Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor"

“Harvey” Watches Over The Hampton Theatre Company

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John Kern and Matthew Conlon.  TOM KOCHIE photo.

John Kern and Matthew Conlon. TOM KOCHIE photo.

By Annette Hinkle

This weekend, the Hamptons Theatre Company kicks off its 30th anniversary season with a production of “Harvey,” Mary Chase’s 1945 Pulitzer Prize winning comedy.

Which may help explain why last week, director Diana Marbury was running around like crazy hunting down a seemingly random list of unrelated items.

“I’m looking for Zippo lighters and a 1940s chair — it can be older than the 1940s, just not newer,” explained Ms. Marbury who, after nearly 30 years of association with HTC, freely admits to having several “starring sofas” in her home of various styles.

“My house is very eclectic,” she confides.

Chalk it up to another day in the life of a small town community theater company —one in which all involved jump in to do what it takes to get the job done — including the play’s director, for whom it isn’t unusual to be scouring the area for props.

“We all wear so many hats in the theater, it’s such a small group of people who make this happen,” says Ms. Marbury, who is also HTC’s artistic director. “It’s a miracle really.”

When HTC began, it was a community theater without a real home. Instead, productions were presented wherever space could be found. These days, the HTC is the resident theater at the Quogue Community Hall and the company now produces five shows between October and June. Because of its commitment to the community, the company has developed a loyal following and audiences appreciates the fact that HTC sticks around long after the summer folks flee for the winter.

“When we’re coming to the end of one show, we’re auditioning for the next,” says Ms. Marbury. “With the instant gratification people get these days through channel surfing, theater has fallen a bit by the wayside for many people. We’ve been very fortunate because the theater, as it stands today, has a great group of supporters who come to see every show.”

If live theater is the antithesis to on-demand entertainment, then as a play, in many respects “Harvey” is similarly a throwback to simpler times.

Amanda Griemsmann, Pamela Kern and John J. Steele, Jr.  TOM KOCHIE photo.

Amanda Griemsmann, Pamela Kern and John J. Steele, Jr. TOM KOCHIE photo.

“We thought this play was appropriate for the 30th season because it’s a wonderful classic,” says Ms. Marbury. “People are familiar mainly with the movie version, but plays are just so more intimate than film. People feel more of a connection in theater than film.”

“This is a very appealing play because it has such wonderful characters in it,” explains Ms. Marbury. “The basic story is very endearing and touching.”

The play tells the story of Elwood P. Dowd (played in this production by Matthew Conlon) a good natured, but somewhat eccentric man whose constant companion is an invisible six-foot rabbit named “Harvey” which, in Celtic mythology, is what would be referred to as pooka, something like a spirit animal.

“The idea is that you have this being watching over you and letting you know what’s happening next and how it affects the various people around you,” explains Ms. Marbury. “Elwood is kind of an everyman character. He’s very simplistic. He can never have too many friends and is very open to people. This spirit of Harvey has opened people up to him in terms of acceptance and makes people curious and open to discovery.”

As a result, Harvey becomes a devise used by Elwood to test the character of the people he encounters. Those willing to indulge Elwood’s fantasy by accepting the existence of Harvey prove themselves as empathetic and compassion beings. But one individual definitely not amused by the presence of Harvey is Elwood’s own sister Veta (played by Pamela Kern). She worries that Elwood’s over-active imagination will scare away potential suitors for her daughter Myrtle Mae (played by Amanda Griemsmann). As a result, Veta seeks to have her brother committed.

“‘Harvey’ is a test of sorts,” notes Ms. Marbury. “Watching the effects of Harvey on all the various people Elwood encounters is fascinating. There’s this wonderful spirit of being able to be free and not so be so based in reality all the time.”

The play comes to a head at the sanitarium where Elwood is taken to be “cured” of his rabbit delusions. When the medical professionals assure Veta they can make Elwood “normal” with a simple injection, Veta realizes that Elwood, even with his delusional flaws, is at heart a far better human being than most of those whom society would label normal. It’s an endearing message of love and acceptance that Ms. Marbury thinks the audience will appreciate.

“It’s a very warm human story and very simple,” she says. “It’s not a big body farce, it’s a kind of feel good play that warms the heart and brings a big smile to your face. Hopefully there will also be a lot of good laughs.”

Hampton Theatre Company’s production of “Harvey” runs October 23 to November 9 at the Quogue Community Hall, 125 Jessup Avenue. Shows are Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. The Hampton Theatre Company offers special dinner and theater packages in collaboration with the Southampton, Westhampton Beach, Hampton Bays and Quogue libraries. Tickets are $25 ($10 students). Visit hamptontheatre.org for tickets or more information or call OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.

