Tag Archive | "Springs"

Southampton School District Earns Safe Routes to School Funding

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced Friday that the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has agreed to amend the State Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) to include intersection improvements near Southampton Elementary and Intermediate schools. The proposed project will cost $498,374.

The project would be funded by the federal Safe Routes to School program. The intent of the Safe Routes to School program is to enable and encourage children to walk or bicycle to school; help children adopt a more healthy and active lifestyle by making bicycling and walking a safer and more appealing transportation alternative; and facilitate the planning, development and implementation of transportation project that will improve safety while reducing traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.

Split East Hampton Town Board Adopts Airport Capital Improvement Plan

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


By Kathryn G. Menu

The East Hampton Town Board adopted a capital improvement plan for the East Hampton Airport during a work session Tuesday — a roadmap for $5.26 million in repairs and improvements consultants suggest be made to airport facilities over the course of the next five years.

Originally, the capital improvement plan (CIP) — unveiled just before a November 21 public hearing on the proposals — called for $10.45 million in airport repairs and projects over a five-year period. The adopted CIP was cut to $5.26 million with 15 proposed projects removed from the plan as they were not a part of the town board approved Airport Master Plan or Airport Layout Plan, both of which were vetted through environmental review.

The CIP was approved by the outgoing Republican majority of the town board. Airport liaison Dominick Stanzione, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley voted in support of the plan, with Democrats Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc voting against adopting the CIP.

East Hampton Airport manager Jim Brundige said the CIP is meant to highlight what projects are necessary at the airport. Quigley also noted that approving the CIP does not mean the board is approving any of the projects laid out in plan, or how has made a decision about how they will be funded. Rather she called the approval a “first step” in moving towards improvements at the airport first identified in the town’s airport master plan.

However, both Overby and Van Scoyoc expressed concerns about a footnote in the document that references Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding. The CIP, according to testimony given by town aviation consultant Dennis Yap at the November 21 public hearing on the plan, will be submitted to the FAA. Van Scoyoc said he was concerned submitting the plan to the FAA was the first step towards securing additional grants from that agency for airport projects.

“It’s not a necessary step for us to send it to the FAA unless we are pursuing funding from the FAA,” he said.

For several years now, a number of residents and members of the Quiet Skies Coalition have encouraged the town board not to accept FAA funding as they believe when grant assurances expire in December of 2014 the town has the ability to gain greater control of the airport, including the potential to impose curfews or restrict certain aircraft.

Sag Harbor to Join South Fork School Districts in Grant to Explore Shared Services, Consolidation

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


South Fork school districts are banding together for a second time in the hopes of earning a state grant to explore the possibility of school district consolidation and ways in which districts can work together to share services (and save some money).

After a consortium of East End schools failed to obtain a Local Government Efficiency Grant last fall, a number of districts — including Sag Harbor — are joining forces again to reapply for the same grant this year.

Last March, school districts and Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) applied for the grant, which could have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for a study on how they might consolidate or share services.

Despite strong support from New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele and New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, the districts learned in October that they had not been selected for the grant.

At Monday evening’s board of education meeting, it was announced that Sag Harbor School District was looking once again to partner with BOCES and other districts on the grant application.

“We would like to join with our neighbors and resubmit that application for funding for this grant,” said Dr. Carl Bonuso, the district’s interim superintendent. “We want to do research regarding how we could save money by working together with our neighboring districts.”

“We’re going to take some suggestions given us in terms of the last application and see if we can tweak it and be successful this year,” he added.

Board member Mary Anne Miller, who had been BOE president during the first application process, pointed out that the grant was not “specifically [for] consolidation. It’s just one of multiple options. That was actually not the focus of the grant; shared services was the primary focus.”

The board noted that the school district was not interested in forming one large school district on the South Fork.

As Theresa Samot, school board president, said in a separate interview, the board simply hoped to find ways of “saving taxpayers money,” and that merging schools was not on the table at this time.

According to Samot, Dr. Bonuso will be meeting with several other school district administrations for the first time later this week, after which time she and other members of the board would know more about the grant. She added that the board would update the community on the process at future board of education meetings.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the board of education gave an update on the Dignity for All Students Act, anti-bullying and discrimination legislation that went into effect in July 2012.

Called “the Dignity Act,” the law prohibits discrimination based on a wide variety of factors —including race, sexual orientation, sex, gender, weight, disability and religion — in schools or at school-sponsored events. For the first time, faculty and staff in New York schools are required to undergo training on how to deal with bullying and discrimination, and they must also report incidents in a timely manner.

Board members noted that the district planned to hold additional workshops on cyber-bullying and other related topics in the coming months.

