Tag Archive | "Southampton Town"

Sag Harbor CAC Attendance Wanes

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Claire Walla

If you haven’t been to a Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting recently, you’re not alone. Attendance at the community meetings has waned in recent months, last Sunday playing host to just two attendees — one of whom was the co-chair leading the meeting.

The duo briefly discussed issues affecting Southampton Town, as is a CAC’s purview, like the amount of nitrogen seeping into local waterways and a new proposal from Councilman Chris Nuzzi to create a committee to expedite the permitting process for builders and small business owners.

But with such a small audience, the meeting was mostly just informative.

“I’d like to grow,” Judah Mahay said of CAC attendance.

According to Mahay, co-chair of the CAC, the group technically has five active members. However, since February the meetings have only garnered two or three members (including the two co-chairs). The most populous meeting — in April — attracted a crowd of seven, and featured a speaker from the Quiet Skies Coalition who discussed the issue of helicopter noise.

At this point, he added, his main issue is building a core group of members. “We’re being proactive for community involvement,” he said.

Part of the CAC slow-down has to do with the fact that the organization is in a redevelopment process, explained co-chair John Linder.

“Clearly, we’re in a period of transition,” said Linder, who is prepping Mahay to take on the role in its entirety in 2013. Linder and Mahay officially became co-chairs this past February. “At this point, we’re just taking it month-to-month.”

The mission of all local CACs is to keep abreast and weigh in on issues affecting those areas that lie outside village jurisdiction, but within Southampton Town’s. At last Sunday’s meeting, Mahay explained to his one guest that the Sag Harbor CAC’s main priority at the moment is “being proactive to gain community involvement.”

Mahay himself is taking steps to give the CAC much more of a presence in the community, which includes giving the organization an online presence.

“We’ve thought about ways to bring people to the CAC, to not only show up, but to participate in the community,” Mahay continued. He mentioned setting up an information booth outside the library to explain what the organization is all about, in addition to creating an interactive website for the CAC.

Mahay said the website will include all the minutes from CAC meetings, as well as all letters drafted on behalf of CAC members that are sent to the town board or local publications. He expects the website to be up and running before the organization’s next meeting, July 8.

While Linder explained that a couple active CAC members are actually summer residents who have not yet arrived, some wonder whether the low attendance has to do with the current time slot: Sunday afternoons at 1:30 p.m.

CAC member Eric Cohen regularly attended meetings until they were switched from Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. to their current Sunday time slot.

“That’s the entire reason for me,” Cohen said, explaining why he no longer attends meetings. Plus, he said the issues in the greater Sag Harbor community are not as crucial as they were a few years ago.

CACs were established about 15 years ago so that areas in Southampton Town without a localized government could have a much stronger connection to the town board. The Bridgehampton CAC, for example, has a relatively high attendance rate because the hamlet has a significant population with issues that cannot be addressed locally.

Because Sag Harbor is an incorporated village, the Sag Harbor CAC is technically responsible for the areas of the greater Sag Harbor community on the Southampton side of town that do not fall within village jurisdiction. This includes Ligonee Creek to the south, and part of the Long Pond Greenbelt.

The most significant issue the CAC has dealt with in recent years was the push for a Sag Harbor Gateway Study along the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike, which essentially limits development in that area.

“The area we’re representing is small and there isn’t a lot of controversy right now,” said Cohen. “We used to have a much larger membership, with people who really knew how to speak up [for Sag Harbor issues in town board meetings]. But, with membership shrinking, there are fewer of us to get out there.”

For Linder, the greater Sag Harbor area will continue to see issues, whether it’s water quality or traffic on Noyac Road (Noyac, by the way, has its own CAC). But, the longevity of the Sag Harbor CAC will be left to the will of the people.

“If people see the value in it, some will come forward and participate,” he said. “If not, it will go by the wayside.” But, he continued, “the issues will remain.”

Board Questions Operation of YARD Summer Beach Program

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By Claire Walla


The future of the Youth Advocacy and Resource Development (YARD) summer beach program is in flux. Again. And the Sag Harbor Board of Education remains at a standstill.

Last year around this time, school board members discussed the feasibility of continuing to run the summer beach program at Long Beach in Sag Harbor. The question was not the viability of the program — board members agreed it served an important function for the community, catering to 60 to 80 kids a night — but rather the manner in which it operated.

Issues first arose a few years ago when auditors discovered that while YARD had long operated autonomously from the district — running programs without formal approval from the school board — its finances had in fact been funneled through the district.

