Tag Archive | "Sagaponack"

Thiele: Montauk Highway Rehab Clears Major Huddle

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced on Monday that the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted his request and that of 10 other elected officials representing areas traversed by Montauk Highway, the key South Fork arterial. The agency has agreed to amend the State Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) to include reconstruction of a 10-mile stretch of Montauk Highway from CR 39 to Stephen Hands Path. The proposed construction would cost approximately $12.53 million. State DOT already had scheduled the reconstruction of a 2.3 mile stretch of the highway from SR 114 to Stephen Hands Path for the spring of this year.

“Congressman Bishop, State Senator Ken LaValle, County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, and every South Fork supervisor and mayor joined with me to request the reconstruction of Montauk Highway,” said Thiele, referencing a February letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state DOT. “Not only did the Governor and Commissioner Joan McDonald respond favorably, they were quick in responding so that this project can get underway in 2013. I thank them for their fast action.”

The project would be funded by federal and state funds. The comment period on the proposed amendment to the TIP will end on March 22. After that, the project will be included in the TIP and detailed design work will begin. The construction of the segment between SR 114 and Stephen Hands Path will begin this spring and the remaining work from Stephen Hands Path to CR 39 will commence after Labor Day this year.

“I urge all local elected officials and the public to weigh in with the State DOT before the Friday deadline,” said Thiele.

Comments should be submitted to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, Attn: David Drits 199 Water Street, 22nd Floor New York, New York 10038 or email davis.drits@dot.ny.gov

“The importance of this highway cannot be underestimated. It is the only major road bringing people to and from the South Fork of Long Island,” said Thiele. “There is no alternative route. It is the most highly trafficked road on eastern Long Island. It is essential for both local residents and the substantial second home industry. It is important for business and commerce in that the delivery of goods and services as well as the transportation of workers and tradesmen depend on this road.”

“Most important, local fire, ambulance, and emergency service workers depend on this road to do their jobs, particularly to transport patients to Southampton Hospital,” added Thiele. “Finally, in the case of an emergency or disaster, this road is the only evacuation route for the region. At a time when the economy has suffered from a deep recession, this project will mean not only construction jobs but will also foster the tourism/second home based economy of the region. Now, the entire stretch from Southampton to East Hampton will be repaved.”

Schiavoni Resignation Shines Spotlight on Sag Harbor School Board

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By Kathryn G. Menu
The resignation of Sag Harbor School Board member Gregg Schiavoni — the second board member to step down in less than a year — was attributed to a number of concerns, chief among them his belief that “75 percent of the executive session agenda dialogue” should be held in public and not behind closed doors.

In the aftermath of a sharply worded letter Schiavoni submitted to the board as his resignation, members appear divided on whether the public body has, in fact, violated Open Meetings Law or abused executive session privilege.

Public bodies can only discuss very specific issues in closed session, including matters that imperil public safety, that would identify a law enforcement agent or informer or an investigation, discussions about litigation, collective negotiations, acquisitions or the lease or sale of property, the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation.

“I have not witnessed a specific moment where that has happened, but what does happen sometimes is an agenda is partly in executive session and partly in open session and would be on both agendas,” said board president Theresa Samot on Tuesday, adding any discussion not specifically considered protected, and any votes, were held in public session.

“When in doubt, I check with the attorney and for any board member it is their responsibility to bring that forward, ask the attorney, and ask the board bring the discussion into an open meeting,” said Samot who believes the Sag Harbor School Board does air on the side of caution. “We try to keep the executive session agenda very limited to those specific issues that are protected. The role is for us to deliberate and vote in open sessions.”

A request under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to see copies of all executive session agendas since September 2012 was not fulfilled as of press time.

Board member Sandi Kruel said she believed the board adhered to executive session rules and said district attorney Tom Volz is available prior to and during some sessions if a question arises about whether something should be public.

Board member Chris Tice deferred comment to Samot.

Board member Sue Kinsella, who was appointed to take Walter Wilcoxen’s board seat, did not return a call for comment. Wilcoxen left the board in July, declining to take his oath of office after being re-elected to the board.

Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso also backed the board.

“Normally, we are very good about making sure we get legal and expert opinion in terms of what is appropriate or not,” he said.

Dr. Bonuso said in some of the topics Schiavoni cited in his letter as being inappropriate for executive session — school calendar, for example — “we are talking about contract or individual work or seeking a legal interpretation.”

