Tag Archive | "Shelter Island"

Verizon Work at Ferry Slips

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 Loading and unloading the South Ferry’s North Haven slips won’t be quite as smooth for the next month because Verizon will use portions of the eastbound lane of Route 114 as a staging area for crews working on a cable project. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz. 

Starting today, Thursday, March 26, and continuing through the end of April, travelers to and from Shelter Island will see construction vehicles blocking regular access on the eastern lane of Route 114 near the South Ferry’s North Haven slips.

The vehicles will be part of Verizon’s efforts to relocate an existing communications cable in anticipation of Suffolk County’s planned dredging of the area immediately around the slips next winter.

In a press release, the South Ferry said it did not anticipate that Verizon’s presence would affect ferry service in any way, but the presence of the vehicles will require lane closures for a period of time that will affect usual boarding and disembarking of the vessels at North Haven.

The company has asked that as commuters crest the hill approaching the ferry or disembark the ferry, they watch closely for directions from the state Department of Transportation flag people and ferry staff. It also recommends that travelers allow an extra few minutes to ensure their  timely arrival at appointments while this job is in progress.

The Bankesters Bring Bluegrass to Shelter Island

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By Emily J. Weitz

The Bankesters are a good old-fashioned family band. The parents, Phil and Dorene, started their three daughters on music lessons before they were in kindergarten, and Emily, who plays the clawhammer banjo and the fiddle in the band, has been told she used to sing herself to sleep as a baby. Harmonizing comes second nature to them, and making music is a joy they love to share.

The band will share their sound with music lovers this Saturday when Sylvester Manor presents The Bankesters bringing some of the finest bluegrass harmonies to The Shelter Island School at 7:30 p.m. The show will open with local band, Large Print Edition.

“Music was always important to my parents,” said Emily Bankester, “and they passed their love down to each one of us girls.”

The house was always alight with music, from their parents’ own harmonies to the sounds of the Cox Family, Allison Krauss, and Union Station.

“As a bass player,” said Melissa Triplett, whose husband also plays in the band. “Missy Raines was probably one of my biggest inspirations, especially because there weren’t as many female bass players on the scene yet.”

Ms. Triplett was drawn to the bass for practicality as well as musicality.

“Initially I started playing the bass because I was the tallest,” she said. “So it made sense. But I loved it right away. The bass really grounds the entire band. Without it, there’s not the fullness or drive that the music needs.”

She loves playing songs with a strong rhythmic groove, because you can change the whole feel of the song with a change of the bass line.

Emily was attracted to her instruments of choice for her own reasons.

“I always had a love for the fiddle,” she said, “from a very early age. “I think back then it was just because it’s such a beautiful, elegant instrument.”

She and her sister, Alysha, enjoy playing twin fiddles together.

“Clawhammer banjo is a newer instrument to me,” said Ms. Bankester, “and I have just fallen in love with the old time sound of it. Also, unlike the fiddle, it’s an instrument that I can play to accompany myself while I sing, which I love.”

Emily Bankester was selected as the recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association award for Vocalist of the Year in 2012. The family followed up with the award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2014 for “Love Has Wheels”.

When the Bankesters come together, each instrument brings its own sound, and they all combine to form a full experience.

“Each instrument is a layer in the sound of the band,” said Ms. Triplett. “The bass and mandolin create a rhythmic foundation, and the other instruments fill out around them.”

When the Bankesters start working on a song, they work hard to find the right arrangement so all the instruments can shine. They don’t improvise as much as one might think, given the free-slowing sound of their music.

“We usually stick with our arrangement,” said Ms. Triplett, “so that there’s consistency in our performances. People can listen to the album, and for the most part, know what to expect when they come to a show.”

Ms. Bankester echoes this sentiment.

“We spend a lot of time working stuff out in the studio, along with our producer, who helps figure out who will play what parts and where,” she said. “With the stuff we’ve recorded, especially our songs that are on the radio, we try to stay close to what is on the record when we play to our live audiences.”

Performing for live audiences is a joy for this family band. Their foremost concern is that the audience has a good time, and walks away uplifted.

“We try to provide musical variety,” said Ms. Triplett, “and our material ranges from traditional bluegrass to Americana, to a more country feel. We sing songs about life, but we like to focus on the positive. Hopefully when they leave, they’ll leave happy and feel like something we did that night spoke to their hearts.”

Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island promotes an evening of bluegrass each year, and even in the dead of winter the Shelter Island School gets packed to the rafters with foot-stomping audiences. The Bankester family will play one night only: Saturday, January 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $35 and available online at http://sylvestermanor.org/event/sylvester-manor-presents-the-bankesters/.



