Tag Archive | "Southampton"

East End Weekend: Highlights of August 22 to 24

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Dean Taylor Johnson, MARILYN. Courtesy Monika Olko Gallery.

Dean Taylor Johnson, MARILYN. Courtesy Monika Olko Gallery.

By Tessa Raebeck

Sick of the beach? That’s strange, but luckily there’s ample else to do around the East End this weekend. Here are our weekend highlights:

 

Introducing his latest body of work, Dean Johnson will show “Living Legends” at the Monika Olko Gallery, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The show, which features iconic figures in “living pieces,” of mixed media, always changing LED light panels composed of plexi-resin, pigmented inks, film and encaustic wax dyed with oil paints. The Sag Harbor gallery is sponsoring a fundraising event to benefit the Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center‘s Southampton office as part of the opening reception.

The Monika Olko Gallery is located at 95 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call Art Curator and Gallery Manager Wafa Faith Hallam at (631) 899-4740.

 

Dougenis, Abstract Rubber Plant (Blue), c. 1977, watercolor on Arches, 25 x 13 inches. Photo by Gary Mamay.

Dougenis, Abstract Rubber Plant (Blue), c. 1977, watercolor on Arches, 25 x 13 inches. Photo by Gary Mamay.

At the Peter Marcelle Project in Southampton, Miriam Dougenis will show her early selected watercolors, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 23, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Known primarily for her contemporary oil on canvas landscapes, characterized by her unique style and the use of familiar locations around the East End, the local artist is also an award-winning watercolor artist. The exhibition, on view from August 23 through September 9, showcases examples of her earliest watercolors from the 70′s and 80′s.

The Peter Marcelle Project is located at 4 North Main Street in Southampton. For more information, contact Catherine McCormick at (631) 613.6170.

 

Before you head to Sag Harbor Saturday, stop by Marder’s in Bridgehampton where there will be free, live music from 3 to 5 p.m. A string trio in the garden will play classical music featuring Vivaldi, Bach and select composers. The concert is free of charge and all are welcome.

Marder’s is located at 120 Snake Hollow Road in Bridgehampton. For more information, call (631) 537-3700.

 

Stages presents “The Wind in the Willows” at the Pierson High School auditorium this weekend, with performances on Friday, August 22, at 7 p.m., Saturday, August 23, at 4 p.m., and Sunday, August 24 at 4 p.m.

Based on the English children’s classic by Kenneth Grahame, “The Wind in the Willows” follows the comedic story of Mr. Toad and his friends, McBadger, Rat and Mole, as they go on the classic, hilarious adventures.

Mr. Toad in his infamous motor car.

Mr. Toad in his infamous motor car.

Helene Leonard will direct the full-length musical production, an original version of the script that was written for television by her late father, Jerry Leonard. Mr. Leonard wrote the music and lyrics along with John Petrone, and there is additional music by Larry Loeber.

All tickets are $15. For reservations, call (631) 329-1420.

 

 

At Duck Creek Farm in East Hampton, Amagansett artist Christine Sciulli will show “Quiet Riot,” an immersive site-specific projection installation presented by the John Little Society.

The installation will be open to the public by appointment and Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 7 p.m. through September 20.

In her primary medium of projected light, Ms. Sciulli “asks us to consider the potential of simple geometry by projecting these forms onto a network of materials that fragment and expand on their structures.

The installation will be in the John Little Barn at Duck Creek Farm, located at 367 Three Mile Harbor to Hog Creek Road (enter and park at north access to Squaw Road) in East Hampton. For more information on the artist, visit sound and vision or vimeo.

 

BLACKOUT at Bay Street. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

BLACKOUT at Bay Street. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

In the second installment of the new BLACKOUT at Bay Street, Bay Street Theater will feature a cabaret evening of performers from its latest hit, “My Life is a Musical,” on Friday, August 22 and Saturday, August 23.

The cabaret performance is complimentary for those who attend the 8 p.m. Mainstage production of the musical and $15 for those only attending the cabaret at 11 p.m.

BLACKOUT, an evening of cabaret and comedy, will feature the performers singing both musical theater and rock songs. For more information on BLACKOUT at Bay Street, call the box office at (631) 725-9500.

