Tag Archive | "Southampton Town"

Southampton Ready To Celebrate Its 375th Birthday

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Tom Edmonds, director of the Southampton Historical Society, at a tour of the Thomas Halsey House in Southampton Village.

 

By Stephen J. Kotz

Every 25 years, dating back to 1865, the Town of Southampton has held special celebrations to mark the arrival of the first European settlers  in 1640, and 2015 will be no different.

From a special New Year’s Eve party at the Southampton Inn, to a convocation on March 7 at the First Presbyterian Church, which was also established in 1640, a rededication on June 13 at Conscience Point in North Sea, where Puritans first landed on June 12, 1640, and a community picnic that same day at the North Sea Community Center, a number of activities and exhibits are being planned.

To lift the curtain on the town’s 375th birthday celebration, the committee that was formed to organize the anniversary observance hosted a group of journalists on November 22 and 23, offering tours of historic sites in the village, including the Thomas Halsey House—the oldest in Southampton; and a reception at the Rogers Mansion, the home of the Southampton Historical Society.

Dede Gotthelf, the owner of the Southampton Inn, also provided free meals and lodging for the visiting journalists.

Ms Gotthelf led a tour that took the group through the village estate section, where she pointed out some of the homes of the village’s rich and famous summer colony residents. “We’re just a little early,” Ms. Gotthelf said. “In a couple of weeks the hedges will start to lose their foliage so you can see some of the magnificent homes.”

The tour also passed some of the village’s most well-known landmarks as well, including the Meadow Club, Coopers Beach and St. Andrew’s Dune Church and the Southampton Bathing Corporation.

Later the group met Tom Edmonds, executive director of the historical society, who offered a tour of the Thomas Halsey House. Although a historical marker identifies the house as having been built in 1648, Mr. Edmonds said the original section, which consisted of two rooms, probably dated to 1683, although Mr. Halsey established a farm on the South Main Street site as early as 1648. A second section of the house was erected in 1730 before additional rooms were added to the rear.

Mr. Edmonds showed off some of the collection, including a two-piece helmet, so designed for easy packing, which settlers would have brought with them “because they didn’t know whether they were going to encounter hostile Indians.” There was a rug, displayed like a table cloth, because it was too valuable to be left on the floor and would have been displayed on a table or wall as “a way to show off that you could afford a rug like that;” there was the peel, an oversized spatula, decorated with a heart. That meant, Mr. Edmonds pointed out, that it was probably a wedding gift from a husband to his wife and recognized the fact that a woman spent the lion’s share of her day tending the hearth while her husband farmed or hunted.

While the 375th anniversary will celebrate the arrival of a band of Puritans from Massachusetts, anniversary organizers said they did not want to forget the Shinnecock Indians, who had been calling Southampton home for thousands of years prior to the arrival of white settlers. There is an extensive portion of the Halsey House dedicated to Shinnecock history, and the tribe has its own cultural museum on the reservation west of the village.

The Shinnecock tribe will also take part in the Conscience Point rededication when they will hold a special pageant.

The historical society will obviously take a central role in the celebration. It plans an exhibit at the Rogers Mansion opening March 7 that will detail the families who lived in the famous house, who included Samuel Parrish, who founded the Parrish Art Museum in his former home on Jobs Lane before moving to the Rogers Mansion for the remainder of his life. Other events include a celebration of the Halsey family on July 23, a Polish festival on August 1, a Harvest Day Fair on September 27, and a reunion of the Howell family, another founding family, on October 16.

The Southampton Cultural Center will present “Artists and Southampton: A Living Legacy,” opening on June 2. The Southampton Trails Preservation Society will recreate a historic walk from Conscience Point to the village on June 14, and on June 20, the village will hold celebrate the grand occasion with a concert, servings of cake and a community sing-along.

Southampton, East Hampton Town Budgets Adopted

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Southampton Town Board, in a split vote, approved an $88.6 million budget on Thursday, November 20. Meanwhile, in East Hampton Town, a $71.6 million budget was passed unanimously that same evening.

In Southampton, spending was increased by about $160,000 from the original budget put forth by Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst in September, but taxes will remain flat at $1.43 per $1,000. Spending is up year to year by about $3 million.

Republican Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman Stan Glinka voted against the Southampton budget, which was supported by Supervisor Throne-Holst, Democratic Councilwoman Bridget Fleming and Independence Party Councilman Brad Bender.

Most of the spending increases were earmarked for eight new hires at the Southampton Town Police, other new positions at town hall and additional spending for highway work.

Southampton, like East Hampton, included $100,000 for a wastewater management plans and $25,000 for the South Fork Behavioral Health Care Initiative.

