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MTA Hopes to Implement Some of SEEDS Study Before 2015

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By Claire Wall


Do you remember when you could see a flicker of light at the end of the Long Island Rail Road tunnel?

Well, according to those integrally linked to the future of transportation here on the East End, it may be faint, but it’s still there.

It’s been 10 years since local transportation experts banned together under the leadership of the New York Mass Transit Council (NYMTC) to create SEEDS: Sustainable East End Development Strategies. And while not much has been said of the plan since it came to a conclusion in 2005, those at the helm of the effort believe change is afoot.

“I’m optimistic,” said New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. of the possibility of increasing rail service between Patchogue and Montauk. He noted that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has already allotted $80 million in its capital plan for 2010 – 2015 for small diesel trains, called “scoot trains,” that would be added to rail lines to increase the frequency of train service in the east.

What’s more, as Southampton Town Director of Transportation Tom Neely pointed out, the MTA has also reserved $50 million in its five-year capital plan to create an electronic signal system on the South Fork. One of the biggest issues responsible for the infrequency of train travel between Patchogue and Montauk, Neely explained, is that train operators on this leg of the LIRR track are in “dark territory”: they’re not in communication with one another, so two trains headed for each other on the same track would have no way of knowing they’re aiming for collision.

“It’s the same way they did it 150 years ago,” he exclaimed.

While funding is only really targeted for this service at this point and is not a total guarantee, Thiele continued by saying, for him, seeing this support from the MTA “is a step in the right direction.”

It also helps, Thiele continued, that the newly elected Suffolk County Legislator Steve Bellone “has endorsed all of this,” having made transportation his number one East End issue on the campaign trail.

“We’ve had the most support we’ve ever had on this,” he added.

Comprising nearly five years of research, the SEEDS study lays out comprehensive plans for both sustainable growth in terms of population and infrastructure, and increasing the frequency and efficiency of public transportation on the East End. In the end, the two go hand-in-hand. In building up village and hamlet centers to be high-density and therefore low-impact, this would create opportunities on the East End for implementing transit centers.

Neely pointed to the new development plan at the Bulova building in Sag Harbor as a good example of sustainable growth. Because it aims to create high density residences in a downtown area, “it’s a very good example of a development that can make good use of public transportation,” he said.

Recognizing the problems with scant train service on the East End and the subsequent absence of a coordinated bus system, the SEEDS study ultimately resulted in two plans aimed at increasing train travel to and from the East End, Neely said.

The system would ideally function with inter-modal transportation hubs. After restoring train service to Calverton and Grabeski Airport, Neely said there would be at least five major inter-modal hubs (linking train and bus services) throughout the East End: East Hampton and Southampton Villages, Hampton Bays and downtown Riverhead. The SEEDS study also discussed the need for a water taxi between the North and South Forks, which would necessitate an inter-modal transportation hub in Greenport, as well.

“To move forward we would need strong political report,” said Neely, who played a significant role in overseeing the SEEDS process. The transportation projects alone are estimated to cost more than $1 million to fully implement.

While he did say Congressman Tim Bishop had once requested $1 million in earmarked funds to continue this project, the poor economic climate has impacted the state’s ability to move forward in support of this.

“Earmarks are pretty much dead in the water at this point in Congress, “Neely said.

And while Assemblyman Thiele has also drafted two bills, one to create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Council and the other to create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority, he said legislators have thus far failed to act on either measure.

Ideally, Neely said the five towns of the East End — Southampton, East Hampton, Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southold — should work together to create a Transportation Development District, as NYMTC recommended. However, at this moment, nothing seems to be moving forward on that front.

While he continues to hope the MTA will pull through and put its money where its mouth is, in the meantime Neely said efforts to rebuild and construct the towns of the East End in environmentally sustainable ways will have to be done on a local level. Southampton Town, for example, has adopted a Complete Streets policy that will encourage new developments to consider adding bike lanes and sidewalks, for example, when repaving town roads.

