Tag Archive | "Southampton"

Madoo Talks Lecture Series Opens with Lindsey Taylor

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Lindsey Taylor.

Lindsey Taylor.

The Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack will host its Madoo Talks Winter Lecture series in February and March, opening with Lindsey Taylor, one of the authors of “The Gardener’s Garden,” a book that explores gardens from around the world and throughout the ages meant to serve as an inspiration to the modern-day gardener. Ms. Taylor, who will speak on Sunday, February 22, will use examples such as

Hollister House, Dawn Ridge, Les Quatre Vents, Prospect Cottage and other personal idiosyncratic gardens featured in “The Gardener’s Garden,” to discuss the need for a garden to have a soul, passion and individual vision to be truly successful. A book signing will follow the discussion.

Madoo Talks will continue on Sunday, March 8 with Sagaponack farmer, artist and writer, Marilee Foster. Ms. Foster, whose family settled in Sagaponack during the mid-1700s, will take a realistic yet humorous look at development on the East End along with the difficulties of farming in the 21st century and the success at her wildly popular Sagg Main farmstand.

Stephen Orr, author of “The New American Herbal,” will join Madoo Talks on March 29, examining the long tradition of herbals while adding new layers of information based on a multicultural look at the herbs we use in our homes and gardens.

Maddo Talks: Lindsey Taylor will be held on Sunday, February 22 at noon at the Madoo Conservancy summer house studio, 618 Sagg Main Road in Sagaponack. Tickets are $25 for members; $30 for non-members and a reception, sponsored by The Topping Rose House, will follow. To reserve your seat, email info@madoo.org or call (631) 537-8200. 

Sag Harbor School District Is Prime for Real Estate

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Linda Adlah rented a home in Sag Harbor so her children, Anabella and Gabrielle, could attend the Sag Harbor Elementary School. Michael Heller photo.

Linda Adlah rented a home in Sag Harbor so her children, Anabella and Gabrielle, could attend the Sag Harbor Elementary School. Michael Heller photo.

By Tessa Raebeck

First known for whale oil, then watches, Sag Harbor is again being recognized, this time for its schools. The East End real estate market has seen an influx of buyers and renters with one primary request: living in the Sag Harbor School District.

“In real estate sales, there are always the five top questions potential buyers will ask and always in the top five is: ‘How is the school district?’” said Robert Evjen, a broker at Douglas Elliman in Sag Harbor. “It is always on the buyer’s mind.”

“For those buyers with families or starting to have families,” he continued, “this is critical to the future of that family and critical about where to buy. For families who already have children, a location with a ‘neighborhood feel’ and a place ‘where the kids can play safely’ is very, very important. Moms and dads are willing to pay more to ensure a quality education.”

Sag Harbor, currently viewed as a smart investment by financiers and young families alike, is drawing buyers and renters who want to send their kids to school in the village—and the resurgence of popularity is in turn driving market prices up.

“We have seen an uptick of families moving here ‘year round’ and we are blessed that the Sag Harbor School District has always been popular with these new families. As these families move here and learn about the East End and what choices or schools to send their children, we always seem to be the choice,” Mr. Evjen said.

With a current total enrollment of 1,011 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, Sag Harbor is smaller than nearby East Hampton, but not as small as Bridgehampton, with just 159 students in the district, or Shelter Island, which has 242 students. The student-faculty ratio at Pierson Middle/High School is nine to one, better than Westhampton Beach’s 14 to one and comparable to East Hampton and Southampton, which have 10 students per teacher, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Liam Rothwell-Pessino, lives in Springs, but decided to attend high school in Sag Harbor because of Pierson’s smaller size.

“The school being smaller means I get to know more people better, teachers included,” he said of his experience at Pierson, where he is currently a senior.

Sag Harbor Superintendent Katy Graves said the school district projects its enrollment to increase until 2018, when there will be an estimated 1,080 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12.

Mr. Evjen said there has been a “tremendous” increase of families wanting to live in the school district, indicated by the growth of the pre-kindergarten program and the increase in non-resident students, which he called “a great testament to the curriculum the school has set up.”

The school district currently receives tuition for 29 nonresident students; the Sagaponack School District pays for nine, the Springs School District pays for three, and 17 pay privately. The tuition rate for nonresident students for the current school year is $17,038 for students to attend the elementary school and $22,148 to attend Pierson. Special education students are charged $46,464 and $53,380, respectively.

A school district must pay tuition for its residents to attend school elsewhere if that student has a special need the district cannot meet, such as observational therapy or speech therapy. Sag Harbor’s comprehensive approach to students with disabilities adds to the draw for many families.

Having moved from Hampton Bays to Sag Harbor when her two daughters were babies, Linda Torres Adlah has been renting in the district ever since; her girls are now in third and fourth grade at the elementary school.

“Both of my daughters had to go through the evaluation process when they were younger, one needed speech therapy and one needed some physical therapy and observational therapy, and it was a very easy environment. They were very forthcoming with giving the kids what they needed to have when they were little,” she said of the elementary school faculty. “I never had to worry that they wouldn’t get the services they needed, there was always lots of support. I’ve heard such good things about the school that I knew that’s where I wanted them to be.”