In terms of the calendar, Dr. Bonuso said the board was furnished with legal parameters in which to have a discussion about snow days, and said the board discussed those parameters in public session.

He added those very topics, like discussions about LandTek, an athletic field construction company — also cited in the Schiavoni letter — were issues heavily debated in public session.

“Eventually, in both cases, my recommendation was modified, so there was some honest conversation happening in the public,” said Dr. Bonuso.

Samot agreed with Dr. Bonuso that in cases like the school calendar, it was on an executive session agenda so the board could understand its legal options, in terms of whether or not it could use staff days and how many calendar days it needed for the school year. Some other pieces of the executive session discussion on the calendar related to a union contract, she said.

Board member Ed Drohan declined comment, although he added, “I don’t want that to infer in any way that I don’t agree with him, or I do agree with him.”

The most outspoken member since Schiavoni’s resignation has been former board president Mary Anne Miller, who this week said she agreed with Schiavoni’s claims, and vowed to be more vocal on her positions as a school board member.

“This year, I have reached out to the president and the superintendent expressing my concern and discomfort about executive agendas that in my opinion listed items that did not belong there,” said Miller. “I have consistently and repeatedly asked for clarification.”

Miller, who is attending a state sponsored conference on Open Meetings Law next week, said there were a number of occasions where the board would be engaged in a legitimate conversation about a specific personnel matter, but then “grey areas” would emerge where she felt the discussion should be public.

Both Miller and Schiavoni said they raised these issues with the rest of the board.

Issues like the school calendar, LandTek, the position of the Athletic Director — not directly related to personnel — and YARD (Youth Advocacy and Resource Development) were examples of issues where Miller and Schiavoni felt some discussions behind closed doors should have been held in public.

This week, Schiavoni raised an instance where he said a straw poll on a coaching position was conducted in executive session.

“Maybe it was to make sure we were all on the same page, that we all agree,” he said. “I don’t think we need to all agree. That is where the discussions are good, and maybe we all end up somewhere in the middle.”

However, said Schiavoni, there were times where a difference of opinion was not tolerated.

“Different opinions are fine, they are good, but when you are unwilling to listen to both sides of an issue, I do think that is harmful,” he said. “Sometimes when I went to meetings it would almost seem like decisions were already made before we even talked about them. That is how I felt, at least.”

Miller said in one instance, she felt the board adjourned into executive session because she was going to vote against the majority on a contract issue. By the time the board came into open session, Miller said she sided with the majority “to keep the peace,” a decision she now regrets.

“My difficulty is it is against the law, first and foremost,” said Miller of any executive session breach. “Second of all, I just don’t see the need. The conversations are not as rich or valuable as they would be if we were having them in front of our community and administrators.”

Miller said this is not to say debate doesn’t occur, with good results, in the public sphere. She cited a very public debate about student accident insurance last year that was heated, “but good and I was on the wrong side of that debate.”

As to a board agreement to allow only Samot and Dr. Bonuso to serve as the public voice of the board outside of board meetings, particularly when it involves the press, Miller said she can no longer in good conscience follow that model.

“I think we do have a responsibility to our public to let them know, in all instances, what we think about the issues,” said Miller.

On Tuesday, Samot said the board agreed to allow her and Dr. Bonuso to serve as spokespeople, not unusual for a board. She added the public opinions of board members are available in public session and also through the board’s minutes, which are public documents.

Voters Approve $24 Million Beach Renourishment Plan for Sagaponack and Bridgehampton

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Oceanfront property owners in Sagaponack, Bridgehampton and Water Mill approved a referendum on Saturday night that will allow homeowners and the Town of Southampton to spend $24 million to replenish eroded beachfront. A beachfront only made worse by Hurricane Sandy’s impact this October.

According to Southampton Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer, Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato and Deputy Town Attorney Kathleen Murray between two erosion control districts in Bridgehampton and Sagaponack 75 ballots were cast in favor of the project and 49 against.

Only residents within the two erosion control districts were allowed to vote in the referendum.

According to Jennifer Garvey, with Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s office, 202 homeowners were eligible to cast votes in the referendum which will allow voters to pay for the beach renourishment through special taxing districts. One hundred and twenty four residents turned out to cast ballots in the referendum vote Saturday.

The project will encompass six miles of contiguous shoreline, including 141 properties, five of which are beaches owned by Southampton Town. The town will foot $1.5 million of the project to cover the cost of renourishment on its beaches.