Gary Kalish, assistant principal of Pierson High School, serves as Pierson Middle/High School’s coordinator for the Dignity Act. He said it was important to let students “know that all of these different kinds of harassment and discrimination is unacceptable.”

“And it’s my job to take care of it, not yours,” he added.

According to Matthew Malone, principal of Sag Harbor Elementary School, one of the important parts about the legislation was identifying the need for ongoing education about what bullying is.

The Internet, added board vice president Chris Tice, has changed the face of bullying. For example, she said, students will use social media websites or seemingly harmless cell phone applications like Instagram – a photo sharing service tied to Facebook – to bully or harass classmates.

Tice added that education about technology and bullying needs to take place for elementary school children.

“That wasn’t around two years ago. Instagram is another form of communication and kids are doing it in school in most grades,” she said.

Parents, said Tice, also need to be educated about the kinds of technology out there being harnessed as a tool for bullying.

“Their parents have a responsibility there, but I bet most parents don’t even understand Instagram,” she said. “I think the technology is really what’s ramped up a lot of the bullying, even at young ages, and I don’t think we’re doing as much as we could be in that area.”

Man Shot in Springs Thursday Night, Investigation Underway

Tags: , , , ,


Police

A man identified as Frederic Stephens Jr., 20, of East Hampton was allegedly shot in the arm last night at a residence in Springs, East Hampton Town Police report.  They say the identity of the shooter is unknown at this time.

The incident took place at 154 Springs Fireplace Road around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, although police say the specifics of what actually took place are being investigated.

Stephens reportedly suffered a single gunshot wound to his right arm and underwent surgery for the injury at Stony Brook University Hospital.  As of Friday afternoon, police say no further information is available on his condition at this time.

Police say suspects are currently being sought.  Anyone with information pertaining to the investigation is asked to call East Hampton Town Detectives at 537-6989.

Sag Joins East End Schools In Effort to Consolidate Resources

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


DSC00938

By Emily J. Weitz and Claire Walla

Imagine a community where various local school districts work together to offer all kids the best possible education, while keeping costs down and making administrations more efficient.

Sound like a pipe dream?

For six East End school districts, it might not be.

This year, the Sag Harbor Union Free School District will join East Hampton, Montauk, Southampton, Springs and Tuckahoe school districts — along with Eastern Suffolk BOCES — to apply for a grant from the state, which would help these districts explore the idea of consolidation. The school districts would potentially be able to cut costs by combining a variety of services, from superintendents and extra-curricular activities, to course offerings for students .

Michael Hartner, Superintendent of the Springs Union Free School District, will act as the lead applicant for all seven districts.

After discussing the idea at a school board meeting February 29, Sag Harbor School Board members voted this week in favor of a resolution to officially join the grant program, called the Local Government Efficiency Grant. The cost for each participating district is $2,777, and the state would kick-in an additional $175,000 for the regional study. The money would go toward hiring a consultant who would analyze ways the regional school systems could potentially combine services.

According to Sag Harbor School District Superintendent Dr. John Gratto, the Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, Shelter Island and Wainscott school districts have opted not to join in on the grant program.

“It’s about thinking beyond the boundaries that we all work under,” said Sag Harbor School Board President Mary Anne Miller at February’s meeting. The “[The consultant] would be looking at various types of reorganization for the school districts, with the focus being to improve educational opportunities and reduce costs for the public.”

Miller added that the fee associated with participating in the grant program would be paid for with money left over in this year’s budget.

“We didn’t spend as much [money] on fuel oil this winter,” she said. “So there’s money in the undesignated fund balance to allot to this.”

The study itself is expected to take place over the course of nine 10 months, during which time the consultant would take a look at school programs as well as administrative functions.

“We’re all struggling to be all things to all students singly and separately, which creates a lot of challenges,” Miller continued, adding that some possible considerations might include centralizing the schools’ business departments.

“Maybe one office would take care of the payroll for all [seven] school districts,” she speculated. She also said foreign language offerings, which vary so much from school to school, could potentially be shared.

“In Sag Harbor, we only offer Spanish and French. East Hampton also has Latin and Chinese. How could we partner together to provide these opportunities for all students?”

Another topic brought up during February’s discussion was class size.

“Montauk has smaller numbers in [its] elementary school,” says Miller. “Maybe there could be some partnering that wasn’t just based on geographical lines. Choices are good. We shouldn’t always try to be so single and separate from one another.”

Miller acknowledged the importance of a hometown school and the sensitive nature of discussing any kind of consolidating or regionalizing schools. But, in the end, she added, “districts can blend a little more, and geographical lines don’t have to be so rigid. Everybody wants to keep the identity of their local hometown school, but there may be opportunities for something better.”

