Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor"

Writing about Nature with Poet Farmer Scott Chaskey

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Scott Chaskey

Scott Chaskey

By Emily J. Weitz

Scott Chaskey speaks for the land, and he does it with his hands as well as his words. Out in the fields at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett almost every day, Mr. Chaskey knows the soil, he knows the migratory patterns of birds, he knows the seasons. Through the two books he’s published in recent years, “This Common Ground” and “Seedtime,” Mr. Chaskey has spread his understanding across the country and has impacted the larger farm to table movement. But his roots are not in farming, and they’re not in nonfiction writing. Scott Chaskey was educated a poet.

Mr. Chaskey met his wife Megan, a Kundalini yoga teacher and poet herself, while earning his MFA degree in England. Ever since, they’ve both woven poetry into whatever they do. Now, as the Director of Quail Hill, his voice has become a significant contributor to the national conversation about farms and sustainability. And it only makes sense that in his poetry as well as his prose, nature is a great source of inspiration.

“We can connect with nature through the written word,” said Mr. Chaskey.

He hesitates to term himself a nature writer, though he has great respect for many others who are. John Fowles, who wrote “The Tree,” had a particular impact on him, and he quoted him in “Seedtime.” Other major influences include John Haye.

“He’s a spectacular writer about the natural world, and wrote in the mid to late 20th century,” said Mr. Chaskey.

His own teachers, first at SUNY Binghamton and then in graduate school, taught him a great deal about capturing the natural world with words.

At this point in our conversation, Mr. Chaskey gasped, then laughed.

“A bird just flew into my window!” he said. “I have to go!”

When he called back, he informed me that a sparrow had flown into the window of the shop at Quail Hill, where he was at work.

“Here we are talking about a connection with nature and a sparrow flies into the window,” he laughed. “I suppose nature is something you can’t get away from.”

It reminded him of an early connection he made between writing and nature. He was living in a fishing village in Cornwall, England while he pursued his MFA. His mentor was a poet named Edgar Wallace, and he also felt the connection between the beautiful cliff meadows and the urge to write.

“Edgar was part of the landscape,” recalls Mr. Chaskey. “I remember one day coming down the steep hill, and Edgar was coming the other way. And he walked over to a bush, and hugged the bush. It was his way of greeting me. He was so connected to the natural world that he hugged the bush.”

Mr. Chaskey feels that same kind of deep connection now, though he didn’t always. Growing up in the suburbs didn’t nurture that kind of connection. But he found it in Cornwall, and it’s only grown since.

“It took a while for that connection to surface,” he said, “but since I’ve lived on the cliffs of Cornwall and on this beautiful peninsula, it has become crisp.”

As well as being a farmer and poet, Mr. Chaskey is a teacher. He’s taught poetry to children, college students, and adults. Over the next two weeks, he will lead a workshop on writing about nature at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor.

“I want it to be open. I’ll present things that I think are wonderful examples of people writing about nature, and people will bring their own thoughts and favorite passages… It always bubbles up out of the experience of who’s in the room.”

There’s a line by the poet George Oppen: “There are things we live among, and to see them is to know ourselves.” Mr. Chaskey uses this as a guide to his practice of writing about nature.

“We have to be in it,” he said. “I advise walking as much as you can, looking and seeing, and combine that with reading other passages from writers you admire.”

Writing about Nature with Scott Chaskey will take place at Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street in Sag Harbor, on Thursday, February 19 and Thursday, February 26 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $75 for both sessions and registration is required. Call Canio’s Books at (631) 725-4926 or visit caniosbooks.com for more information.

 

 

 

Residents Concerned About What East Hampton Airport Regulations Could Mean for Montauk

Tags: , , ,


photo

A grassroots organization in Montauk asked the town board to consider what regulations at East Hampton airport could mean for the island’s eastern most airport. Photo by Cara Rooney. 

By Mara Certic

As the East Hampton Town Board scheduled public hearings this week for controversial new airport regulations, which would effectively ban helicopters from East Hampton Airport on summer weekends as well as impose a strict nighttime curfew, another group aired concerns about the negative effects the laws could have on neighboring airports.

The town board on February 4 unveiled draft legislation, which it said would reduce airport traffic by a third, and is designed to tackle a large portion of the noise problem on the East End.

East Hampton officials maintain that they effectively gained proprietary control over the airport at the beginning of the year when the town’s commitments under Federal Aviation Administration grants expired, and the town opted out of future funding from the federal agency.

But Jeremy Samuelson, executive director of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, said the new restrictions on East Hampton Airport could have unintended consequences for the small Montauk Airport. He read a letter to the board on Tuesday, February 10, asking it to weigh those consequences.

“CCOM believes strongly that the town board has a responsibility to understand and describe possible impacts to Montauk stemming from the proposed legislation,” he said.  “Demonstrate whether alternatives to the proposed legislation could achieve similar results for East Hampton while minimizing or eliminating impacts for Montauk and identify specific measures that could minimize impacts to Montauk.”