Historic Designation Sought for Manor

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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand this week urged the National Park Service to place Sylvester Manor Educational Farm on the National Register of Historic Places. Sylvester Manor is a former 17th-century farmstead on Shelter Island that currently serves as a non-profit organic farm and educational center. The designation would expand opportunities for federal historic tax credits and other resources, to support preservation and economic development initiatives at Sylvester Manor.

“Sylvester Manor has a long and complex history over 11 generations on Shelter Island,” Senator Gillibrand said in a press release. “This site has seen much transformation over those years and should be preserved for generations to come. I will continue to work hard to ensure the National Park Service grants this important designation to Sylvester Manor so it can have access to federal resources that will support the ability to further its mission in the community.”

“We are proud of all the Manor has to offer our community, but are especially honored and humbled by the number of visitors who come to Sylvester Manor seeking remembrance and reconciliation of Northern slavery,” said executive director Cara Loriz.

Sylvester Manor was established in 1652. Tours are often given to explain its complex history to schools and to the public. Currently, Sylvester Manor Educational Farm serves as a non-profit organic farm and cultural arts and educational center. As part of its educational mission, organic farming and sustainability practices are taught to seasonal farm apprentices and local students. Additionally, the Manor provides a range of artistic and informative activities including: art workshops, history programming, live performances and summer youth programs. The Sylvester Manor Archive, a collection of more than 10,000 historical documents and artifacts, was gifted to New York University in 2008.

The Wainwright Sisters Come to Plant & Sing at Sylvester Manor

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Lucy and Martha Wainwright.

Lucy and Martha Wainwright.

By Gianna Volpe

There’s never been a more meaningful time to celebrate local food and traditional American music than this Saturday’s Plant & Sing Festival as it will be the first held at Sylvester Manor since heirs of the historic plantation gifted nearly the entire property to the non-profit organization in its name.

For the first time this year, tickets are on sale for a VIP brunch where Sylvester Manor’s Development Director Kim Folks said attendees would be able to meet some of the event’s headlining artists.

“We thought it would be a really key opportunity to offer something special for our sponsors and might be a draw for increasing our fundraising. We also just built a new farm building so that morning we’ll do a little sample of the music there and serve some fresh, local food and produce from our farm,” Ms. Folks said. “We’re so excited. We’ve had so much unbelievable support.”

Artists to perform at Plant & Sing include Martha Wainwright & Lucy Wainwright Roche, Eastbound Freight and The Deadly Gentlemen.

As many as 1,000 people will attend the all-day event, which will feature the first musical collaboration between the Wainwright sisters, who spent their childhoods summering on Shelter Island.

“I’m really excited about this collaboration because it’s sort of a special thing they’re doing just for Plant and Sing,” said Bennett Konesni, co-founder of the Sylvestor Manor Education Farm and descendent of the Sylvestor family. “[Martha and Lucy] don’t generally perform together, but they’re putting together this set to share with our audience for the first time, so it’s a new collaboration that is really neat to be a part of because people can see something that’s never been seen before.”

Mr. Konesni, who also performs music with wife, Edith, said he will open the festival’s musical portion, adding all those who join in the morning planting of garlic and other fall vegetables can learn and sing along to a number of traditional American work songs.

“It helps remember and acknowledge the slavery that happened here because a lot of the songs that we sing are very old songs from African American tradition…so it’s reminder of just what people went through before us; it’s a way of keeping a memory alive in a sense,” he said. “There are a lot of issues in the world right now, especially issues of inequality and injustice and a food system where people, land and water are still being exploited. We got here because those patterns of exploitation were set long, long ago and if we’re going to change them we need to remember that it’s a deeply entrenched way of thinking and that it’s absolutely part of our history here and in the country. The first step to undoing that is to acknowledge and remember that and the second step is to say, ‘What are we going to do about it?’”

For Mr. Konesni, this idea of acknowledgement and remembrance is the first of the two-pronged center of the Plant & Sing Festival. The second part, he said, is all about providing an antidote to past oppression through celebration.

“Part of the way to change things going forward is to create farms and communities where coming together joyfully is a normal part of everyday life,” said Mr. Konesni. “That’s one of the reasons we play work songs as part of the festival. It kind of captures what rural arts and culture has been and could be. So after the concerts, which are going to be amazing, we’re going to get together and have a contra dance.”

Contra dancing is a traditional dance form that Mr. Konesni said is now quietly spreading throughout the country in places like Atlanta, St. Louis and along the West Coast, despite being hundreds of years old. “The entire community dances with each other during any one dance, which is great because most of the people in the group will dance with each other…We’ll do it that night on the grounds here at Sylvester Manor under Christmas lights hanging from the trees and Tiki torches; it’ll be a really interesting experience.”