“Today’s referendum marks the culmination of two and a half years of collaboration with our ocean front property owners — a group of constituents who first approached the town with an interest in forming a special taxing district in order to jointly pursue more efficient and cost-effective measures for protecting their properties,” said Throne-Holst.

The Southampton Town Board will serve as commissioners of both erosion control districts and will have to issue a $24 million bond to finance the project, which will be repaid by homeowners and the town over a 10-year period.

According to the town, properties within the two districts have an assessed value of $1.8 billion.

The project will entail dredging 2.5 million tons of sand from two areas one-mile offshore and replenishing the beach with that sand. It is expected to start in late spring or early summer, and will take about two months to complete.

“As individual property owners, many of us have been investing tens of thousands of dollars on an annual basis to rebuild our dunes and protect our homes from the impacts of erosion,” said Alan Stillman, a long-time Sagaponack property owner and member of the Sagaponack Beach Erosion Control District Advisory Board. “A systematic solution offers much greater protection and value. That is what we proposed — and have now approved.”

“From the start, we approached this undertaking like a business,” said Jeff Lignelli, a Bridgehampton property owner. “We researched numerous erosion protection measures and costs, and ultimately chose an award-winning coastal expert to design a renourishment project — the option we felt was the best fit for the area because it matches the look and feel of the existing beach, which was critically important to us. When the project is finished, the beaches will basically look like they did 30 years ago — much wider.”

The South Carolina-based firm of Coastal Science and Engineering led by Dr. Tim Kana designed the project.

First Coastal Corporation of Westhampton is the local permitting partner.

“Votes like this are always nerve wracking, but we are just thrilled the residents felt it was important enough to spend their own money on this,” said Aram Terchunian, with First Coastal Corporation, on Tuesday. “This is historic, particularly in the wake of what happened during Hurricane Sandy.”

Terchunian and Garvey said that now the project will move into the permitting phase, which was already pursued while awaiting the results of Saturday’s referendum.

Terchunian said both the New York State Office of Coastal Management and the New York State Office of General Services have already signed off on the project. It still needs approved from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corp of Engineers.

While Terchunian praised homeowners for being willing to take on such a project, he added he believes the state and federal government will need to take a bigger role in beach renourishment in the future.

“These are levels of government getting huge benefits in the form of sales and incomes taxes in the regional and national economy tied to our beaches,” he said. “Beaches produce so much income on so many different levels we need to see they are protected.”

Whether or not this project will benefit from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy remains unclear. Beaches in both Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, having already contended with significant beach erosion, were hammered by the fall storm, whole stretches of beach literally washed away.

“We are pursuing that and the town is pursuing that very aggressively,” said Terchunian.

In fact, after Hurricane Sandy, the town board fast tracked this proposal after seeing the coastline and structural damage caused in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The board voted unanimously to approve the proposal and a referendum on the project on November 27.

“I think this plan would have won the support it needed even before Superstorm Sandy, but what was initially a more proactive project became urgently needed following the storm,” said Throne-Holst. “Fortunately, these property owners were already well into the process of securing the needed support and permissions for their proposal, so it’s likely they’ll have a wide, protective beach within the year.”

“The beaches are a crucial part of our local economy and way of life, and the properties within these BECDs [Beach Erosion Control District] also comprise a major portion of our tax base. I think this is a remarkable public/private partnership that will greatly benefit both the property owners and all of our town residents, and I’m proud to have been a part of making it happen,” she said.

Southampton Town Eager to Move Forward with Beach Nourishment Plan

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By Tessa Raebeck; Photography by Hannah Thomas

Two weeks ago, the largest hurricane in living memory roared through the New York region, wiping out coastal dune systems on this end of Long Island and entire neighborhoods on the other.

As a result, Southampton town officials held a special work session last Thursday to revisit a proposed beach re-nourishment project in the Bridgehampton and Sagaponack erosion control districts.

The districts were authorized by the town board back in 2010 as part of a comprehensive plan to combat beach erosion on the south shore. The project aims to use beach nourishment to preserve a six-mile stretch of beachfront property which includes about 190 homes and five public properties.

But protection doesn’t come cheap. The proposed restoration is expected to cost several million dollars (much of it paid by homeowners themselves through creation of a new tax district) and it has been the subject of five public hearings over the past two years. Discussions stalled after several homeowners requested exemption from the proposed project, citing their opposition to paying the special taxes that would have resulted from approval of this plan.