Homeless in the Hamptons: An Invisible Community Struggles to Survive

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Bill watches as two women kayak by at Lazy Point in Amagansett on Tuesday, August 12. He recently lost his six-figure job, wife and home due largely to his struggle with bipolar disorder, and now lives and works where he can across the East End. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Bill, 56, watches as two women kayak by at Lazy Point in Amagansett on Tuesday, August 12. He recently lost his six-figure job, wife and home due largely to his struggle with bipolar disorder, and now lives and works where he can across the East End. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

To Bill, the two most important things are his feet and his socks, followed closely by matches and plastic bags. The matches keep him warm, the plastic bags keep his things dry, and the feet and socks keep him going.

Bill, 56, has a college degree in economics and a minor in business administration from SUNY Oswego. He is kind, articulate and witty. Like thousands of people across the East End, he is also homeless.

Ten years ago, the Suffolk County Department of Social Services counted 435 homeless families and 222 homeless singles countywide. Those figures—which increased drastically in the economic downturn since—only account for those who meet the official criteria and choose to apply for help. In reality, the numbers are much higher.

It is no secret to locals that the image much of the world conjures up of “The Hamptons” is far from the realities of daily life on the East End, but for the countless homeless residents of these hamlets, that image is a blatant farce.

“How can you miss us?” Bill asked, staring out at the sailboats docked at Lazy Point in Amagansett as two women in a kayak paddled by. Scores of homeless people live here, but, in part due to their own security concerns, they remain largely invisible.

If you look closely, however, you can see the faint paths used by homeless people off wooded trails, under bridges and sometimes right in town. A man who lives behind a popular business in Montauk leaves before dawn each morning, but his footprints have worn down a path to his campsite. Born and raised in Sag Harbor, Andy, a friend of Bill’s, lives hidden in the center of the village. An expert on Southampton history, a man called Mahoney holds fort at a park in the village, regularly entertaining tourists who have no idea he lives where they stand.

At a clearing off Route 27 in Wainscott, local homeowners leave food for the homeless people who camp in the woods nearby. If neighbors buy a sandwich and only end up eating half of it, they’ll leave the rest on one of the lids of two garbage cans stationed at the clearing in an unspoken act of charity.

According to a 2013 report compiled by the federal government, New York State, with 13 percent of the nation’s documented homeless population, is one of only three states in which homeless people account for more than 6 percent of the population (the others being Florida and California). With over 77,000 reported cases in 2013, the number of documented instances of homelessness in New York jumped by nearly 8,000 people between 2012 and 2013. New York’s homeless population has increased by 24 percent since 2007, the largest increase by far in the country—and the numbers are far from the actual figures.

On a single night in January 2013, an estimated 610,042 people were homeless in the United States. Over one-third of those people, about 215,000 of them, live in unsheltered locations, such as under bridges, in cars or in abandoned buildings.

To Bill, living in a car does not make you homeless; there’s a roof over your head and a place you can count on.

Born in Jamaica, Queens, and a graduate of Hauppauge High School, Bill has suffered from bi-polar disorder his whole life, but was not diagnosed till he “was old.” He came to the East End when he was 17 because he was drawn to the service industry.

“I like the whole premise of restaurant business: Helping people, service, making people happy, learning to deal with difficult people,” he said. “I thought—and I still think—I’m good at it.”

The “extracurricular” affairs of the restaurant industry—namely, drugs and drinking—became too much for Bill, who, like many who suffer from bipolar disorder, also struggled with addiction. After years of drinking to excess, Bill is now a recovering alcoholic who said he hasn’t had a drink since the early 90’s when his son was three.

“I think in extremes, everything…you’re either super happy or ready to commit suicide,” he explained.

Struggling with his condition and unable to find balance between complete bliss and extreme grief, Bill lost his six-figure job and his wife left him. He briefly lived up-island with family, but returned to East Hampton, where he has spent the past year searching for shelter, food and friendly faces.

He takes “top half of body” showers in public restrooms and jumps in the ocean to stay clean, a feat that, like most conditions of homelessness, becomes much harder in the cold winter months.

Although Bill doesn’t like to ask for help, when he’s especially down on his luck he goes to Maureen’s Haven in Riverhead.

Funded solely through donations, grants and funding from all the eastern townships, Maureen’s Haven offers shelter, support and “compassionate services” to homeless adults on the East End. There is a crisis hotline and a day center that provides opportunities like AA meetings, ESL and GED classes to help people find work and permanent housing.