Propping Up Sag Harbor’s Historic Buildings

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20 Union Street, which served as Chester A. Arthur's summer White House, is one of several historic houses currently under renovation in Sag Harbor.

20 Union Street, which served as Chester A. Arthur’s summer White House, is one of several historic houses currently under renovation in Sag Harbor.

By Stephen J. Kotz; Photography by Michael Heller

Only the facade remains of the original "Bottle House" on Madison and Henry streets.

Only the facade remains of the original “Bottle House” on Madison and Henry streets.

Even a blind man can see that the Sag Harbor Village Historic District is undergoing major changes.

Above and beyond the well-publicized conversion of turning the old Bulova building into luxury condominiums or the transformation of the former First Methodist Church on Madison Street into a private home, Sag Harbor is undergoing a full-scale renovation boom.

On Main Street alone, at least three major renovations are underway. A walk down Howard Street is more a tour of one extended job site than it is a stroll down a village side street. New construction is cropping up on Glover Street, Palmer Terrace, Bay Street, and just about everywhere one looks.

In some cases, historic houses are being completely rebuilt. The Sleight House on Division Street, in the shadow of the Bulova building, underwent a major renovation this past year that eventually turned into a complete rebuilding job, leading to a stop-work order and a rebuke from the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board before work was allowed to proceed.

At 245 Main Street, original windows, trim and other historic materials are being preserved in that renovation, according to the project's architect.

At 245 Main Street, original windows, trim and other historic materials are being preserved in that renovation, according to the project’s architect.

The former Abelman family home on Madison Street at the foot of Henry Street, which is more commonly known as the “Bottle House” for the collection of colored glass bottles that once adorned the porch windows, was also the subject of a major renovation. Last summer, builders moved the simple, wood-framed Greek Revival house from one side of the lot to the other. As they built a major addition behind it, they eventually removed most of the original house except for part of the façade.

The wholesale changes have set off a quiet sense of alarm among some onlookers. One of them is Chris Leonard, a former longtime chairman of the Sag Harbor’s ARB, who argues the village is failing to do enough to protect historic homes.

“An authentic representation of the past is valuable to society,” he said of the need to preserve Sag Harbor’s historic buildings. “You don’t just tear down the pyramids or the Sphinx because they are old and you want something new…. This is where we came from. We need to try to preserve the best of it and not destroy it and build some sort of replica.”

That same sentiment is shared by Randolph Croxton, an architect with a home in the village, who ironically first visited Sag Harbor over the winter of 1979-80 and helped lead the initial effort to convert the Bulova building into apartments.

“I guess I call it ‘skinning the cat,’” he said of the latest trend in restoration. “You strip off all the details and the hardware and you come back with a re-creation that is all new. But so much of the authenticity is lost when you do that.”

He worries too about changes to Sag Harbor’s broader sense of place, which he describes as having an “open, authentic, multi-generational quality that is not hiding behind hedges.” When a building like the “Bottle House,” which once stood at the foot of Henry Street, is shifted to one side of the property, it throws off the balance and destroys “the axial relationships, and composition” of a streetscape that was laid out to create “an open commons,” he said. It’s the kind of change that might not mean much to a casual observer, he added, but one that, if multiplied, can have an incrementally deleterious effect.

The village’s historic district is expansive, including most of the waterfront from Glover Street east. It extends southward around much of the rest of the village in a broad arc, roughly following Hempstead Street and portions of Grand and Harrison Streets. It includes all of Oakland Cemetery and Mashashimuet Park, while excluding two more recently developed residential streets, Joel’s Lane and Archibald Way. The district runs north along Main Street, jutting to the west to include portions of John Street, while excluding Bluff Point. It extends back down Glover Street, but does not include the Redwood neighborhood.

When the village established the ARB, it included language in the zoning code charging it with not only maintaining the character of the village historic district but of following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Houses.

Among those guidelines are provisions calling for making minimal changes to “historic materials and features” of buildings in the historic district that are being renovated or expanded.

Too often that is not the case, according to Mr. Leonard, and much of the fault lies at the foot of the ARB, which is not, he says, following the letter of the law when it reviews applications for renovations in the historic district. Too often, he said, sanitized replicas are being built in the place of flawed, but historically valuable, gems.

“I don’t think this is rocket science,” said Mr. Leonard of the regulations for historic preservation.  “It’s not a mystery. If the board has questions about how they should proceed, they should first all look to the law, read, understand, and if they still have questions, they should ask the village attorney.”

Cee Scott Brown, the current chairman of the ARB, was out of town and did not reply to emailed requests for an interview. Other members of the board also declined to speak on the record about the process they follow.

But at recent meetings, board members have often expressed the desire to see historic homes preserved in as authentic a fashion as possible. For example, when an architect appeared before the board last fall to gauge the board’s feelings about possibly adding a small addition to the Captain David Hand House on Church Street, his proposal was shot down in summary fashion. A revamped plan presented by another architect that called for a top-to-bottom preservation effort was approved with flying colors in December.

But the question remains how to make sure finished projects accurately reflect the intention of the ARB.

According to Mr. Leonard, all too often they have not. Referring to a photograph of the work at the Sleight House, he said, “all the historic material is the Dumpster and they have done a reproduction. How do you get from what it says in the code to this?”

Building inspector Tom Preiato, who joined the village in November, said he could not comment on past practices but said he intended to make sure property owners comply strictly with the plans they have submitted.