There is concern that the new restrictions at the East Hampton Airport, could result in a spike in helicopter traffic over Montauk’s privately owned 40-acre airport.

“The aviation consultants working for East Hampton Town should be tasked with determining where traffic currently landing at East Hampton Airport is most likely to land in the event restrictions are adopted, including projections for Montauk Airport, Gabreski Airport and the Southampton Dune Road heliport,” Mr. Samuelson’s letter stated.

He added that the town should begin working with the FAA, Senator Charles Schumer and U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin to put in place a mandatory over-water approach for helicopters landing at Montauk Airport.

One change has already been made to the legislation, which was first proposed last week. That alteration is in the definition of the types of “noisy” aircraft that would be subjected to an extended curfew from 8 p.m. through to 9 a.m. These noisy aircraft would now just be those with published approach levels above 91 decibels for the purposes of the law.

The town will soon publish and make available lists of which aircraft fall into the noisy category. The amendment to the law means that the restrictions would now only affect 24 percent of all operations and would still address 67 percent of the complaints (without the change, it was estimated 31 percent of flights would be affected, dealing with 74 percent of the noise problem.)

Public hearings will take place for each of the four proposed airport regulations at a special early meeting at LTV Studios on Thursday, March 5, at 4:30 p.m. in order to provide substantial time for the ample public comment expected.

Targeting Share Houses

Assistant Town Attorney Michael Sendlenski presented the town board with the latest suggestions on how to tackle the problem of share houses and illegal rentals, which each year seems to become more prevalent on the East End.

When residents recoiled last year at the suggestion of a rental registration law, Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the town would look to strengthen its existing code in an effort to target the issue of illegally occupied housing.

“The over-arching and the number-one issue that should be addressed from an enforcement point of view is over-occupancy on a year-round basis,” Mr. Sendlenski said on Tuesday.

He recommended the whole section of the code be revised to create a better system. One idea is that certain things could be considered presumptive evidence of overcrowding, so code enforcement officers would not have to physically witness a large number of people staying in one room. For instance, three beds in one bedroom could be used to prove an unsafe situation, he said, rather than having to catch up with the individuals supposedly using them, which can be difficult in the transient environment of a share house.

“We would still be showing overcrowding by square footage, but this would provide us with not having to witness the individuals within that space,” he said.

Mr. Sendlenski also suggested increasing the maximum fine from $1,000 to $2,500 for the first offense. He recommended the fine be doubled for second offenders, and doubled again for third offenders.

Vaccine Debate Rages On in Sag Harbor

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Dr. Gail Schonfeld gives an injection to a little girl in January 2011. Photo by Michael Heller.

Dr. Gail Schonfeld gives an injection to a young girl. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

The recent measles outbreak, which started in California, has evoked fear among parents, painful memories among doctors, and intense debate, finger pointing and even name-calling from all sides nationwide. The outbreak has fueled discussion on playgrounds, in waiting rooms, and on Facebook groups here on the East End, where an estimated 3 percent of school children are not fully vaccinated.

Largely centered on the M.M.R. vaccine, which targets measles, mumps and rubella, the debate has made unlikely bedfellows of those on the far left and those on the far right. A growing number of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children for a growing number of reasons, ranging from their belief in holistic medicine, the power of Mother Nature and the natural strength of the human body’s immune system, to a general mistrust of government, injections and in some cases, science itself.

An airborne disease that is highly contagious, measles was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000, but experts believe recent outbreaks originated with international travel to areas that have low or non-existent immunization rates, like parts of Africa.

“There’s measles in the world, there’s international travel and when you get below a certain percentage of people who are adequately immunized, the disease will start to spread and it will come back, and that is exactly what has happened,” said Dr. Gail Schonfeld, an East Hampton pediatrician who has been in practice for 33 years.

Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are often clustered in geographic hubs, making the disease’s spread more likely. The recent outbreak of measles in California, where a growing number of children are not vaccinated, has been linked to Disneyland, but originated outside the U.S.

Health experts believe outbreaks are limited when the population is above a certain immunization rate, due to a phenomenon called “herd immunity.” If a high enough percentage of the population is vaccinated, believed to be 95 percent for measles, the disease cannot spread to enough people during its incubation period to sustain itself, which is why recent outbreaks have been contained.

So, although recent outbreaks stem from international travel rather than non-vaccinated American children, if the numbers of unvaccinated children continue to rise, the disease will spread more easily the next time it comes to the U.S.

A measles outbreak in Ohio last June, connected to Amish missionaries returning from the Philippines, more than doubled in size in 10 days and eventually spread to 339 mostly unvaccinated Amish people, according to state health officials. Ohio granted more than three times as many religious and philosophical exemptions from vaccines to kindergarten students in 2013 than it did in 2000.