From November 1 to April 1, the center transports homeless people from the North and South Forks and takes them to one of 18 host houses of worship between Greenport and Montauk. They are given a hot dinner and a bed to sleep in and are taken back to where they were picked up, be it a bus stop or a side-of-the-road clearing, at 7 a.m.

Since its 2002 inception, Maureen’s Haven has sheltered over 2,500 individuals. In the 2013-14 winter season, the program served 337 adults and was able to secure employment for 40 percent and place 52 percent in permanent housing.

Although a lot of homelessness “has to do with disability, incarceration, drug use, alcohol abuse and job loss,” Program Development Director Tara Murphy said, there are “a number of different issues and each case is different.”

One woman, Mary, arrived at Maureen’s Haven “terrified and desperate,” the center said, after fleeing an abusive relationship. She began the healing process at the center and is now living independently with support from a local domestic violence agency.

A 77-year-old man suffering from dementia with no family nor support system, James had been living disoriented on the streets. The center secured supportive housing for him in a program specializing in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s not about homelessness, it’s not about tough times, it’s not about addictions,” Bill said of the stigmatization of the homeless. “We all wear the same clothes…what I’m saying is, if we have two different socks on, who cares?”

To volunteer at Maureen’s Haven, call (631) 727-6836, email info@maureenshaven.org or visit their website.

The Art of Preserving History

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John Griffin giving a tour of the North Sea Burial Grounds on Friday, August 8. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

John Griffin giving a tour of the North Sea Burial Grounds on Friday, August 8. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

By Gianna Volpe

John Griffin is more than just the man who will lead the Southampton Historical Museum’s walking tour of the North Sea Burial Ground at 11 a.m. on Sunday, August 17—he’s a living part of the site’s history.

Mr. Griffin’s ancestors are in some of the centuries-old cemetery’s most notable graves. They include Joshua Edward Elliston Jr., who preserved 133 acres of land adjacent to the burial site in the name of wife, Emma Rose, which is now a Southampton Town park.

The woodcarver and his wife, the daughter of a whaling captain, are buried next to one another at the North Sea Burial Ground beneath gravestones crafted by J. Edward himself, something that makes the site’s restoration efforts all the more crucial for its personal guardian.

“He designed all of this,” Mr. Griffin said of his ancestor’s handiwork. “He carved it out of wood before it was ever made out of granite.”

Mr. Elliston also designed the gravestone of his father, Joshua, who Mr. Griffin said, was a farmer from Southampton Village who enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 and served a full four years as a farrier during the Civil War.

“His grave is down in Southampton Cemetery,” said Mr. Griffin. “Uncle Ed designed that too, so you can go read about him and the regiment that he was in. There’s a link with all of us, my dear, and we’re fast leaving our history in the dust.”

That’s precisely what this North Sea Burial Ground tour guide has been working to avoid. Mr. Griffin, a veteran military helicopter pilot, was a key player in a 2009 stewardship agreement formed for the site’s restoration between Southampton Town and the historical museum.

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photos by Gianna Volpe.

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

“There’s a fund established at the museum to underwrite work here from private donations because even though the town owned the property, they were allotting no money for restoration,” he said. “They would come and mow it occasionally, but now we hope they will pay for the perimeter fencing and for training people to mow without scoring the stones, so you don’t cut and weaken them.” ?Mr. Griffin said this training is especially important as older graves are cut from delicate sandstone, which cannot be restored nearly as well as their marble or granite counterparts.

“If the sunlight is hitting it just right then you can make out the letters and the angel of death on the top, but that’s as far as you can go with these,” Mr. Griffin said of one of the site’s red sandstone tombstones, some of which bear the icon of a bodiless angel—appearing unimpressed—with wings attached directly to its head. “They delaminate, you see? They split and continue to split until they become hollow. The older stones in most of these cemeteries are sandstone because it was easier to work with…. that’s why you have to be really careful trimming around them.”

Mr. Griffin said the restoration of North Sea Burial Ground actually began four years before the stewardship agreement. In 2005, he said the town did a survey of its 10 historic burial grounds before students from the University of Pennsylvania came to the East End and mapped the sites—giving each grave a number.