This was mitigated last year when the YARD board formed a non-profit entity, “Friends of YARD,” to collect all funds solicited for the program.

However, Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Dr. Gratto pointed out that last year the school board decided not to be involved in the summer beach program after summer 2011, leaving the organization to find another entity to oversee its operations going forward.

YARD has been in discussions with Southampton Town, which is a big proponent of the summer beach program. However, according to Russel Kratoville, Southampton Town Management Services Administrator, while the town will continue to fund the program with its annual contribution of $15,000, it does not have the means run the program. (This would require hiring additional staff.)

Now, as discussed at a school board meeting last Monday, June 4, the board faces many of the same problems it faced last year.

The nut of the issue comes down to a simple philosophical question, Dr. Gratto said: should the district be responsible for administering a summer program?

If the district decided to formally take on the program, one necessary course of action would be to assign district supervision, which Mary Anne Miller, school board president, said is necessary for any district program. Not only might this involve extra costs, she went on, but it would add more to administrators’ summer schedules.

“I don’t think our administrators are looking for more work,” board member Walter Wilcoxen added. If the district was responsible for the program, he continued, “There are many costs in the YARD function we may end up paying for.”

Currently, the school contributes $10,000 annually to YARD.

The total cost of YARD services, including both the summer beach program and the afterschool program during the school year, is about $80,000, according to school board member and YARD Board of Directors member Sandi Kruel. And $23,000 of that goes to the summer beach program.

Kruel went on to explain that the vast majority of funding for the program comes not from the school district, but from different municipalities: New York State, Suffolk County, Southampton Town, Sag Harbor and even North Haven Village.

She said cost isn’t an issue.

“We haven’t been short on money in 13 years [since YARD was founded],” a noticeably frustrated Kruel stated. “I don’t foresee us coming up short this year.”

For the school to run a program that incorporates donations from several different municipalities, however, Dr. Gratto explained the district would need each entity to sign what’s called a Municipal Cooperative Agreement. He is currently figuring out how long that agreement — requiring signatures from the village, town, county and state — would take to get finalized.

Board members Miller and Wilcoxen additionally expressed concern that they still had not seen contracts from any entity other than Southampton Town, and would not be confident with YARD’s funding going forward until they could be certain these funding streams were officially designated for the year.

Kruel said she would like for the summer program to begin the week after graduation.

But whether it will have untangled all these details before then remains to be seen.

East End Towns Honored for Preservation Efforts

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East Hampton TH SPLIA

Above: The historic Adelaide DeMenil and Edmund Carpenter homes before they were converted into the current East Hampton Town Hall. (Photo courtesy of SPLIA.)

By Claire Walla

The Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA) semi-annually awards projects and local efforts to boost preservation in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. And this year, while pouring over the various preservation projects that came to fruition here on Long Island in 2011, SPLIA’s Director of Preservation Services Alexandra Wolfe said two projects from the East End stood out.

On Sunday, April 22, both East Hampton and Southampton towns will be recognized for their efforts to preserve history here on the East End.

SPLIA is honoring the architectural firm Robert A.M. Stern for its efforts to restore the Adelaide DeMenil and Edmund Carpenter houses and turn them into the new East Hampton Town Hall facilities.

“East Hampton got a lot of flack about the funding for the project,” Wolfe admitted. (The overall cost of the project was about $6 million.) “But, the bottom line is that it really is a beautiful project. These buildings were incorporated into a complex arrangement, which speaks to the history of East Hampton and serves a very important function.”

The project incorporated two, two-story homes, which now serve as town hall offices, and two old barns (all buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries), which now serve as town meeting spaces. The buildings’ exteriors remained intact, while their interiors were modified to accommodate the current uses.

“By recognizing their good work, the hope is that it will influence the town at large to incorporate preservation into its larger policies,” said Wolfe, like in Southampton, where SPLIA recognition is being paid to the town-wide effort to promote preservation, rather than a specific entity.

“It can be a project, an organization or an individual,” Wolfe clarified. “It’s really about who comes forward and does good work.”

One big effort that came to the forefront of discussions was the efforts of the town’s advisory Landmarks and Historic Districts Board, led by Sally Spanburgh who also works at the Bridgehampton Historical Society, to update town code as it pertains to demolition permits. Now, the building department is required to run proposed demolitions by the Landmarks and Historic Districts Board before buildings are torn down.

But the other big change came from Zach Studenroth, who was hired last year as the town historian. He had been working as a consultant for the town since 2006, but last year his efforts to preserve the town’s historic burial grounds made a lot of headway.