Unlike in Ohio and some other states, philosophical exemptions from vaccines are not permitted in New York, but the rate of religious exemptions has risen over the last decade, from 0.23 percent in 2000 to 0.45 percent in 2011, according to a 2013 study in the medical journal Pediatrics.

The current rate of immunization in the Bridgehampton School District is 98 percent, with all but three students fully vaccinated. Those children, the district said, are partially vaccinated, but have religious exemption from some vaccines.

In the Sag Harbor School District, 97 percent of students are vaccinated, with 3 percent exempt for religious and medical reasons, according to the district.

On Monday, February 9, the New York State Department of Health sent a letter to all school superintendents in the state reminding schools to follow the requirements for vaccinations.

“Given the recent media attention and the fact that DOH has confirmed three cases of measles in New York State, including New York City, we write to remind you to continue to take all appropriate measures to protect New York’s students through your responsibility to oversee children’s admissions to school,” said the letter.

Under state law, children must receive vaccinations before attending public or private school, unless a doctor confirms that vaccines will harm the child or a parent provides a written explanation of a “genuine and sincere” religious objection, which school officials can accept or reject.

Parties on all sides of the debate are guilty of fear mongering; Some M.M.R. opponents link the vaccine to autism, despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support their claim, while some vaccine proponents incorrectly assert that the instances of measles are testament to a rapidly approaching epidemic that immediately puts all American babies at risk. The extent of loud, often misinformed opinions on both sides can make researching vaccines difficult for the average parent.

Elizabeth Schmitt, an East Hampton mother who decided against vaccinating her eldest daughter Ruby, first became aware of the arguments against vaccines through an Internet message board, branched off of Parents.com. As she continued to “read around” online, the new mother quickly became “really scared.”

As Ruby neared kindergarten age, her younger brother, Cole, at the time about 15 months old and also not vaccinated, started to show strange symptoms: he stopped talking, started twitching and had a high fever.

“It was just all these really scary symptoms out of the blue,” said Ms. Schmitt, “and the funny thing was that all these symptoms were what people kept saying would happen to kids after the M.M.R., but he never had it, so that had me rethinking things really fast.”

“I was looking at a lot of different websites that, I guess in hindsight, aren’t as credible as I thought they were at the time, so then I started looking at the sources. If the site had an article about a certain study, instead of just reading the article, I started reading the study—and realized that the study didn’t say anything that the guy said in the article, and that was really aggravating,” she added.

Ms. Schmitt changed her opinion after further research, and now her children, Ruby, Cole, and 23-month-old Andy, are all fully vaccinated.

“Even the parents who choose not to vaccinate now, we’re all just on the same team, really, everybody’s just really scared about the whole thing,” she said, adding that the “real information” and scientific studies are far more difficult to find, read and understand than the anti-vaccine “sites that we have, like Natural News and the crazy stuff that’s not even true, but so user-friendly and so easy to read, that we didn’t find reason not to believe it.”

While Dr. Schonfeld said she understands “completely and absolutely where the misinformation is coming from and why people are saying and doing what they’re doing,” the pediatrician recently announced that families who choose not to vaccinate are no longer welcome in her practice, as she has “no question [that decision is] wrong on every level.”

“I think what people have to understand is the balance between personal choice and safety and social responsibility. This is the United States and we’re all about personal choice, but when your personal choice endangers the safety of your child and others around you, that’s the line you cannot cross,” she said.

Although she finds many parents’ fear of vaccines unfounded, Dr. Schonfeld’s experience practicing medicine before some of them were invented gives her a larger, more tangible fear: the return of measles and other preventable diseases.

“I’ve personally known and diagnosed children with several of the diseases that we now prevent with the vaccines, and I’ve seen some horrible, horrible things in my time—and I’ve seen the changes, so I understand it from a very different point of view,” she said. “I have very clear memories of the pain and suffering and death of these children and what their families went through…but I also have seen how it’s changed my life to not have these sudden life-threatening infections occurring in children. It’s very challenging to diagnose and treat them and have them survive.”

Although recent measles outbreaks in the U.S. are “horrible,” Dr. Schonfeld believes the incidence of measles is not high enough to justify a routine immunization at six months of age, rather than the standard 12 months.

“I am a firm believer of science and not emotion when it comes to the practice of medicine…When there is as much measles in the United States as there is in, say, parts of Africa where there is no vaccination, yes, we would go back to doing [immunizations before 12 months]—I just don’t think I could stand it if we got to that point,” she said. “I’m really thinking maximum one or two children dying, people are going to get it and stop doing this.”

One Billion Rising

Tags: , , , ,


onebillionrising

On Friday, February 13 at 5 p.m., local dance and theatre company, the Neo-Political Cowgirls, in partnership with The Retreat and the Sag Harbor-based Dodds & Eder, will hold a “One Billion Rising” event for its third year. This global event began as a call to action over the staggering statistic that one-in-three-women in the world experiences physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.  “One Billion Rising,” orchestrated by playwright Eve Ensler, was created to compel women and men across every country to rise up, dance and raise awareness to the injustices women suffer.