“We’ve been working on it steadily ever since and are now down to the maintenance stage,” he said, adding retired Suffolk County Detective Dennis Delaney has been so effective in developing his restoration technique at North Sea Burial Ground that it has “become the prototype for how to restore historic burial grounds.”

Mr. Delaney is already involved in restoration efforts at other Southampton sites, some of which will take years before they are complete.

“The one in East Quogue is coming along and we’ll probably start on the Old South Burial Ground this summer,” Mr. Griffin told The Sag Harbor Express mid-June, adding Mr. Delaney was about to begin restoring the North End Graveyard and Burial Ground between North Sea Road and Windmill Lane. ?“This has become a project of great respect and pride…. It’s a big, big job that will probably take two him two years to do,” he said. “They really took great care in what they did at North Sea Burial Ground and were very careful not to damage anything. Dennis even found a way to cut and shape marble to fit where pieces were broken.” ?Mr. Griffin said there is a national movement to restore historic burial grounds.

As veteran Marines, both he and Mr. Delaney seem to fit the profile as advocates for such a movement.?“There is a Marine down in Cranberry, New Jersey, who recently restored 5,300 graves with two Eagle Scouts,” said Mr. Griffin. “It took between a six-and-seven-year period to accomplish the work at North Sea Burial Ground. Many of the footstones had been pulled up by guys that were mowing–  we found almost 30 of them discarded in the bushes—but luckily they had initials matching the headstones, so we could pair them up. Dennis would pace off the number of paces and probe to maybe find the rest in the ground and stick it together…. The cleaning process was really educational because…. all the inscriptions were filled with mud and dirt…. now you can read everything on the stone, except some of them are so old and weathered that you can’t,” he said.

Though suppliers have thus far changed hands twice, Mr. Griffin said the team is in contact with the owners of a company that manufactures D/2, a heavy duty cleaning product developed for cleaning antique stone, vinyl and steel. He said D/2 has been used on the White House and Washington Monument.

“All these stones that are clean and upright—we are fortunate a very fine man came along on his own, learned how to do the repairs and basically carried on when we would have had to pay thousands of dollars to do what he did,” he said. “They paved the way for us—[the people in] these old cemeteries. They paved the way for us.”

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

A sandstone grave at the North Sea Burial Grounds. Photo by Gianna Volpe.

East End Weekend: Highlights of What to Do August 8 to 10

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"Stable Disfunction" by Holton Rower is on view at the Eric Firestone Gallery this weekend.

“Stable Disfunction” by Holton Rower is on view at the Eric Firestone Gallery this weekend.

By Tessa Raebeck

Here’s our list of things to do on the East End this weekend, because no one’s going to honk at you at an art gallery:

Two New York galleries, the Eric Firestone Gallery and The Hole, are collaborating on “Storage Wars” in East Hampton.

“‘Storage Wars,’” the galleries said in a press release, “examines the fundamental reality that much contemporary art resides in a crate or wrapped in plastic. Aside from the relatively brief period of its presentation in a white gallery, the lifespan of the artwork is dominated by languishing in storage between exhibitions. Galleries, and increasingly collectors, have extensive storage spaces packed with artworks. In an effort to reveal the previously unseen or briefly seen artworks in our inventories, Eric Firestone Gallery and The Hole will present a selection of this cache ‘as is.’ The gallery will be stacked with crates opened to reveal their previously secreted away contents.”

An opening reception will be held on Saturday, August 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Eric Firestone Gallery, located at 4 Newtown Lane in East Hampton.

A self-portrait of Salvio Mizzi from the artist's Facebook page.

A self-portrait of Savio Mizzi from the artist’s Facebook page.

 

At Salon Xavier in Sag Harbor, East Hampton artist Savio Mizzi will be featured, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 9 from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Mr. Mizzi will show the paintings he creates at his East Hampton studio at the salon, which is located at 1A Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call (631) 725-6400.

 

From 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 10, The Watermill Center hosts Discover Watermill Day, an afternoon of art installations, performances, workshops and tours for the sole wanderer or the whole family.

The Center’s eight landscaped acres will be entirely open for the public to move at their own speed around the installations, performances, sculptures and artifacts. Artists from over 30 countries, who are participating in The Watermill Center’s International Summer Arts Program, will be on hand. Tours of the center and collection will take place throughout the day, and the current exhibition, “Portraits of Lady Gaga,” by founder and artistic director Robert Wilson, will also be on view.