Taxes remain level, despite the spending increase, in large part because the town has enjoyed a windfall in the form of a half billion dollar increase in its total assessed valuation, thanks to a strong local real estate market.

In East Hampton, the board added some $96,000 to Supervisor Larry Cantwell’s original budget, which, in turn, increased spending by $2.1 million over last year.

Taxes are expected to rise by 3.2 percent for residents of East Hampton Village and 2 percent for those living outside the village. This translates to a $14.32 increase for a house valued at $550,000 outside the village and $23.08 for one within the village boundaries.

The actual tax rates are expected to be $11.63 per $100 for village residents and $28.90 per $100 outside the village.

East Hampton’s budget has undergone some minor changes since Supervisor Cantwell introduced it in September.  Among the major changes was the elimination of $50,000 in proposed revenue for a townwide rental registry, which has since been put on hold, but that has been more than offset by an expected $105,000 increase in county aid for police as well as $80,000 in fees for property leased as potential solar farm sites.

The town also reduced its reliance on reserves by $200,000 over he previous budget, Supervisor Cantwell said in a budget message.

The town is anticipating $965,000 in non-tax revenues, a 4.5-percent increase over last year, with about $757,000 of that expected to come from increased airport fees for fuel sales, landing fees and other sources.

The town is also expecting to realize savings of $459,000 by closing the scavenger waste plant

East Hampton’s budget is more than $300,000 below the state-mandated tax levy cap. Although some have criticized the high revenue estimates in the budget, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli reviewed the preliminary budget earlier this month and deemed the significant revenue and expenditure projections in the tentative budget reasonable.

More Money Needed for Road Repaving, Says Southampton Highway Superintendent

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By Mara Certic

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor appeared before the town board last Thursday to ask for more money to fund necessary projects along the town’s roadways.

“We used to get $3.5 million to pave roads, now we’re hovering around $1.7 million,” he said in an interview on said Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor said in an interview on Wednesday.

According to the town’s 2015-2019 Tentative Capital Program, Mr. Gregor and his department had requested $5 million for townwide road improvements. In her tentative budget, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst allocated just $1.2 million to improving roadways, with an additional $975,000 earmarked for work on Dune Road in Hampton Bays. There is a total of $3.8 million in spending for highway work in the town’s capital budget.

“We have a problem with a lot of subdivisions built in the ’80s and ’90s,” Mr. Gregor said. These aging roads, which are receive less traffic, he explained, have not been repaired as frequently as Southampton’s busier streets.

Mr. Gregor explained that investing more money in improving roadways now will allow the town to save money in the future. The more deteriorated the roads are at the time of repair, Mr. Gregor said, the more costly it is to fix them.

“If they fund us at $3.5 million for the next five years compared to what she’s saying, if we spend that money now, we’ll save 12 million by not letting the roads deteriorate,” Mr. Gregor added.

On one particular road in Hampton Bays, Mr. Gregor said the highway department would probably have to resort to putting gravel down this winter, as a temporary solution to the bad driving conditions.

“The road is deteriorated and being flooded constantly,” he said. If they have to plow the road this winter, they will likely break off chunks of the road and damage it further, he said.

“She gave me a budget and said ‘We’re hoping for good weather’,” Mr.Gregor said. “I can’t prepare for that, I need to prepare for the worst.”

Mr. Gregor had also initially requested $1.1 million for additional highway equipment, which the supervisor reduced to $350,000 in her preliminary budget for 2015.

“We are one of the few towns that doesn’t have a dedicated snow budget,” Mr. Gregor said, adding some of the funding he was looking for would replace four 30-year-old snow plows.

Mr. Gregor is also seeking more money to pay for salt and other highway equipment.

In 2014, the highway department had to do 15 budget transfers “to keep things going” according to Mr. Gregor.

“Actually the highway department’s broke right now, for the rest of the year,” Mr. Gregor added, saying there is just $8,000 left in the department’s checking account to last through the end of the year because of last year’s harsh winter.

“Just like overtime, they never gave us enough for overtime,” he said, “all we have left is $34,000.” The leaves of late fall and storms of early winter often call for highway workers to put in extra hours, and the department will only be able to fund that to a point, he said.

“We’re trying to keep people safe and maintain the town’s liability. When you put your kid on a school bus you expect the road system to be safe,” Mr. Gregor said.

Southampton Town Comptroller Len Marchese discussed the preliminary capital budget with the town board following the highway department’s request.

The department’s $3.8 million budget includes rollover spending, he said.

“Alex talked about having only a $2 million budget, but what happens is this is money we already borrowed or allocated for Dune Road is $1 million, that’s in your budget,” Mr. Marchese said, adding that the town could decide to instead put that money toward road repaving, which Supervisor Throne-Holst said was a “remote possibility.”