The cast also includes John Kern, Sebastian Marbury, Krista Kurtzberg, Russell Weisenbacher, John J. Steele, Jr., Doug O’Connor, Catherine Maloney and Martha Kelly. Set design is by Sean Marbury with lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.

 

 

Keanu Reeves Talks About Playing “John Wick”

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JohnWickPoster

By Danny Peary

An action-revenge thriller with a high body count, John Wick opens theatrically this Friday, and the advance word is good.  For the Australian magazine FilmInk, I went on a set-visit in Brooklyn last winter with five other international journalists.  Filming took place outside, in a large parking lot outside an abandoned bank. It was freezing, causing all of us to huddle around a space heaters between takes.  When we could brave the cold, we stood to the side and watched a shoot-out amidst several parked cars, a meticulously choreographed scene that took two days to film.  There was a lot of gunfire and well-dressed thugs fell dying into the mud, ruining their suits, and clearly the victor was the title character played by Keanu Reeves.  Afterward Reeves, in a dark suit and tie and with slick hair that was parted down the middle, sat in a tent getting his makeup reapplied. He wasn’t made up to look handsome.  He emerged with his face covered with scratches, cuts, and blood.  That’s how he looked when we did the following, very informal roundtable at a square table in the unheated building.  I note my questions as I represented FilmInk.

Keanu Reeves in a scene from "John Wick."

Keanu Reeves in a scene from “John Wick.”

Q: What are you shooting today?

Keanu Reeves: My character is trying to get to a Russian crime lord, Viggo, played by Michael Nyqvist.  To find out where he is, he first goes after Viggo’s son Iosef [Alfie Allen] and he has to kill his henchmen.

Q: Talk about your character.

KR: John Wick is a former assassin who worked for Viggo but fell in love and got married and kind of put his past behind him. He literally buried his past, his guns, in his basement. His wife [Bridget Monahan] passes away from an illness and she gives him her dog.  She tells him, you need someone or something to love. John Wick has been robbed of his ability to grieve and to have this kind of hope, but he got this gift from his wife. The son has two henchmen with him and they steal John’s car and kill the dog.  So he seeks revenge. The film plays with worlds. There’s the normal world he has lived in and the underground world from his past that he goes back into.

Q: You’re the protagonist in this, and you’re a cold-blooded killer.

KR: Yeah, it’s pretty Old-Testament. It’s not a New Testament story until, maybe,  the final scenes. The journey starts off, he wants revenge–maybe not revenge, but reclaiming.  Someone’s taken something from him, and instead of saying, Q: You’re the protagonist in this, and you’re a cold-blooded killer.

KR: Yeah, it’s pretty Old-Testament. It’s not a New Testament story. But maybe it is in the final scenes. The journey starts off, goes into a kind of revenge… not revenge, but reclaiming.  Someone’s taken something from him, and instead of saying, Okay, I’ll deal with that loss and move on, he’s the kind of person who’ll say, No, you can’t take that from me. John Wick is a little extreme. Viggo describes John as someone you would send after the bogeyman.

Danny Peary: The most dangerous revenge characters are those who have nothing to lose. Does your character at this point have anything to lose?

KR: I guess the deepest and easiest answer is yes, his soul. It’s the good part of him. When this switch goes on with John, I don’t think he reflects a lot about the dark side that he goes into, but I guess if he doesn’t do what he does in the film and he doesn’t reclaim his good side, he’ll be lost in the dark side of death.

DP: With your character, there’s resurrection, but how can he allow his dark nature to take over in order to defeat all these people and still get redemption?

KR: I think it’s because when we first see John, we see the good side of him. He’s with his wife and he’s loved.  He restores old books. He’s a nice guy. I think of him as an orphan who went into the military and kind of got pulled out of the military. That backstory is not spoken about, but hopefully I can transmit that he’s not a monster. Because I feel like he’s relatable. When things that we love are taken away, I think we all strive to protect and reclaim them, so I think in terms of relating to this character and what he does, there’s some wish fulfillment.  If they did that to me, that would be my way of dealing with it! [Laughter] An impulse, a basic impulse.

DP: It’s like peaceful Viggo Mortensen being forced to resort to his old ways in The History of Violence.

KR: Yes. I don’t know, I sympathize with the guy.

Q: What was your weapons training for this?

KR: It’s been fun.  I’ve had some movie gun training in the past, so some of the techniques I was familiar with, but each character I play requires something different so I worked for a while with a gentleman from LAPD SWAT.  I also worked with a guy from the army, because I would be doing different kinds of weapon and tactical techniques.  So it was basically reacquainting myself with weapons and techniques while training new things on the job and trying to get it right under the circumstances. One thing I needed to get right was a tricky holster!