“There appears to be a fair amount of decision making by builders and homeowners to remove pre-existing, nonconforming structures that they deem unsound, without the required approvals,” he said. “I am attempting to keep this trend in check.”

To that end, Mr. Preiato recently slapped a stop-work order on a major renovation project at 295 Main Street, where most of an existing house was taken apart, moved from its foundation and set back away from the street, with a significant amount of new material added. In Mr. Preiato’s eyes, that constituted a demolition. And once a house has been demolished, the reduced setbacks and other zoning allowances that went with the property are lost too, meaning a rebuilding project would likely require variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

About a block north, the shingles and much of the trim that adorned a house dating to the late 1800s at 245 Main Street has been stripped away. Today, the house, sporting a large addition to the rear, is sheathed in green wrap to keep air and moisture out.

Is another replica of a historic house on the way? Absolutely not, said Jason Poremba, the Southampton architect overseeing the project.

Mr. Poremba, who oversaw a top-to-bottom renovation of the Hannibal French house several years ago, said his client, whom he would only identify by the corporate name, Coming Up Roses, LLC,  “was making a conscientious effort to preserve as much of the original house as possible.”

Although the shingles will be replaced, windows, trim and other hardware that have been removed have been shipped upstate for restoration and repair and will be placed back on the house, wherever possible, he said.

“The killer is the New York State code,” said Mr. Poremba of the problems facing people who are trying to do renovate a historic house. “When you reach a certain level of construction you have to start to bring the house up to meet local codes.”

One requirement is that a house must meet energy efficiency standards by passing a test in which the building is sealed and pressurized to determine points of leakage. “We won’t know until the end of the job if the house fails,” he said. Because of that, the contractor is required to painstakingly reassemble the house, which adds to the cost of the project.

“You can do it,” he said of preserving a historic house. “But a lot comes into play. If there are spec builders involved, to systematically take it apart and rebuild it really wouldn’t make sense.”

Architect Monika Zasada, who has been overseeing a major renovation at 20 Union Street—a house that is well known among village residents as the former summer White House of President Chester A. Arthur and later the Pino Funeral Home—takes a similar approach to Mr. Poremba.

In an emailed statement, she said, “dealing with an edifice that is centuries old poses a tremendous challenge. One is faced with incessant questions. Is repairing, restoring or replacing the most sensible policy? Which approach ensures that the renovation is a lasting one?

“When does investing in frequently exorbitantly priced historic elements stop making economic sense? How to mitigate the disparity between arbitrary pieces of trim installed in previously attempted repairs? What to do when the entire framing is completely compromised and most of the foundation consists of two rows of rocks? How can the house’s visual quality be preserved when it needs to be brought up to current building codes?”

Ms. Zasada credited the home’s owner, Anke Beck-Friedrich, and the contractor, Greg D’Angelo, for making it possible to restore as much of the house as possible.

“As a result of all the repairs, restoration, authentic replication and new construction, the history will live on,” she wrote. “The building will be preserved for future generations.”

 

Such efforts should be encouraged, according to Mr. Croxton. “Every place in America is trying to do a town center, with a make-believe town clock, like Disneyland,” he said. “And here, we have the real thing.”

 

Although Mr. Croxton says he believes the village has reached a tipping point and it is “now time for concerted effort and community response,” he insists that all is not lost for Sag Harbor. “The things that are wrong are highly visible and disturbing,” he said, “but a lot is intact and still of good quality.”

 

“There are always people who want to do what they want to do,” added Mr. Leonard. “You just have to be willing to say ‘no.’”

Writing about Nature with Poet Farmer Scott Chaskey

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Scott Chaskey

Scott Chaskey

By Emily J. Weitz

Scott Chaskey speaks for the land, and he does it with his hands as well as his words. Out in the fields at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett almost every day, Mr. Chaskey knows the soil, he knows the migratory patterns of birds, he knows the seasons. Through the two books he’s published in recent years, “This Common Ground” and “Seedtime,” Mr. Chaskey has spread his understanding across the country and has impacted the larger farm to table movement. But his roots are not in farming, and they’re not in nonfiction writing. Scott Chaskey was educated a poet.

Mr. Chaskey met his wife Megan, a Kundalini yoga teacher and poet herself, while earning his MFA degree in England. Ever since, they’ve both woven poetry into whatever they do. Now, as the Director of Quail Hill, his voice has become a significant contributor to the national conversation about farms and sustainability. And it only makes sense that in his poetry as well as his prose, nature is a great source of inspiration.

“We can connect with nature through the written word,” said Mr. Chaskey.

He hesitates to term himself a nature writer, though he has great respect for many others who are. John Fowles, who wrote “The Tree,” had a particular impact on him, and he quoted him in “Seedtime.” Other major influences include John Haye.

“He’s a spectacular writer about the natural world, and wrote in the mid to late 20th century,” said Mr. Chaskey.

His own teachers, first at SUNY Binghamton and then in graduate school, taught him a great deal about capturing the natural world with words.

At this point in our conversation, Mr. Chaskey gasped, then laughed.

“A bird just flew into my window!” he said. “I have to go!”

When he called back, he informed me that a sparrow had flown into the window of the shop at Quail Hill, where he was at work.