Mr. Marchese said there is some money that is expected to roll over into next year’s budget, but he said the board could discuss options of further supplementing the highway department’s spending budget.

The town board must adopt its budget by Thursday, November 20, as mandated by state law.

Southampton Town Unveils Deer Management Plan

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By Mara Certic

Environmentalists, hunters and Southampton Town officials unveiled a deer protection and management plan at a town board work session last  week.

The town Department of Conservation and Environment and Department of Land Management worked with Longview Wildlife Partnership to draft the 28-page plan that was presented to the board on Thursday, November 6.

Longview Wildlife Partnership is a citizens group of hunters and deer preservation advocates who formed the organization last year in the wake of plans to have Federal Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services sharpshooters cull the deer herd on eastern Long Island.

“We’re trying to strike a balance between protection and management,” said Amy Pfeiffer, a planner with Southampton Town.

As a first step, the plan recommends the formation of a deer management advisory committee, which would include local elected officials, planners, hunters, farmers, environmentalists, preservationists and experts on tick-borne diseases.

The multi-pronged management plan recommends different ways of reducing deer herds, including hunting, sterilization and immuno-contraception plans, as well as suggestions for reducing the number of deer motor vehicle accidents and how to better educate the public about the animals.

One of the issues of deer management is the unreliability of deer census methodology. The shifting, moving nature of deer populations and large numbers of unrecorded deer deaths mean current methods still require further refinement, according to the study.

Southampton Town will work with local hunters through the Longview Wildlife Partnership to establish deer management units and possible additional hunting opportunities on town-owned land. The plan aims to provide three ways to  “legitimize the role that local hunters can play, especially where nuisance deer pose an issue,” it says.

The first is to increase the number of hunting opportunities and to manage hunter density, as long as safety measures and firearm and archery setbacks are followed.

The second would control the number of deer hunted each year by determining or changing hunting seasons, bag limits and also by designating the sex and age of deer taken. Bucks are often considered the more highly prized hunting trophy, but studies have shown restricting hunting to bucks only can in fact increase deer populations. Hunting does, on the other hand, could help to reduce the size of the herd.

Third, the plan suggests the issuance of deer management permits, which allow for larger deer harvest during regular hunting seasons.

A group called Hunters for Deer has purchased a large refrigeration unit for deer carcasses, in order to ensure the meat goes to good use. According to Ms. Pfeiffer, if hunters are called to someone’s property because of a deer nuisance issue, they can now keep the meat in their new refrigerator to safely store it until it is donated to one of several charitable organizations.

The town is also looking into sterilization and immuno-contraception programs in another effort to maintain deer populations. Both methods can be expensive, and immuno-contraception in deer is still evolving as a deer management tool and can only be carried out as part of a research program

“Immuno-contraception may be the only socially acceptable option in densely residentially developed areas and, therefore, may have some effectiveness as at least a short term solution in Southampton Town,” the plan reads.

The town also has looked into different geographical locations for 4-poster stations, which rub insecticide onto deer in an effort to mitigate tick-borne diseases in Southampton.

One of the more visible changes that could come to Southampton Town would be the installation of new, flashing deer crossing signs.

“This new sign would be lit and would be placed in an area that would be related to where we’re seeing deer motor vehicle accidents,” Ms. Pfeiffer said. Using police information about accidents and by studying deer patterns, the town has established 12 road areas where there are the highest numbers of deer-vehicle collisions.

Ms. Pfeiffer added that down the line, these signs could also have motion detectors, which would make the signs light up when deer are sensed nearby.

“It’s a really neat thing,” Ms. Pfeiffer added.

Environmentalists Look to Renewable Energy for the Future of Southampton Town

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By Mara Certic

Hours after environmentalists held a Rally for Renewables at a LIPA board meeting on Thursday, residents and elected officials gathered at the Hampton Bays Community Center to discuss the future of renewable energy in the Town of Southampton.

The Southampton Sustainability Advisory Committee hosted its fourth annual public forum, which focused on “Green Power: Renewable Energy for Southampton’s Future.” Gordian Raacke, Clinton Plummer and John Francheschina gave presentations on their various expertise and answered questions from the public.

Co-chairs of the committee Dieter von Lehsten and Scott Carlin moderated the event, which was organized to provide Southamptonites more information about local and regional energy issues.

Mr. Raacke, president of Renewable Energy Long Island, spoke about East Hampton’s goal to provide 100 percent of the town’s energy from renewable sources and its relevance to Southampton.