“There are tombs here from as early as the 1680s,” Studenroth exclaimed. “And these carved stones are out in the open, unprotected.”

Studenroth was able to organize a slew of volunteers to help clean some of the headstones in the 10 cemeteries (of 40) actually governed by the town. He estimated there must be about 2,500 headstones that need to be maintained. He said a lot of restoration work still needs to be done.

“Some of the stones have toppled over and are broken,” he said. “We realize that the scope of the work far exceeds the resources of the town.”

He has been reaching out to local civic associations to help with the effort, and said that so far North Sea has gathered residents to clean up the cemetery there, realigning headstones and trimming some of the trees.

“The next stage is raising funds to hire professionals to realign some of the more heavy stones,” Studenroth added.

Wolfe explained that Southampton Town is also being recognized for the fact that it managed to involve the community in this effort to preserve local history, but also the creative steps it took to provide information to the public.

Working in conjunction with the Town Clerk’s office, Studenroth ultimately helped to create a searchable database online, providing the names of those who have been buried in Southampton Town and the locations and conditions of their tombstones.

Ultimately, Wolfe said Southampton Town is being recognized for “its creative approach” to preservation.

“It’s an initiative that has a much larger application,” she said.

This Sunday, Southampton and East Hampton towns are being recognized at SPLIA’s headquarters in Cold Springs Harbor, during a ceremony at 3 p.m.

Other award winners include The Seatuck Environmental Association, for its dedication to preserving “Wereholme,” the former Scully Estate, for use by the Suffolk County Environmental Center. And the Aquinas Honor Society of the Immaculate Conception School in Jamaica Estates, Queens for their ongoing efforts to report on local history.

Celebrate Earth Day Across the East End

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By Claire Walla

This coming Saturday, Christine Fetton will spend most of her waking hours at the Southampton Town transfer station in North Sea, doing what most people probably consider a most undesirable activity: monitoring trash.

As the director of waste management for Southampton Town, monitoring trash at the town’s transfer station, where she keeps an office, is a relatively routine role for Fetton. However, this Saturday is Earth Day, which means Southampton Town will be holding its annual Great East End Clean-Up (which runs through Sunday).

This time last year, Fetton said the town collected a grand total of 56 tons of garbage.

“I think we’re going to be a little busier this weekend than we are during normal weeks,” she said with a grin.

As in years past, the Clean Up will bring hundreds of East End residents to beaches and parks throughout Southampton Town for a conscientious environmental cleanse in the name of Earth Day, the one day out of the year when communities around the world make an effort to beautify their immediate surroundings.

In addition to the Great East End Clean Up, residents here will also be able to take part in a smattering of other nature-oriented events. The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike) will host a cleanup of its own at Sagg Main Beach from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 21, followed by an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The open house will not only include a Live Raptor and Animal Show at 1 p.m., but also a walking tour that requires nothing but your eyes and a working cell phone.

“You dial a number on your cell phone and it goes to a recording with information about that stop [on the nature walk],” said Nature Educator Lindsay Rohrbach.

Out in Montauk, Earth Day will be widely celebrated on Earth Day’s official date: Sunday, April 22. From 9 a.m. to noon, people will be invited to clean up areas around Edgemere Street (garbage bags will be available at the movie theater), and from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. kids will be able to decorate reusable grocery bags at the Montauk Playhouse.

The emphasis on reusable bags is also a big part of this year’s town-sponsored events in Southampton. During the Great East End Clean Up, trash collectors will be asked to separate single-use plastic bags from the mix. According to Fetton, this accumulation of plastic will be used as data.

“This way we can work to establish a baseline of usage, which we can compare to next year’s numbers,” Fetton explained.

While the town voted against instituting an all-out plastic bag ban (like the one now in place in Southampton Village) earlier this year, it has embarked on an educational campaign, urging residents to limit their dependence on plastic.

This entire effort, called Greener Southampton: The Solution is in the Bag, will be kicked-off this Saturday, as well. Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera and Councilman Chris Nuzzi, in addition to the town’s Sustainability Coordinator Liz Plouff will be at the King Kullen Supermarket on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton from noon to 2 p.m. to discuss the environmental hazards of plastic bags. (Those shopping within that time frame who spend $10 or more at the store will receive a free reusable bag.)

Taking a momentary break from the plastics discussion, Plouff will also talk about the town’s Green Homes initiative, through which homeowners in the town of Southampton can request free audits on their home’s energy efficiency. She will also mention the town’s anti-idling campaign.