“Here we are talking about a connection with nature and a sparrow flies into the window,” he laughed. “I suppose nature is something you can’t get away from.”

It reminded him of an early connection he made between writing and nature. He was living in a fishing village in Cornwall, England while he pursued his MFA. His mentor was a poet named Edgar Wallace, and he also felt the connection between the beautiful cliff meadows and the urge to write.

“Edgar was part of the landscape,” recalls Mr. Chaskey. “I remember one day coming down the steep hill, and Edgar was coming the other way. And he walked over to a bush, and hugged the bush. It was his way of greeting me. He was so connected to the natural world that he hugged the bush.”

Mr. Chaskey feels that same kind of deep connection now, though he didn’t always. Growing up in the suburbs didn’t nurture that kind of connection. But he found it in Cornwall, and it’s only grown since.

“It took a while for that connection to surface,” he said, “but since I’ve lived on the cliffs of Cornwall and on this beautiful peninsula, it has become crisp.”

As well as being a farmer and poet, Mr. Chaskey is a teacher. He’s taught poetry to children, college students, and adults. Over the next two weeks, he will lead a workshop on writing about nature at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor.

“I want it to be open. I’ll present things that I think are wonderful examples of people writing about nature, and people will bring their own thoughts and favorite passages… It always bubbles up out of the experience of who’s in the room.”

There’s a line by the poet George Oppen: “There are things we live among, and to see them is to know ourselves.” Mr. Chaskey uses this as a guide to his practice of writing about nature.

“We have to be in it,” he said. “I advise walking as much as you can, looking and seeing, and combine that with reading other passages from writers you admire.”

Writing about Nature with Scott Chaskey will take place at Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street in Sag Harbor, on Thursday, February 19 and Thursday, February 26 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The cost is $75 for both sessions and registration is required. Call Canio’s Books at (631) 725-4926 or visit caniosbooks.com for more information.

 

 

 

One Billion Rising

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onebillionrising

On Friday, February 13 at 5 p.m., local dance and theatre company, the Neo-Political Cowgirls, in partnership with The Retreat and the Sag Harbor-based Dodds & Eder, will hold a “One Billion Rising” event for its third year. This global event began as a call to action over the staggering statistic that one-in-three-women in the world experiences physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.  “One Billion Rising,” orchestrated by playwright Eve Ensler, was created to compel women and men across every country to rise up, dance and raise awareness to the injustices women suffer.

“Neo-Political Cowgirls is committed to producing provocative and inspiring theatrical works for and about women,” said Kate Mueth, founder and artistic director of NPC.  “Being able to show our support for such a critical cause and bring attention to it through performance is incredibly rewarding.”

The event will take place at Dodds & Eder, 11 Bridge Street in Sag Harbor from 5 to 7 p.m. and is for all ages. The event will include a flash mob dance, poetic readings, and musical performances by Skylar Day, Lynn Blue and the East Hampton High School Key Club.

East Hampton Town Board Considers Curfews, Limits, Bans to Control Airport Noise

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Heller_EH Town Board Airport Work Session 2-4-15_1603_LR

Frank Dalene, co-founder of the Quiet Skies Coalition, thanked the town board for their openness and transparency during the process of adopting airport regulations. Photo by Michael Heller. 

By Mara Certic

People who have been complaining about noise from East Hampton Airport seemed elated on Wednesday morning when the East Hampton Town Board suggested a year-round curfew for the airport as well as other steps to limit noisy operations, including banning all helicopters on weekends during the summer season.

The steps, which would address 74 percent of all complaints while only affecting 31 percent of all flights, were outlined as the board heard the third and final phase of the independent noise analysis performed by Harrison Miller Miller & Hanson Inc., which was contracted to do the study by the town.

The first two phases of the noise study looked into the number of flights into and out of the airport and the complaints associated with them.

The third part of the noise analysis looked into different ways the town could solve the problem in a “reasonable, non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory” way.

“The town board recognizes the value of the East Hampton Airport to the community and does not want to impose any greater restriction than is necessary to achieve the town’s objectives,” Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said in a press release issued on Wednesday afternoon.

Councilwoman Burke-Gonzalez has acted as airport liaison since she took office in January 2014 and sponsored the draft legislation for the four specific regulations presented by HMMH Senior Vice President Ted Baldwin.

What the third phase of the study really did, according to Mr. Baldwin, was to predict the result of each possible restriction by using flight and complaint data from October 2013 through October 2014 so that the town would be able to gain a handle on how many flights and how many complaints would be affected by any rule change.

“We based it on 12 months of operations and complaints,” Mr. Baldwin explained,” the most recent 12 months of information we have.”

The four recommendations, all of which the town is considering adopting as local laws, collectively could address 74 percent of all aircraft complaints and would only affect 31 percent of the airport’s annual operations, restricting only the types of aircraft at the times of day, week and year that are associated with the greatest number of complaints.

The first restriction would be to make the airport’s year-round voluntary curfew from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. mandatory. According to the work done by HMMH, 4.9 percent of all complaints last year were associated with operations that would be forbidden if the curfew were enforced.

The second restriction would extend the curfew from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. for noisy aircraft. Noisy aircraft are those with approach levels at 91 decibels or higher. The town will soon be publishing a list of all aircraft that meet that definition, Mr. Baldwin said.