According to Mr. Raacke, East Hampton’s decision to power all of its community-wide electricity needs with renewable energy by the year 2020 came after a close look at the town’s carbon footprint.

The majority of the town’s carbon emissions are from electricity consumption, Mr. Raacke said, hence the decision to conquer that sector first. It will focus on using renewable energy for its heating and transportation sectors by the year 2030.

“Obviously, we need to start where we have the greatest impact,” Mr. Raacke said, adding renewable technology for heating and transportation has “still a little ways to go.”

On December 17, LIPA is scheduled to decide whether or not it will go forward with proposed plans for large solar farms and a plan for an offshore wind farm 30 miles east of Montauk Point.

“LIPA will be facing a choice of going with business as usual,” Mr. Raacke said, “or with zero emissions, which will keep more of our energy dollars in the local economy.”

“If LIPA chooses fossil fuels, they’ll be burdening Long Island,” he said. The price is known and is fixed for renewable energy, he explained, whereas future gas and oil prices remain a mystery.

Clinton Plummer from Deepwater Wind then discussed the company’s proposal for a 35-turbine wind farm out in the Atlantic Ocean, invisible from the shore.  The East End’s population has grown rapidly in recent years, Mr. Plummer said, which has put a huge strain on the electricity grid.

“When you have a hot day here on Long Island, offshore wind is producing at its absolute greatest,” he said. Deepwater ONE would increase Long Island’s supply of renewable energy by 47 percent, which, in turn, would decrease oil and gas usage by 7 million barrels a year, Mr. Plummer said.

A smaller pilot program off the coast of Block Island is on track to be in the water and fully operational by 2016. That will be the first offshore wind farm in the United States. The world’s first offshore wind farm, Vindeby in Denmark, has been fully operational since 1991.

On Thursday morning, 80 people showed up at a LIPA board meeting to show public support for the Deepwater ONE project. LIPA’s final meeting of the year will be on Wednesday, December 17. Mr. Plummer said he expects to hear the final verdict on the offshore wind farm by then.

Mr. Francheschina is the manager of residential efficiency programs for PSEG-LI, and gave a detailed presentation on some of the more affordable things homeowners can do to shrink their carbon footprints.

“The load is growing on the South Fork,” Mr. Francheschina said. “Either we need to lower the load or add more generation.”

In addition to rebates for geothermal systems and solar arrays, Mr. Francheschina described some of the ways Long Islanders can lower the demand for electricity. He explained rebate programs for less expensive products such as air purifiers, clothes dryers and even light bulbs.

PSEG-LI is currently holding a refrigerator recycling program that has a $50 rebate and also offers those who participate the chance to win an iPad, he said. PSEG-LI, with NYSERDA, also has a free home energy audit, where qualifying residents can learn specific ways to make their houses more energy efficient.

For more information about the efficiency programs, visit psegliny.com/efficiency

Southampton Town Trustees, Police Request More Funding in the Town Budget

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By Mara Certic

Three weeks before the Southampton Town Board is slated to adopt its 2015 budget, representatives of two departments came before the board to ask for additional funding.

“We offer all of our departments and department heads the opportunity to come before the town board as part of the budget crafting process to discuss any thoughts they have, suggestions, complaints et cetera, et cetera,” Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said at the beginning of a work session on Thursday, October 30.

The Southampton Town Trustees and the town’s police department were two such entities that asked for a larger share of the town’s preliminary budget.

“When you took office for the first time the town’s finances were not in the greatest of shape, and the Trustees have always operated on a very, very lean budget all through the years,” Eric Shultz, president of the Trustees, told the supervisor on Thursday.

“I just wanted to start discussing bringing the Trustees’ budget back up to pretty much what it was before this financial crisis started,” he said. “The Trustees have contributed the lion’s share of that budget and feel that we really have helped the town weather this storm.”

Mr. Shultz said there were certain line items that were no longer budgeted for, including overtime pay for bay constables, upkeep of vehicles, legal fees, salaries for office staff and so on.

“In this budget we were told it was basically going to be the same as last year and we need to start coming out of the hole a little bit,” Mr. Shultz said, adding that some of the Trustees’ employees had been driving a vehicle until a spark plug blew out of the engine.

“We’ve not had to ask the town board for any vehicles or any boats or any motors or any repairs to our buildings in the last four or five years because of our sand sales, and that’s coming to an end. There has been zero dollars realized from the sale of sand this year,” he said.

The Trustees made $1.2 million in sand sales in the year following Super Storm Sandy, which they used for upkeep of their fleet and their properties. The current state of Southampton beaches, however, suggests sand sales won’t be on the rise any time soon.