According to Jennifer Garvey, an aide to Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, the town is working with State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. on legislation to provide opposing property owners with tax relief. Garvey said the town board is prepared to move forward with the project, but has been waiting until the legislation passed — expected to be January 2014 at the earliest — to hold the vote on it.

But in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, significant erosion was reported by homeowners, so the town is attempting to speed up the restoration process.

“These homeowners have spent substantial money doing these temporary fixes [following the storm],” Supervisor Throne-Holst explained, “and for that reason, they are all the more eager to see us move forward with the proposed project, which is a long term project to shore up our beaches.”

On Thursday, coastal erosion scientist Dr. Timothy Kana, founder and president of Coastal Science & Engineering in Columbia, S.C., addressed the effects of Hurricane Sandy on his comprehensive, 10 year plan for restoring and preserving the districts. The proposed project would add 2,127,500 cubic yards of sand to the shoreline.

Kana’s initial report outlined three restorative scenarios — low, middle, and upper — to determine how much sand would need to be placed on the beach. The Sagaponack Beach Erosion Control District elected the upper-level scenario, which requires the most sand and thus the highest expense.

Initially, the Bridgehampton Beach Erosion Control District chose the mid-level scenario. Following the effects of Hurricane Sandy, however, Bridgehampton has elected to increase the amount of sand to an upper-level scenario, in turn increasing the project’s projected total cost of $24 million by about $1.3 million.

Members of the town board met with Kana and other environmental specialists to discuss the storm’s impact on the original plans and proposed increasing the project’s maximum tax line.

“We now have a firsthand look at what happens and can happen after a storm like this,” Throne-Holst told the audience.

She also emphasized the economic importance of beaches as a foundation of the town’s tax base.

“[The homeowners] have asked us to move this forward,” she said, “I personally think we need to move it forward, too.”

Southampton Town Chief Environmental Analyst Marty Shea outlined the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the coastal districts. Shea called the damage very severe, citing the narrow width of the beach in many areas. According to Shea, homeowners will find it difficult to reconstruct protective dune lines under the present conditions.

“The best protection in this situation is to have a wide beach,” Shea told the board Thursday, “and that’s what the intent of the Erosion Control District Beach Re-nourishment plan is — to extend the width of that beach seaward.”

Shea maintains that preserving the dune system is impossible without a wide beach to sustain it.

He also discussed individual landowners’ efforts to build temporary storm relief and the financial and structural benefits of a joint restoration effort. To protect their homes from the recent storms, many residents have constructed temporary sand berms. Shea attests that, without unity in undertaking these projects, the location of the dune lines are inconsistent.

He admitted the berms provide temporary relief, but insists they have neither the quantity nor quality of sand required for substantial re-nourishment. Homeowners are willing to stabilize their properties at their own expense in the short term, he said, but ultimately hope to see a collective, long term plan in place.

When asked by the board how the impact of Hurricane Sandy would have differed had the re-nourishment project already been in place, Shea said, “Sandy has accelerated our agenda.”

He attributed damage to the width of the beach, stating, “Everywhere that had a narrow beach, there is no dune at all and the beach itself is compromised.”

Shea relayed his involvement in a similar nourishment project in Westhampton Dunes 20 years ago. Prior to implementation, storm damage consisted of two breaches through the barrier island and 120 damaged houses.

Following Hurricane Sandy, the district incurred “absolutely no structural damage to any home [and] absolutely no loss to the dune itself.”

Shea asked the board to compare this outcome with the damage seen in Bridgehampton and Sagaponack.

Dr. Kana further underlined the necessity of a long term nourishment plan. Kana has been involved in over 30 beach restoration projects, primarily along the eastern seaboard. His plan for the erosion control districts center around maintaining what he calls a “literal budget” of sand. Kana asserts that sustaining a level of sand on the beach continuously fortifies the dunes, which serve as the best protection against washovers and other storm damage.

He pointed to North Carolina’s Outer Banks region, an area he alleges slowed beach erosion substantially in the 1930s through similar measures to push up the dunes.

Ultimately, the proposed project aims to lessen the annual costs of protection for beachfront homeowners. According to Garvey, if the proposed restoration plan is enacted, “the cost over many years will be less than the cost of putting emergency berms in over and over. [Coastal residents are] paying tens of thousands of dollars for emergency protections, so you can understand why they are very anxious at this point.”

Town officials view the measure as a long term investment for the safety of personal homes and the recreational enjoyment of public beaches. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, proponents have asked the town to move forward with the proposed project.