Q: What about training for hand-to-hand combat?

KR: I worked with some very accomplished jujitsu and judo practitioners. I’m very much a beginner, but when I can focus on certain techniques, I can hopefully get pretty good at them.  I hasn’t been easy, and my knees aren’t as fresh as they were ten years ago, but with experience comes efficiency–and I’m a lot more efficient.

Q: When you do something like this, is there an adrenaline rush or something that elevates your excitement levels?

KR: Yeah, this film gives me a lot of opportunities to do action.  They wanted me to not do everything.  The way that they’re filming, they’re doing some inserts but they’re very long takes, and you’re seeing it happen. They want me to do a couple of throws, jujitsu and some judo. Some neat things that I haven’t really haven’t had the chance to do much of before.  So I was excited by that. There are fight sequences when it’s Action!, and you have to go for it.  And there is an adrenaline rush.  But even the scene you saw today, it’s movie fighting.

Q: After months of training and the end of the shoot now, are you exhausted?

KR: I really love this project.  You know, you go into a project with lots of hopes.  We’ve been filming for a couple of months now and the directors, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, have really realized all that I could hope for. We have a wonderful cinematographer, Jonathan Sela, a great cast, and the right tone for the film, so it’s going to be a unique genre picture.

DP: What do you mean by right tone?

KR: It has a real tone but it’s a hyper-reality.  It’s really hard-boiled. And I like that. It depends on your sense of fun, but for me it’s fun.

Q: Has directing given you a different perspective on the set, as an actor?

KR: Absolutely, and not only on the set.  While it’s definitely everything on the floor in terms of the camera and shooting, I also see things differently in regard to pre-production and post-production, and try to support the directors with everything involved with the picture.

Q: What is your relationship with the directors?

KR: I first worked with Chad when he was a stunt double on The Matrix.  That’s where I met him. We did the Matrix trilogy together.  After that, I also worked on pictures with David. They went on to create a company called 8711, which is action design. They did a lot of second unit filming for some really big Hollywood movies. I’d seen their work so on the action side of it, I was really confident and excited about what they could do with the opportunity to direct. Working with them on the script and my character, I felt that they were so creative and understood the material really well.  They’re really collaborative, they pay attention to detail, they know what they want, they accept my help.  For me, it’s everything that I could look for in an actor-director relationship.

Q: What about a sequel for this?

KR: I don’t know, it depends on how they end this version, if I die or not. There’s a question about whether or not John Wick survives. We’ve shot different versions of the ending. John Wick, the Beginning! Yeah, I mean if they wanted to do something like that, I’d be game, hopefully with the same directors. I really enjoyed playing the character.  I still love acting, because every role has variety. Each role, including John Wick, has its puzzle and its journey. I really enjoy figuring it out and going on that journey.

 

Many Possibilities for Stella Maris Property in Sag Harbor

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The building that formerly housed Stella Maris Catholic School on Division Street in Sag Harbor.

The building that formerly housed Stella Maris RegionalA  School on Division Street in Sag Harbor.

By Tessa Raebeck

A week after the Division Street property of the former Stella Maris Regional School was put on the market, Sag Harbor Village is awash with ideas and discussion about how to use the space.

“There’s a lot of interest, actually,” Robert Evjen, a broker at Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Sag Harbor, said Wednesday of the .74-acre property, which is listed at $3.5 million.

The building is 32,234 square feet and is a pre-existing, non-conforming commercial space in a residential zone. It is essentially zoned for offices or classrooms, Mr. Evjen said, “so any change in use would have to go in front of the board… I think that the best use would be probably what it’s zoned for right now.”

Although parking at the site is limited, Mr. Evjen said the building itself is in “good shape.” The school has a full gymnasium, a kitchen and “a great space for a community center,” he said. It would require “some upgrading” in terms of bringing in high-speed cable and other technical improvements, he said.

“There’s so many uses,” said Mr. Evjen, adding there’s a population in the village that needs affordable housing and over 20 local not-for-profits that are “looking for a home.”

“There’s been several suggestions by so many people—maybe the school should buy it, maybe the village should buy it, maybe it could become an incubator where our business community and artists and writers community would be in there, and also help our kids work with them on their interests—it’s got a lot of opportunities,” said Mr. Evjen.

“The majority of people would like to see the village play a part in either ownership or leasing,” he continued. “I think it would be in the best interest of Sag Harbor to have the village play some part in it, whether it’s the school or it’s the not-for-profits, that would probably be the best use.”

Sag Harbor’s Board of Education President Theresa Samot said Sunday that the school district had not “begun a process of review or analysis of this property.” However, on Monday, the board did discuss real estate during an executive session.