Ms. Throne-Holst said the conversation was one that should have taken place as a part of the requested budget process, where departments lay out what money they need for what projects, so the town can budget accordingly. She added the Trustees are an enterprise fund, meaning they have a revenue source of their own.

The Trustees suggested they brought in the most money to the town, and that as those charged with protecting the waterways, they “control the economic engine of this town.”

Ms. Throne-Holst acknowledged their contributions, but added both the town’s Building Department and Justice Court bring in hefty sums in permit fees and fines as well.

“So what we need to do now is set back the clock and pretend we’re back in September when the budget came out,” she said. “But we need to follow timelines here like everyone else,” she reminded the Trustees. “We’re so understaffed in our office, its hard to get things done,” responded Mr. Shultz.

Southampton Town Police Chief Robert Pearce came before the board to address portions of his department’s budget that concerned him. Chief Pearce had put in a request for six new police officers in order, primarily, to increase police presence in Flanders as well as a request for more money for severance pay and vehicle upkeep.

“That is the reason I am asking for six,” he said, “It is my understanding I’m getting three with a possibility of a fourth in 2016.” In the current budget, there will be three new names added to the police payroll, filling two new positions and one vacancy.

The town has budgeted to add another lieutenant and sergeant to the department—both will be internal promotions—and then to fill those positions and an existing vacancy with department officers.

If Suffolk County adopts its preliminary budget, Ms. Throne-Holst explained there would be a new agreement to provide the town with a greater share of sales tax revenue to use for public safety.

The supervisor suggested some of that money be allocated to pay for one officer immediately, with a commitment to double the amount in the next calendar year.

“It won’t get you there immediately, but it will get you there roughly in a year or so,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. Chief Pearce said back when he had 102 officers he ran a lean department. As the budget stands, his department will have 90 officers in 2015.

“We were running lean then, we’re running emaciated now,” Chief Pearce said. The supervisor said the seasonal nature of the town makes budgeting for the police particularly difficult.

“We try to do the best we can in a way that achieves a balance between the season and the off-season,” she said.

East Hampton Budget

In East Hampton Town, Budget Officer Len Bernard presented another review of the tentative operating budget for 2015. Since it was first presented to the public in September, the town has added $29,124 in net expenditures to the budget. More money for human services, town cemeteries, the East End Arts Council and the fisheries committee, among others, account for the increases, Mr. Bernard explained.

Mr. Bernard said more money had found its way into the revenue fund. This is in part due to expected lease payments from solar companies. According to Mr. Bernard the contracts have been drawn and will be signed shortly. “This is going to happen real soon,” he said.

The overall net to the tax levy, he said, is $152,400 in revenue, which will very slightly lower the projected tax increase. Also, it will put the town $329,569 under the tax cap, which it can carry forward to the next year.

In a work session meeting on October 21, Councilwoman Kathee Burke Gonzalez asked that an additional $36,000 be put into the airport budget in order to install cameras to record flight activity.

Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc requested the town also budget for a part-time skilled carpenter to conduct small repairs on town buildings. “I think Peter’s proposal is acceptable, as far as I’m concerned, and encouraged,” said Councilman Fred Overton.

Mr. Bernard said he would add both of those items to the budget. Both towns are scheduled to adopt their operating budgets by November 20, as stipulated by state law.

East End Supervisors Budget $200,000 for Wastewater Management Plans

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Southampton Town Supervisor allotted $100,000 in her tentative budget for 2015 to found a partnership with Stony Brook University. They intend to do nitrogen mapping in an attempt to prevent future toxic algal blooms, like the one that took place in Sag Harbor Cove, above, this summer. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and her East Hampton counterpart, Larry Cantwell, have both advocated for improving water quality on Long Island, and in their proposed budgets for 2015, each has allotted $100,000 to wastewater management plans.

Eastern Long Island lies over a sole source aquifer, meaning all of the drinking water in East Hampton and Southampton comes from one groundwater supply. There is no external source of water to import, and both private wells and “public water,” installed by the Suffolk County Water Authority, get their supply from the groundwater.

In his budget message, Mr. Cantwell said, “Management of wastewater is a challenge staring us straight in the eye.  The town needs to continue developing a town-wide wastewater management plan to address this key issue.”

“To date, the town through its staff and outside consultants has begun to gather, sort and analyze data that will eventually result in a comprehensive wastewater management plan for the town,” he continued.

According to East Hampton Budget Officer Len Bernard, the next phase is a continuation of the work Pio Lombardo of Lombardo Associates has been doing. Mr. Lombardo has written a draft wastewater management plan for the town, which includes neighborhood wastewater treatment centers and enforcing septic system inspections.