In the end, Fetton said there may only be one organized town-wide cleanup in Southampton, but she hopes this year’s educational efforts will have long-lasting effects.

“The key is continuing education,” she said.

While plastic bags may take center stage this year, Fetton said these educational efforts, which have branched out to civic associations and other community groups, try to incorporate all aspects of sustainability, from limiting the use of plastics to diminishing the number of idling vehicles.

“All of these issues mesh very well because they have a ripple effect for one another, and when you live more sustainably you reduce the amount of pollutants in the environment,” Fetton continued. “We have to get away from the mindset that Earth Day is just one weekend out of the year.”

Methodist Church Closer to Adding Pre-K

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Much to the chagrin of two of its neighbors, the Sag Harbor Methodist Church is moving right along with plans to open its basement classroom space to Our Sons and Daughters preschool program. If all goes according to plan, the 12-student program, for children ages 3 to 7, would be housed at the church starting this September.

“We’ve heard from other property owners that there’s been a positive impact on the area because of the church,” said Diane Lavery, an attorney for the church, at a Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meetings last Thursday, April 5. “Since the church has been there, property values have increased.”

Neighor Pam Wright staunchly disagreed.

“There’s going to be more commercial traffic to the area: supplies being dropped off, trash being picked up… It’s going to [negatively] affect our property values,” she said. “This church has already affected our neighborhood.”

Wright and her neighbor Linda Velsor, who also attended last week’s meeting, expressed concern with the notion of increased traffic in the area due to an added preschool/kindergarten program on site. While Lavery explained the 13-student school doesn’t intend to grow any larger than 30 students, that didn’t sit well with Wright and Velsor, who also worried about the potential for more growth—including summer programs.

Again, Lavery attempted to quell their concern.

“The summer camp is run at the Ludlow Farm, and [Our Sons and Daughters] plans to do that in the future,” she explained. And as for the increased population at the church, Lavery further noted that the school has board meetings four times a year, bringing about four to five people in each time, as well as one monthly administrative meeting for which 10 to 12 people typically show up.

Adding to a laundry list of complaints, Velsor said she is also concerned with the level of noise during school hours when the kids go outside for recess.

“It’s a situation that we want to be aware of,” she added. “Because children at that age are not quiet when they’re outside.”

That may be true, Pastor Tom Mcleod noted, but he said the outdoor area was strategically built 8 feet below grade for that very reason: to stifle noise. In fact, the church had been considering holding its own Sunday School or pre-school programs on its grounds when the church was initially constructed. Mcleod said he was very conscious of the noise issue, and made sure the outdoor play area was constructed below grade so that it would have natural noise buffers.

“These kids would have to be having a major rock concert to be heard on Carroll Street,” he added.

Finally, Velsor expressed disappointment over the notion of increased traffic that would be brought by the new school. “I feel the increase in traffic on that road would be very hazardous to the area,” said Velsor, who lives on Carroll Street. “Cars come down faster than the speed limit, and they go racing up Carroll Street.”

However, as attorney Lavery explained, the planning board already adopted the building plan, which allowed the church to create a building with an occupancy of 200.

“We’re only talking about adding 13 additional cars to an existing 65-parishioner church,” she said. “We’re not talking about enlarging the impact.”

Board member Adam Grossman said he understood Velsor’s concerns, but added “I’m not sure what we can do to address traffic except not issue the variance.”

More importantly, he said the planning board is in support of the project. Planning Board Chair Herbert Phillips added that for this 128,000-square-foot lot—which can legally be divided into eight spaces—“to have an accessory use there really isn’t a burden.”

The ZBA is currently waiting for the final SEQRA determination to be approved by the Southampton Town Planning Board before it makes its final decision.

Before moving on to the next issue, board member David Reilly addressed the two women: “I have a feeling your parade of horribles is just not going to come to fruition,” he said.

Village Cops Embrace Youth Court

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This past January, four Sag Harbor youths were arrested and charged with making graffiti in the village.

But instead of attending Family Court and going through a routine probationary process, they went to Youth Court, where their cases will be heard not only by a jury of their peers, but by a bench of legal council and even a judge who’s still a teen.

Sag Harbor Village Detective Jeff Proctor said he wasn’t aware Youth Court was an option until an attorney for one of the youths involved in the graffiti incident recommended it.

“This is actually good for us,” he said.  “For many years, there have been crimes committed by 13-, 14- and 15-years olds that aren’t severe enough for Family Court [because they are only violations], but they shouldn’t go unnoticed.  This gives kids some type of consequence for their actions.”

