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Apr 8, 2014 12:34 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Save East Hampton Hosts Rally At Hook Mill

Apr 8, 2014 3:05 PM

More than 200 people gathered at the Hook Mill in East Hampton Village on Saturday afternoon for Save East Hampton’s “informational festival” and fundraiser, rallying in opposition to PSEG Long Island’s high-voltage overhead power line slated to run from the village to Amagansett.

Save East Hampton is a group of citizen activists demanding that the utility company bury the 23/33-kV line and remove the 260-plus utility poles that stand more than 55 feet above the ground. The group claims both the lines and the poles are a threat to public safety and public health, as well as detrimental to property values.

The money raised from the raffle and food sale will be used to help East Hampton Town pay the estimated $30 million to bury the line, since PSEG said it will not absorb any of the cost to put it underground.

A total of 14 local businesses donated prizes, said Save East Hampton spokesperson Rebecca Singer in a phone interview on Monday. “People were extremely generous,” she said, adding she was not sure what the total dollar count was yet, but she and the group were very pleased with the turnout.

Local and state officials spoke at the rally, criticizing the utility company’s unwillingness to listen to East Hampton’s concerns regarding the project. Among them was East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, who announced the town had issued a stop-work order against PSEG for failure to obtain a building permit or a site plan for work on the Amagansett substation.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele also spoke out against the project, saying that there is no reason East Hampton or Port Washington—which is currently involved in a similar situation with PSEG—should be treated any different from Southampton Town.

In 2008, Long Island Power Authority agreed to bury 7.5 miles of a transmission line between Southampton and Sag Harbor after residents voiced concerns about property values and scenic views. The town levied a special property tax assessment to cover the $11.1 million additional cost, which is covered by those living east of the canal.

“They were able to come up with a formula where people saw a $3 or $4 difference in their monthly bills,” said Mr. Thiele.

The assemblyman also stressed that what makes communities on the East End special, East Hampton in particular, is the amount of money that’s been invested in preserving the town. “Under the Community Preservation Fund, since 1998, the town spent $250 million alone to protect rural character,” he said, stating that the poles and the transmission lines are unfair to taxpayers and the town, which has put so much money and effort into keeping the community beautiful.

Save East Hampton set up an information booth during the rally, offering its concerns and stances on the issue.

“People were very supportive, but they didn’t have the history,” said Ms. Singer, who worked the table during the rally. “People were asking us why didn’t we stop it beforehand. They didn’t realize that we didn’t know about it until the poles were physically in front of our houses. That was really intentionally hidden.” She said she believes PSEG did not start work until the State Environmental Quality Review appeal date had passed, not allowing residents to voice their concerns before it was too late.

PSEG hosted a public hearing on September 12 regarding the project, according to PSEG’s director of communications, Jeff Weir, where residents were invited to express their concerns, although some residents previously claimed they never received notice.

“We’re not just fighting for us, we’re fighting for all of Long Island,” said Ms. Singer. “That’s our biggest challenge, to educate people. It’s very hard to educate people who don’t want to be educated.”

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