The management plan is concise and provides information for the many different areas of East Hampton Town and tentative solutions for each issue. “All the background numbers are done. Now they’re going toward specific actions with specific places,” said Mr. Bernard.

“I have included $100,000 in the tentative budget to begin the development of specific actions of the plan, recognizing that once the basic plan is completed and presented to the public, capital-funded construction and improvements will be required to carry out its recommendations,” Mr. Cantwell said.

“In order to reach that point, however, we need to fund the groundwork that must be performed now,” he said. That groundwork, Mr. Bernard said, will include the formation of “working groups” for different areas and neighborhoods. Those groups will have meetings Mr. Lombardo will attend in order to come up with appropriate wastewater management systems for each part of the town.

Mr. Cantwell also included an extra $10,000, for a total of $20,000, to go toward water quality testing in East Hampton.

This money, the supervisor said, is “for the specific purpose of performing more water quality testing to ensure water bodies that should be open are open and those that should be closed are closed, with the causes identified and mitigation plans established.”

According to Mr. Bernard, the water testing will be done jointly in conjunction with the East Hampton Town Trustees and will involve the same scientist they use for their testing, Dr. Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

Ms. Throne-Holst put $100,000 into Southampton’s operating budget to fund a partnership with Stony Brook University that will seek to mitigate excessive nitrogen in town waters.

Dr. Gobler himself compiled the partnership proposal for the town, which has two main objectives. The first is to attempt to identify the amount of nitrogen that needs to be removed from specific waterways in order to improve water quality.

According to Mr. Gobler, “Recently, a series of serious water quality impairments have emerged within Southampton Town waters including harmful algal blooms that have led to declines in seagrasses and fisheries.” One of the prime causes identified as intensifying the algal blooms is excessive nitrogen loading.

In the past two years, thanks to support from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Dr. Gobler has collected enough data to identify how much nitrogen loads must be reduced by in order to minimize the effect of toxic algal blooms on waterways and their ecosystems.

The second prong of this partnership will be to promote an awareness program about nitrogen loading for the residents of Southampton. According to Jen Garvey, Ms. Throne-Holst’s deputy chief-of-staff, some of Mr. Gobler’s doctoral students have developed a “nitrogen home footprint model.”

In this model, which will be available through the town website, homeowners can enter the size of their property, what fertilizer they use, the number of bathrooms, information about their septic systems, and so on. The model then estimates their household nitrogen output and offers personalized solutions for how to remove nitrogen from wastewater.

According to Dr. Gobler, “this proposal seeks to support the Town of Southampton within both efforts by enhancing public awareness of the nitrogen loading problem, how it has changed with time, and how they contribute to the problem, as well as by identifying specific nitrogen loading rate reduction strategies that will lead to improved water quality and ecosystems within Town of Southampton waters.”

Preserving the Past for the Future

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Architectural Conservationist Joel Snodgrass, at left, looks on as Volunteer Bill Single and Southampton Town Historian Zach Studenroth work on Nancy Rose's headstone as part of the restoration of the headstones at the Old Burial Ground on Little Plains Road.

Architectural Conservationist Joel Snodgrass, at left, looks on as Volunteer Bill Single and Southampton Town Historian Zach Studenroth work on Nancy Rose’s headstone as part of the restoration of the headstones at the Old Burial Ground on Little Plains Road.

By Gianna Volpe; photo by Michael Heller

Community volunteers learned about restoring historic burying sites this weekend at the area’s oldest graveyard – the Old Southampton Cemetery – during workshops led by preservation expert Joel Snodgrass.

Funded by the historic division of the Southampton Town Clerk’s Office, Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer said the weekend was invaluable to ensuring her records are as comprehensive as they can be.

“That’s exactly what these stones are,” Ms. Schermeyer said at Friday’s workshop. “They’re records, so it’s great that people are doing their part to help see that things like this are being preserved.”

Mr. Snodgrass, who received his Master’s Degree from Columbia University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, said preventing such sites from falling into ruin is gaining importance among those working in historic communities.

“We take for granted that historic, colonial burying sites sometimes contain the only record that remains of the existence of a person,” he said. “There’s no written records, there’s no church records, there’s no burial records – there’s no records; no nothing – so they’ve become very, very important from a genealogical and town record standpoint.”

Southampton Town historian Zachary Studenroth, who spent time Friday afternoon gently scraping sea foam green lichens from the nooks and crannies of the centuries-old tablets, said he’d witnessed this potential loss of history firsthand. ?“Years ago I was contacted by someone who said they’d moved to town and found a headstone in their carport and, not knowing where it belonged, had erected it in the woods behind their house,” said Mr. Studenroth. “Modern surveys showed no record of the stone, which belonged to a child we called ‘Little Danny,’ though it was included in an earlier cemetery survey done in the 1930s…It was very creepy because the stone was about the size and weight of a child, so it really was like we were carrying ‘Little Danny’ out of the woods to be reunited with his parents.”

