Tag Archive | "Sagaponack"

Jamie Berger

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Jamie Berger, of the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF), spoke about the organization’s upcoming designer show house and some of the other ways community members can get involved. Photo by Sole Riley.

By Mara Certic

What does Saturday’s designer show house entail?

Not only are we an adoption center in Wainscott, we also have a thrift shop in Sagaponack, which helps to fund what we do here. I believe it’s 15 to 19 percent of our operating budget that actually comes from revenue at the thrift shop, so it’s absolutely instrumental in what we do. This is now the fifth year of the designer show house. Obviously we weren’t the first to do a decorator show house, but it’s got a little bit of a twist to it because the designers volunteer their time and they use items that they’ve found at the thrift shop, or items they’re personally supplying. It really came from the idea of taking the thrift shop stuff, and incorporating that, or an item that inspired you to create a themed room.

How many decorators are involved in this year’s show house?

There are six designers, and they each get a little room—we call them vignettes—and they’re invited to come to the thrift shop over the winter, take a look at what we have and from there they stop by on occasion, see if there’s anything new that inspires them to create their new space. The designers just got into the thrift shop this week to start setting up their spaces for Saturday night.

So is each vignette like a separate room of a house? 

Exactly—it’s whatever inspires the designer. So Mark Shriver was inspired by a four-poster bed with carved birds that he found at the thrift shop. So he has decided to create “Tippi’s bedroom,” in honor of Tippi Hedren. It’s something that moves them. One of the other designers, Kevin Heart, was given a space that has dog wallpaper on it. So he went with that theme, and he’s calling his room the Dog Portrait sitting room. And everything the designers put in there will be on sale, so not only do you get to experience these great designers and their creativity, you can actually own a piece of the room, or the whole room if you wanted. And of course, it all benefits ARF.

How long will all of the little vignettes be on show?

So Saturday night is the cocktail party. We have two different ticket levels: 5 p.m. is the higher end ticket, which gets you in before anyone else. If you’re really interested in purchasing, I’d suggest coming then. And then general admission will be from 6 until 8 p.m. Sunday, it will be open for the general public, and we’ll ask for a suggested donation of $10. We hope that we sell out of everything on Saturday night, but if we don’t then everything’s still for sale, and the sale will continue into Sunday.

What will this money be used for?

It really goes to our day-to-day operations, what we do here at the adoption center, whether it’s food, just paying our overhead or specific rescues, where we do travel to other areas.

How else can community members pitch in?

We do really rely on our vast number of volunteers for a lot of the programs we have. We have people who come by and walk dogs, people can volunteer at different events that we have. We also have a project called Operation Cat that helps manage the local cat populations here. It’s a trap, neuter and release program, and it’s totally based on volunteers.

The other day I saw an ARF van at an event. What is that used for?

Oh you saw our mobile van… Not only does that help in our transport, so that the animals are much more comfortable, but it’s been key for getting our animals adopted. Our mobile van is out every weekend. There are a lot of people who don’t want to come to shelters and we just thought if you’re not willing to come here, we’ll bring the animals to you. I think it’s about 40 percent of our adoptions that come off the van now. It’s really helped us get our animals adopted.

For more information visit arfhamptons.com

Jury Rules Against Rennert

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Fair Field, a mansion on Daniels Lane in Sagaponack owned by Ira Rennert. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz. 

Ira Rennert, the owner of Fair Field, the colossal mansion on Daniels Lane in Sagaponack, did not play fair, a federal jury in New York ruled last week.

Mr. Rennert, reported to be a billionaire several times over, and his company, Renco, were found guilty of misdirecting funds from the Magnesium Corporation of America to pay for the mansion, by far the largest house on the East End and one of the largest in the United States.

Mr. Rennert was found liable for $16.2 million and Renco liable for $102 million plus interest, which could add several hundred million dollars to the total, by a jury after a three-week trial. The suit was brought by the trustee for the Magnesium Corporation of America, which Mr. Rennert’s company purchased and controlled until it went bankrupt in 2001. The suit seeks the return of the money to other investors in the company.

According to media reports, Mr. Rennert and Renco borrowed the money from the company shortly after acquiring it in the mid-1990s and used the proceeds to purchase what had been a 60-acre oceanfront farm field and for  the construction of the sprawling mansion and related outbuildings and gardens that now occupy the site.

The estate, which has been valued by Southampton Town at approximately $248 million, includes an estimated 100,000 square feet of buildings, including the main house, a huge garage and a recreation building.