The third proposed regulation would ban all helicopter flights on weekends and holidays during the summer season. The summer season has been defined as lasting from May 1 through September 30 and the weekend, for the purposes of the law, would start at noon on Thursday and end at noon Monday.

The weekend helicopter ban, in addition to the first two restrictions, would put a huge dent in the number of complaints filed, according to HMMH. Helicopters accounted for 14,935 complaints last year alone, with 12,944 of those complaints were called in during weekend hours.

The last restriction would prohibit noisy aircraft from conducting more than two flights in any calendar week during the summer, in an effort to prevent touch-and-go operations.

All told, helicopter traffic would be restricted the most, by 75.9 percent annually, while plane and jet flights would be reduced by approximately 13.7 percent, if the town chooses to adopt the restrictions.

Peter Kirsch, the town’s aviation attorney, explained that each regulation should be presented as its own separate local law in order to give the public the opportunity to meaningfully comment on each specific restriction.

Violating the laws, if adopted, would be a misdemeanor punishable by fines and possible jail terms ranging from $1,000 or/and 90 days in jail for the first offense to a fine of up to $10,000 for the third offense. A fourth violation would see the individual aircraft banned from the airport for a period of up to two years.

“This was designed to make sure that users understand the town board is serious about the restrictions,” Mr. Kirsch said.

Local officials present were not prepared comment on the legislation, but many got up to thank the board for their transparency and inclusiveness during the process.

“I want to commend the town board for the openness and transparency,” said New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

“This is how government is supposed to work and I think you’ve shown a fine process, it’s very, very important, there’s a lot of information here, the most important part of this is that it’s fact based and the public’s had the opportunity to comment,” he added.

Bob Malafronte, one of just two Southampton residents on the town’s airport noise subcommittee, also thanked the board for its work.

“It has been a hell of a long road, but we can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

A few aviation enthusiasts were present, and expressed their concern with the legislation. Bonnie Krupinski warned the town it was going down the path to closing the airport, and Cindy Herbst of Sound Aircraft said “even if half of these are initiated it’s the demise of East Hampton Airport and Sound Aircraft Services.”

Gerard Boleis, chairman of the airport planning committee’s aviation subcommittee, said his committee was unanimously against the regulations and warned that this could lead to “years of litigation and hundreds and thousands of dollars the town might lose.”

Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesperson for the Friends of the East Hampton Airport coalition, submitted the following statement:

“The town has proposed an unprecedented and drastic set of restrictions that would block access to a federally funded airport, discriminate against helicopters and other operators and will likely fail to ever go into effect for a variety of reasons. If enacted, the town board’s recommendations would essentially shut down the airport during the summer,” he said.

“In addition, the town’s 2015 budget relies on an increase in air traffic. Today’s proposed restrictions would cut traffic by 31 percent, thus creating a significant budget deficit and forcing property tax increases,” he added. Mr. Riegelhaupt continued to say that these restrictions would cause a decrease in real estate value.

Airport opponents say the incessant aircraft noise has already caused a decrease in real estate values, and that noise abatement measures would in fact improve the value of the property near the airport.

Over the next few days, the airport’s budget and financial advisory committee will analyze the regulations to ensure the airport can remain sustainable. Peter Wadsworth, a member of BFAC, said he believes it’s possible to finance a reasonable level of capital programs at the airport and that it’s also possible to make up the possible loss of revenue if these restrictions are put in place.

The town is slated to vote to notice the legislation for public hearing at their next work session on Tuesday, February 10. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, at LTV Studios. Comments can be submitted to HTOcomments@EHamptonNY.gov. A copy of all of the legislation and supporting data will be uploaded to www.HTOPlanning.com.

STORM UPDATE: Travel Restrictions Lifted in Southampton, Still in Place in East Hampton

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Ten plow trucks and two pay loaders have been clearing Sag Harbor roads since Monday night. Photo by Michael Heller.

UPDATE: 7:30 a.m. Wednesday

A travel ban was lifted in Southampton Town at 6 a.m. this morning, while officials in East Hampton are still asking residents to stay put, as highway workers continue to clear the 20 or so inches of snow that fell on the East End this week.

Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst declared a travel ban on Monday evening, which made all nonessential or emergency driving illegal.  Southampton Town Hall will open at noon today.

In East Hampton Town, however, the town offices will remain closed all day to nonessential personnel. According to Alex Walter, executive assistant to the Supervisor, town officials will meet today to discuss when they will lift restrictions in East Hampton.

 

UPDATE: 4:30 p.m. Tuesday

Government officials and local police continue to ask East End residents to stay home as highway workers attempt to clear snow after what many are saying was a historic blizzard.

According to East Hampton Highway Superintendent Steve Lynch, roads in the town remain “full of snow.” East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said it has been difficult to gauge exactly how much snow has fallen in East Hampton Town, but the current reports vary between 18 and 22 inches.

The National Weather Service reports snowfall of 28 inches in Southampton and 20.3 inches in Noyac.

“It’s still snowing and the snow is really deep so [clearing the roads] takes a lot longer to do,” Mr. Lynch said on Tuesday afternoon. “It would be really good if people could stay off the roads,” he added. Mr. Lynch said his department have had to deal with several cars that got stuck while driving around, including a pick-up truck which was abandoned Hands Creek Road.