In the end, Neely hopes legislators will continue to work to get state funding to act on the SEEDS plan.

“Anything would be better than what we have right now,” he continued. “Which is nothing.”

East End Towns Weigh in on Copter Regulations

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Sag Harbor resident Susan Baran believes the Federal Aviation Administration’s draft plan aimed at regulating helicopter flight paths and curbing the chopper noise that has plagued East End residents for years does not go far enough.

In comments made to the FAA on the proposed “Schumer Rule,” Baran was among hundreds of Sag Harbor and Noyac residents who asked for the regulations to be expanded to include more than one mandatory route for helicopters, as well as higher altitude requirements for pilots.

“We have borne the brunt of the departing traffic for years,” said Baran of the Sag Harbor community. “Our house shakes, windows rattle and conversation is impossible.”

Residents were joined this week by the supervisors of four East End towns, state government leaders, and Congressman Tim Bishop in asking the “Schumer Rule” be expanded in order to aid residents on the East End as well as those further west on Long Island.

Under the proposed regulation, helicopter pilots would be required to follow a northern route one mile offshore over the Long Island Sound to Shoreham where they would split off either to Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, the Southampton Helipad, the Montauk Airport or the East Hampton Airport following voluntary routes established in 2007, some of which bring flights from East Hampton directly over Sag Harbor and Noyac.

Regulations also propose that pilots keep a minimum altitude of 2,500 feet.

Following the FAA’s announcement about the regulations in May, government and community leaders commended the agency for taking action to deal with helicopter noise on Long Island, but almost unanimously were outspoken that a single northern route would unfairly burden a few communities, demanding a southern route to the East Hampton Airport over the ocean and Georgica Pond.

This week, those recommendations became official with East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Southold Supervisor Scott Russell and Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty, all of who submitted a joint response to the FAA asking the agency to support nine recommendations created by the East End Helicopter Noise Stakeholders Group.

Recommendations made by the stakeholders group have received the support of Congressman Tim Bishop, with New York State Senator Ken P. LaValle, New York State Assemblyman Marc Alessi and Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine making similar recommendations to the FAA.

According to Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, Senator Charles Schumer’s office was instrumental in setting up the stakeholders group, which included Kathy Cunningham, the chair of the East Hampton Airport Noise Abatement Advisory Committee, East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, Graboski, airport noise abatement advisory committee members Peter Wadsworth and Charles Ehren, and Shelter Island resident Don Kornrumpf, among others.

The stakeholders group asks the FAA to create two mandatory designated routes, one along the North Shore and one along the South Shore, with pilots required to fly one mile from shore on both routes.

“This is essential in order to accommodate the important southerly transition routes from [the East Hampton Airport] and other East End Airports and to equitably distribute the volume of helicopter traffic using the North and South Shore routes,” reads their statement.

Stakeholders recommend that helicopters flying the North Shore route to East Hampton be required to transition east from Plum Gut, and proceed south to Barcelona Neck and over Route 114 to the East Hampton Airport.

Both the East Hampton Airport and Gabreski Airport should also be empowered directly or through the FAA to manage the number of flights coming into their airports at one time, according to the recommendations, and should be allowed to establish curfews for when flights can take-off and land.

They also ask the FAA to establish procedures in coordination with area airports to monitor and enforce compliance with the proposed routes and that any helicopters maintain an altitude of 3,000 feet when flying over land while departing or arriving at any of the local airports. Pilots should also be mandated to follow noise abatement policies established by each airport, states the group.

“Since the FAA has found that the Long Island helicopter noise problem is unique, the present rulemaking must deal expressly with that problem as it relates to the East End Airports,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne Holst in a letter to the FAA. “Current and recent trends indicate that the burden of helicopter traffic centering on [the East Hampton Airport] will increase substantially in future years, further exacerbating the noise problem for the East End.”