Residents Call for More Project MOST Funding in East Hampton

Tags: , , , ,


As a child growing up in East Hampton, when she wasn’t playing after-school sports Christine Eberhart would go home after the school bell rang and wait a couple of hours for her parents to get home from work. That was 20 years ago, and the mother of two young children recognizes that in this day and age allowing her son and daughter to do the same thing is not a viable option.

Eberhart was one of several parents, teachers and community members who implored the East Hampton Town Board to increase funding for Project MOST during a public hearing on the town’s proposed 2012 budget.

The proposed $65.6 million budget shows a 0.2-percent tax cut for residents of the town who live outside the villages of East Hampton and Sag Harbor and a 9.4-percent reduction in taxes for town residents who reside within those villages.

While Supervisor Bill Wilkinson was able to reduce taxes, for the second year in a row, the town has seen a spending increase as the cost of employee benefits and paying off a $27.3 million deficit the town has incurred has added to the town’s non-discretionary spending needs.

Project MOST is a not-for-profit organization that provides after-school care and education to close to 300 students at The Springs School and in the East Hampton School District. While the town board has not cut Project MOST’s funding from last year — the organization is slated to receive $10,000 in the 2012-spending plan — the growth of the program and the fact that grant opportunities are contingent on town and school district support has meant the organization needs more funding if it is to survive.

The organization has asked the town board to increase its funding to $60,000 so it can continue to provide the service to the 275 students in East Hampton and Springs whose parents depend on the program, unable to get home from work until after 5 p.m.

As both a teacher and parent, on Thursday night Eberhart said she has seen the positive effects of Project MOST first hand.

“Children require a safe and productive environment to do their homework in, where they receive support, socialize and have the opportunity to experience new activities like yoga,” said Eberhart.

Springs resident and parent David Lys agreed and said his oldest daughter, a kindergartner at The Springs School, has thrived in the program.

“Project MOST allows me extra time to make that extra dollar to stay out here, and that is the goal — to stay here my whole life,” said Lys, who grew up in East Hampton.

Sag Harbor attorney Stephen Grossman, an East Hampton Town resident, echoed support for Project MOST and for the town funding social programs in general. Through a statement read by Averill Gues, Grossman was critical of the town board, which he said has budgeted $80,000 for security at the town’s justice court, but cannot find funding for children’s programming.

Grossman, who ran for town justice earlier this month, but was not elected, was also critical of the town justice’s salaries and called on an audit to show how much actual time each justice spends on the bench each month. The two town justices each receive a $70,346.46 salary.

Springs School Superintendent Michael Hartner added that Project MOST is not just an after-school homework club, but a program that provides enrichment.

He added that Project MOST can only receive grants equal to the financial support given to the organization by the town and school districts.

Teacher Dan Hartnett, a former Sag Harbor School Board member, said imagining John M. Marshall Elementary School without Project MOST is difficult at best.

“Project MOST is more than just babysitting,” said Hartnett. “It provides academic enrichment and support, as well as recreation for children who in the age of testing have had a long, stressful day.”

“For me, the question is where are the priorities of the town,” he said. “What better program could you fund as affordably?”

Sylvia Overby, who was elected to the town board last week alongside her Democratic Party running mate Peter Van Scoyoc, said she would like to see funding increased for the program as well.

“This is the time to grab them and this is the time to make sure they become the good citizens we need in East Hampton and have in East Hampton,” she said.

Overby said she was concerned that the town has not budgeted any monies to run the Scavenger Waste Facility in Springs — a $1.2 million department, Overby said was essentially deleted from the budget.

Since last Spring, the town board has been talking about leasing the facility to a private operator to run, rather than having the plant run by the town.

“We actually don’t know what we are doing yet,” said Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley.

“Why would we delete it from the budget if we don’t know what we are doing yet,” asked a puzzled Overby, who said she was concerned without any monies outside of $57,000 that budget officer Len Bernard said was budgeted to transition the facility into private operation.

On Tuesday, during the town board work session, the board passed a resolution allowing the town to request proposals for private companies looking to operate the facility.

Last Thursday, Overby also asked the board to consider hiring part time employees for the town’s planning department, noting it would give the town expert opinions without the cost of health insurance.

Supervisor Wilkinson noted that the reason positions have not been re-hired within the town once people resigned was an effort to reduce the size of town government without having to resort to layoffs in the future.

The town board is expected to consider adopting the proposed 2012 budget at tonight’s town board meeting at 7 p.m. in town hall.