The Magnesium Corporation of America declared bankruptcy in 2001 after the federal government sought more than $900 million in penalties for pollution. The trustee in the bankruptcy charged that Mr. Rennert and his company had borrowed money against the company’s value and instead of using that money to take care of its environmental problems, used it for the house instead.

Renco has said it will appeal. In a statement issued last week, it said it was disappointed by the ruling. “Clearly the jury was swayed by a passionate, but wholly unsupported, argument by trustee’s counsel,” it said. “The evidence unambiguously showed that MagCorp’s bankruptcy was caused by the economic downturn and the illegal dumping of magnesium by China. Renco and the management of MagCorp always acted properly and did not engage in the acts of which the trustee wrongly accused them.”


Madoo Talks Lecture Series Opens with Lindsey Taylor

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Lindsey Taylor.

Lindsey Taylor.

The Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack will host its Madoo Talks Winter Lecture series in February and March, opening with Lindsey Taylor, one of the authors of “The Gardener’s Garden,” a book that explores gardens from around the world and throughout the ages meant to serve as an inspiration to the modern-day gardener. Ms. Taylor, who will speak on Sunday, February 22, will use examples such as

Hollister House, Dawn Ridge, Les Quatre Vents, Prospect Cottage and other personal idiosyncratic gardens featured in “The Gardener’s Garden,” to discuss the need for a garden to have a soul, passion and individual vision to be truly successful. A book signing will follow the discussion.

Madoo Talks will continue on Sunday, March 8 with Sagaponack farmer, artist and writer, Marilee Foster. Ms. Foster, whose family settled in Sagaponack during the mid-1700s, will take a realistic yet humorous look at development on the East End along with the difficulties of farming in the 21st century and the success at her wildly popular Sagg Main farmstand.

Stephen Orr, author of “The New American Herbal,” will join Madoo Talks on March 29, examining the long tradition of herbals while adding new layers of information based on a multicultural look at the herbs we use in our homes and gardens.

Maddo Talks: Lindsey Taylor will be held on Sunday, February 22 at noon at the Madoo Conservancy summer house studio, 618 Sagg Main Road in Sagaponack. Tickets are $25 for members; $30 for non-members and a reception, sponsored by The Topping Rose House, will follow. To reserve your seat, email info@madoo.org or call (631) 537-8200. 

Hampton Library Budget Vote & Trustee Election Saturday

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The Hampton Library will host its budget vote and trustee election on Saturday, September 27 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the library at 2478 Main Street in Bridgehampton. Four seats will be voted on and filled by Bridgehampton residents; Sagaponack residents will determine the remaining seat.

Incumbents Jackie Poole, Tom House and Louise Collins and newcomer John Vendetti are running for the Bridgehampton seats. Matthew Rojano, another newcomer, is vying for the Sagaponack representation. After serving four three-year terms, Board President Elizabeth Whelan Kotz is stepping down due to term limits, and Trustee Sarah Jaffe Turnbull is not seeking re-election.

Residents in Bridgehampton and Sagaponack will also weigh in on the 2015 budget, which is proposed at $1,551,700.

Blaze Destroys Historic Home in Sagaponack; Arson Suspected

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Photography by Michael Heller/East Hampton Fire Department

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By Stephen J. Kotz

A fire that swept through a vacant 17th century colonial house on Main Street in Sagaponack early Monday morning is being investigated as a possible case of arson.

Southampton Town Police, who are leading the investigation, did not return multiple calls seeking comment, but a firefighter who was at the scene and spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that an onlooker had found “some type of fabric” in the nearby Sagaponack burying ground that detectives later determined   had accelerant on it.

The onlooker, who also requested anonymity, said the fabric “looked like an old beach towel” and was accompanied by a shopping bag. “I thought to myself, ‘Did someone escape from that fire?’” the witness said.

The witness gave a statement to police but told The Express that there was nothing outwardly suspicious about the items. “I didn’t smell gasoline,” the person said. “I kicked the bag, but didn’t see a gas can or anything like that, but it was dark.”

According to an inventory of Sagaponack buildings completed for the Sagaponack Village Historic District in 2000, the house, at 850 Main Street, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The northern half of the house dates to approximately 1650. The southern half of the house was built by Jesse Pierson n 1842. His son, David, later lived in the house and it was eventually owned by James Henry Devereaux as a summer home. It was later converted into the “Hearthstone Inn” and remained an in inn until 1962 when it was purchased by the Robb family for a summer home. The property is now owned by part-time resident Peter Smith.