The Noyac Civic Council, as well as a number of Sag Harbor and Noyac residents, would also like to see the northern route require pilots to use Orient Point as a waypoint before flying to East Hampton and Montauk airports.

At a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Monday, Graboski praised the FAA for making “a significant move” by beginning the process of regulating helicopter routes to the East End, but noted the regulations as proposed aid residents in western Suffolk County and Nassau County, more than they do the Twin Forks.

The proposals supported by the four supervisors, she said, would round out the regulations to protect residents on the East End as well.

“It was probably one of the more challenging things we have been involved in,” she said.

The deadline for comments to the FAA was June 25. To view comments submitted to the FAA, visit www.regulations.gov and use the keyword FAA-2010-0302.

I on Art: A Shared Aesthetic, the Artists of the North Fork

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North Fork artists

By Helen A. Harrison

According to Geoffrey Fleming, the director of the Southold Historical Society and the lead author of this authoritative, gracefully written and beautifully illustrated survey, credit for the book belongs to his collaborator, the writer and editor Sara Evans, who suggested the project some five years before it came to fruition. Among its strengths is the recognition of the social, cultural and economic context in which artists operate. However attractive the locale, they don’t congregate in an area merely for the scenery.

The book opens with a fast-paced summary of the art colony phenomenon by Amei Wallach, a former Newsday art critic and Mattituck resident. She contrasts the area with the more celebrated (and celebritied) South Fork, with its two art museums and numerous commercial galleries, noting that the North Fork traditionally attracted a more conservative, academically oriented contingent who preferred to stay out of the social limelight. Wallach also provides a glimpse of how the North Fork art scene has shifted in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, a time period that the book as a whole does not address. The authors set 1969 as the cutoff year. “We did this for several reasons,” Fleming writes, “not least of which was the sheer number of artists who have continued to discover the North Fork since that time.”

Many of the works illustrated and discussed belong to the Southold Historical Society and the Oysterponds Historical Society in nearby Orient. They own fine examples by respected figures from the past, including the early 19th century limners Abraham G.D. Tuthill (an Oysterponds native), Sag Harbor’s Orlando Hand Bears, and William Hillier, who came from New York City to paint a marvelous portrait of Cynthia Tuthill, one of the “Tiny Tuthills,” a renowned local family of little people. They also own paintings and drawings by members of the Peconic Art Colony in its heyday, from the 1880s through the 1920s, as well as their students and talented (and not so talented) amateurs, which are historically but not artistically significant. Leaving out a few of them could have made room for some of the internationally renowned contemporary artists who make the North Fork their seasonal or full-time home.

By the late 19th century the area could boast several resident artists of note, including Edward Moran (brother of Thomas, who had settled in East Hampton), Henry and Edith Prellwitz, and Lemuel M. Wiles, who in 1895, with his son Irving, ran the North Fork’s first summer school of art, modeled on William Merritt Chase’s outdoor art classes at Shinnecock. Although the school lasted only one season, it signaled the existence of a community of plein-air painters who attracted others as seasonal guests and students. These people weren’t spending their summers relaxing on the beach or throwing cocktail parties. They had active social lives, but they were also busy at the easel.

After a thorough discussion of the art colony’s prime years, there’s a chapter on the semi-professional and amateur painters, whether local or “from away,” who upheld the representational landscape and portrait traditions—the shared aesthetic of the book’s title—well into the twentieth century; and one on the so-called “twilight years” of the mid 1960s when, as Evans writes: “Many [North Fork] artists, both home-grown and academic, felt themselves to be increasingly irrelevant, eclipsed and marginalized.” There’s a nod to the modernists who came in the 1950s and ’60s, represented by Betty Parsons and Theodoros Stamos, whose studios were designed by the architect-cum-sculptor Tony Smith, as well as Stamos’ assistant Ralph Humphrey and his frequent visitor Mark Rothko, but for the most part the abstract painters and sculptors belong to a sequel volume that would take the story up to the present.