A public hearing on the proposed increase to the districts’ tax lines will take place on Tuesday, November 27 at 6 p.m.

Nor’easter Hampers Hurricane Cleanup as Erosion Concerns Grow for Some Residents

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By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

Just a week after parts of the East End contended with power outages, flooding and coastal erosion due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall in New Jersey on October 29, residents braced themselves for a second powerful storm, a nor’easter, that blew through the region starting on Wednesday afternoon.

According to the National Weather Service, the nor’easter — dubbed winter storm “Athena” by The Weather Channel — was expected to bring wind gusts as high as 41 to 65 miles per hour potentially leading to more power outages and fallen trees. Rain and potential coastal flooding were also reported to be likely by the National Weather Service.

On Tuesday, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst issued a voluntary evacuation of low-lying areas in the town in anticipation of the new storm.

On Tuesday night, Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Chief Pete Garypie encouraged residents in areas like Redwood, or other neighborhoods in Sag Harbor and North Haven prone to flooding, to evacuate on a voluntary basis as a precautionary measure.

Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano began going door-to-door on Tuesday warning residents of the incoming storm system.

Southampton Town, coordinating with the Suffolk County Red Cross and local churches established temporary, overnight shelters for residents evacuating their homes at the Methodist Church, 160 Main Street in Southampton Village, at William Floyd High School, 240 Mastic Beach Road in Mastic Beach and at St. Joseph’s College on Sunrise Highway in Patchogue.

In East Hampton, The American Legion in Amagansett will be open as of 10 a.m. today, Thursday, November 8 to house those without power and give residents a place to warm up. Chicken soup and sandwiches will be offered as well.

For those without public water, East Hampton Town has also announced the Suffolk County Water Authority is distributing potable water behind the East Hampton Fire House on Cedar Street at the base of the communications tower, until further notice. Residents must bring their own receptacles.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said clean up efforts in the village — led by Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley and Chief Fabiano — were going well. The village contracted with tree companies in an effort to move larger trees and limbs damaged during Hurricane Sandy off roadways and away from power lines.

Mayor Gilbride, like many East End officials, said ultimately Sandy largely spared the Twin Forks and while the new storm system may impact the South Fork, the region was in no way devastated, as were communities further west like the Rockaways, Breezy Point and Long Beach by Sandy.

Ultimately, said Gilbride, he was more concerned with beach erosion in East Hampton and Southampton towns.

“They are on the ocean, so unfortunately our neighbors have a far bigger problem with this storm than we do,” he said on Tuesday.

Beach erosion was reported throughout East Hampton, in particular in Montauk and in bay areas like Louse Point.

In Southampton, Jennifer Garvey — an aide to Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst — said the town was working overtime Tuesday to shore up barrier beaches, specifically in East Quogue and Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays.

Garvey said the town has also encouraged residents to construct sand berms in front of their beachfront homes in areas like Water Mill, Bridgehampton and Sagaponack. Those waterfront communities were so threatened by beach erosion before the storm that the town proposed a large-scale beach re-nourishment project, paid for largely by residents who live in the affected area.

In the meantime, with the nor’easter approaching Garvey said town officials met with residents on Saturday and advised them to continue the construction of sand berms in front of their oceanfront homes.

Garvey said town officials, coordinating with Southampton Town Trustees, enabled homeowners to place sand — either in the form of berms or in Geocubes (large sandbags stitched together) — by simply notifying the town rather than having to wade through an application process.

She said fees associated with these kinds of permits have also been waived, as have vehicle permits to ensure the work could be done.

Residents in that area of Southampton Town want to revive the $24 million beach nourishment program proposed earlier this year, but now see it as critical in the wake of the beach erosion from Sandy.

That plan, proposed to be funded largely by the community itself, stalled after two neighbors expressed concerns over their ability to foot their portion of the bill if Southampton Town agreed to the creation of these erosion districts.

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, said Garvey, has been working with his department to clean up as many roadways as possible, understanding the nor’easter could bring more downed trees and power lines.

In fact, the Town of Southampton has expanded its curbside fall clean up because of the impact of Sandy and the second storm. According to Gregor residents can place all vegetative materials, including leaves, brush, trees and branches on the curbside for pick up. No bagging of leaves will be required this year, according to Gregor. Residents are encouraged to get their debris on the curbside prior to November 19, he said.

On Wednesday evening, in an email sent to his constituents, Congressman Tim Bishop said his concern about the nor’easter was further erosion of the coastline, particularly on the North Shore of Long Island.