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According to Bridgehampton Fire Chief Gary Horsburgh, the initial call came in at 5:42 a.m. Second Assistant Chief Jeff White, who was the first member of the department on scene, found the south side of the house totally engulfed in flames, Chief Horsburgh said.

“We put out the call for mutual aid right away,” Chief Horsburgh said. “It was all exterior fighting. It was too hot to go inside.”

Chief Horsburgh said the East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and Southampton Fire Departments also responded to the scene, as did the Southampton Village Ambulance and Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps. North Sea firefighters provided backup at the Bridgehampton firehouse.

The chief said about 75 volunteers turned out to help put out the fire, which took about three hours to put out. Firefighters were called back to the scene around noon to extinguish embers that were in danger of reigniting.

Chief Horsburgh said no one was injured in the blaze.

Chris Hanson, a Southampton Town fire marshal, who was involved in the initial investigation said on Wednesday that the matter had been turned over to town police and declined to comment.

The Suffolk County Police Department’s arson squad, which also investigated the scene on Monday, also referred calls to town police.

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Peconic Land Trust Still Working Hard to Preserve Farmland

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The Pike farm stand on Main Street in Sagaponack. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Mara Certic

The Peconic Land Trust has been dedicated to preserving the natural lands and working farms on the East End for over 30 years. As real estate prices continue to climb, the land trust has been exploring ways to impose restrictions that would keep local farmers farming.

John v.H. Halsey, president of the Peconic Land Trust, spoke about some of the methods to preserve farmland at this month’s meeting of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday, July 28.

The most common way, the purchase of development rights, was pioneered nationwide by Suffolk County in 1970s. The practice has since been emulated throughout the nation.

“A simple explanation is this: when you own land, it comes with a bundle of rights. Zoning, of course, gives you the parameters of what you can do with it,” Mr. Halsey explained on Monday. “Probably the most valuable right associated with land is the right to build,” he said. The other rights, such as the right to farm or the right to walk on the land have less value in the marketplace.

“So the farmer would sell the most valuable rights associated with the land, but they would retain all the other rights with it,” he said. This became an opportunity for farmers to tap into the equity of their land and afford the estate tax on their land. It was also a way to ensure that farmland remained agricultural land and to prevent the over development of open space.  Beginning in the early 1980s, East End towns began creating funds to purchase development rights and open space.

Another way of protecting agricultural land is through the subdivision process. The  cluster provision, which came into use in the 1980s, typically “clusters” development in the least valuable portion of the property and requires that 50 to 65 percent of the rest of the land be preserved.

According to Mr. Halsey, both methods have been successful components of conservation through the years, but more needs to be done.

“As land value goes up, the federal estate tax becomes more of an issue. The value of real estate has continued to go up and today it’s higher than it’s ever been and it’s higher than anyone could have thought,” Mr. Halsey said.

“Non-farmers are not bound by the same economic reality,” he continued. Over the past 40 years, 12,000 acres of farmland has been protected in Suffolk County; several thousand of those acres are in the Town of Southampton.

However much of this land has been taken out of production,  with much of it going top equestrian uses, which is defined as an agricultural use by New York State, he added.

Mr. Halsey was keen to say that he has no problem with horses, but stressed, “It is disturbing to me that that could end up being the only agricultural use that anyone has in the long run. I’m seeing the intent of these programs unraveling.”

“We need to do something and do it in a way that’s fair,” he added.

In 2010, the Peconic Land Trust purchased 7.6 acres of farmland from the Hopping family in Sagaponack for $6 million. It then sold the development rights to the county for $4.3 million. “We wanted to get this land into the hands of the Pikes,” Mr. Halsey said, noting that Jim Pike had farmed on the land when it was owned by the Hopping family but did not have the means to purchase it from them directly.

As a public charity, however, the Peconic Land Trust cannot sell something to someone at less than market value, and even without the developmental rights, the farmland was expensive for the Pikes.

So the trust borrowed restrictions that Massachusetts and Vermont have been using to protect farmland. It was then able to put in these additional restrictions, which “reduced the value of that farmland so non-famers weren’t interested,” he said.

Under the deal, the parties agreed to eliminate equestrian use and drastically limited the right of Mr. Pike to use the property for nursery stock. The trust has retained the right to lease the land to a farmer if it is taken out of production for two years. The trust also put on a restriction to ensure that it has the right to review the future sales of the farmland and that it must be sold to a qualified farmer. It sold the property to the Pikes for $167,200.