“Neo-Political Cowgirls is committed to producing provocative and inspiring theatrical works for and about women,” said Kate Mueth, founder and artistic director of NPC.  “Being able to show our support for such a critical cause and bring attention to it through performance is incredibly rewarding.”

The event will take place at Dodds & Eder, 11 Bridge Street in Sag Harbor from 5 to 7 p.m. and is for all ages. The event will include a flash mob dance, poetic readings, and musical performances by Skylar Day, Lynn Blue and the East Hampton High School Key Club.

Shopping Local for New Police Hires

Tags: , ,


Steyert_0095 

Sag Harbor natives Randy Steyert, pictured above, and Robert Rozzi have recently joined the Sag Harbor Village Police Department. Photography by Stephen J. Kotz. 

By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Village Police Department is taking on a decidedly local appearance with the recent hiring of two new officers, both of whom grew up in the village.

In November, Officer Randy Steyert, who previously had served three years with the New York Police Department, was hired by the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees. Just a month later, Officer Robert Rozzi, who was a part-time officer in East Hampton Town and Southampton Village for the past three years, became the department’s latest hire.

The pair join several other locals on the staff, starting with Chief Tom Fabiano and including Officer Pat Milazzo, Officer Nick Samot, and part-time Officer Michael Labrozzi.

Both Officer Steyert and Officer Rozzi said working in Sag Harbor was a dream come true.

“I love it.  What could be better than working in your hometown?” said Officer Steyert, who is 28 years old and a 2004 Pierson High School graduate. “I’ll do everything I can to try to improve the quality of life here.”

Rossi_1309

Robert Rozzi joined his hometown police department earlier this year.

“It’s kind of a cliché and cheesy to say you want to give back to the place you grew up in, but that’s how I feel,” said Officer Rozzi, 26, who graduated from Pierson in 2006.

Both officers said they had wanted to be policemen since they were kids. Officer Steyert, the son of Rick and Becky Steyert, won a football scholarship to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he earned a degree in criminal justice. He ran a fitness business before getting the call from the NYPD.

After completing the police academy, Officer Steyert was given his first assignment: New Year’s Day at 45th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. “I was right in the thick of it,” he said. Soon he was transferred to the 32nd Precinct in central Harlem. “It’s known as ‘the tomb of gloom’ because it has the most deaths in the line of duty than any other place in the city,” he said. After only six weeks on the job, he was responding to a call when a suspect fired shots at an officer before being wounded himself.

Officer Rozzi is the son of Robert Rozzi and Michelle Duchemin. He said his stepfather, Kevin Duchemin, an East Hampton Village officer himself, had helped guide him toward a career in law enforcement.

After graduating from Pierson, Officer Rozzi attended Universal Technical Institute in Massachusetts, where he studied automobile mechanics. He landed a job with the East Hampton Village Highway Department before catching on as a seasonal officer with the town and later with Southampton Village.

His first assignment was on foot patrol in Montauk during the height of the summer season. “Essentially, I was dealing with all the drunk people,” he said. “It was quite a scene.”

Officer Rozzi said the wait, after graduating from the police academy in 2012, was well worth it. “It’s everything I thought it would be for a small town. It’s fairly quiet, but there is enough to keep you busy.”

Although Sag Harbor has changed—“I saw it go from Sag Harbor to the Hamptons”—Officer Rozzi said the village retains its small town charm. “It’s nice being a local and knowing all the people and the area,” he said.

Officer Steyert also said he was happy to be home. He left New York shortly before two officers were shot to death in their car by a man who later committed suicide and had bragged beforehand that he was going to avenge the deaths of black men at the hands of police.

“I finished in Central Park,” he said. “You think that’s a safe place, but people are getting their stuff taken every day, there were a couple of rapes, and two gun arrests involving 14-year-old kids.”

“Out here there is not a fear of authority, but of respect, and that makes the job so much easier,” he added.

State Aid for Sag Harbor Uncertain as Governor Cuomo Holds Education Budget Hostage

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


By Tessa Raebeck

With Governor Andrew Cuomo holding school aid in limbo in hopes of forcing the New York State Legislature to adopt his educational reforms, next year’s school budgets—and educational mandates—remain a mystery to school boards and administrative teams trying to prepare for the 2015-16 school year.

“What the governor is doing is he wants to push his reform package,” Tommy John Schiavoni, legislative liaison to the Sag Harbor Board of Education, said at Tuesday’s meeting.