“The board of education is discussing it,” Superintendent Katy Graves said on Tuesday, although she would provide no specifics.

“There’s always concerns” about additional space in the district, Ms. Graves said. “We’ve seen a steady increase in our population over the last six or seven years that we are now over 1,000 students here in the district. So, that’s definitely a concern for the district.”

The superintendent added that Sag Harbor currently pays for students who require special education to be placed elsewhere, due to a lack of space in the district. Another financial consideration, Ms. Graves said, is the prevalence of out-of-district families who pay tuition to send their students to Sag Harbor.

“We have over a half a million dollars in revenue that comes in from parents that…select Sag Harbor as their school district,” she added. “So, that’s a fairly substantial revenue stream that Sag Harbor would never want to do without because we don’t have room for them.”

While a purchase does not appear to be off the table for the school district, the village appears to be uninterested in the listing. Sag Harbor resident and Harbor Committee member Jeffrey Peters asked the village board last week whether it had considered purchasing the property, saying it could be used as a village meeting place or community center.

The board did not express any desire to look into the property and Mayor Brian Gilbride confirmed last Wednesday he has no interest in purchasing it.

“We’re optimistic that it will be beneficial to the village and the community, whatever it winds up being,” Mr. Evjen said. “Of course, we get our difficult developers in there that always look for some sort of development.”

David Kronman, a spokesman for Cape Advisors, the development firm responsible for the projects at the Watchcase Factory and Baron’s Cove, said Tuesday that his firm has not looked into the Stella Maris property.

“I think it’s unlikely that we’re going to consider it,” Mr. Kronman said. “I just think between finishing up Watchcase and Baron’s Cove—we’re going to focus on executing and finishing those projects, and if other opportunities exist we’ll probably take a look at that, but I don’t know if Stella Maris fits with what we’re trying to do.”

St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church, a parish of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, owns the Division Street property. Stella Maris was the oldest Catholic school on Long Island, having operated for 134 years when the diocese closed it at the end of the 2011 school year due to a $480,000 deficit. Parents tried to drum up support to keep the school open, but enrollment declined in reaction to the financial difficulties and Stella Maris’s doors remained shut.

In the two-and-a-half years since Stella Maris closed, there have been two unsuccessful attempts to open pre-schools in the building and it has occasionally been used for fundraisers and village police training.

When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, the Reverend Peter Deveraj of St. Andrew’s, said he had no comment about the church’s decision to list the property at this time. Sean Dolan, communications director for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, has not returned requests for comment.

New York Ballots Will Include Proposal to Bond $2 Billion for Technology in Schools

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By Tessa Raebeck

At the polls November 4, New Yorkers will vote on whether or not to authorize the state to issue and sell $2 billion in bonds to support statewide technological improvements.

The proposal, the Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014, was brought up at the Sag Harbor School District’s Board of Education meeting on Monday, October 20, by board member Tommy John Schiavoni, the school board’s legislative liaison.

If approved, the money raised would be used for various projects related to purchasing educational technology equipment and facilities, such as laptop computers, tablets and high-speed internet; constructing and modernizing facilities to accommodate pre-kindergarten programs and replacing classroom trailers with permanent instructional space; and installing high-tech security features in school buildings.

The measure was proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and backed by members of both parties in the State Legislature, including local representatives Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle.

Supporters of the proposition argue students belong in classrooms rather than trailers and children are better prepared for modern careers when they learn in a setting that is technologically up-to-date. Opponents, however, say the measure would add to New York’s already substantial debt and that it is impractical for the state to borrow money to fund technology that will soon become obsolete in a rapidly changing industry.

Sag Harbor voters will have the opportunity to answer yes or no to the $2 billion bond in Proposal 3 on the November 4 ballot.

 

Videotaping Pilot

Also at Monday’s meeting, the school board discussed the progress of the six-month pilot program to videotape its meetings for online access.

“I understand that the videotape of the board meeting from September 29 is unavailable,” Noyac resident Elena Loreto said to the board.

Board of Education President Theresa Samot said the video was unable to be posted “due to technical issues.”

“It was all garbled,” explained Superintendent Katy Graves.

“There was a problem with the display and the video itself,” added Chris Tice, vice president of the school board.

School board member Sandi Kruel noted there have been fewer people in the audience at meetings since taping began, which was a concern of the board when the initiative was first considered. She added the district does not have control over LTV, the East Hampton television studio that airs the recordings, and cannot direct when those recordings are posted.

“It’s just kind of out there like we’re trying to hide something and it’s very offensive,” Ms. Kruel said of the missing September 29 video.

