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Sep 19, 2011 6:19 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Environmentalists Want East Hampton Candidates To Take A Stand

Sep 20, 2011 6:25 PM

A coalition of 11 environmental groups announced on Monday that it would distribute a questionnaire to all East Hampton Town Board candidates, asking them to state their positions on topics such as water quality, land preservation, light pollution and aircraft noise, in an attempt to push the issues into the political foreground this election season.

The 12-question survey, which representatives of the coalition said would be given to the two supervisor candidates and six Town Board candidates, asks hopefuls to respond to broad philosophical questions such as “What do you believe is the role of town government regulation and enforcement in maintaining a clean, sustainable environment?” as well as more targeted questions like “What is your vision for the future of the Planning Department in East Hampton Town?”

Representatives of the environmental groups, who gathered on the lawn outside Town Hall on Monday morning to unveil the questionnaire, said they would press all candidates to respond by October 14, then post their answers online for public consumption.

The environmentalists said they wanted to see conservation take its traditional place at center stage in East Hampton Town politics, after it was overshadowed by the town’s fiscal crisis during the last election, in 2009.

“Environmental issues 
had always been taken very seriously by candidates,” said James Matthews, chairman of the Northwest Alliance, an environmental advocacy group in Northwest Woods. “And we wanted to ensure these issues resurfaced this time around.”

The other members of the coalition are the Accabonac Protection Committee, Amagansett Springs Aquifer Protection, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, the Dark Sky Society, the Garden Club of East Hampton, the Group for the East End, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the Quiet Skies Coalition, the Surfrider Foundation and the Third House Nature Center. They claim to represent a combined 5,000 people, and have united under the banner of the East Hampton Environmental Coalition.

The questionnaire can be downloaded from the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund’s website at www.nylcvef.org/easthampton. Answers will be posted exactly as submitted at the same website, members of the organization said.

The coalition will limit itself to educating voters, and will not endorse candidates or parties, said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. However, groups that are part of the coalition may endorse candidates or express views on the issues, she said.

The questions in the survey cover topics that have traditionally been part of the political discourse in East Hampton Town, including the preservation of the rural landscape, the effects of water quality on shellfishing, the threat of erosion due to storms, the “dark skies” law, the Community Preservation Fund, pollution caused by septic 
systems and noise from passing aircraft.

Environmentalists involved in the effort said they wanted to see those issues play a larger role in the discussion this year than they did in the last election, which they said they viewed as a deviation from the norm.

“For the past 30 years, East Hampton has defined itself by having a strong commitment to the environment and sustainability,” said Robert DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End.

Mr. Matthews, a former professor of psychology and neuroscience at New York University, said he and his fellow Northwest Alliance members came up with the idea for the coalition during a meeting in his living room this summer. “We environmental groups don’t spend a lot of time with each other” because of different areas of interest, he said.

Speakers at the press conference struck a familiar theme among East End conservationists: the close relationship between the health of the environment and the region’s economy.

“People don’t travel round trip 250 miles from New York to see the same stuff they can see on Coney Island,” said Robert Stern, president of Concerned Citizens of Montauk.

Four Democratic candidates, including supervisor candidate Zachary Cohen, council candidates Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc and Highway Superintendent Scott King attended the press conference on Monday. Neither Republican nor Independence Party candidates attended.

Mr. Cohen said he and his running mates were not invited at the exclusion of other candidates, but happened to hear about the event during an Accabonac Protection Committee meeting they attended the day before.

Republican Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson is running for reelection with Town Board candidates Steven Gaines and Richard Haeg. The Independence Party has fielded board candidates Marilyn Behan and Bill Mott and has endorsed Mr. Wilkinson.

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Isn't CCOM causing us to spend money on yet ANOTHER lawsuit these folks keep bringing when they don't like something. . . and their attorneys are FREE! Politics at its worst, Bub. Next we'll be hearin' from those lying Conservators Alec Baldwin and Sylvia Overby - and that light woman who was selling the patant to make you put over your front porch light that's been perfectly fine for the last 50 years!! If it walks like a duck in this Town . . . it must be a true Democrat! Pshaw.
By BonacP (22), East Hampton on Sep 20, 11 4:31 PM
careful now, Bub, you might not need your front porch light( which I do like myself!) when the Town Board and sell-out Planning Boards let every Tom, Dick, and Harry build to their hearts content. Consider a town you no longer recognize. That is scary. Just saying.
By honor trees (14), east Hampton on Sep 20, 11 5:18 PM
I've been here for a LOOOONG time - what is scary is to me is that Deb Foster, Bill McGintee, Pete Hammerle and Brad Loewen let the South of the Highways get tax refunds for a new town hall while I paid for that useless building through the nose, that Keys Island cost me and the rest of us 3 million dollars, that after I paid the CPF tax to live here when I bought a house - I now have to PAY AGAIN to "restore" the money that was missappropriated by those miscreants, and now Zach Cohen, Sylvia Overby ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Sep 22, 11 12:36 AM
"Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caugt 'em.
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes,
And, Jesus, people bought 'em."

~ The Last Resort, The Eagles (1976)
By Mr. Z (11647), North Sea on Sep 20, 11 9:48 PM
I wish the Coalition could do this is for all the east end towns!!
By Woohampton (35), Westhampton Beach on Sep 21, 11 10:37 AM
Why aren't they doing this in Southampton? Maybe because there is no Republican candidate for Town Supervisor? And the Democrat incumbent is favored to win her seat back, so why rock the boat? This thing in East Hampton, where the Republicans are kicking butt, is so disgustingly political that I can't believe anyone is even paying attention to it. This is a lifeline to drowning Democrat candidates. The Democrat polling must be pretty bad that they have stooped to this level to try and steal ...more
By mrmako61 (148), southampton on Sep 21, 11 9:05 PM
You would think these groups should be asking the East Hampton Dems for an apology after their record over the last decade, but they won't, they are nothing but political action committee's.
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Sep 21, 11 9:48 PM
Anyone who has been around long enough will recognize that the founders of each and every one of the "groups" that make up this "coalition" are no more than recycled, hired guns or the same old self-interested individuals whose members were (or are) waiting to be hired as bogus "consultants", used Twomey Lathem Shea Kelley etc. as their politically connected attorneys for CPF deals during the McGintee et.al administration, or tried to sell thier own property (or patents) to the Town and taxpayers ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Sep 22, 11 12:27 AM
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