In January’s State of the State address, Governor Cuomo agreed to grant an additional $1.1 billion, or 4.8 percent, in state funding to New York’s schools if and only if the legislature passes his reforms. If the legislature—which, divided between a Democratic-controlled Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate, is often at a standstill—fails to do so, the governor threatened to limit that increase to 1.7 percent. In the meantime, those crafting school budgets must play a guessing game without direct information on how much state aid they’ll receive.

“He has publicly said that if he doesn’t get it, they’re going to hold back money from education,” Mr. Schiavoni said of the governor.

The reform package proposed by the governor includes teacher evaluations with 50 percent based on standardized tests, a proposal rebuked by the state’s teachers unions.

“I think that is certainly something that will affect us [and the annual Professional Performance Review] we’ve developed in Sag Harbor,” said Mr. Schiavoni.

Governor Cuomo is also requesting a five-year tenure plan to “make it easier to discipline teachers,” Mr. Schiavoni said. If enacted, the governor’s plan would make it easier for teachers to be fired and harder for them to be granted tenure.

Other reforms the governor is compelling the legislature to adopt include: raising the number of charter schools in the state by 100 and requiring those schools to accept less advantaged and lower-scoring students; starting a pilot pre-K program for 3-year-olds; sending specialists into schools that have been designated as “failing” for three years; and creating an education tax credit for private, public and charter school donations.

The governor’s office will not release the final financial numbers until the budget has passed, which could be as late as April 1. School districts, in turn, must tell the state comptroller’s office whether they plan to pierce the state tax cap, enacted in 2011, by March 1, at which point they could be missing information vital to understanding next year’s finances.

In other school board news, Superintendent Katy Graves said the district has accepted the i-Tri program, a self-empowerment group in which middle school girls focus on building confidence, mental health and physical stamina over six months, culminating with the girls racing in a triathlon in July.

The program was expected to be voted on by the board on Tuesday, but did not end up requiring a vote because there are no longer any transportation costs associated with it.

Theresa Roden, director and founder of i-tri, “has such a wealth of volunteers that are willing to come from the community into the school building that it’s become a facilities use agreement,” Ms. Graves said.

There are no costs for the district, but the program will use Pierson’s facilities and the administrative team, who will help i-tri with the selection process, which favors girls who are not involved in interscholastic sports.

Pierson Middle School Vice Principal Brittany Miaritis said the school is dispensing a survey for i-tri this week to “figure out girl selection for the program.”

The board’s next meeting is Monday, February 23, in the Pierson library. A budget workshop will be held at 6 p.m. followed by the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m.

Neighbors Raise a Noisy Stink over Harbor Market & Kitchen Construction

Tags: ,


Harbor Market_0100

Neighbors object to the heating and ventilation equipment on the roof of the new Harbor Market & Kitchen. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz. 

By Stephen J. Kotz

Excitement over the arrival of the new Harbor Market & Kitchen, which is slated to replace a longtime Sag Harbor staple, Espresso Market, at the corner of Division and Henry streets, has turned to dread for some neighbors.

The group of about a half dozen residents are upset that during the renovation of the building, the market’s new owners, Paul and Susana Del Favero, have had mechanical equipment, including heating and ventilation, moved to the roof.

“It looks like an airport. I’ve never anything like it,” said Kenny Mann of Henry Street. What’s worse, she said, is the noise from the equipment, which she said she has already heard, despite it being the dead of winter. “All I hear is this roar, a loud humming,” she said.

“We have nothing against having a store here. There has always been a store here,” said Andrew Skonka, who lives across the street. “But I see a huge expansion with all that equipment from what was there a few years ago. We are concerned about the noise and the odors.”

The neighbors have launched a website, Hamptonsforum.com, and a petition drive on Facebook. Mr. Skonka said they have already have about 80 supporters.

They have recently hired attorney Jeffrey Bragman in an effort to get the village to revisit the application. An ideal solution, Mr. Skonka said, would be if the village made the market restore the roof to how it appeared when Espresso was in business. Not only is the market in the middle of a residential neighborhood, he said, but it is also in the village historic district.

But despite the neighbors’ concerns that the work is being done without the proper permits, the village’s building inspector, Tom Preiato, said this week that everything is in order and that plans submitted by architect Douglas Moyer showing the mechanicals placed on the roof had been approved by the village Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review as well as the Building Department before his arrival in November.

On Wednesday, Mr. Preiato said a January 12 email he sent to Joseph and Elizabeth Trevisani of 26 Henry Street mistakenly stated that there were no permits for the roof work. He said he corrected that mistake in a subsequent letter sent to Mr. Moyer on January 22.

Mr. Preiato said the Del Faveros have agreed to ask the ARB to approve plans to screen the mechanical equipment on their own. That meeting will take place on Monday, February 23, at 5 p.m. at the Municipal Building.

In the meantime , the village Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a hearing on Tuesday, February  17, at 6 p.m. on the application of 184 Division Street Realty, LLC., the property’s owner, for variances to allow adding food preparation equipment, including a counter, sink, and oven, in the basement, which constitutes an expansion of a nonconforming business use in a residential neighborhood.