The Watermill Center is located at 39 Watermill Towd Road in Water Mill. For more information, call (631) 726-4628.

 

Famed interior designer Elizabeth Hagins and celebrated art collector and advisor Richard Mortimer are offering a salon-style exhibit of artists Christopher Milne and William Pagano, both New York City-based, at their recently opened design gallery in Southampton, Hagins & Mortimer Design. The 1960′s-inspired paintings feature women in mod fashion and amidst 20th century furniture and lighting.

“A common thread between the two artists is their fascination with the complex decade of the 1960′s,” the design studio said in a press release. “They individually approach this time period with very different subject matter and style. Both artists cite their childhood memories and early experiences as important influences. Pagano’s work considers the power and importance of architecture in [post-World War II] America. Milne’s work is informed by the colorful, madcap prosperity of the era. But amid the overt joy and perfection, the paintings convey subliminal themes of disquietude, isolation and vapidness.”

The exhibition runs through August 18, with an opening reception on Saturday, August 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. The work can be seen Thursday through Monday, from noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Hagins & Mortimer Design is located at 9 Windmill Lane in Southampton. For more information, call (631) 488-4310.

Hagins & Mortimer Design in Southampton, featuring artwork by Christopher Milne and William Pagano.

Hagins & Mortimer Design in Southampton, featuring artwork by Christopher Milne and William Pagano.

Walk Through the Past

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Southampton Village has a long history as (arguably) the oldest English settlement in New York. This summer the Southampton Historical Museum will be offering a series of walking tours throughout the village. Coming up next will be a tour this Sunday, August 3, of one of the oldest village thoroughfares, Ox Pasture Road, which has witnessed the affluence and affairs of some of the country’s wealthiest families.

Postcard S.Main St. Southampton c. 1910

Southampton Main Street, Southampton c. 1910

Rick Stott of AIA Peconic is leading the mile-long walk, during which attendees will get the chance to peak behind the hedges of Southampton’s history.

Ox Pasture Road, formerly known as Captains Neck Lane, houses such luxurious homes as the Linden Estate and the Williston House. The latter was built in 1893 for Judge Horace Russell, who acted as judge of the Superior Court of New York during the late 19th century. The all-white, Beaux-Art-designed home has a grand semi-circular front porch, stately columns, a guesthouse, a stable and a porte-cochère.

The walk begins at 11 a.m. at the corner of First Neck Lane and Ox Pasture Road. The tour is $10 and free for members of the Southampton Historical Museum. To reserve a space, visit southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.

East Enders Go Green With Solar Panels

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Steve D’Angelo’s rooftop solar panels at his house on Widow Gavitt’s Road in Sag Harbor. Photo by Steve D’Angelo.

By Mara Certic

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, Steve D’Angelo was looking for a way to invest his money. Instead of putting it into stocks or hiding it under his mattress, he decided to put that money onto his roof.

Six years later, the 24 solar panels that he had installed on his 3,500-square-foot Sag Harbor house have already paid for themselves. “For me it was a long-term investment; I had money and I didn’t know where to put it,” he said. After reading about rebates from LIPA and Southampton Town, the decision to have Green Logic design and install solar panels for his house was a “no-brainer,” he said.

“I’m adding value to my house and I’m not paying as much outright every month,” he said. “It’s really not much different from a municipal bond to some extent, where you’re getting 2 percent or 3 percent on your money—it’s just a money move,” he said. Mr. D’Angelo explained that he thinks that solar is a hard sell out on the East End because of the large number of investment properties and second homes.

“At the time, I knew I was going to stay in my house until my kids were going to move out and they were around one at that time,” he said. Mr. D’Angelo paid around $19,000 out-of-pocket, he said, and got a state credit of $5,500, a LIPA rebate of $6,600 and also a rebate from Southampton Town.

“I ended up paying 50 percent of the actual installed cost,” after the various rebates, he said. “You know you’re going to be getting every cent back on that solar system because you’re going to use it every single day.”

“Every month I save on the average of $200 to $300. And during the wintertime my LIPA bill comes in at zero,” he said, explaining that the pool pump and the air conditioning that run all summer expend a lot of electricity. Last month, he said his bill was $228, before he got solar panels his June utility bill would have cost him around $460, he said.