Wendy Prellwitz, an architect and the great-granddaughter of Henry and Edith, contributes a fascinating chapter on artists’ studios in New York City and on the North and South Forks. James Grathwohl, the current president of the Old House Society in Cutchogue, writes on the art activities around the Southold Tercentenary celebrations in 1940, and Norman Wamback, a North Fork native and curator of the Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society, has compiled a delightful selection of “entertaining stories” by and about some of the art colony denizens. Finishing with a lengthy (although admittedly not comprehensive) listing of artists’ biographies, and an extensive bibliography and endnotes that acknowledge the research of other art historians and scholars, the book brings together a prodigious amount of material and does justice to the history of a vital but lesser-known eastern Long Island art community.

# # # #

Helen A. Harrison, the director of the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in Springs, is the co-author (with Constance Ayers Denne) of Hamptons Bohemia: Two Centuries of Artists and Writers on the Beach. She lives in Sag Harbor.

Lady Whalers Look to Get Back on Track Against Ross

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By Benito Vila

Going in needing one more win to clinch a playoff spot, the Lady Whalers went into last Friday’s game against Southold looking for a measure of revenge, the Lady Settlers sending them home with a 20-point loss in December.

But a near empty Pierson gym made moot the little emotional lift the Lady Whalers may have needed, the Lady Settlers heading home with a 44-31 win. The difference in Friday’s game was the 25-10 lead the visitors held after the first half, strong outside shooting and second-chance shots sparking an 8-3 start for Southold and then an 11-2 second quarter run.

The Pierson girls kept the game even in the second half, guards Sarah Barrett and Amanda Busiello finishing fast break chances in the third and forward Sami James firing in four jumpers in the fourth. The team’s play on the perimeter improved as the half played out, defenders Busiello, Emily Hinz and Catherine O’Brien challenging the outside shot and rebounders Kaci Koehne, Bridget Canavan and Annie Osiecki denying the extra chances.

Mid-term exams across the county are curtailing games and practices this coming week. The Pierson girls, now 5-3 in League VIII, play again, going to Ross to meet the 0-7 Lady Ravens.

The Lady Ravens were just six-deep when the Lady Whalers outran them, 52-31, after the New Year’s holiday. The Lady Ravens also lost this past Friday, falling 55-12 to Shelter Island at home, the Lady Indians taking charge with an 18-2 first half.

Lyndsey Fridie and Cholena Smith led Ross in scoring against Shelter Island, each scoring four, and James, eleven points, and Barrett, ten, topped Pierson against Southold.

Whalers Fall to Settlers, Face Mercy Wednesday

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By Benito Vila

A thing of beauty may be a joy forever, but a 63-39 final score in high school basketball is neither beautiful nor joyful, for either team.

On Friday, the Pierson boys’ varsity basketball team made its home debut, the new Whalers coming in looking to send the Southold Settlers back to the North Fork with their first loss of the season.

Despite the support of a small but vocal crowd, the home team mustered too little offense to challenge the visitors. The Settlers held a 19-7 lead after the first quarter and a 33-14 lead at the half.

Southold put the game away in the third, a 7-0 run and then an 8-0 run pushing back a brief Pierson charge.

The difference between the two teams came down to ball handling, the Settler defense collapsing quickly on the Whalers, who all too often lost possession off the dribble or on ill-advised passes. Those turnovers set up Southold with easy baskets and extra opportunities, putting pressure on Pierson to play the game at a catch-up tempo and do more than it could.

Whaler coach Christian Johns summed up the game by saying, “Defensively, we did some good things but still need to improve on protecting the paint. Offensively, our ball handling and pass selection will be a consistent focus in practice. I was impressed by the play of a couple of our younger guys. I thought they came in, remained composed, and made some positive decisions with the ball.”?