Artists’ View Preserved for Painters, Kayackers or Those Who Just Want to Reflect

Tags: , , , ,


web_Pollack-Krasner Land Acquisition_6225

By Emily J Weitz

When you walk through the austere halls of the Museum of Modern Art and come upon a massive Pollock, it stops you dead in your tracks. But when you step out into Pollock’s back yard and soak in the striking blue of the water on a clear day, bright green stalks of grass shooting towards the sky, that’s when you really get it. The Pollock-Krasner House isn’t devoted directly to the paintings that its legendary inhabitants created. It is instead devoted to the people, and to the world that inspired them. And this month, this natural world celebrates a major victory. The final parcel of land within the viewing corridor of the Pollock-Krasner House has, after a two year struggle, been successfully preserved. What this means is that there is no risk that one day the view from Pollock’s writing shed — where egrets once nested — will offer  McMansions and their obligatory yachts. What this means is that when an aspiring artist makes his long way to the house of his hero, he will see what his hero saw. The same blue of the water, the same stillness on a gray day.

And make no mistake: Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner were deeply inspired by the pristine environment that surrounded their Springs home. Helen Harrison, Director of the Pollock-Krasner House, called their move to the East End “decisive… Moving here was their breakthrough.” Before they moved to the area, they were living on East 8th Street in Manhattan. “They were both being influenced by many ideas that were whirling around New York,” says Harrison. Pollock’s work was “dark and congested.” And Lee Krasner said of her own work at the time that she felt like she was painting the same thing again and again, and it always ended up looking “like mud”. Harrison says authoritatively that within six months of moving out here, “Krasner was doing beautiful, bright, colorful work inspired by the night sky and by what she was experiencing.” Pollock’s work opened up as well. The first series he painted in the house was called “The Accabonac Creek Series”, and although you won’t find the creek or the landscape in his abstract work, you will see “brighter colors, open composition, and an upbeat mood,” says Harrison. “Almost the day they moved here, his work changed.”

Last Sunday supporters of the Pollock-Krasner House gathered together to celebrate this happy occasion. The donors, whose combined efforts made the purchase possible, included the Cape Branch Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, the Helen and Claus Hoie Charitable Foundation, the Stony Brook Foundation, the Accabonac Protection Committee, the Town of East Hampton, and a number of generous individuals. On a perfect autumn day, they stood in Jackson and Lee’s back yard, drinking in the delicious environment: the trees, the water, the great blue herons. A deer bounded away from the crowd with so much space to run that she just got smaller and smaller as she made her way towards the sparkling blue water. Looking across the rolling yard towards the barn where Pollock created almost all of his masterpieces, one could really identify with the desire to take the overwhelming sensory experience of nature and translate it into something tangible. Both Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner were gifted at doing so.

Marcia Gay Harden, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Lee Krasner in the 2000 film “Pollock”, was the guest of honor on Sunday. She took the podium and looked out at the small, attentive crowd, and the backdrop of Accabonac Harbor behind them. “It’s wonderful to be back here,” she said. “When Ed [Harris] and I first came here, it was a magical time. We were able to see what Jackson and Lee saw. We were here, in their home, with the same trees that they were with… I laid in Lee’s bed and fingered the artifacts, and from that experience came a truth, a veracity [in the portrayal of Lee].”

And this deep understanding that Marcia Gay Harden got from lying in Lee’s bed is the same feeling visitors can get by looking through their record collection, noting the books on the shelves, the splattered paint on the floor of Jackson’s studio. And now, and always, it’s the kind of feeling visitors get by standing in their back yard in the waning light of day, in the shadow of the trees that shaded them, looking out at beautiful, timeless Accabonac Harbor.

web acc harbor

A View From the Water

The two-and-a-half acres of woods, meadows, and wetlands that have been protected through this acquisition hug the shoreline of Accabonac Harbor. Before coming to the celebratory party, Nancy Nagel Kelly, Director of the Nature Conservancy on Long Island, spent her afternoon kayaking these waters, as she’s done many times before.

“The most striking thing you experience when you head out on a kayak on Accabonac Harbor is how much natural, undisturbed shoreline there is. You’re in an intimate setting with nature. All you see is blue and green.”

At this time of year you’ll notice Great Blue Herons and Great and Snowy Egrets perched in the tall green grasses while terns dart across sandy beaches and cormorants dry their feathers in the breeze. Mike Bottini, East End naturalist and writer, adds that, as we move further into autumn, the palette of the setting will deepen to include the marsh’s warm fall colors, like the crimson red of Salicornia, the purple flowers of sea lavender and salt marsh asters, and the golden browns of the Spartina grasses. Through these grasses you might find a lone clammer wading, spotted turtles swimming, or a young family catching minnows in a small net.