“This is a new process for all of us and that’s why we set this up as a pilot and we were very clear about that when we set forth,” added Director of Technology Scott Fisher, who is in charge of the program. “So, we’re trying to work out some of the technical issues associated with it.”

Mr. Fisher said he currently delivers the memory card of the recordings to LTV in person, which can result in delays in how quickly they are available online.

“They do a lot with a really small crew of people,” added Mr. Fisher of the LTV staff.

“The meeting that didn’t go up was a result of the video camera just not focusing,” he said, adding that at the last workshop they filmed the meeting from a different angle.

“It was still a problem but not as obvious, that’s why tonight I’m not using that video camera anymore and we switched to an iPad to see if we’ll have better results…we’re working all this out so I appreciate your patience,” Mr. Fisher continued.

“We proactively ask for your continued positive support even if there are some technical errors…our staff is doing the best we can having these new added responsibilities on their plate,” added Ms. Tice.

Members of the Pierson High School Student Council attended Monday’s meeting to thank the board for its service before School Board Recognition Week, which is October 27 to 31. Council President Colleen Samot, board President Theresa Samot’s daughter, Vice President Zoe Diskin, who is the daughter of board member David Diskin, and Secretary Claire Oppenheimer thanked the board for its “unending commitment, dedication and countless hours [spent] supporting the students of Sag Harbor School District.”

New Building Pitched for Sag Harbor’s Bay Street

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bay street

The building housing Tutto il Giorno Italian restaurant will be razed and replaced with a larger one if a developer’s proposal is approved by Sag Harbor Village.

By Stephen J. Kotz 

If the owners of the lots housing the Tutto il Giorno Italian restaurant and the Urban Zen clothing store get their way, a major change will be coming to Bay Street in Sag Harbor in the form of a new 5,700-square-foot, two-story building that would evoke the memory of an inn that stood nearby a century or more ago.

Brian DeSesa, the attorney representing 6 Bay Street Partners, the property’s owners, appeared before the village Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday night to gauge members’ reaction to the project, for which a formal application has yet to be made.

Mr. DeSesa said the building would be cedar shingled, with a large wraparound porch, and resemble a hotel that once stood on or near the site of the restaurant and store. (In a photograph found in The Express archive, the building he referred to appears to be on the site of the Sag Harbor Pets building.)

According to a floor plan of the building, it will house a first-floor restaurant with tables seating 74 people, a bar with seats for 18 patrons, and an additional 24 seats outside.

It would also be much taller—at 32 feet—than the building occupying the space now. Mr. DeSesa said.

“I do anticipate resistance from the neighbors to the rear,” he said. “They have already told me they want a vacant lot there, but that’s not going to happen.”

Mr. DeSesa added that the project calls for the two lots at 4 and 6 Bay Street to be merged. The design would require only a single rear-yard variance because a portion of the building would sit as close as 5.8 feet from the property line, where a 15-foot setback is required. Otherwise, the new building will meet setbacks, he told the ZBA, unlike the current buildings.

Mr. DeSesa added that the building would be built back from the sidewalk, removing it from a flood zone that would have required it to be elevated an additional 9 feet. He said the owners recognized that a 41-foot-tall building would have been far less welcome than the 32-foot-tall structure proposed.

“Part of the impact is the mass of it,” said ZBA member Scott Baker. “In the rear, it’s not just the setback, it’s the mass.”

Other board members said they were not sure how to proceed. “I appreciate you coming to us first,” said board member Brendan Skislock. “But to me it’s a little early.”

Board Chairman Anton Hagen said he would like to know what the Planning Board thinks of the application, but he agreed with member Tim McGuire that the ZBA would welcome an application that reduced the degree of nonconformity of the property.

Mr. DeSesa told the board an application would be withdrawn for a variance to waive a requirement for seven additional parking spaces so Tutto il Giorno could add 21 seats.  He said the new plan would not require a parking variance.

The attorney said the project would be considered a Type I action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act because of the scale of the new construction. Type I action typically require an environmental impact statement unless an applicant is able to address a review board’s environmental concerns ahead of time.

County Officials Say Guardrail’s Here to Stay

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Heller_New Guardrails on Short Beach Road 10-21-14_9674

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

By Mara Certic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

East End Towns and Villages Pursue Regional Ban on Bags

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PIC DAVID CRUMP.TESCO PLASTIC BAGS

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

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

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

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

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

Linda Silich

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Linda-Silich

By Mara Certic

Linda Silich is a founding member and full partner at Groundworks Landscaping, along with Kim Hren and Andy Silich. She spoke with us about some autumnal activities going on at the nursery this month.

 This weekend and next, you’ll be hosting a spooky “Trail of Terror” at Groundworks. When and why did you decide to host an interactive Halloween-y activity?