Several plow trucks have gotten stuck already trying to assist vehicles that had hit snow banks, Mr. Lynch said.

The East Hampton Town Police are pulling over cars on the road, Chief Sarlo said “asking them what their business is on the road and turning them around.” They have not issued any summonses or fines, he said, because of some confusion this morning after Governor Andrew Cuomo lifted the travel ban.

“That was a mistake, it was supposed to still be in effect in Suffolk County,” Chief Sarlo said.

Chief Sarlo also said that people should stay put because the excess weight on the icy roads will only worsen conditions.

According to Mr. Lynch, there are currently has 80 to 90 pieces of equipment out on East Hampton roads this evening.

“We’ve got pretty much all the main roads open,” Mr. Lynch said, but added that workers are still trying to widen the roadways. With any hope the town’s secondary roads will be cleared by tomorrow afternoon, he said.

“We ask people to be patient,” Chief Sarlo said. He also asked that those in walking distance of elderly or shut-in neighbors keep an eye on them.

“If we get emergency calls, we’re going in with a snow plow,” he said. For now, the town has only had to respond to a couple of routine ambulance calls and call for help from vehicles stranded in snow banks.

With snow still falling along much of the East End and two to four inches expected to accumulate before nightfall, it looks as though tomorrow will be another day off work for many in eastern Suffolk County.

“Our company line is that the schools are closed tomorrow and it’ll take most of the day to get roads back together,” Chief Sarlo said.

“As a community, we should be patient and take tomorrow as a day to dig ourselves out,” Chief Sarlo said.

Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton schools will be closed tomorrow.

UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. Tuesday

Emergency orders remain in effect in Sag Harbor Village, where the highway department has been trying to clear roads for the past 30 hours, according to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride.

“It really is a pretty tough storm,” Mr. Gilbride said over the phone on Tuesday afternoon. While driving through the village, he has seen areas of two to three feet as snow, and some snowdrifts as high as five feet, he said.

“I see people out, there’s no real reason to be going out because there’s no stores open, there’s nothing open. It’s best if everybody just stays home and gives these guys a chance,” Mr. Gilbride said.

In the village, nine trucks and two pay loaders have been out since 5 p.m. last night, Mr. Gilbride said. The vehicles have plowed the streets of the village nine times so far, but the wind continues to blow snow back into the streets. They are now going to take a short break before getting back to work through the night.

“We’ve got another day ahead of us,” Mr. Gilbride said, before the roads in the village are clear.

As of now, Sag Harbor has not seen any coastal flooding, the mayor said, apart from some slight flooding on Glover Street due to slush clogging a street drain.

“The city lucked out this time,” Mr. Gilbride said, “And we didn’t.”

 

UPDATE: 11 a.m. Tuesday

The twin forks bore the brunt of the blizzard of the year, which continues on in the Eastern most parts of Suffolk County.

High winds and periods of heavy snow have dropped two to three feet of powder across the East End, with many roads still cut off and unplowed.

Although a travel ban has been lifted in New Jersey and in other parts of Long Island, it remains in effect in East Hampton and Southampton Towns.

According to the Southampton Town Police, most people obeyed the 11 p.m. travel ban ordered by Governor Andrew Cuomo last night and stayed off the roads.

Police and town officials continue to urge residents to stay home and hunker down.

A blizzard warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. this evening, although the heaviest snow and strongest winds have likely passed, according to the weather service.

 

UPDATE: 4 p.m. Monday

The Town of East Hampton has issued a state of emergency, effective 4 p.m. this afternoon, urging residents to refrain from travelling through Tuesday. All

As in Southampton Town, parking on public roadways is prohibited and vehicles will be towed.

Southampton Hospital cancelled all nonessential services at 3 p.m. today. Dialysis will be available through tonight’s shift, but will be closed tomorrow; emergency dialysis will be available. All Meeting House Lane medical practices will be closed tomorrow. The hospital departments are all prepared for the blizzard, they said, and have taken all the necessary precautions.

Southampton will be in a state of emergency at 7 p.m., at which point any nonessential driving will be illegal, according to a press release issued by the town.

“High winds, high accumulation and drifting snow, frigid temperatures, power outages and local flooding are expected. The storm is forecast to last through Wednesday morning. Residents in low lying areas or without an adequate alternative heating or power source should consider evacuating prior to the full onset of the storm and before the effective time of the state of emergency (7PM),” they said.

There will be a full travel ban in effect in Long Island as of 11 p.m. tonight, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon.

Southampton Town residents with special medical needs should call (631) 728-1235 before 5 p.m. if they anticipate needing assistance. Residents who may need to shelter pets should call (631) 728-7387. Local emergencies can be reported to (631) 728-3400. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911.

 

UPDATE: Noon Monday

The Town of Southampton will be calling a state of emergency at 7 p.m. this evening, according to Southampton Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor, which means non-essential vehicles must be off the road by that time.

“Don’t be out driving tonight and please don’t park on public roads or parking lots,” Mr. Gregor said. Those parked on the road after that time will be ticketed and towed at the driver’s expense.

“But please just don’t go out in the snow, please don’t walk on the side of the road. We can’t see you if you’re walking in whiteout conditions,” he added.