According to Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano, this is the first time that a case that’s originated in the village has gone to Youth Court.

He said the police department has tried to make use of the youth court in the past, but the partnership has not always panned out. For one thing, all misdemeanors are first sent to Family Court before they are considered for Youth Court.  And as for violations, for which the department itself can send a child to Youth Court, parental consent is required.

“That’s the part I’ve ben trying to work with the police department on,” said Karen Hurst of the Southampton Town Youth Bureau who runs the Youth Court. She said arrests are quite tricky when it comes to children under the age of 16. In fact, minors cannot technically be charged with violations.

“But, if we get the parents’ consent, then [the kids] can come through the Youth Court,” she continued. “For example, if they have marijuana”—possession of marijuana is a violation—“an officer can say: We have this program available. That way, the kids are still being held accountable.”

Previously, Fabiano said juveniles arrested in Sag Harbor, ended up being sent to probation through Family Court Intake in Riverhead.  But, the department is making more of a concerted effort to utilize the teen court system.

“I hear a lot of good things about your court, because kids are judging other kids,” Fabiano said. “And they’re learning how the judicial system works.”

The Youth Court combines a range of participants stretching from Westhampton

“Youth Court is not mock trial,” Hurst explained. “The kids are looking at actual court cases.”

The way it works is there are kids who are involved in learning how the court system functions, and then there are youths who have committed a crime—either a violation or a minor misdemeanor (like making graffiti)—whose cases can be brought to Youth Court.

The kids who are participating in the Youth Court educational program take a 12-week training course with attorney Kevin Gilvary, through which they learn about the judicial system by reviewing actual court cases, and ultimately participating in Youth Court trials. Three students each will play the roles of prosecution and defense attorneys, and one student will even act as the judge presiding over the court proceedings.

To prepare for trial, Hust said the kids study different cases, practice their own depositions and even learn how to present opening and closing arguments. They even study different ways of administering consequences for certain actions.

“They have a lot of freedom with it,” she explained. Previous “sentences” have involved volunteer work, writing and art projects that benefit the community.

“They take it very, very seriously because they know it’s one of their peers sitting there,” Hurst commented.  “These are real cases, we’re working with real kids’ lives,” she continued. “I stress that to the kids all the time: If you were the one sitting in the respondents’ chair, how would you want your attorney to be acting?”

From Rafts to Pirates to the Sag CAC, Local Org. Gets A New Co-Chair

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Judah adjusted

By Claire Walla


He’s led white-water-rafting expeditions in Alaska, taught sailing while dressed as a pirate in Chicago and lived abroad in Japan. And now, 31-year-old Judah Mahay is on his way to becoming the new chairman of the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to the Town of Southampton.

“I love different cultures and I love different places,” said Mahay, who was born and raised in Alaska and lived near Stony Brook before moving to the Sag Harbor area about a year-and-a-half ago when his wife was hired to work at the Water Mill Center.

When asked how his experience on the East End has been thus far, Mahay submitted to a wide grin.

“It’s been interesting,” he said. “There’s a large population of Latino cultures, then there’s the juxtaposition between the people who are farmers and the individuals who use this as a second home, and those who have retired out here. It makes for a very interesting dynamic.”

Of his new role with the CAC, he said, “I’ve always kind of had that approach of bringing people together to inspire some type of community interaction.”

Back in high school, Mahay noted this knack was manifested in his single-handedly forming a competitive hockey team. Although, he added, “As I’ve gotten older, it’s been less along the lines of entertainment and more along the lines of political issues.”

Recently, Mahay said he’s focused his attention on grass-roots organizing efforts like No Label and Americans Elected.

Mahay has thus far participated in local politics from the sidelines, attending a smattering of both CAC and Southampton Town board meetings in the past year. This is his first full-blown foray into the local political scene.

Mahay’s new role was officially announced at the CAC’s first meeting of the New Year last Sunday, January 12, when current chair John Linder explained his reasons for passing on the torch.

“I’ve done it for a long time,” said Linder, who has been at the helm of the organization for five years, even though he lives full-time in Manhattan. “It was always kind of ridiculous, because I’m not here during the week.”

The two men will officially serve as co-chairs for the remainder of 2012 while Linder shows his successor the ropes. Already, Mahay is looking forward to his new role.

“I would love to see the Sag Harbor CAC [evolve] in the fashion of what it is now: representative of the community’s voice,” he explained. “But, certain actions need to be taken in order to gauge the community’s voice. And that involves outreach.”