“Green Logic have it down to the penny, they know exactly how much you’re going to save on an annual basis and then you can decide if it’s worth it,” he said. “They maximize your investment, they’re not just trying to cover your house in solar panels,” he said, adding that he had suggested putting solar panels on his garage, which Green Logic advised against.

The trick is, he said, you have to have the money up front to do it. “That’s why a lot of guys don’t do it, they’d rather go out and buy a car than put solar on their house,” he said.

Brian Kelly, owner of East End Tick and Mosquito Control, definitely has his eye on a new (electric) car in the future; but before he makes that investment he, like Mr. D’Angelo, decided to put some money into solar panels.

Around two months ago, Mr. Kelly had 48 250-watt solar panels installed onto the roof of his business headquarters in Southampton Village. “I’ve always liked the idea of solar, but I never thought it was in the cards for me,” he said on Tuesday. After meeting with Brian Tymann of BGT Consulting, LLC, who told him that his business had the “perfect roof for solar,” he realized it was time to act.

“I just said to myself, now’s really the time, and I just did it, it was a no-brainer. And I love it,” he said of his 12,000-kilowatt system. His meter spins backwards now, he said.

Mr. Kelly had a total out-of-pocket expense of $36,000 and is still waiting on a rebate from the Village of Southampton. He expects to recoup his costs in 10 years. “The one thing a lot of people don’t think about is that your electric bill is constantly rising. Over the next few years my $400-a-month bill could turn into $600. And that’s money I now won’t be paying.”

“It really makes sense. You do have an out-of-pocket layout and that’s tough for a lot of people. But they do have a lot of financial programs to help people out,” he said.

There’s no fear if one of his panels breaks, Mr. Kelly has a 20-year warranty on the solar panel array. He explained that each of the panels is separate and that a problem with one will not affect the other 23.

“And what’s really cool is that the guy who set it up for me put an app on my phone that can tell me all day long exactly how much energy I’m producing by the hour,” he said.

At 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, Mr. Kelly’s solar panels had produced 11.3 kilowatt hours  of energy. Powering a light bulb for one month uses 9.6 kilowatts, he said. “Isn’t that so cool?”

Southampton Seeking Sites for Solar

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By Stephen J. Kotz

While East Hampton Town has created a great deal of buzz with its ambitious plan to provide all the community’s energy needs through sustainable methods by the year 2020, Southampton Town is taking a much quieter approach.

According to Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, within the new few weeks, the town is preparing to issue a request for proposals to vendors asking them to analyze town-owned facilities and property to see if it will be feasible to use them for sustainable energy projects, like solar farms.

Unlike East Hampton Town, “Southampton does not have expanses of land like the airport that are relatively free of limitations,” said Mr. Zappone, citing restrictions imposed on Community Preservation Fund purchases and other factors.

While the capped North Sea landfill off Majors Path has also been named as a potential site for something like a solar array, Mr. Zappone said such a project would have be vetted first by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which would determine whether development would pose a risk to the landfill cap, among other things.

Christine Fetten, the town’s director of municipal works, is the point person for the town’s efforts to find suitable sites for sustainable energy projects. She did not reply to a request for an interview.

Dieter von Lehsten, co-chairman of the town’s sustainability committee, said this week that Southampton officials are wary of promising too much and delivering too little.

East Hampton, on the other hand, is shooting for the stars with its own ambitious plans, with the result that it might very well fall short of its goal, he said. Not that Mr. von Lehsten thinks that is a bad thing:  “They are taking the Greenpeace approach, which is to ask for 150 percent and be happy with 25 percent,” he said.

Mr. von Lehsten said that the sustainability committee is excited that the town is preparing the RFP.

“We are all behind this, of course,” he said. “We are helping push things along. It is on the regular agenda.”

Peconic Land Trust Still Working Hard to Preserve Farmland

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

By Mara Certic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Julia Motyka and Megan Minutillo

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Julia Motyka (right), director of education at Bay Street Theater, and her summer intern Megan Minutillo (left), are the driving forces behind Bay Street’s expanded education and camp programming this summer. They discussed their backgrounds and some of the exciting options there are for budding thespians on the East End from now until Labor Day.

By Mara Certic

Why did you two decide to get involved with the summer camps at Bay Street this year?

