NA and or AA meetings daily; to get myself in an outpatient program and, of course, to report into drug court.”

“I also had a probation officer who would check in on me from time to time,” she said.

“I did the program to the very best of my ability and because of it I was one of the very first graduates of the East End Regional Intervention Courts,” said Ms. Gettling.  “I believe I was in the system for a little over a year, but the system remains in me today.”

Today, Ms. Gettling runs a successful business—G5 Studio, which teaches karate, exercise, mixed martial arts  and dance classes out of Evolution Fitness Gym in Southampton. She is also the manager of the Eileen Fisher Clothing Store in East Hampton and a board member for the Friends of EERIC, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the court and members of the court.

On August 8, she will celebrate 10 years of sobriety.