This week, responding by email, the Del Faveros said they have been upset by the petition drive and insisted they were trying to be good neighbors. They said none of what they called a small group of neighbors had ever approached them in person to discuss their concerns and added they continue to spread “the falsehood” that the work is being done without permits.

“The fact is that every permit required was applied for and granted by the ARB and the village Building Department,” their email stated. “We actually incurred great expense waiting and patiently respecting the Building Department permitting process—one that was delayed by months—yet we never lifted a hammer without permission.”

The neighbors’ petition drive also lists a number of complaints dating back to the days when Espresso occupied the site. Among those concerns are the lack of proper sewage, noise from delivery trucks idling outside,  smoke from the ventilation system, and litter and rodent problems, among others.

The Del Faveros insist that they cannot be held accountable for the sins of a former business and stressed that they had taken many steps, from siding the building in cedar and installing dry wells, to improve the building.

“To support this petition is to contribute to making it impossible for small local business owners to open in this village,” the Del Faveros stated. “Because if someone like us cannot come into this village, play by the rules, build a business that is environmentally sound, then what is left?”

East Hampton Town Board Considers Curfews, Limits, Bans to Control Airport Noise

Tags: , , , ,


Heller_EH Town Board Airport Work Session 2-4-15_1603_LR

Frank Dalene, co-founder of the Quiet Skies Coalition, thanked the town board for their openness and transparency during the process of adopting airport regulations. Photo by Michael Heller. 

By Mara Certic

People who have been complaining about noise from East Hampton Airport seemed elated on Wednesday morning when the East Hampton Town Board suggested a year-round curfew for the airport as well as other steps to limit noisy operations, including banning all helicopters on weekends during the summer season.

The steps, which would address 74 percent of all complaints while only affecting 31 percent of all flights, were outlined as the board heard the third and final phase of the independent noise analysis performed by Harrison Miller Miller & Hanson Inc., which was contracted to do the study by the town.

The first two phases of the noise study looked into the number of flights into and out of the airport and the complaints associated with them.

The third part of the noise analysis looked into different ways the town could solve the problem in a “reasonable, non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory” way.

“The town board recognizes the value of the East Hampton Airport to the community and does not want to impose any greater restriction than is necessary to achieve the town’s objectives,” Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said in a press release issued on Wednesday afternoon.

Councilwoman Burke-Gonzalez has acted as airport liaison since she took office in January 2014 and sponsored the draft legislation for the four specific regulations presented by HMMH Senior Vice President Ted Baldwin.

What the third phase of the study really did, according to Mr. Baldwin, was to predict the result of each possible restriction by using flight and complaint data from October 2013 through October 2014 so that the town would be able to gain a handle on how many flights and how many complaints would be affected by any rule change.

“We based it on 12 months of operations and complaints,” Mr. Baldwin explained,” the most recent 12 months of information we have.”

The four recommendations, all of which the town is considering adopting as local laws, collectively could address 74 percent of all aircraft complaints and would only affect 31 percent of the airport’s annual operations, restricting only the types of aircraft at the times of day, week and year that are associated with the greatest number of complaints.

The first restriction would be to make the airport’s year-round voluntary curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. mandatory. According to the work done by HMMH, 4.9 percent of all complaints last year were associated with operations that would be forbidden if the curfew were enforced.

The second restriction would extend the curfew from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. for noisy aircraft. Noisy aircraft are those with approach levels at 91 decibels or higher. The town will soon be publishing a list of all aircraft that meet that definition, Mr. Baldwin said.

The third proposed regulation would ban all helicopter flights on weekends and holidays during the summer season. The summer season has been defined as lasting from May 1 through September 30 and the weekend, for the purposes of the law, would start at noon on Thursday and end at noon Monday.

The weekend helicopter ban, in addition to the first two restrictions, would put a huge dent in the number of complaints filed, according to HMMH. Helicopters accounted for 14,935 complaints last year alone, with 12,944 of those complaints were called in during weekend hours.

The last restriction would prohibit noisy aircraft from conducting more than two flights in any calendar week during the summer, in an effort to prevent touch-and-go operations.

All told, helicopter traffic would be restricted the most, by 75.9 percent annually, while plane and jet flights would be reduced by approximately 13.7 percent, if the town chooses to adopt the restrictions.

Peter Kirsch, the town’s aviation attorney, explained that each regulation should be presented as its own separate local law in order to give the public the opportunity to meaningfully comment on each specific restriction.

Violating the laws, if adopted, would be a misdemeanor punishable by fines and possible jail terms ranging from $1,000 or/and 90 days in jail for the first offense to a fine of up to $10,000 for the third offense. A fourth violation would see the individual aircraft banned from the airport for a period of up to two years.

“This was designed to make sure that users understand the town board is serious about the restrictions,” Mr. Kirsch said.