The town is organizing 50 trucks with plows and their 10 pay loaders; as weather conditions worsen, more trucks and vehicles from large East End subcontractors will hit the roads.

The town will be responsible for plowing the 950 miles of town-maintained roads, as well as 100 miles of smaller, secondary roads in areas of Noyac and North Sea, Mr. Gregor said. Once they begin to see snows of 2 to 3 inches, they will hold off on plowing the roads until the heaviest snow stops.

There will also be a flood watch in effect; those in Sag Harbor Cove, Pine Neck and Bay Point should be particularly vigilant, Mr. Gregor said.

County Executive Steve Bellone is scheduled to give a press conference on the upcoming storm at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, which will be broadcast on local news channels.

 

UPDATE: 9:30 a.m. Monday

Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton Schools will have early dismissal on Monday and will be closed all day Tuesday in preparation for the potentially historic storm expected to hit Long Island Monday afternoon.

Students at Pierson-Middle High School will be dismissed at noon today, and elementary students will be dismissed at 12:45 p.m. There will be no afternoon Pre-K classes. All sports, SHAEP, after school and evening activities on Monday and Tuesday have been cancelled.

All students at Bridgehampton School will be dismissed at 12:45 p.m. on Monday, and the school will be closed on Tuesday. All sports and after school activities, including ASPIRE, have been cancelled.

The Sag Harbor Board of Education meeting scheduled for this evening will now be moved to Monday, February 2.

Original Story:

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the East End, with one to three feet of snow expected to accumulate from Monday afternoon through Tuesday night.

The storm, which will likely begin around 1 p.m. on Monday, could be “crippling and potentially historic,” according to the weather service.

Light snow in the morning will pick up intensity in the evening, with the heaviest winds and snowfall starting Monday at midnight and lasting through Tuesday afternoon.

The weather service discourages all unnecessary travel starting on Monday afternoon, as whiteout conditions are expected. If travel is absolutely necessary, the weather service advises having a winter survival kit. The weather service has says that it may become impossible to drive on secondary roads and advises those who get stranded in their vehicles to remain there.

The Town of East Hampton has advised residents to refrain from driving on Monday evening and all day Tuesday in a message posted on its website (www.town.east-hampton.ny.us) on Sunday.

“All residents are urged to monitor the National Weather Service advisories, network news channels, LTV channels 20 & 22, and this website for further information,” the message reads.

“Regardless of the track of this storm it appears that a significant snowfall is likely, and residents should take all necessary precautions prior to Monday afternoon,” it continues.

A moderate flood warning will be in effect in low-lying coastal areas from late Monday night through Tuesday morning; shore road closures may be necessary.

High winds Monday night and Tuesday could cause trees to fall. To report an outage to PSEG-Long Island, call 1-800-490-0075, text OUT to 773454 or through their website psegliny.com.

Environmentalists and Hunters Say Lower Waterfowl Count Shouldn’t Cause Concern

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Hundreds of American mallards taking flight on Mecox Bay on Monday. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic 

Although the black duck and merganser populations were down, East End birders came out in record numbers last weekend to take part in the 60th annual winter waterfowl count.

On Saturday and Sunday, January 17 and 18, environmentalists and volunteers spent hours at ponds, beaches and coves, counting the number of ducks, swans and geese in local waters. Frank Quevedo, avian enthusiast and executive director of the South Fork Natural History Museum, organized the count from Montauk to the Shinnecock Canal.

“I was the regional compiler,” he said in an interview on Monday, “I had about 20 birders there, the most I’ve ever had. I think that’s a reflection of more and more people enjoying birding,” Mr. Quevedo said.

The information gathered in the waterfowl count is passed along to the New York State Ornithological Association, who publish the data and also share it with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which in turn uses it for long-term analysis of waterfowl populations wintering in the state.

Not all of the data were available by the time of this paper’s publication, but Mr. Quevedo said that 47 species in total were counted last weekend, and apart from a few variations, the figures seemed to be in keeping with annual trends.

He seemed particularly excited about a greater white-fronted goose spotted in Southampton. The large birds are usually only found west of the Mississippi River in this country.

“One other thing I noticed was that our merganser population was down this year,” Mr. Quevedo said.

Al Daniels, a lifelong hunter and conservationist, was responsible for counting all of the waterfowl in Sag Harbor. After tallying up the birds at Long Wharf, Long Beach, Otter Pond, Tides Beach and Sag Harbor Cove, Mr. Daniels also determined that the merganser numbers seemed low.

“But nobody hunts mergansers,” Mr. Daniels said of the birds, which are not considered “good eating,” as hunters say.

The waterfowl population on the East End is made up of migratory birds that travel down from parts north in the early winter to find food and water. According to local hunter Tanner Bertrand, these birds will only travel as far south as they need to get sufficient nutrition for the winter.

“They only go as far down as the water freezes,” he said, adding, “as long as they have water and food they stay put.”

The American black duck, which just last month was named one of the species of greatest conservation need in the state, was also not as populous east of the canal as it had been in previous years.

According to Mr. Bertrand, this is not immediately as concerning as it might seem. “The weather’s been so good this year, which has made the hunting season difficult. The birds are content where they are,” he said.