Our Record is 0-0


The closest the Whalers came to the Settlers was with 1:59 left in the first quarter, Skyler Loesch making the score 11-7 Southold by putting an offensive rebound back up and turning a teammate’s miss into two points. Four turnovers on the next four Pierson possessions, led to a pair of fast-break baskets and a pair of short jump shots, giving the visitors their 19-7 lead.

There was optimism on the Pierson side to open the third quarter, Tyler Gilbride getting two points from the floor and Luke Kirrane a pair from the line. That quick 4-0 Whaler run cut the Settler lead to 15, at 33-18, but Southold responded with a three-pointer, a put-back and a steal to put the game away, up 22, with 6:02 in the third.

Pierson was never able to get any closer, despite the effort made by Loesch, Gilbride, Kirrane, T.J. Arreguin, Seamus Doyle, Brook Hartnett, Sean Hartnett, Dylan Hmielenski and Nolan O’Brien. Kirrane led the Whalers with 14 points, Loesch lofting in 12. Gilbride added six, Sean Hartnett five and Doyle two.

The loss leaves the Whalers 0-2 in League VIII and 0-5 overall going into the school break. Gilbride, for one has not given up hope, saying Tuesday, “We’re working hard. Past games, there’s nothing you can do about them. Our record is 0-0 and now we have to focus on Mercy.”

That non-league match-up with Mercy comes Wednesday at Pierson. Tip-off is set for 6:15 p.m. League play resumes Tuesday, January 5, the Whalers taking the short trip to Ross. Tip-off there is also scheduled for 6:15 p.m.


Fancy Footwork


The Pierson Whaler JV jumped out to a 28-14 halftime lead on the Settler JV and came off the court with a 46-26 win. The team’s inspired hustle and consistent footwork made them tough to beat on either end.

JV coach Jonathan Tortorella said afterwards, “I was very impressed with our energy and focus today. We need to be consistent in coming to practice and games with the same intensity from start to finish. It was a solid performance overall, but I was particularly happy with our defensive effort. Offensively, we need to be a little more disciplined in what we do but we are much improved in that area as well.”

“Patrick Sloane played great today. He went to the basket aggressively and shot 14-for-17 from the line, finishing with 19 points in the game. Defensively, Joe Butts, Aidan Kirrane and Jake Bennett played very well. We rebounded the ball much better tonight as well.”

“Hopefully, we can carry this momentum into practice and be ready to play some good basketball against Mercy on December 30th.”

That game precedes the varsity match-up on Wednesday and is due to start at 4:30 p.m.

Unsettling Loss for Lady Whalers

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By Benito Vila

Consistency. It’s a word many coaches use much the same way TV hucksters use “not available in stores.” It’s a phrase meant to get your attention.

And with good reason: consistency, in any sport, is a way of describing those habits that create success. Coaches know that winning comes from doing the routine well, so well that the extraordinary becomes possible.

In basketball, consistency is being in position to break a press, find an open teammate and get a good shot. It’s dribbling with your head up, anticipating pressure but not reacting to it.

It’s all the countless details needed to be in the right place for a rebound. It’s what’s worked on in practice: the things to master as an individual and as a team to win, consistently.

Sometimes things fall apart though as they did for the Pierson Lady Whalers in Southold last Friday, their first league road game ending with a long ride home. The Lady Settlers successfully defended their home court, breaking open a close game in the second half to win 61-41.

The Lady Whalers, now 1-1 in League VIII and 1-4 overall, stayed close at the start, trailing 11-9 after the first quarter and 28-22 at the half. The third quarter saw Pierson fall further back, 49-32, and Southold go on to add three points to its margin in the fourth.


Zoned Out


Pierson girls’ varsity coach Dennis Case is using the game and its outcome as a place to improve from going forward. “Offensively, we did OK. The real problem was our defense. We did not play well on the defensive boards and were slow to adjust with our man-to-man defense.”