For the trail of terror, this is the second year. The main reason we decided to do it is that we wanted to do something fun for the community and everybody was complaining that they were tired of going up the island. So when we opened the nursery last year—we just took it over; Groundworks has been in existence for 14 years and then we just took over the garden center. I thought it would be a really cool thing to have events by the pond, and then call it different things. So we had “Music by the Pond” and then “Yoga by the Pond.” And we did a lot of those things pro bono, we didn’t really charge for it. And so in fall, we thought let’s make it fun, instead of just selling pumpkins. We had a couple of good, strategic people who love Halloween. I personally was never a big fan of it, but now that we do this… it’s fun. Kim and Andy and I talked it out and we charge $10. We wanted to keep it affordable for the community, the point isn’t to make money, it’s really just to cover our costs.

Where do you find the ghouls and goblins that roam around the Trail of Terror?

We have about 30 to 40 people that all volunteer. We use two acres [away] from the road and decorate the trails all around the garden center. I’m the tour guide, I think I’m Little Red Riding Hood. I was the tour guide last year, it seems to be my gig—I was a tour guide in college, too. The most accurate way to say it is that we max out at 20 people per group. A crew will go every half hour or 45 minutes—it’ll depend on the group—and there are different stations throughout the two acres that you’ll go to. So it’s not just like walking through the garden center. That’s another misnomer, a lot of people are like “How scary can you decorate the garden center?” 

The Trail of Terror is recommended for those over 13. Is there anything for the younger set?

Well a lot of people said this all is great, but why don’t you do something for the little kids. So we’re doing the fall festival for kids the same day. So the fall festival is more for face painting, etc., but the big thing we’re doing, which no one else has done out in the Hamptons, is that we’re bringing pigs out here and we’re going to have Sue Wee Flying Pig races. They’re very cute. There will be races on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a company upstate, they bring the track, they bring the pigs, they chase after Oreos. It’s totally cool and it will be something totally different. And that’ll also be $10. You know, it’s just something different. So we do listen to people and we try to respond appropriately.

Do you have things at Groundworks that people can use to make their own backyards spooky and seasonal?

Yes, some of my bigger landscape clients will do hay bales and cornstalks, Indian corn. We also have a great gift shop. A lot of people don’t realize that yet; they won’t realize it until they walk in and see for themselves. And it’s not just a lot of tchotchkes; there are nice gifts for hostesses, and that sort of things. I think it’s kind of nice that we’re able to appeal to a wide range of people.

The Trail of Terror will be open on Friday and Saturday, October 24 and 25, and Thursday and Friday, October 30 and 31, from 7 to 10 p.m. The fall festival will begin at 9 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, October 25 and 26. Tickets for both events cost $10 per person. Groundworks is located at 530 Montauk Highway in East Hampton. For more information, call (631) 324-7373.

 

East End Elected Officials Agree on Local Issues at LTV’s Second Village Green Meeting

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By Mara Certic

East End elected officials offered a strong, united front, seemingly agreeing on each and every local and national issue that cropped up during a “village green” discussion hosted by LTV Studios in Wainscott on Friday, October 17.

LTV hosted its second village green meeting of the year in an effort to give the public an opportunity to ask the five major East End elected officials about issues of concern.

Representative Tim Bishop, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst spent an hour and a half answering questions about various subjects including the potential of “Peconic County,” offshore wind farms, planning issues, heroin and Ebola. Robert Strada, the board president of LTV, moderated the discussion, and questions were submitted by the public through the website phlive.at.

The oft-examined notion of a new “Peconic County” was the first question to crop up during Friday’s forum, which Mr. Thiele and Mr. Schneiderman answered.

The discussion of Peconic County first began many years ago, when Suffolk County offices were moved from Riverhead to Hauppauge. Peconic County would be made up of the five East End towns, which officials have often complained that the county ignores their needs.

“We will never get our fair share from Suffolk County,” Mr. Thiele said, adding the East End represents 8 percent of the county’s population and yet pays in excess of 15 percent of the sales tax and over a third of the county’s property tax. He said Suffolk’s population of almost 1.5 million people is much larger than what a county’s should be.

“The East End is simply going to be the tail on the dog,” he said, “and it is only occasionally that the tail gets to wag the dog.”

Mr. Schneiderman said he had always been a supporter of local control but that starting a new county would be “an awful lot to take on,” and that now might not be the time. Mr. Thiele added there was currently a big push from the governor to consolidate and “we would be swimming against the tide.”

“The politics of creating new local governments is something that’s extremely hard to do,” he said. “The issue is whether or not you can get the political stars to line up to create the county.”