Plant & Sing won’t be just work and music, however, so attendees should prepare themselves for a wide variety of fun activities for the whole family, including early morning yoga, adult pumpkin carving, face-painting, pony rides, local food and a host of literary readings.

“This event is all about taking things that are very traditional about farming and food and putting an interesting spin on them,” said Ms. Folks. “It’s shedding light on different ways that we can move forward through sharing food and celebrating those people who sell and produce locally – like Schmidt’s Market, Wolffer Wines, Southampton Publick House and Captain’s Neck & Co. – so everything that people will consume, buy or enjoy will be local.”

Ms. Folks said the entrance to Plant & Sing will be located at 46 Manhassett Road and should be clearly marked. She said attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket, chair and willingness to have a good time, but asked that coolers and furry friends be left at home for this event.

Tickets for Plant & Sing can be purchased from the Sylvester Manor website: www.sylvestermanor.org.


National Register Nomination

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. this week announced the New York State Board for Historic Preservation recommended adding Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island and 21 other properties, resources and districts to the state and National Registers of Historic Places.

Sylvester Manor is a 225-acre site which houses a 1737 Georgian manor house as well as nationally significant archaeology that has provided tremendous insights into the early interaction between European Americans, Native Americans and enslaved African Americans engaged in barrel-making and other activities to supply provisions to plantations in Barbados.

There are more than 90,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.

Bagging Plastic

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The Southampton Town Board will schedule a public hearing on a proposed plastic bag ban during the first week of December, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst announced at a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Monday.

Dieter von Lehsten, the co-chair of the Southampton Town Sustainability Committee, gave a presentation to the CAC about the proposed ban. Southampton Town uses 23 million plastic bags every year, he said, and he estimates the town only recycles about 3 million of them.

“That still leaves 20 million bags that are somewhere,” he said. Plastic bags never disintegrate entirely, he explained, but instead break down into smaller and smaller pieces. Research has shown that fish eat the tiny plastic particles, which are now a part of the food chain.

Mr. von Lehsten also said the latest research has shown there is now more plastic in the ocean than plankton.

“It is a movement which is better to do from the bottom up,” he said, adding “the politicians depend on us because we are the electorate.” In California, 78 municipalities banned the bags, he said, which has resulted in a state-wide ban.

“We want to force the issue,” he said. Mr. von Lehsten and the sustainability committee have started a letter campaign to the town board to tell it to ban the bags.

Ms. Throne-Holst said the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association are on board with a regional ban. “I think it has a lot of value if it’s done regionally,” she said of the ban.

The East Hampton Town Board has not yet set a date for an informational meeting on a potential plastic bag ban but it will be in the next few months, Supervisor Larry Cantwell said on Tuesday.

According to Ms. Throne-Holst, the plan is to have the implementation date be Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

Governor Cuomo Deafeats Teachout in Democratic Primary

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By Mara Certic

Although New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo decisively won the democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, September 9, his opponent, Zephyr Teachout, led many of the polls on the East End.

Governor Cuomo won the primary with 62.1 percent of the vote, Ms. Teachout, a law professor in New York, received 34.2 percent.

According to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, in East Hampton Town,  Ms. Teachout received 307 votes, while only 207 East Hamptonites voted for Governor Cuomo. Last week, Betty Mazur, the vice chairwoman of the East Hampton Democratic Committee, sent out an e-mail blast endorsing Ms. Teachout and criticizing Governor Cuomo for his unfulfilled promises and particularly for his lack of response to local problems with PSEG Long Island.

According to the board of elections, Governor Cuomo took Suffolk County with just under 55 percent of the vote, while Ms. Teachout received almost 43 percent. According to the BOE, 16,030 out of 296,315 eligible voters, or 5.4 percent, turned out to vote.

In the Town of Southampton, Governor Cuomo beat out his opponent by just five votes, receiving 450 to Ms. Teachout’s 445. Ms. Teachout also proved popular on Shelter Island, where she received nine more votes than the incumbent governor.

Ms. Teachout, a constitutional and property law professor at Fordham University, announced she was running “to lay out a bold vision and provide a real choice for voters,” according to her website. Her running mate, Tim Wu, is a law professor at Columbia University.

“We are not Albany insiders, but we believe Governor Cuomo and Kathy Hochul can be beat, and must be challenged. We will force Governor Cuomo to defend his record of deep education cuts, his tax cuts for banks and billionaires, his refusal to ban fracking and his failure to lead on the Dream Act,” their website reads.

The 2014 New York gubernatorial election, pitting Governor Cuomo against Republican Rob Astorino, will take place on Tuesday, November 4. For questions about voter registration or polling places in Suffolk County visit suffolkvotes.com or call (631) 852-4500.

