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Sep 28, 2010 6:50 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

East Hampton Town Board members denounce interference from advisory committee

Sep 28, 2010 6:50 PM

East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson denounced the actions of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Commitee last week for interjecting itself into a closed meeting to discuss the Amagansett Lifesaving Station and causing what Councilwoman Theresa Quigley called “complete chaos.”

The issue was broached by Elaine Jones, the chairwoman of the town’s Independence Party, at the Town Board work session on Saturday.

Ms. Jones said there was a “whisper campaign” going around Amagansett that Councilwoman Theresa 
Quigley was holding “secret meetings” to discuss the future of the lifesaving station on Atlantic Avenue. How the building will be used has been discussed at board meetings and in small meetings organized by Ms. 
Quigley in recent months after the East Hampton Historical Society walked away from its 10-year lease to open the station’s use up to more elaborate possibilities presented by other parties.

Ms. Quigley has held three meetings to discuss the future use of the station, which the town owns, that have included members of the historical society, the Artists and Writers of East Hampton, and Lyle Greenfield, a member of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee and the Concerned Citizens of Amagansett, who was one of the first to suggest an alternate use—specifically, a cafe—for the station.

Town Attorney John Jilnicki said on Saturday that board members are permitted to meet with selected groups of constituents privately as long as there is not a majority of Town Board members present.

At the first meeting called by Ms. Quigley on August 20, ACAC Chairwoman Rona Klopman said she attempted to attend but was told she couldn’t. By the time the next meeting rolled around, on September 9, Ms. Klopman said Ms. Quigley had agreed to expand the number of people she invited and Ms. Klopman was permitted to attend.

“It’s because I was, quite frankly, irate that as the chair of 
ACAC I was not invited,” she said.

Ms. Klopman said that meeting included herself, Mr. Wilkinson and Town Attorney Carl Irace, Ralph Carpentier and Elena Prohaska Gil, of the Artists and Writers group; John Ryan Sr. and John Ryan Jr., representing town lifeguards; Mr. Greenfield; Isabel Carmichael, whose family owned the station before the town; and Richard Barons, the executive director of the historical society.

On Thursday, Ms. Quigley attempted to hold another meeting of the same group, but was surprised to see other members of the Amagansett community at the meeting, some from ACAC and others, including Ms. Jones, were not, Ms. Klopman said. Ms. Klopman said Ms. Quigley refused to include the attendees who had not been invited by her to the previous meeting and eventually left the room, calling the meeting “chaotic.”

While she was gone, Ms. Klopman said, those present continued to discuss the station, and eventually decided they wanted to form a formal committee to advise the town on the use of the station.

At Saturday’s Town Board work session, Mr. Wilkinson said he would not form a committee for the station, and he supported Ms. Quigley’s efforts thus far.

“I brought together a group of 10 divergent people with completely different ideas and we all managed to come together,” Ms. Quigley said. “At the second meeting, it was complete chaos.”

Mr. Wilkinson said he was disappointed that the issue of the lifesaving station had become “a political football.”

“I’m really disgusted,” he said. “A small group of people is ruining it for the town.”

Although Ms. Klopman was invited to the meeting and she said not all of those who showed up uninvited were members of ACAC, Mr. Wilkinson pointed his fingers at the advisory committee.

“ACAC nor any other advisory committee are surrogates of this board,” he said. “Their members are appointed by this Town Board, and they are nothing more than conduits of information.”

Ms. Klopman said she thought the last meeting Ms. Quigley held was actually more productive than the one before it, in which she said Ms. Quigley kept to her agenda and attendees were allowed to speak only when addressed.

“After Theresa left the meeting at least we all spoke freely,” she said.

Of Mr. Wilkinson’s comments, Ms. Klopman said ACAC “knows its place.”

“We know our position because of this Town Board,” she said. “They’ve told us, you have no power, you can’t address anybody.”

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By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Sep 29, 10 6:54 PM
The people invited to the meetings represented like seven different groups in town. That is pretty open and inclusive. These ACAC people believe they need five or six of their members at every meeting where Amagansett may be mentioned. Also, can't a Town Board member have a meeting with someone in his or her office without another 15 people invited? You think Prince and Hammerle don't have meetings with one or two people at a time in their offices? Ask them, I'm sure they will admit they have ...more
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Sep 29, 10 7:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
I like the idea of an ice cream parlor or a cafe in there or some sort of concession stand that will make some money for the town. A family place to bring the kids.

I'm sure Ms. Quigley will get the job done. The NIMBY neighbors always get in the way.

By Bilge Water (131), East Hampton on Sep 30, 10 10:26 AM
If that is a true quote from Wilkinson..."knows its place"...God help the people of East Hampton! Wilkinson -attitude accounts alot about someones character.
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Oct 4, 10 2:54 PM
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