Supervisors Cantwell and Throne-Holst described some of the measures they have employed to protect local beaches, including the Army Corp of Engineers program in downtown Montauk and a $10 million grant East Hampton Town was awarded to protect the low-lying Lazy Point area of Napeague.

“Clearly we’re dealing with the issue of climate change,” Mr. Cantwell said. The elected officials all sprung at the opportunity to answer a question about Deepwater ONE, a proposed 200-megawatt offshore wind farm that would, if all goes according to plan, create enough electricity to power 120,000 homes.

“Wind has to be part of our energy portfolio going forward,” Mr. Bishop said, but emphasized the importance of siting the project appropriately so as not to disrupt aesthetics, fishing grounds or shipping lanes. “My own view is that it’s a pretty big ocean out there, and we should be able to figure this out,” he added. Legislator Schneiderman agreed it was important for the offshore wind developers to continue to work in conjunction with commercial fishermen but added, “This is too important for us to put up too many obstacles.” Mr. Schneiderman said the farm has “great potential to get our region off the grid”

“The reality is we’re woefully behind,” said Supervisor Throne-Holst about the use of renewable energy on the East End compared to the rest of the world.

Next week, the board of LIPA and Governor Cuomo are slated to have their last meeting about Deepwater ONE on Thursday, October 30. Environmental organizations have organized a “Rally for Renewables” to show the governor how much support an East End wind farm would have.

Governor Cuomo came under some fire when the assembled elected officials were asked how they allowed the 60-foot PSEG utility poles to be installed in East Hampton Village and Town. “That’s got a sorry tale, really,” said Mr. Cantwell.

“Public outreach and public notice isn’t opening up the window at the corporate headquarters at Hicksville at 3 o’clock in the morning and whispering ‘we’re going to build utility poles out in East Hampton,’” Mr. Thiele said. “They simply did not do what you would expect a public utility to do.” He went on to describe PSEG as “an unmitigated disaster.”

“The governor has been absent. I don’t know if he’s on his book tour, or what he’s doing but he’s not helping with this particular problem,” Mr. Thiele added.

At the end of the forum, each member of the panel was invited to make a closing comment. “We’re very, very fortunate to have this great and responsive group of people,” Ms. Throne-Holst said of her fellow elected officials. Representative Bishop said the good, professional relationships among the group of legislators “represents government at our best.”

“Really, I feel like we have an incredible team,” said Mr. Schneiderman, who is serving his last term as county legislator. Assemblyman Thiele said he knew he had said some “nasty” things about Governor Cuomo and added, “I just want to let you know, I’m not taking any of them back.”

Bishop, Zeldin Offer Divergent Views at Debate

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Congressman Tim Bishop addresses the Concerned Citizens of Montauk on Sunday, as his challenger, Lee Zeldin, listens. Michael Heller photo,

Congressman Tim Bishop addresses the Concerned Citizens of Montauk on Sunday, as his challenger, Lee Zeldin, listens. Michael Heller photo.

By Stephen J. Kotz

In what has become an almost daily occurrence in this year’s campaign, the two candidates for Congress in the 1st District, incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop and Republican challenger Lee Zeldin, offered up sharply differing views in a debate last Thursday, October 16.

Mr. Bishop touted his track record of providing excellent constituent service and his ability to bring the federal government “to the table to solve individual problems,” calling it “life-altering work.” He said he was recently told he had “a laser-like focus on my constituents. I took that as very high praise because that is exactly what I have done.”

Mr. Zeldin, who repeatedly attacked the size of government, wasteful spending as well as the domestic and foreign policies of President Barack Obama and said he supported term limits, said Mr. Bishop was part of the problem. “If you elected enough people like my opponent,” he said, “Nancy Pelosi would be the Speaker of the House.”

With the spread of the Ebola virus into the United States a top news story in recent weeks, both candidates said they agreed on at least one thing: that President Obama has not done enough.

“I think the president is making a mistake in not putting into place a travel ban to west Africa,” where the virus is spreading unchecked, said Mr. Bishop. He said he would support reconvening Congress before its scheduled November 12 session to deal with the problem.

Mr. Zeldin described the president’s handling of the health crisis as “terrible” and said it was time to “have maximum security procedures at our airports.”

Last week’s debate, one of some 75 joint appearances by the candidates scheduled between Labor Day and Election Day, was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons and held at Westhampton Beach High School. The pair also faced off at a candidates’ forum sponsored by the Concerned Citizens of Montauk on Sunday.

Both candidates spent a considerable amount of time complaining about the negative tone the campaign has taken, with political action committees on both sides filling mailboxes with literature and radio and television with ads targeting the opponent.