Stories like that of  ‘Little Danny’ is exactly what made the workshop significant for volunteers like Karen Kiaer.

“It’s less about the stone preservation, although that’s important; it’s about the stories of the people under the stones,” said Ms. Kiaer, cemetery preservation project chairperson for the Shelter Island chapter of the Daughters of Revolution. “Stone by stone – as you’re digging up monuments to reset them  –– you’re also uncovering the monument of a person, and in Southampton, Southold and Shelter Island, you’re going back to the 1600s, to patriots, to the American Revolution.”

Southampton Town Videographer Charlie Styler took footage at this weekend’s workshop for a special he said will soon air on the Southampton Town Area Educational and Governmental Cable Channel 22.

Those interested in learning ways to bring sites like The Old Cemetery back to life can watch Mr. Styler’s footage to better understand preservation techniques like probing and pinning.

The first technique requires the use of thin, metal poles to “probe” the cemetery dirt for the buried bottom of a broken head or footstone, which Mr. Snodgrass said generically represents one-third the length of the entire stone.

Workshop volunteers like Bill Single and Chris Robinson used probing to find the bases of both head and footstones lying in the grass of The Old Southampton Cemetery grass, helping Mr. Snodgrass in “pinning” the broken pieces together after an epoxy was applied.

Mr. Snodgrass said extreme care should be taken when executing these techniques, as the historic objects are extremely delicate.

“You wouldn’t just pull it up because sometimes even suction on the back case of the fragile stone can cause damage,” he said of the need to excavate in order to make a match. “An inscription of a name – or typically initials – is usually an indication that they belong to each other.”

Maintenance to those stones still standing was also done this weekend, including the application of a microbial wash to remove lichens and other biological growth from the surfaces of porous marble and brownstone tablets.

“The porous stones, particularly ones with a granular quality to them, suffer from lichen growth,” Mr. Snodgrass said, adding gravestones offer the perfect environment for such clinging plants.

“[Gravestones] act as a perfect substrate,” he added. “They’ve got sort of a rough surface that can retain moisture and allows them to cling on easily, but more so, if you get normal rain the ground is damp, [gravestones] act as wicks, so the moisture will come up through the stone and evaporate out the surface of the stone.”

To mitigate biological growth at Old Southampton Cemetery, workshop volunteers used small pump sprayers to apply a non-toxic product called d2, which is used on the White House.

“It’s not meant to be put on and then it’s squeaky clean in 15 minutes,” Mr. Snodgrass said of the non-toxic liquid. “It’s designed to work over a period of time, so a month later you’ll see a change, even six months later. We treated the right one of two stones side by side – a husband and wife in a historic burying ground on the north shore – with d2 and the one on the right is entirely white now.”

 

 

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst Proposes $88.5 Million Budget for Southampton

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Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, pictured above, presented the Town’s Tentative 2015 Budget on Tuesday. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst presented Southampton Town’s $88.5 million proposed operating budget for 2015 on Tuesday, September 30.

“The 2015 tentative budget, and my previous four budgets, is based on the notion that sound financial footing is the bedrock upon which all town services rests,” said Ms. Throne-Holst.

“The degree and quality for which the town can provide for public safety, safe and well maintained roadways, clean and accessible beaches, parks and public spaces—and a host of other services that support and improve the quality of life for our citizens depends on our ability to provide that sound financial footing,” she continued.

“I am proposing modest increases in both the operating and capital budgets—principally in the Highway and Public Safety Funds, while proposing offsetting reductions or revenue increases in other areas,” she said.

Ms. Throne-Holst has included $695,000 in the budget in order to cover the salaries and benefits of eight new employees. The supervisor intends to hire one administrative position, an ordinance inspector, an environmental analyst, a maintenance mechanic, two police officers and two automotive equipment operators.

“In the past four years we have reduced overall staffing by about 15 percent,” the supervisor said. “However, as you all know, our town population continues to grow, and so then too, the need for services,” she continued.

The budget accounts for a 2-percent annual increases in salary and incorporates increases in employee contributions to health benefits, according to the supervisor. She added Southampton’s contracts represent “the most conservative increases in Suffolk County.”

The budget also includes funds for the town’s 375th anniversary celebrations and for a special prosecutor to focus solely on code enforcement issues.