He encouraged any households or businesses damaged by the storm to file claims with their insurer, but also visitwww.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362 to assess their FEMA eligibility for funding.

Meanwhile, a virtual city of linemen and tree workers has popped up at the East Hampton Airport on Industrial Road in Wainscott, in trailers housing as many as 1,000 workers from across the country working to get power to the thousands of customers still in the dark in Suffolk County.

On Wednesday evening, LIPA officials warned that the nor’easter could leave many more without power by Thursday morning, even those who recently had power restored, but vowed to continue the restoration effort.

 

Get Your Gallop On

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The Horseless Horse Show Fundraiser for the Center for Therapeutic Riding of the East End (CTREE) will be held on Saturday, August 8 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the North Fork II Horse Show on Majors Path in Southampton.

Families, adults and children are invited to join the fun and help raise funds for CTREE. The horseless horse show will be run like a regular horse show with children and adventurous adults jumping and navigating a human size horse show course of jumps and obstacles. Ribbons will be awarded for each class.

CTREE is a not-for-profit organization on the East End of Long Island that specializes in therapeutic riding lessons for children with special needs. A member of the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA), CTREE lessons are taught by NARHA guidelines and with certified instructors. Lessons are held at the Wolffer Estate Stables in Sagaponack as is the brainchild of local mother, Amanda Ross and instructor Karen Bocksel.

Studies have shown the distinctive, three-dimensional movement of a horse provides the input necessary to help a rider with sensory integration issues and presents physical challenges that lead to increased balance, muscle control and strength. Equine assisted activities such as grooming and tacking horses also help riders with sequencing skills and fine motor coordination and the relationships developed at CTREE provide a positive emotional experience for children with special needs.

Sagaponack Will Not Fight Petrello Case

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In response to a lawsuit filed against the Village of Sagaponack in September regarding its Coastal Erosion Hazard Law (CEH), Village Attorney Anthony Tohill has advised village trustees not to fight the case. It is now in the hands of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), which was also targeted in the suit.

The suit was brought against Sagaponack Village, Southampton Town and the NYSDEC by attorneys representing Sagaponack property owners Anthony and Cynthia Petrello. Enacted by the village in June of this year, the CEH law requires new homes along the ocean to be set back 125 feet from the crest of the dune, creating more of a buffer between oceanfront properties and waterside dunes.

The Petrellos acquired a 1.5-acre piece of property from the White family of Sagaponack in 2010 and soon laid-out plans for a two-story, five-bedroom home to be built on the land. The original building plan was approved by the NYSDEC back in December of 2010. However, abiding by the village’s new CEH law, Petrello’s building plan would have to be set back an additional 30 feet.

Should the Petrellos ultimately win the case, they will be able to proceed with plans to build the two-story, five-bedroom home on the ocean, nuzzled up against the White Family Farm.

They’re Back At Poxabogue

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By Claire Walla



For 15 months, The Fairway Restaurant — a small white box-of-a-building connected to the Poxabogue Golf Course in Sagaponack — sat empty. After 22 years in operation, not a single side of scrambled eggs was served up. Not a single customer entered its doors. But it wasn’t because no one wanted to go.

Quite the contrary.

“We missed it terribly,” said Sag Harbor resident Joan Carlson.

For the past 20 years, Carlson and a group of nearly a dozen other women have met at Poxabogue on Tuesday mornings. They call themselves “The Tuesday Thinkers.” It’s a name which they said actually generates snickers from certain husbands who wonder what they do the other six days out of the week, but they don’t mind.

When restaurant owner Dan Murray was forced to shut his doors on March 30, 2010 because a lease agreement failed to be reached with the building’s manager, Ed Wankel, a large crop of loyal customers — including The Tuesday Thinkers — were forced to go elsewhere.

“We were like orphans caught in a storm!” Carlson continued.

That is, they were until this summer. After Southampton Town took-over the building’s management, Dan Murray very quickly entered into a new license agreement with the town. And after fully refurbishing the building’s interior, he reopened the restaurant — just like it was before.

“The first day we opened, the second customer we had walked in and said: Nothing’s different!” Murray recalled. “At first I got very upset” — Murray labored for weeks with contractors and suppliers to rebuild the restaurant after having gutted the place in the spring — “But then I said, ‘Wait a minute, that’s exactly what you wanted.’”

And after a frantic summer season, during which Murray said he and his crew (largely the same as it was before Fairway closed) worked through many of the kinks inherent in getting a business up and running, everything at Poxabogue is finally business as usual.