Local officials present were not prepared comment on the legislation, but many got up to thank the board for their transparency and inclusiveness during the process.

“I want to commend the town board for the openness and transparency,” said New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

“This is how government is supposed to work and I think you’ve shown a fine process, it’s very, very important, there’s a lot of information here, the most important part of this is that it’s fact based and the public’s had the opportunity to comment,” he added.

Bob Malafronte, one of just two Southampton residents on the town’s airport noise subcommittee, also thanked the board for its work.

“It has been a hell of a long road, but we can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

A few aviation enthusiasts were present, and expressed their concern with the legislation. Bonnie Krupinski warned the town it was going down the path to closing the airport, and Cindy Herbst of Sound Aircraft said “even if half of these are initiated it’s the demise of East Hampton Airport and Sound Aircraft Services.”

Gerard Boleis, chairman of the airport planning committee’s aviation subcommittee, said his committee was unanimously against the regulations and warned that this could lead to “years of litigation and hundreds and thousands of dollars the town might lose.”

Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesperson for the Friends of the East Hampton Airport coalition, submitted the following statement:

“The town has proposed an unprecedented and drastic set of restrictions that would block access to a federally funded airport, discriminate against helicopters and other operators and will likely fail to ever go into effect for a variety of reasons. If enacted, the town board’s recommendations would essentially shut down the airport during the summer,” he said.

“In addition, the town’s 2015 budget relies on an increase in air traffic. Today’s proposed restrictions would cut traffic by 31 percent, thus creating a significant budget deficit and forcing property tax increases,” he added. Mr. Riegelhaupt continued to say that these restrictions would cause a decrease in real estate value.

Airport opponents say the incessant aircraft noise has already caused a decrease in real estate values, and that noise abatement measures would in fact improve the value of the property near the airport.

Over the next few days, the airport’s budget and financial advisory committee will analyze the regulations to ensure the airport can remain sustainable. Peter Wadsworth, a member of BFAC, said he believes it’s possible to finance a reasonable level of capital programs at the airport and that it’s also possible to make up the possible loss of revenue if these restrictions are put in place.

The town is slated to vote to notice the legislation for public hearing at their next work session on Tuesday, February 10. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, at LTV Studios. Comments can be submitted to HTOcomments@EHamptonNY.gov. A copy of all of the legislation and supporting data will be uploaded to www.HTOPlanning.com.

Sag Harbor School Board Taken Line by Line Through Proposed Athletics, Buildings and Grounds Budget

Tags: , , , , , , ,


By Tessa Raebeck

With items as precise as $9 for red floor tape, on Tuesday, February 3, Sag Harbor School District Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi unveiled the athletics and buildings and grounds portions of the first draft of the district’s budget for the 2015-16 school year.

“We’re just starting from zero and working our way up,” Ms. Buscemi told the board, adding, “this is still a first draft and these numbers are going to be refined going forward.”

Director of Facilities Montgomery Granger presented his proposed buildings and grounds budget, joking to the board, “This will be the most exciting budget presentation you’ve ever heard, it’s really scintillating.”

He asked the board to consider hiring another custodian for Pierson Middle/High School, at a starting salary of about $37,000. The “guidance” of how many custodians a school should have, he said, is one custodian per 20,000 square feet. At 140,000 square feet, Pierson has five janitors and a supervisor who also helps clean. Mr. Granger said the new hire could be a “floater” between schools, rather than hiring a substitute, which are often difficult to find.

“We have significant use of the building until late at night every single night plus the weekend use of the facility, so it is a huge challenge for the number of staff that we have,” Mr. Granger said of keeping Pierson clean.

The buildings and grounds budget includes a proposed $80,000 increase for “items that are much needed,” said Ms. Buscemi, including a Ventrac model tractor, a machine that can be used for both lawn mowing and snow plowing.

“These things tear through snow—it would have torn through that snow we recently had in an amazing fashion,” said Mr. Granger, who estimated it could last from three to 12 years depending on weather and use.

Mr. Granger also asked the board to purchase a new district vehicle, as its current vehicle, a 1995 Ford F250, is, understandably, on its last leg, despite valiant efforts by the schools’ mechanical team, he said, adding the proposed purchases will save money on repairs and labor costs moving forward.

The proposed total for the buildings and grounds 2015-16 budget is around $2.4 million, up by about $163,000, or 7.37 percent, from 2014-15.

With a projected total of about $781,000, the athletics budget, which covers Pierson Middle/High School’s 53 sports teams, is up by $6,465, or 0.83 percent. Seventy-eight percent of Pierson students participate in at least one sport, Athletic Director Donnelly McGovern said Tuesday.

“The athletic department has also inventoried everything we have…[Mr. McGovern] knows how many balls and how many basketballs,” said Superintendent Katy Graves, adding that the athletic director spoke with every coach individually to assess what each team has and needs.