Sitting at a small round table inside the John Jermain Library’s temporary space on West Water Street, Mahay and Linder discussed the need to grow the CAC with the only other CAC member in attendance that day, Valerie Justin.

“I think people know we exist, but they just don’t know what we do,” Linder said.

To try to increase participation, he suggested setting up tables where CAC members would be stationed, ready to initiate one-on-one conversations with people interested in joining, or even learning more about the CAC.

Justin suggested the group reach out to Moveon.org, a politically motivated grassroots organization that — despite having national influence — has a strong presence in local communities.

“I think it’s a goldmine!” she stated. “These people [Moveon.org members] are used to being politically active.”

Mahay said he would look into forging a connection with the organization. And, in the vein of digital endeavors, he expressed an interest in creating a website for the Sag Harbor CAC, which currently has no online presence, and putting together an up-to-date (electronic) mailing list. He even spoke of activating a Twitter account for the local organization.

At the request of both Linder and Justin, Mahay will present a model of this proposed website at the CAC’s next meeting: Sunday, March 11 at 1:30 p.m.

“My long-term goals are to be as engaged in the community as I can,” Mahay continued. “Maybe 10 years down the road I’ll run for public office and make that my full time job [Mahay currently works at Chase Bank in East Hampton] — I can’t imagine a better thing to do with my time.”

“I always knew that I wanted to make my primary function in life to help people,” he added. “And whether it’s trying to help someone reduce their mortgage payments, or it’s public office, it’s the same root aspiration. It’s just that in one scenario you’re doing more to affect change.”

Bridgehampton CAC Supports Ban on Plastic Bags

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Just over a month after the Southampton Town Board tabled a resolution to institute a ban on plastic bags, a majority of members of the Bridgehampton Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) voted this week to send a letter to the board showing their support the legislation and urging lawmakers to revive plans to move forward with the law.

On Monday night, Bridgehampton CAC member Jeff Mansfield raised the issue, questioning why the town would ever table a measure that on its face appeared to make so much sense.

“I like to consider myself an environmentalist, and just reading about this, it just makes sense,” said Mansfield, noting the East End’s greatest economic driver is its pristine waterways and beachfront, and untouched vistas of open space and farmland.

“I think we should be talking about this because it does not seem like they are talking about this in town hall right now,” said Mansfield.

Mansfield added that he feels the input and support of Bridgehampton residents was critical, as the hamlet is home to King Kullen, one of the larger grocery stores in the unincorporated neighborhoods in Southampton. Only those areas, not the villages in Southampton, would be subject to the legislation.

The town’s sustainability committee, led by Tip Brolin, first floated the proposal in the town last June.

The ban proposed to prohibit single-use plastic bags no less than two mils thick and less than 28-inches by 36-inches in size at store check-out counters. Smaller bags, like the ones found in the produce aisle of most grocery stores, or at the deli and fish counters, would not be subject to the ban.

The original proposal also included a provision that would allow stores to carry paper bags, in addition to re-useable bags, for customers provided they were made out of 40-percent recyclable materials. However, the provision was scaled back by December to allow paper bags that are made of 30-percent recyclable materials, as is commonly found at most grocery stores.

Brolin presented research to the town board that showed similar legislation in Westport, Conn. was successful, with 53-percent of shoppers polled using re-usable bags once the ban was in effect, compared to the neighboring community of Norwalk and Walton, which showed just 10-percent of shoppers used re-usable bags at the grocery store.

Brolin also pointed out that the use of plastic bags results in environmental damage, littering waterways and open spaces, impacting animal life, while also piling up in landfills.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst planned to roll out a six-month campaign prior to the ban taking effect to educate the public on when the ban would take place and what options were available outside of plastic bags.

If adopted, Southampton Town would have become the third municipality on the South Fork to ban plastic bags. Bans have been enacted in both East Hampton and Southampton Villages. While the issue has been raised by members of the public at the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees, no legislation has been introduced that would ban plastic bags in Sag Harbor.

However, Supervisor Throne-Holst was never able to push the legislation through after a Republican majority on the town board voted to not even host a public hearing on the law in December.

Councilmen Chris Nuzzi and Jim Malone were supported by now former councilwoman Nancy Grabowski — a Bridgehampton resident — in their desire to halt the public hearing. Instead, they were in favor of working with the business community to mount a public education campaign to promote the benefits of using re-usable bags.