“Accabonac Harbor is one of my favorite places to paddle,” says Bottini, “with lots of small embayments, peninsulas, and an island to explore.” He points out that the town has done a great job over the past 25 to 30 years buying up vacant lots and protecting them, allowing the ecosystem to remain intact. “Those efforts have also been a key factor in making Accabonac a beautiful place to paddle, and an inspiring place for artists to paint and photograph. In fact, just yesterday I saw a local artist painting the autumn scene in East Harbor, a narrow embayment of Accabonac that runs along Louse Point Road.”

Whether you’re in a kayak, at an easel, or on foot, exploring this area will drop you right into the heart of nature. To be in East Hampton’s most densely populated hamlet and still feel like the only person on Earth is a testament to the tireless work of decades of people who have devoted themselves to preservation.



Bridgehampton & Sag Harbor Look Forward to Students from Springs

Tags: , , , , ,


A handful of students from the Springs School District are poised to attend high school at Pierson Middle-High School and the Bridgehampton School this fall following a successful referendum in Springs this May that allows parents to send their high school aged children to schools other than the East Hampton High School.

High school students from Amagansett, Montauk, Sagaponack, Springs and Wainscott school districts have traditionally all attended East Hampton High School, but this year, in the face of mounting tuition costs, the districts have begun discussions about consolidation and choice. Tuition to send students to East Hampton High School is nearing $30,000 per student, per year, whereas the cost to send students to Pierson and Bridgehampton is far less.

At a Bridgehampton Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, July 28 that board signed a tuition contract for Springs School students after Bridgehampton Principal Jack Pryor announced three students from that district will definitely attend Bridgehampton this fall.

According to school board president Nicki Hemby, the tuition agreement will allow Springs high school students to attend Bridgehampton for $15,000 in the 2010-2011 school year, $17,500 for the 2011-2012 school year, $20,000 in the 2012-2013 school year and $22,500 in the 2013-2014 school year.

The Springs School District will have to use the New York State Education Department’s Seneca Galls formula to calculate tuition for any Springs student with special education needs that would like to attend high school at Bridgehampton.

According to Hemby, Bridgehampton has agreed to accept a maximum of six students per grade level from Springs, and enrollment remains open.

On Tuesday, Sag Harbor School District Dr. John Gratto and Pierson Middle-High School Principal Jeff Nichols confirmed they also have three or four students from Springs interested in attending high school in Sag Harbor.

According to nonresident tuition rates established by that school district’s board of education, the tuition rate for Springs high school students to attend Pierson is $21,080. While there is no expiration on that tuition rate, Dr. Gratto said on Tuesday the board of education has reserved the right to raise that rate by up to 2.5 percent.

He added this year, all incoming students from Springs will be freshmen, and therefore will not affect class size. Gratto said per grade, without affecting services or requiring more teachers, Pierson can absorb roughly 10 Springs students per high school grade.

Nichols said he and Gratto made two presentations to board members and parents from Springs School in an effort to attract students to Sag Harbor.

“We had probably about six to 10 different families visit and tour the school,” said Nichols, who added convincing parents to take such a big leap, moving their children into a new school district, and largely away from the peer group they have attended elementary and middle school with could be a tough sell; but as students attending Pierson return to Springs with positive experiences, it will become an easier task.

Bridgehampton is seeing a diverse group of Springs residents coming into their high school this fall, according to Pryor. One is a freshman, another is a student who has already attended East Hampton High School and the last is a Springs resident who has been a student at the Hayground School and will not complete high school at Bridgehampton.

Pryor gave credit to Springs School Superintendent Mike Hartner for opening up the dialogue about choice in the regional education system.

“Congratulations to him for understanding that choice is something we have to look at,” said Pryor.

Like Nichols, Pryor said he expects interest in Bridgehampton from Springs students will increase as time goes on, and he expects a second round of tours and visits from interested parents as the school year approaches.

“Historically, there is a lot of movement after August 15 as far as people wanting to register for school in the fall,” he said.

“This is a very positive opportunity for all districts,” agreed Hemby. “Children learn differently in different settings. It is a refreshing option for parents on all fronts.”

Hemby added she believes Bridgehampton School is a “diamond in the rough,” offering individually focused education opportunities, which may be attractive for parents looking for a more intimate education for their children. “It is an excellent learning facility with hands-on teaching,” said Hemby. “We do not see our children as a “student body” but rather as individuals — individuals with strengths and weaknesses that are both acknowledged and strengthened.