“We’re always affected here by the weather,” Mr. Daniels said on Tuesday.“[Waterfowl] season started in November, and for the first month puddle duck hunting was down,” he said.  He attributed that to the mild weather and noted that since last week’s cold snap, larger numbers of mallards and black ducks have been finding their way south to Long Island.

“A lot of local ponds were frozen, and that displaces a lot of birds in the area,” Mr. Quevedo said. “That was one reason why perhaps we didn’t get the numbers we usually do.” He added that his report to the New York State Ornithological Association includes weather conditions, which are taken into account when final statewide figures are tallied.

With all migratory animals, it is difficult to establish whether the dwindling populations are caused to some sort of dire conservation need, or simply part of a natural cycle. But those who have been hunting for years know that different species of birds change from year to year.

“When my father was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, there were always broadbills and canvasbacks,” Mr. Bertrand said. “They always had them down in the Chesapeake, but they weren’t here for a while.”

“Then three or four years ago we started seeing them in Mill Pond and down in Mecox Creek. Now each year they’re coming up in thicker numbers,” he said.

Mr. Daniels said he too remembers the days when local hunters spent most of their time shooting “white birds.” He also recalls when hunting was more prevalent, before all local waterfronts were peppered with second homes.

“[Hunting] is sort of like keeping the [local] traditions going,” Mr. Daniels said. “It’s sad for the children born today won’t see what we had.”

“I still got to see the good stuff,” he said. “When I was young, we ate wild ducks every Monday for the whole year,” he reminisced.

Duck-hunting season ends on Sunday, January 26. The season for hunting geese will end on Wednesday, February 4.

 

 

Amazon Debuts Animated Pilot for “The Stinky and Dirty Show” Based on Sag Harbor Author’s Books

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Amazon has produced an animated pilot for preschool kids based on the work of Kate and Jim McMullan, who, respectively, are the author and illustrator of a series of picture books including “I’m Dirty!,” “I Stink!,” “I’m Brave!,” and “I’m Fast!” detailing the lives of different vehicles including a garbage truck, a tugboat, a backhoe loader and a fire truck.

Titled “The Stinky and Dirty Show,” the pilot can be viewed at amzn.to/1C2w0qG. With enough views and comments, Amazon may make pick up the series and develop it into a full fledged children’s show, according to Ms. McMullan who informed readers and fans about the program via email this week.

Several of the books have been made into videos already. The McMullans’ announced on their website—katemcmullen.com—that Scholastic is making a video of “I’m Fast!” with Stanley Tucci playing the voice of the train. Ms. McMullan also created the Myth-o-Mania series, a parody of Greek myths starring Hades, Helen of Troy and Perseus, among others, as well as several other books geared for children and young adults alike.

To learn more about the McMullans, visit katemcmullen.com and to view “The Stinky and Dirty Show” visit http://amzn.to/1C2w0qG.

 

Three Southampton Town Board Members Renounce 2015 Salary Hikes

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By Mara Certic

Three of the five members of the Southampton Town Board have rejected their 2015 wage increases, requesting instead that the dollar amount of their 3-percent raises be returned to town funds.

At last week’s organizational meeting, when discussing a resolution to accept salary schedules for the five members of the Southampton Town Board, Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman Stan Glinka asked to forego their $2,000 salary hike.

The salaries for the four members were slated to increase from $60,000 to $62,000 in the 2015 budget, which Ms. Scalera objected to during budget talks late last year. Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s salary was raised from $102,000 to $104,040.

Last week, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming asked that the resolution be tabled in order to give her more time to consider the implications of the decision. Her fellow board members seemed reluctant to do so but eventually the discussion was postponed until Tuesday, January 13.

At Tuesday’s meeting Ms. Fleming thanked the board for giving her time to consider the amendment, and said that after speaking with her family, she too had decided to do without this year’s wage increase.

However, unlike her Republican colleagues, who requested their money be returned to the general fund, Ms. Fleming, a Democrat, asked that $1,000 go toward Farm Fresh Farmers Market in Flanders, and that the remaining money go to the Water Quality Protection Cost Center.

Mr. Bender said last week he would be keeping his full salary because his position as councilman is his only job and source of income. He added that he had no objection to his co-workers’ request. Supervisor Throne-Holst also said she understood the implications of the decision, and that she would vote in favor of the amendment.

After Ms. Fleming offered her amendment, the resolution establishing salary schedules for the town board passed unanimously.

In other action, the town board adjourned a public hearing to discuss possible amendments to the Special Exception Uses permit, in order to create stricter standards for retail businesses between 5,000 and 15,000 square feet.

This amendment came to the forefront in the fall, seemingly in response to controversial plans for a 9,030-square-foot CVS on a busy intersection on Bridgehampton’s Main Street.  It aims to create specific standards and safeguards for large stores, in an effort to tighten the zoning code.

At the first public hearing about the amendment in September, members of the Bridgehampton Citizen Advisory Committee, who have been fighting the CVS tooth and nail for months, spoke in favor of it.

At the same hearing, local attorneys representing CVS and BNB Ventures IV, the owner of the property, called the amendment “illegal” and unethical.

Ms. Scalera asked that the hearing be adjourned until the board’s first meeting next month, on Tuesday, February 10, to allow it more time to work on the law with the planning department, adding that the process has been more challenging than anticipated.