“Our goal has been to model these restrictions and try to get the town to consider incorporating them into the town purchasing policy,” Mr. Halsey told the CAC.

Three months ago, these additional restrictions were used by the trust to purchase 33 acres on Head of Pond Road in Water Mill. “We’re very pleased that the town board agreed unanimously to purchase the additional restrictions,” he said.

“We’re the first municipality in the State of New York to include these new restrictions and [the members of the board] deserve a lot of credit for that,” he said.”

The Peconic Land Trust will celebrate the latest acquisition on Tuesday, August 5, at 10 a.m. at the newly acquired land.


Still No Decision on Bridge

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The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday again tabled a resolution allowing it to sign a contract with the state Department of Transportation to obtain a $500,000 federal grant to refurbish the Bridge Lane bridge that connects Sagaponack and Bridgehampton.

Work on the project has been put on hold for months because residents have opposed plans to modernize the structure, specifically plans for new guardrails and the removal of curbing along the pedestrian walkway.

The Village of Sagaponack even offered to reimburse the town for the grant money if it would proceed with a design that is more in keeping with its residents’ wishes, but Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor has refused to change the design, saying alternatives would not meet safety standards.

Southampton Town Councilman Brad Bender had planned, at Mr. Gregor’s request, to bring the resolution up for a vote on Tuesday, but was forced to ask the board to put it off for another month, until its August 26 meeting.

“We’re still at an impasse,” he said before Tuesday’s meeting.

Barbecued Bingo

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Townline BBQ on Townline Road in Sagaponack will be hosting Bingo Nights every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The night will consist of seven rounds of bingo for $4 a card or $10 for three cards. Attendees can win cash, prizes and other goodies.

The Bingo Night will replace Quiz Night, which was held every Thursday during the off-season.

Townline BBQ is open daily at 11:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.townlinebbq.com or call (631) 537-2271.

Wine Spectator Recognizes Long Island’s Rising Tide of Great Wines

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Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider. Photo courtesy Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider. Photo courtesy Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

By Tessa Raebeck

After years of falling by the wayside in conversations about great American wine, the coastal vineyards of Long Island are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

In the June 15 issue of Wine Spectator, Ben O’Donnell writes of “Long Island’s Rising Tide,” focusing on three local wineries, the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, and McCall Wines and Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue.

“It’s an exciting time for Long Island wine,” writes Mr. O’Donnell.

Winemaker Roman Roth created Wölffer’s signature rosé in the 1990s, when neither the wine nor the region were as well known. Today, the vineyard sells 17,000 cases of rosé a year—usually selling out by August—and 37,500 cases overall. It recently delved into the hard cider market with “Wölffer No. 139” dry rosé and dry white ciders.

With sustainable farming, organic cattle raising and credit as the first vineyard to erect an energy-generating windmill, McCall Wines in Cutchogue is at the forefront of modern agriculture. A relatively new winery, the first vintage bottled in 2007, McCall’s Bordeaux blend is a Merlot-dominated cuvee with a measure of Cabernet Franc and splashes of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

A huge force in popularizing Merlot in the region, Bedell Cellars, also in Cutchogue, produces 12,000 to 15,000 cases a year. Bedell bottles are decorated by artists, a creative addition of owner Michael Lynne, who is also president of New Line Cinema.

“These exemplars,” writes Mr. O’Donnell, “are pushing themselves, and each other, to capture the best possible wines from what the land—and the sea—gives them.”

Trivia Night at Wölffer Estate Vineyard with Local Quizmaster Paul Johnson

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By Tessa Raebeck

As part of its Locals Nights series, the Wölffer Estate Vineyard hosts Trivia Night with Paul Johnson Tuesday, April 1.

In teams of up to five, players will compete for prizes in rounds on topics ranging from wine to celebrity gossip.

Mr. Johnson has made a name for himself on the local bar game scene hosting the popular Thursday night trivia game at Townline Barbeque in Sagaponack.

“When I’m coming up with questions, I like to strike a balance between fun and challenging,” Mr. Johnson said. “If it’s too easy, the hardcore trivia fans are going to be disappointed. Too difficult and the casual players won’t want to come back. When I’m hosting, I want everyone to enjoy themselves—myself included.”

“On any given night, there could be one round about classic literature, one about celebrity marriages, one about fast food; it’s really limitless. I just try to make sure that there’s something for everyone,” he added.

With half-price glasses of wine and rotating themes for a cover charge of $10, Locals Nights at Wölffer are every Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. Trivia will run from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit wolffer.com or call 537-5106.