The administration provided immense detail for a school district budget, including low-cost lines like $89 for yellow disc cones, $40 for a goalkeeping throat protector and $6 for a practice net setter.

Due to the salary differential between last year’s full-time athletic director Todd Gulluscio and Mr. McGovern, who serves part-time, instructional salaries in athletics have gone down by 6.59 percent.

The school board has often discussed hiring an athletic trainer over the past several years. Mr. McGovern said he has had trouble finding applicants for the position who are certified school athletic trainers, but that a local trainer has proposed acting as a consultant athletic trainer for the district at a cost of $10,800.

Should a player get hurt, Mr. McGovern said, their coach would call the consultant trainer, who would give an assessment of the injury, “work with the parents” and either advise the player on what steps to follow in order to heal or help set up an appointment with an orthopedist, removing the need for the family to see a general practitioner on their own.

“I think it’s a good model that really could give us that piece that we’re missing,” he said, “because I’d love to have an athletic trainer.”

As with any school budget, the athletics component has several federally and state-mandated requirements, the importance of which the board found difficult to grasp.

In a new rule proposed by the National Federation of State High School Associations, which in turn guides the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, field hockey uniforms can no longer have a side panel that is a different color than the jersey’s other panels. Pierson’s current jerseys are red with white panels, so the district must buy new uniforms in one solid color, at an estimated cost of $400.

The cost of athletic supplies is expected to increase by 24.26 percent, due to the need for additional uniforms and supplies, but the district expects to see some savings thanks to a recent decision to join a statewide purchasing cooperative.

Prior to revealing the complete first draft on March 23, the district will host budget workshops on technology, special education, debt service, employee benefits and transportation on February 23, and on the elementary, middle and high schools, and BOCES administration and services sections on March 9.

A second review of the entire budget will be held April 13, followed by the scheduled budget adoption April 22 and another review April 27. The budget hearing is May 5 and the district wide vote is May 19, as are school board elections.

Bob Persan

Tags: ,


Bob Persan

Bob Persan runs Henry Persan & Sons Hardware, and has worked in the family business for more than 40 years. He spoke about the blizzard, and gave advice on snow preparedness.

Meteorologists forecast this would be an historic storm; do you remember a storm of this magnitude in Sag Harbor?

One of the young fellows here just asked me if we have ever had anything like this. I’d say yes, probably in 1997 or so. There was significant snowfall this time for sure, but it just takes longer to get yourself dug out than other snowfalls.

We didn’t even open on Tuesday. Usually, in other storms, we have gotten here and opened by at least noon. It took me almost five hours to get out of my driveway and when I got to the store we had the plow working here. This is the first time I couldn’t get here to the store; I didn’t even get everything cleaned up and ready to open until 2:30, 3 p.m.  But there was nobody out either, yesterday. Even if we have no more snow shovels, though, we have to stay open for the snow plows—those guys break parts. We have to be here to sell nuts and bolts and parts and do the repairs.

Did the storm take the East End by surprise?

We didn’t know about it until Sunday morning. In fact, now there’s a conversation about using the European forecast model. The European model forecast this on Friday, and their prediction was more accurate than our forecast was. Our models showed much more snow in New York City, and we know now they only got 8 inches. People were more frantic about getting the stuff that they needed, you saw very busy days at the hardware store. Sunday there was a big run on all our material, we sold 90 percent of our shovels and snow melting compounds. So Monday I had to run out to a supplier and they had a couple of tons of calcium chloride for us, that’s what we strive to get. That was great. But part of the problem is that different ice melting compounds won’t do what calcium chloride will do. People come in and ask for rock salt, it’s generic, it’s like asking for a Band-Aid. Rock salt doesn’t work under 18 degrees, it burns animals’ feet, it refreezes as salt water, so it soaks in and refreezes and breaks the concrete. Calcium chloride works well below 0 and does not refreeze again; it’s seven times more effective than others. We went through [the calcium chloride] in two hours, and it took me two and half hours to go get it.

What other supplies were people picking up ahead of the blizzard?

You want to make sure you have your extra lighting and candles. We sold a lot of batteries, flashlights, lanterns. We sold a lot of three-hour fire logs, people were buying those by the case. We sold all sorts of stuff, my goodness.

What advice do you have for people as they begin to dig themselves out?

You’ve just got to slowly chop away at it, you have to clear your sidewalks so that you can get mail. If you keep after it, you can get the job done with a shovel. But don’t kill yourself and slow down because you can kill yourself. That goes for driving too, there are a lot of drivers on the road who don’t have much experience, so go slowly.  People really strive to get ice melting right away but you don’t need it really until after the snow is here and you don’t throw it in two feet of snow, you get down to where there’s only a layer of ice. And then you remove it. It’s the freezing and thawing for the days afterwards, which creates a more dangerous situation. It’s a thing you have to maintain daily to remove the ice.