Supervisor Throne-Holst and councilwoman Bridget Fleming, who pointed to statistics that showed these kinds of campaigns were ineffective, rebuked the majority, but they remained overruled.

On Wednesday morning, Jennifer Garvey, a spokeswoman for Supervisor Throne-Holst, said the supervisor was still committed to the idea of a plastic bag ban.

“When we met with the industry folks, everyone was in agreement that we should be using less plastic,” said Garvey. “The question is how we get there. Anna does not believe the education campaign will work, although we are willing to do it.”

Garvey added that the Supervisor came to this position based on Brolin and the Green committee’s extensive research into other municipalities that have and have not instituted similar bans.

Whether or not the issue ever comes to a head, she added, largely rests in the hands of new town councilwoman Christine Scalera, a Republican who has vowed to be a liaison to the committee that will lead the development of the educational campaign.

Scalera was not immediately available for comment.

However, for members of the Bridgehampton CAC that the issue appeared to be split along party lines was unacceptable. Mansfield questioned the real financial impact it would have on retailers. He argued most customers on the East End would be more than happy to pay a few extra cents to cover the cost of using a paper bag at a grocery store, or even buy re-usable bags, if it meant keeping the environment pristine.

“I think that would be money most of us in the community would spend to have this amount of pollution reduced,” said Mansfield.

“If I were in government, I would just do it,” agreed CAC secretary Richard Bruce. “It seems to me there are more people than grocery store owners so I think we should be able to win the day.”

CAC member Weezie Quimby said that member Ian MacPherson, unable to attend the meeting, was opposed to ban, citing the convenience, particularly for the elderly, in having plastic bags to carry groceries in.

CAC member Michael Kabot added the true cost for retailers to switch from plastic to paper and re-usable bags has not been fully explored. He did not believe it was the business of government to tell him what kind of bag he can use at the grocery store.

CAC member Peter Wilson said that while he was in favor of the idea, it may be industry leaders are controlling the discussion and that retailers are worried about the effect the ban would have on summer colony patrons, not the year-round community.

“There must be some political influences at play,” said CAC co-chair Stephen Steinberg. “I can assure you if Bridgehampton was a village we would have passed it right away.”


Private Carters Make Efforts to Recycle

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By Claire Walla

When the East End said goodbye to on-site landfills more than a decade ago, dumping habits inevitably changed. Instead of carting materials to a central location locally where they were either recycled or put into the ground, transfer stations were set up to collect residents’ unwanted debris and truck it elsewhere.

According to a draft of Southampton Town’s newest waste management plan, 50 percent of those using the town transfer stations do recycle — this is reportedly better than the national average of 30 percent. However, only 15 percent of Southampton Town residents are estimated to use town transfer stations.

So, what happens to the other 85 percent?

“Most of the waste is going directly through private carters,” explained New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr., which makes it difficult for the town to regulate.

Mickey Valcich, of Mickey’s Carting, Corp. in Montauk, which services Sag Harbor and other parts of the East End, claimed Mickey’s does in fact recycle. However, his company’s recycling efforts do not require homeowners to separate materials.

“We don’t separate collections,” he explained. “Because [Eastern Resource Recycling] has a system where they sort the garbage there. They run the garbage across a conveyor belt and pull out all the recycling.”

Valcich said all waste materials and recyclables are taken to the Eastern Resource Recycling facility in Yaphank.

For Sag Harbor owned Suburban Sanitation, the situation is a little different. While the company also takes much of its debris to Eastern Resource Recycling, owner Ralph Ficorelli said cardboard and newspaper are taken to Gershow Recycling in Medford. Because the materials need to be separated-out to be taken to two separate facilities, he said his company runs on a bi-weekly recycling schedule.

Every Thursday, Ficorelli said the company rotates between picking up bundled newspapers and cardboard one week, and then co-mingled products (glass, plastic and tin) the next.

“Most people are great,” Ficorelli said. “They either have bins marked recyclables, or it’s separated from their other stuff.” He estimated that between 50 to 75 percent of his clientele make an active effort to distinguish recyclables from regular rubbish, though that’s just a ballpark estimate.

For the rest of the households on his company’s pick-up route, those that don’t actively recycle, Ficorelli said that doesn’t necessarily mean recyclable materials are simply discarded.

Just as Mickey Valcich explained, Ficorelli said that much of the debris taken to Eastern Resource Recycling is placed on a giant conveyor belt, where employees pick through materials, separating out all the recyclables.