Mr. Zeldin said “Nancy Pelosi’s super PAC is spending seven figures targeting us, trying to scare women” into believing that if he were elected women would wind up paying more for health care coverage and lose the right to have abortions. Other campaign literature wrongly suggested he would require taxpayers to foot the bill for corporate polluters, Mr. Zeldin complained.

“You can repeat a lie over and over and over again and eventually people will be believe it,” he said.

That brought a chuckle from Mr. Bishop. “It’s pretty cheeky on the part of my opponent to talk about our end, given the scurrilous nature of the ads his side is running against us,” he said.

The incumbent Congressman said Supreme Court rulings opening campaigns to unlimited corporate and special interest financing were “fundamentally imperiling our democracy. We are now in the realm where elections are bought and sold as opposed to won or lost,” he said.

Mr. Zeldin complained that a Bishop ad campaign was trying to scare senior citizens into believing he wanted to cut Social Security payments. “I would never vote for any piece of legislation that would take one dime away from anyone who is a senior or close to retirement,” Mr. Zeldin said.

But Mr. Bishop said Mr. Zeldin has in the past supported the idea of allowing those 40 and younger to put their Social Security withholding into personal investment accounts. “That’s privatization, folks,” he said. And the result would be dramatic shortfall in funding for the Social Security trust fund, which would require a reduction in benefits paid to current retirees.

“We either tell seniors we were only kidding or we borrow,” said Mr. Bishop, adding, “My opponent obviously does not understand how the trust fund works.”

The $17.8 billion national debt is growing beyond control, according to Mr. Zeldin, who said both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations had spent too much money. “We need to pick a number…. $18 trillion? $20 trillion? $22 trillion? When is enough in regards to our nation’s debt,” he said.

“The easiest thing in the world is to say cut spending,” responded Mr. Bishop. “The hardest thing in the world is to actually do it.”

To illustrate his point, he said 48 cents of every federal dollar is earmarked for retirees, 18 cents for defense and 9 cents for interest on the national debt. That leaves only 25 cents of every federal dollar eligible for cuts, he said, adding that he was not going to be the one to cut Social Security payments, veterans’ healthcare or federal law enforcement.”

Mr. Zeldin said that more needs to be done to reduce welfare fraud and provide private sector jobs to entice people to leave the unemployment rolls.

“The incumbent is not giving you a single thing that is going to make this bloated federal government operate more efficiently,” Mr Zeldin said.

“What the incumbent Congressman has done was vote for a piece of legislation that capped the growth of domestic spending and saved $2 trillion,” Mr. Bishop shot back.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was also a topic of contention, with Mr. Zeldin saying there were portions of the sweeping healthcare legislation that should be preserved, such as allowing children to remain on their parents’ policies until the age of 26 and the requirement that prevents insurers from refusing coverage to those with preexisting conditions. But most of the program needs to be scrapped because it has resulted in higher premiums, fewer choices for consumers and other problems,” he said.

“There should be a productive dialog between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives” to fix the healthcare system, he said.

“I suppose that conversation should begin with repeal rather than fixing,” said Mr. Bishop, pointing out that “there is no commitment on the part of the majority party to fix it,” noting that the House has voted more than 50 times, along party lines, to repeal the legislation. He described it as “a work in progress” that needs to be improved. “There are many good things that we should keep and build on and elements that we should fix,” he said.

On immigration, Mr. Zeldin said the first order of business was to tighten border security. “When you a leak, the first thing you do is shut off the faucet,” he said. “You don’t grab a mop.”

Mr. Bishop said that the Republican-controlled House has refused to recognize the need to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants who are already here. A bipartisan Senate bill offered increased border security as well as a path to citizenship, he said, but the House would not act on it. “Is it perfect?” he said. “No. But it is a way that is dealing with a problem that has no easy solutions.”

Mr. Zeldin also criticized President Obama’s leadership against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, saying the president’s strategy would never be successful in defeating the militants. For his part, Mr. Bishop cited the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff who told a Senate committee there was no easy way to militarily defeat ISIS. Mr. Bishop said he would not support a return of American troops to Iraq.

The candidates parted along predictable party lines on a number of other issues, with Mr. Bishop supporting an increase in the minimum wage, a woman’s right to have an abortion, and same sex marriage, while Mr. Zeldin said a minimum wage hike would backfire, that he was pro-life and that he believed marriage should be considered between a man and a woman.

Mr., Bishop said he would work for federal money to help solve some of the growing problems with Long Island’s groundwater, while Mr. Zeldin said he thought such solutions were better left at the state and local level.

Although it is a state initiative, Mr. Zeldin said he opposed Common Core, which he said was setting school children up to fail, while Mr. Bishop said he supported higher educational standards and recognized that the “rollout of Common Core was the only thing that could make the rollout of Obamacare look good.”