Though Murray said at one point he had considered changing the menu, and even considered revamping the interior design, he realized that snazzy aesthetics and innovative cuisine are not what keep customers coming back for more.

“I just think, especially with everything that we went through, people wanted their place back,” Murray continued. “And the best way to give it back to them is to give it to them the way it was.”

For Niki Yektai, that meant restoring unusually low countertops. In fact, Murray insisted on keeping the pint-sized countertops, even though mid-sized stools are hard to come by; Murray ended up shipping his in from Tennessee.

“They’re the perfect height,” Yektai exclaimed. In fact, she said she and her family are so smitten with them her husband designed the counters in her son’s studio with Poxabogue in mind.

Of course, she added, counters aren’t everything. Yektai prefers the Poxabogue crowd, which she called a “lovely mix of farmers and city people; I’m very comfortable there.”

And it doesn’t hurt that she isn’t barred from spreading out her personal papers while she sips her morning coffee.

“I’m a really bad customer because I will definitely bring my whole desk with me,” she admitted. “I’ll do some bills, then I’ll do some writing, or an illustration.”

Yektai, a children’s book author, even authored one of her books, “Bears At The Beach,” atop the surface of that unusually low countertop.

An atypical allowance for most Hamptons eateries, Yektai is in good company at Poxabogue.

Across the room from The Tuesday Thinkers earlier this week sat artist Leif Hope with a stack of sketches and a pencil in hand. As he flipped through the pages of caricatures he had drawn, he pointed to several that had been sketched at a table within the small restaurant.

“I’ve done a lot of drawings here,” Hope said. And with a coy nod, he motioned to the man sitting across from him: “Most of them were while I was waiting for him.”

Bernie Goldhirsch cracked a subdued grin. Goldhirsch and Hope have been coming to Poxabogue on a regular basis for several years. They are such regulars they give a friendly wave to nearly every customer that walks by in the span of a 20-minute conversation. In fact, it was Goldhirsch who formed a petition to bring the old Poxabogue restaurant back when it closed last spring. He said he got more than 500 signatures.

“In a community where a lot of the eateries are also snobberies, you need a place like Poxabogue,” he said. “Years ago, I realized [The Hamptons] is a place that’s filled with celebrities who don’t want to be known as celebrities. Whatever that need is, Poxabogue seems to be part of it. Every town needs an ‘Eddy’s Luncheonette.’”

Just last March, Murray signed a 10-year lease with the town of Southampton.

“So we’ll be here for at least another 10 years,” he said. “If not more.”

Petrello Sues Over Erosion Hazard Law

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By Claire Walla


What had sparked a wellspring of outrage from local homeowners and had even been featured in a glossy spread in Vanity Fair magazine has now turned into a lawsuit for the Village of Sagaponack.

Last month, Anthony and Cynthia Petrello filed a lawsuit against the Sagaponack Village Board of Trustees, the Sapaponack Village Planning Board and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The issue of contention is the village’s Coastal Erosion Hazard law, which was adopted in December of 2010, but went into effect in June of this year. The law effectively creates a larger buffer of land between coastline properties and the ocean, which — as it affects Petrello — means his current building application is non-compliant.

In 2010, the Petrellos finalized a deal to buy a 1.5-acre piece of property, a corner lot with a simple one-story cottage, that had belonged to the White family farm. Soon after the Petrellos bought the property, they submitted a building application to Sagaponack Village.

The plan was to tear down the existing cottage — a move that was okayed by the village’s architectural and historic review (AHRB) board in June — and erect a two-story, five-bedroom home on a footprint of 4,632 square feet. The building would be complete with a swimming pool, a library and a pool house, which would be connected to the main house by an enclosed walkway.

The plan was submitted to the village’s planning board in 2010 and approved on May 9, 2011. However, that was before the village enacted its new law.

“The new resolution we adopted gave a 125-foot buffer” between coastal buildings and the crest of the dune, said Sagaponack Village Clerk Rhodi Winchell in reference to the village’s coastal erosion hazard law. Petrello’s building application had been approved by the planning board and the DEC because the proposed building currently complies with the state’s imposed coastal erosion hazard line.

However, the village’s more generous setback would cause Petrello’s architectural team to have to redraft the building plan, pushing the structure away from the water by roughly another 30 feet.

“Had they been vested, then they wouldn’t have been in this predicament,” Winchell continued.