League of Women Voters Trip to the North Fork for a Fall Festival Fling

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Barbara Shinn of Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck. Photo by Arlene Hinkemeyer.

After visiting Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, the Main Street revival in Riverhead and sightseeing around Sag Harbor, the League of Women Voters is hitting the road again, this time traveling to the North Fork for a Fall Festival Fling on Tuesday, September 16.

Reservations are required by Monday, September 8, for the daylong event, which starts at 11 a.m. at the Hallockville Farm Museum with a tour of the colonial and Polish farmsteads on the site. The museum is on the National Register of Historic Places. At 12:30 p.m., those on the tour will be served a catered lunch in the Naugles barn on the farm, followed by a celebration of Apple Fest with a talk by Shannon Harbes at Harbes Farmstand in Mattituck at 1:45 p.m. The day winds down at 3 p.m. with a vineyard tour, wine tasting and talk by Barbara Shinn at Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck.

To register, call Gladys Remler at (631) 288-9021 or send a check for $45 made out to LWVH to 180 Melody Court, Eastport, NY, 11941 by Monday, September 8. Include your address and email to receive a two-page itinerary of the day, which includes directions.

Another Good Month for CPF

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Another month, another windfall for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund.

According to figures released by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., the CPF collected a total of $9.94 million during the month of July in the five East End towns. Last year for the same period, CPF revenues were $8.8 million.

Total revenue for the first seven months of the year has been $55.7 million an increase of 5.8 percent over the same period last year when $52.7 million was collected.

Southampton leads all towns, having collected $32.4 million this year, up from $30.8 million over the first seven months last year. East Hampton has collected $17.4 million, up from $16.9 million. Southold has collected $2.8 million, up from $2.2 million; Riverhead has received $1.9 million, up from $1.4 million, while Shelter Island has seen a dip to $1.2 million from $1.4 million.

Since its inception in 1999, the CPF has generated $940.4 million. The CPF has generated $98.47 million over the last 12 months.

East Hampton Town Board to Hold Special Meeting on Aircraft Noise

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Due to overwhelming interest, the East Hampton Town Board has announced that it will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, August 27, where residents from both forks are invited to air their concerns. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz.

By Mara Certic

The East Hampton Town Board will hold a special meeting next week to give residents from the North and South forks the opportunity to express their concerns about aircraft noise.

The board’s decision followed a meeting of the Noyac Civic Council at the Bridgehampton Senior Nutrition Center last week that attracted a crowd of well over 100 residents, a large number of whom had to stand in the back of the room for the entirety of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting. Residents from as far away as Mattituck attended the meeting to air their concerns in front of Congressman Tim Bishop, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., other East End elected officials and several Federal Aviation Administration representatives.

All of the East Hampton residents at the Noyac meeting urged those who live in Southampton Town and elsewhere to attend the East Hampton Town Board meeting, scheduled for the evening of Thursday, August 21.

Charles Ehren, vice chairman of The Quiet Skies Coalition, urged all of those gathered to “make your case to the East Hampton Town Board.”

But with the prospect of a large crowd descending on Town Hall, the East Hampton Town Board scheduled the special meeting to discuss the airport for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 27, at LTV Studios, 75 Industrial Road in Wainscott.

Bob Malafronte, who with Barry Holden, represents Southampton residents on East Hampton Town’s helicopter noise abatement committee, made the same plea and said next week’s meeting “is going to be an important one.”

“We understand a large number of East End residents wish to address this issue and many planned to attend the August 21 regular meeting of the Town Board. Based on the turnout of citizens attending recent meetings on this issue in Southold and Southampton Towns, we would anticipate an overflow crowd on the night of August 21 when the Town Board already has 13 public hearings scheduled,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a release issued on Monday.

“Such a turnout will leave many people without seating, standing in the entryway and outdoors. In order to adequately host the number of people who wish to address the Town Board, we are inviting residents of the North and South Fork to attend the special meeting on August 27 at LTV Studios,” he continued.

The Quiet Skies Coalition also issued a press release on Monday informing its members of the change. “Quiet Skies Coalition congratulates the supervisor for recognizing the importance of this issue and making a special effort for community input. QSC urges all noise-affected residents to attend this meeting to voice concerns regarding aircraft noise,” it read.

There has been little doubt, according to airport critics, that the current town board in East Hampton has been much more responsive than previous administrations.

“It’s a different board now,” said Barry Holden at last Tuesday’s meeting.

“The people on the board are looking in the right direction. But we’re up against a group of business people and owners of corporations.”

Residents, who say they are being tormented by the noise, and environmentalists hope that the town board will stop accepting money from the FAA when the current grant obligations expire on December 31, 2014.

At that point, the board would be able to impose stricter regulations on the airport and, some hope, ban helicopters.