Money has also been put aside to found a partnership with Stony Brook University in order to create a nitrogen mapping and awareness program, “as part of our overall effort to address water quality in our community and region,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

While the budget calls for an additional $3 million in spending, Ms. Throne-Holst said that steadily increasing revenues and appropriating modest amount from fund balances would offset the budget-to-budget differences and allow for no increase in the total tax levy.

“As anywhere else, our operating costs continue to rise, but fortunately our annual revenue to support the offset has grown as well,” she said. Mortgage tax revenue for 2014 is currently expected to be $1.2 million over the budgeted projection, she added.

Increased permit fees, fines and penalties have provided an increase in revenue as well, she said, as has the more aggressive prosecution of offenders. Combined, these revenues offset roughly $1.7 million of the $3 million in additional spending.

The budget as written proposes to draw the remaining $1.3 million needed to balance the budget from the town’s “very healthy fund balance.” The town’s fund balance is mandated to be 17 percent of the total operating budget; according to Ms. Throne Holst, the current balance is $29 million, which represents 32 percent of the budget.

She added, however, that she would be open to discussing the possibility of a 1.5-percent tax rate increase with the other members of the town board in the coming weeks.

“While my budget proposes a zero tax levy increase, New York State has offered municipalities incentives in the form of a rebate equal to the amount of any town tax increase up to the tax cap limit,” she said.

Governor Cuomo’s Tax Relief Rebate Program would entitle eligible taxpayers to a full rebate of their tax increase, which would translate to a zero increase to the taxpayer.

Ms. Throne-Holst proposed not to increase taxes because of how robust the fund balance is, she said, but also to not add to the tax base in future years. There is no guarantee the rebate program will continue in future years or that Southampton Town will be eligible in the future, she said.

She would be willing to consider the other option, to take advantage of the tax relief program, which could provide funding for future non-recurring projects. Ms. Throne-Holst explained the state program could fund additional necessary police and code enforcement vehicles as well as town fueling station upgrades and public safety communications equipment, all at no increased cost to the taxpayer.

“In such an option, homeowners would receive a tax rebate for the increase and the town would then benefit by not having to borrow or provide for them in future,” she explained.

“This is an option that warrants more discussion, and I look forward to evaluating the merits of utilizing this program with my colleagues as we move through the deliberative process and final budget adoption,” she said.

A series of public hearings and discussions regarding the tentative budget will take place over the next few weeks with the budget adoption slated for November 20.

Southampton Town Board To Add New Conditions to Special Exception Permits

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By Mara Certic

The Southampton Town Board is expected to add new standards, safeguards and conditions for retail businesses over 5,000 square feet that apply for special exception permits from the town Planning Board.

The news comes following highly controversial plans to build a 9,030-square-foot CVS pharmacy on the busy corner of Montauk Highway and the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. On July 28 of this year, BNB Ventures IV and CVS Caremark applied for a special exception permit from the planning board to open the two-story pharmacy on the lot previously occupied by a small beer distributor.

The proposal has caused distress for members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee and other residents, who have created an offshoot organization Save Bridgehampton Main Street, hired lawyers, done a traffic study and even held three protests and counting.

Those opposed not only fear that a CVS would negatively affect traffic on an already dangerous intersection, but worry that the pharmacy giant would detract from the rural charm of Bridgehampton’s village business district.

“We all know that one of our key assets is the character of our downtowns,” said Town Planning and Development Administrator Kyle Collins at a town board work session on Thursday, September 4.

He explained the prior town board adopted a special permit exception for uses in the village business district between 5,000 and 15,000 square feet but added, “the code does not provide for safeguards or conditions with that kind of special exception law.”

He explained special permit exceptions exist in the town code for certain land uses such as horse farms and marinas. “A lot of them are things that would be looked at through SEQRA,” or the State Environmental Quality Review Act, he said.

Although the general standards refer to things like traffic impacts, he said, the proposed new standards would require a traffic impact analysis as well. “Traffic is a key issue within all our business districts,” he said. Certain parking characteristics will be taken into account too, he added. The proposed 9,030-square-foot building, complete with basement and elevator, will have 10 parking spots for employees and clients, according to plans.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Christine Scalera said the special standards also include taking a deeper look at the surrounding local retail community and also will require a local market analysis. These safeguards would be put in place in order to protect existing businesses in the village business districts.

The town board scheduled a public hearing about the proposed new standards for Tuesday, September 23, at 6:30 p.m. Ms. Scalera said on Tuesday if the public hearing does not attract a huge crowd, “we’d put it on for the next meeting for adoption.”  After that point she said it typically would take two or three weeks for the law to be formally adopted and put on the books.

CVS opponents have said the pharmacy’s attorneys seem to be looking for a swift and speedy approval process, but if adopted by the board soon, the new standards could realistically slow them down.