Tag Archive | "Springs"

Bridgehampton School Ranks in Top 15 Obese Schools on Long Island

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Bridgehampton School personnel work in the district's new community garden last April, 2013. (Photography by Michael Heller).

Bridgehampton School personnel work in the district’s new community garden last April. (Michael Heller photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

Although rates of childhood obesity in New York are showing signs of dropping, schools across the state are still reporting alarming rates of overweight students.

According to New York State Department of Health (DOH) data, Greenport is the most obese school district on Long Island, with Bridgehampton, Riverhead and Springs not far behind.

Between 2010 and 2012, 17.6 percent of New York public school students (excluding New York City) were considered obese, according to the DOH.

The Student Weight Status Category Reporting System, through which the data was compiled, was established in 2007 to support state and local efforts to understand and confront the problem of childhood obesity.

It requires students in kindergarten and grades 2, 4, 7 and 10 to have a student health certificate completed based on a physical examination, thus the data used in the DOH report only reflects students in those grades. Schools collect the health certificate information and the district then reports a summary to the DOH. The DOH does not receive data on individual children, only summaries of the district total and of students categorized by gender and grade groups, i.e. elementary versus secondary.

Although the appraisals used to collect the student obesity data are mandatory, parents can opt out of having their child’s data included in the school summary report sent to DOH. Approximately two percent of all parents opt out, according to DOH spokesman Dr. Jeffrey Hammond.

The percentages are therefore not definitive comparisons of districts’ obesity rates, noted Bridgehampton School superintendent Dr. Lois Favre.

Bridgehampton School, for example, is reported to have 15 obese children and a rate of 27.3 percent obesity. Both numbers are based on the 56 students in the grades for which data was submitted, not the entire district population.

Although the data is not all encompassing, it is nonetheless alarming.

According to the DOH, obesity is more prevalent among children raised in low-income households. Rates of obesity in New York are significantly higher in school districts in which a higher proportion of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

In Bridgehampton, 57 percent of students are on free or reduced price lunch, according to Dr. Favre.

“We work hard at Bridgehampton,” said Dr. Favre, “to assure that all students receive the state mandated amount of time for physical education [and] have daily recess that encourages movement.”

“We were one of the first schools on the South Fork to begin a school garden,” she added, “and pride ourselves on getting healthy foods to our students.”

In Riverhead, 315 students, or 24.7 percent of the sample population, were reported to be obese.

According to Superintendent Nancy Carney, 48 percent of Riverhead students are on free or reduced price lunch.

“With a poverty level of this rate,” said Carney, “families tend to rely on foods that are high in calories and low in cost to satisfy their nutritional needs.”

Riverhead schools offer low calorie meals of high nutritional value and encourage students to participate in the breakfast program, to save parents money and hopefully afford children the opportunity to make healthier food choices.

With 64 obese children in the sample data, Springs has an obesity rate of 22.9 percent.

Principal Eric Casale said although the school does not have its own cafeteria, the district works with parents to monitor students’ nutritional habits and a lunch cart filled with healthy foods is available. Its Springs Seedlings school garden has also been a success.

“Our mission as a district,” Casale said, “is to enrich the intellectual, emotional, social and physical wellbeing of our student body.”

Greenport School District had a reported childhood obesity rate of 33.4 percent.

The DOH rate of childhood obesity is 16.8 percent in East Hampton, 14.7 percent in Southampton and 9.9 percent in Sag Harbor, the lowest district on the East End

Sag Harbor Village Board: Ambulance Corps Looks Towards Paid Help

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By Kathryn G. Menu

For Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps President Ed Downes each passing year is a record breaker, as emergency service calls increase and volunteers scramble to ensure the community has an ambulance corps it not only can count on, but one it can be proud of.

And they are certainly not alone.

Since last spring, the East End Ambulance Coalition — a group of representatives from volunteer ambulance companies from Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Amagansett, East Hampton, Springs and Montauk — have been working together towards a paid first responder program, which they hope will launch in the summer of 2014.

Starting this past June, the Montauk Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners approved a pilot program for this past summer, providing for one paid EMT 24 hours a day, seven days a week through mid-September.

Many departments on Long Island, including Southampton, have moved towards having at least partially paid paramedics and first responders who work with local volunteers, improving response times as a result.

During a Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting last Wednesday, trustee Ed Deyermond noted with the increase in call volumes, considering a paid emergency medical technician (EMT) is something that should be considered within Sag Harbor’s fire district.

According to Downes, the company will likely seek to work cooperatively with the East End Ambulance Coalition, which was set to meet again Friday, towards a regional paid first responder program before seeking to fund a program for Sag Harbor alone.

Downes said if implemented, the coalition would have a team of three to as many as five paid responders on duty, available to respond along with one of the coalition companies to any emergency service situation from Bridgehampton to Montauk.

“The biggest problem is funding,” said Downes of the coalition’s efforts. Working with both East Hampton and Southampton towns for funding is being considered, he added, with the coalition waiting for newly elected town boards to take office before making any formal proposals.