Whether or not everything gets separated out from the rest of the trash heap, Ficorelli said he wasn’t sure. “It depends,” he said. “A lot of the material they put on the picking belt is loose material. They run [the garbage] through a trommel, which actually does break open a lot of the bags,” he explained.

“I don’t know what the average is, but [the pickers] make a valiant attempt to recycle whatever they can,” he added.

Both Ficorelli and Valcich said they do not get paid for any of their scrap material (though Ficorelli said Gershow does pay for newspaper and cardboard material). However, they don’t have to pay tipping fees for recyclables, because Eastern Resource Recycling can turn those products around and sell them for a profit.

“We’re basically just happy to get rid of them at no cost,” Ficorelli said.

While materials like glass and plastic may not be very valuable here in the U.S., these materials can be separated out and sold internationally. According to www.recycleinme.com— which lists current market prices for various scrap materials — the price of plastics in China, for example, is roughly three times the market price in the U.S.

As part of its new waste management plan, which is regulated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Southampton Town is being required to gather information from private carters regarding their recycling habits. This will give the town a better idea of where all its waste is going.

However, Assemblyman Thiele said even with this information, the town would not necessarily have the authority to regulate it.

“It makes it difficult to enforce these recycling goals, because [the town] doesn’t really have control over the waste stream,” he explained.

Thiele said the town will have to re-shift its priorities in order to truly be able to regulate and control its solid waste. When the landfill was shut-down, Thiele said the town took a good hard look at alternatives to waste disposal, including building a waste-management plant or a recycling facility. But instead, he said, the town took “the path of least resistance.”

Thiele continued, “My guess is that less waste is being recycled today.”

Bridgehampton Company Eyes Monopole

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web Bridgehampton Monopole

By Claire Walla


Amongst the usual array of residential subdivisions and commercial change-of-use applications, last week the Southampton Town planning board saw this word: monopole.

At its regular meeting last Thursday, January 12, the planning board agenda included a site plan application submitted by a company called Elite Towers, LLC, in conjunction with cellular provider AT&T. The plan proposes putting a 120-foot high cell tower (known as a monopole because all antennae are contained inside the structure) on a piece of property near Foster Avenue in Bridgehampton.

The area in question encompasses 16,213 square feet close to the railroad tracks, just off Butter Lane. It also sits in a commercial district that’s currently home to an auto service and repair facility, an interior design studio, and a steel and welding company.

According to town documents, the land is owned by a company called Hampton Terminal, LLC, based in Patchogue. The property already has an 874-square foot building, which, according to the site plan, would be used to house equipment associated with the cell tower. Both Elite Towers and New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC (otherwise known as AT&T) did not return calls for comment.

According to Southampton Town Planner Claire Vail, any proposed monopole would have to be governed by certain setbacks. In a residential zone, a tower must not exceed any height equal to or greater than 100 percent of the distance between it and the closest residential building. (In other words, if a pole happens to be 100 feet away from the closest house, it may not exceed 100 feet.) For commercial districts, Vail added, that threshold is 300 percent.

The applicants for this particular application, she said, “don’t even seem to meet this setback.” While the closest residence is technically 551 feet away from the location of the proposed pole, there are commercial buildings well within 120 feet.

Currently, the site location is considered by the town to be an Aquifer Protection Overlay District. Vail explained that this is means it is recognized by the town of Southampton as being an area of recharge for groundwater. Basically, Vail continued, “it’s an area of avoidance.”

However, Vail continued to say that the border for the “Aquifer Protection Overlay District” is not so clearly defined. And there’s also the fact that this land has already seen some construction.

“It’s a site that’s already been disturbed,” she clarified.

Vail said the last monopole application pertaining to a site in Bridgehampton was approved back in 2002. The 120-foot pole, owned by LIPA, that now sits just off Montauk Highway would have had to abide by similar commercial and residential zone setbacks, however this piece of property already contained three poles.

“We have a provision in our code that allows you to replace a pole in kind and in place if it’s within 10 feet [of its original size],” Vail explained. Even though the proposed tower ended up being 20 feet higher than the original, Vail said the planning board gave LIPA a waiver for the project, compromising on the height in exchange for LIPA agreeing to move the tower further away from Montauk Highway.

“It was a very long process… and neighbors complained,” Vail recollected. But, she said the town was satisfied with the compromise. “It’s always a give and take with these things.”

At this point Vail said the site plan for Foster Avenue has not yet been fully vetted. Last week, the board passed a resolution to hold a pre-submission conference on the application, which is currently slated for its next meeting on Thursday, February 9.