JM: Well this year, Megan and I came on board to kind of help diversify the programming and extend it to a new location and give that a little more focus. I actually came to teaching through performance, I still work primarily as an actress in New York City. I was actually just in “Travesties” at Bay Street, and we just closed that show. I started teaching a bunch of Shakespeare workshops when I was 24. It becomes about wish fulfillment–What do I wish I’d had when I was falling in love with this? I feel like as a performer; it’s incredibly grounding to come back and to teach and to watch the light bulb moment with kids.

MM: I’ve always loved theater. And when it came time to study further, after college, I saw that NYU has a really wonderful educational theater program. And I decided to do that program and it was wonderful, I taught in the city for a bit. This summer, I wanted to do a little bit more of a crossover of the professional and teaching aspects and so I came to Bay Street. I have a real interest in producing and directing as well, and Scott Schwartz has so graciously made me the assistant producer on “Black Out at Bay Street,” our new late night programming.

How does this year differ from last year?

JM: In the past there were generally two or three camps and they were generalized musical theater camps. And what we’ve done this year is diversify from just the Bridgehampton location to Bridgehampton and Southampton. And we’ve also shifted from three to four camps and shifted to a more diverse age group. In the past it was 8 to 12, and now it’s 7 to 9 and 9 to 12. And then in terms of actual programming we have two different tracks; in Bridgehampton we have two Shakespeare-based camps. One for the younger campers is called a “Mini-Midsummer Night’s Dream” and for the older age group is “Green Eggs & Hamlet”—It’s like a Dr. Seuss sort of send-up of the great Bard’s tale. And in Southampton we have two make-your-own-adventure camps. There’s a camp called “Land of Make Believe” which is like a fairytale mash-up and kids get to make their own fractured fairytale over the course of the week. And then there’s “My Life is a Musical” where the kids create their own musical over the course of five days.

“My Life Is a Musical” sounds a little familiar, how did you come up with the idea for that?

JM: The show that’s about to open at Bay Street is called “My Life is a Musical” and we thought it would be really cool this year to take the theme of that show and use it as the structure for the musical theater camp this year. We thought it would be fun to say to the kids, what would happen one morning if you woke up and your life was a musical. It’s basically all songs with a little bit of dialogue, we’re looking at having at least five songs in the 10-to-15 minute production that will be performed to friends and family at the end of the week.

Will you two be teaching the camps?

MM: I like to call us the principals. Julia and I both thought that it’s always nice to have some sort of administrator or figurehead who’s going to be troubleshooting everything that we anticipate, and it’s nice to go to someone with questions: especially when you’re a teacher watching 10 or 15 little people.

JM: We’re sort of trying to offer some programming support as well; the teachers have been given a lot of jumping off points for how to structure their lessons and they’re coming back to us with ideas and questions so we can be a sounding board.

The various weekly Bay Street summer camps begin on Monday, August 4, and will continue until the end of the month. For more information visit baystreet.org.

12-Year-Old Girl Rescued in West Shinnecock Bay

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Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard.

An unconscious 12-year-old girl with neck and back injuries was rescued from a pleasure craft in West Shinnecock Bay on Saturday, June 26.

The girl had reportedly received her injuries after the 38-foot boat ran aground in West Shinnecock Bay. A watchstander from the Coast Guard Station Shinnecock received the notification and a rescue boat crew from the station and Suffolk County emergency medical services and Southampton Town Bay Constables responded to the call.

“We arrived on scene with a Bay Constable EMT and paramedic who went aboard the vessel and assessed the girl’s condition,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Alfred Diaz in a statement released on Saturday evening.

Petty Officer Diaz was the boat driver and officer of the day on Saturday. “She gained consciousness and was able to respond to EMS, helping them determine that she had a high probability of a neck and back injury,” he said.

For this reason, the girl was placed on a backboard and transported to the Coast Guard response boat.

“We made the determination to use our boat to transport the girl back to the station since it was a smoother platform, and it was easier for the crews to maneuver her onto because she was secured onto a backboard,” said Diaz.

From the station, the girl and her mother were airlifted to Stony Brook Hospital.

“EMS went right to work assisting the girl and making sure our crew was prepared to receive the injured girl and her mother,” Mr. Diaz said.

According to a press release, the vessel was refloated and returned to its port in Penny Pond.