In other words, because no structural elements had been in place before the village passed its law, Petrello’s property is not exempt from Local Law No. 1, which, the village contends, currently requires the Petrellos to shift the plans for their new home back a bit.

Changing the architectural plans would place some strain on the Petrellos’ architect, Lisa Zaloga, who Sagaponack Village Building Inspector John Woudsma said already had her work cut out for her trying to fit the Petrello’s two-story home into that 1.5-acre parcel.

According to Woudsma, the property itself needs to sit two feet above the flood zone, and the height of the building needs to be capped at 32 feet from the natural grade, or 40 feet above mean sea level, whichever is more restrictive. This caps Petrello’s building height at 38.5 feet, which he said is pretty “squat” for a two-story structure.

Plus, because the lot itself is triangular in shape, it required the western wall to be designed in a rigid step-like shape to conform to the diagonal property line.

“For the tremendous restraints, the architect actually did a very good job,” Woudsma explained.

But, pushing the property 30 feet back would squeeze the building into an even smaller space, adding even more restriction.

In the lawsuit, drafted by Petrello’s lawyer, Nica Strunk, the plaintiffs argue that the DEC “improperly certified” Local Law No. 1 of 2011. The lawsuit goes on to explain that the Petrello’s application was part of the DEC’s “Letters of No Jurisdiction” issued on December 21, 2010, which therefore protects the Petrellos from having to comply to the village’s law.

What’s more, according to the attorneys, the New York Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), article 34 on coastal erosion “does not provide any authority for a local municipality to enact a coastal erosion hazard area law purporting to affect areas outside of the land defined in the ECL as ‘erosion hazard area.’”

Petrello’s building application is currently set to be reviewed by the AHRB at its monthly meeting this Friday, September 16, after having been postponed from last month’s meeting.

Two Men in Critical Condition After Plane Crash in Sagaponack

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Plane adjusted

Southampton Town Police confirmed in a statement on Tuesday, July 26 that two men, one of them 23-years-old, sustained serious injuries from a plane crash Sunday morning in Sagaponack. Both are receiving treatment at Stony Brook Hospital.

Above: Wreckage from the crash.  (Photo by Michael Heller)

Below: An image from the plane in Sagaponack this time last year.  (Photo by Daniel Gonzalez)

The antique plane was one of several participating Saturday in an “impromptu vintage plane club” whose members typically meet on a grassy landing strip that runs through Foster Farm in Sagaponack, Chief Wilson said Monday morning. He added that the exact cause of the crash is unknown at this time.

The Ryan PT-22 plane—a fixed-wing single-engine aircraft with an open cockpit—was manufactured in 1941 and deemed “airworthy” in 1956.  It has been registered to Taylor R. Smith, 54, of Wainscott since at least 2008.  Smith, who police confirm had been piloting the plane on Sunday, also brought the vessel through the skies over Sagaponack last year around this time for the same assemblage of vintage aircraft enthusiasts.

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His passenger this year in the tandem two-seater was identified as Daniel Willman, 23, of Connecticut.

Though Chief of Police Bill Wilson said on Monday that he had received reports from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the young passenger had died, he retracted that statement hours later.

In a follow-up statement released on Tuesday, Southampton Town Sergeant Lisa Costa wrote: “Both parties are being treated for their extensive injuries at Stony Brook Hospital.”

When asked whether or not the crash had caused any fatalities, Kathleen Bergen of the FAA commented: “You need to confirm the conditions of the victim with local authorities.”  Chief Wilson has yet to return calls for comment.

Bergen added that the FAA has sent an aviation inspector to the scene to investigate the circumstances that led up to the crash.

A local resident who responded to the scene after the crash said the plane—which landed on the White family property adjacent to the Foster’s farms—had rolled several times before coming to a stop.  Both the pilot and the passenger were badly injured from the shoulders up.

Police were initially notified of the crash at 10:13 a.m. on Sunday, after having received “multiple calls” of a small plane cash in the area of Sagg Main Street and Bridge Lane, according to a press release issued by Sergeant Lewis Scott that afternoon. Southampton Town Police Officers and members of the Bridgehampton Fire Department were dispatched to the scene.  After “a brief search,” they recovered the two-seater in a cornfield.

Southampton Town Police say several other local agencies assisted town police and FAA officials after the crash.  They include: The Bridgehampton Fire Department, the Southampton Fire Department, the New York State Police, Suffolk County Aviation, the Southampton Town Fire Marshall and the DEC.