“As well as we played defensively against Shelter Island [a 46-34 win at home, December 15], the opposite was the case against Southold. They had too many easy layups. We were slow to react even when we played our 1-2-2 zone. We lost our focus.”

Looking at the solution, Coach Case added, “We’re going to get back in the gym, and work on boxing out and rebounding. We will also tighten up our defense and key on our zone. It’s all about consistency, consistency, consistency.”


Juniors Lead


With nary a senior on the team, junior co-captains Samantha James and Sarah Barrett have stepped up on the court, James leading the Lady Whalers Friday with 17 points and Barrett bringing home 15. Classmates Kaci Koehne and Amanda Busiello added five points and two points respectively, with sophomore Sariah Cafiero firing in the team’s other basket.

This week, the Pierson girls go to Bay Shore on Wednesday morning to meet an accomplished League II program. The team is back to League VIII play Tuesday, January 5, hosting Ross at 6:15 p.m.


A Simple Difference


The Lady Whaler JV saw their Lady Settler counterparts take control in their contest Friday, the scoreboard revealing a one-sided 46-14 result at the final buzzer.

Pierson girls’ JV coach Kevin Barron described the difference between the team being “turnovers and rebounds. The pressure by Southold caused us to throw the ball away and give them easy fast break points. They also dominated us on the boards allowing them to have easy points off of offensive rebounds.”

 “However, I was very happy with the team’s attitude during the game. They played their hardest and gave 100% until the very end. [Eighth graders] May Evjen and Sol Varela played extremely well off the bench showing their aggressiveness taking the ball to the ball to the basket. 

The JV takes the court again on Wednesday in Bay Shore.


It’s One and Done for Pierson Girl’s Varsity Basketball

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The Pierson Girls Varsity Basketball Team’s season came to a close on Tuesday after they played and lost to the Lady Clippers of Southold 46-33.

This was the first — and last — of their playoff games.

The Lady Whalers started out slow, according to coach Dennis Case, and they were lacking in the defensive area.

“We didn’t do good,” the coach said, “and the kids knew it.”

Even with the team’s starting senior Katie Oseicki back in the game this week after an injury last week to the same team on the road, the girls did not seem to have the same stamina they had projected throughout the season.

“She wasn’t $100 Katie,” the coach said. “You can see that in the second half, she scored a bunch.” But the first half was a different story.

During the first quarter, the Lady Whalers trailed by three points; but that gap increased during the second quarter.

At the half the Lady Whalers were down by 15 points, the score 27-12.

By the end of the third quarter, Pierson was still behind Southold, 39-26, even though they outscored the Lady Clippers by two points during the period.

It was almost a comeback game for Pierson during the fourth, as the gap was closed slightly and the Lady Whalers were able to “shut down” Southold’s dominant player, Kim Van Bourgondien.

“We brought it back within six points with 3:45 minutes to go,” the coach said. But the final tally showed Southold winning by 13 points. 

Top scorer Tuesday night was Oseicki with 10 points. Following Oseicki was sophomore Samantha James with seven points. Gabrielle Arondel, a senior, brought in six points for the Lady Whalers during the game.

There were only two three-pointers scored by Pierson on Tuesday; one by Bridgehampton senior, Ala Pinckney and the other by Pierson sophomore Sarah Barrett who both tallied five points against the Lady Clippers. 

Overall the coach said he is very proud of the girls and the work they did this season.

“It was a good season,” he said, “collectively I had one of the best seasons ever and these girls were the most fun to coach.”

He said that their efforts as a team helped them get into the playoffs. “They did a lot together,” he continued, “They played together as a team on and off the court.”

The coach said he is going to be losing six girls next year, and added, “that is going to be hard to replace.”

Winding up their Lady Whaler careers on the court are seniors Katie Osiecki, Gabrielle Arondel, Ala Pinckney, Nell Kruszynski, Alicia Tagliasacchi and Arielle Chase. Juniors Brittany Scala and Alexia Faraguna are expected to return next year under Coach Case.