No matter what program is implemented, Downes said all the fire districts will still rely heavily on volunteers. Working together, for example through the implementation of a daytime duty crew — a program established by coalition companies this July — is critical, he added. Downes said he expects the daytime duty crew is something the coalition will continue next summer.

A duty crew made up a volunteers from one of the coalition companies was on call Monday through Saturday to respond to any ambulance call, along with the home company the call originated from. The program gave the all-volunteer ambulance companies a back-up team to rely on.

For Downes, and the 29 members of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps, while having paid first responders on-call in a regional capacity would be a welcome help as calls continue to increase, the volunteer force will always be essential.

“Everyone gives what they can and all that they can,” he said.

In other emergency service news, last Wednesday Deyermond once again brought up the need for a helipad for medevac purposes in Sag Harbor. Last month, Deyermond suggested it could be something constructed near Havens Beach. Last Wednesday, he noted it would have to support a 24 ton military helicopter.

“Maybe we can get a ballpark figure and see if this is going to fly,” said Deyermond.

The village board also passed a resolution made by Deyermond to purchase 16 new air packs for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department at a cost not to exceed more than $70,000 out of the excess budget available through the fire department, and the remainder to be funded through the village’s contingency fund.

Deyermond said the village was also looking at the cost of purchasing two new dry suits for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team.

Last month, the fire department reported that 17 of its 60 air packs had to be replaced with newer models as they were now rated as “substandard.” Two of the dive team’s three dry suits, critical for water rescues, have been in and out of repairs.

In other village news, the board introduced two new local laws last Wednesday that will be up for public hearing at its January 14 meeting.

First is a local law amending the zoning code to require a certificate of appropriateness from the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation & Architectural Review Board (ARB) for any exterior “alteration, restoration, construction, reconstruction, demolition or material change in the appearance of such a property that is visible from an adjacent street or adjacent property.” A certificate of appropriateness would not be required for interior renovations alone.

The board will also hold a public hearing for a change to the building code, requiring sediment control during the course of a building project to protect natural vegetation and topography by requiring a project-limiting fence, mesh, straw bales, or similar devices during construction and any clearing or grading of land.

“First of all, this is usually done as a matter of course in most projects anyway but this will give the building inspector the right to enforce it,” said village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr.

The board was also unanimous in renewing its agreement with the Sag Harbor Community Rowing Club, which will be able to continue its program at Cove Park, a small public park near Redwood Causeway.

The not-for-profit Sag Harbor Community Rowing Club has been rowing off Cove Park since its founding in 2008. In addition to competitive rowing for middle and high school students, the organization also has adult programming and camp offerings in the summer. For more information, visit rowsagharbor.org.

The board did table a request by Martin Monteith to run a sailboat charter from outside the breakwater for the 2014 summer season. Monteith was asking the board for permission to load and unload passengers from the village docks.

Thiele cautioned the board that if it was going to allow the use of its dock space it would have to charge a fee.

The board asked Harbor Master Bob Bori to weigh in on the matter before making a decision.

The board also denied a request by Susan Mead of the not for profit Serve Sag Harbor to host a fundraising event on Long Wharf June 28 and June 29.

“I am happy to entertain it at a different venue or on a different day, but it’s just that this is Long Wharf we are talking about,” said board member Robby Stein.

Town Board: Temporary Restraining Order May Prevented Tragedy in Shinnecock Hills

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A single-family residence at 18 Greenfield Road in Shinnecock Hills, which was subject to a temporary restraining order restricting the occupancy of the premises, was the site of a massive fire and explosion on Wednesday, December 4.

“The efforts of the town’s code enforcement division to shut down this house and return it to its legal one family use prevented a massive tragedy” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst. “If people had been still occupying the basement at the time of the fire, there is no doubt we would be talking about mass casualties.”

Councilperson Chris Nuzzi, co-chair of the Town’s Quality of Life Task Force added, “When code enforcement executed a search warrant at the location in August, there were approximately 20 people living in the single family house. At least seven of the inhabitants were living in an illegally converted basement. Due to code enforcements investigative efforts, the town was able to go to Supreme Court and win an injunction and temporary restraining order returning the premises to its legal and permitted use as a single family residence and prohibiting all but one family, living on the second floor from staying at the premises.”

There are strict building requirements for having living space in basements,” said Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera. “In the event of an emergency like this type of fire, the proper structural configuration of stairs, windows and walls is vital to providing occupants with multiple means of egress to prevent being trapped by smoke and fire. The basement of this house was illegally converted and failed to provide any alternative means of egress for any occupant. Without last summer’s efforts of the town code enforcement division, town police and the town attorney’s office to build and win the case for the temporary restraining order, anyone down there would have been trapped and faced imminent harm.”

“In obtaining the injunction and temporary restraining order, the town exercised great care in coordinating with the Suffolk County Department of Social Services to make certain that a case worker was dispatched to the site to offer emergency housing services to anyone who was displaced as a result of the order and qualified for services and that transportation was available to get them there,” concluded Councilwoman Bridget Fleming.

Southampton School District Earns Safe Routes to School Funding

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.