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Aug 21, 2012 3:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

New Hampton Bays Organization Pushes For Change

Aug 21, 2012 5:39 PM

Hampton Bays residents frustrated with what they call the “diminishment” of their hamlet have formed a new grassroots organization that they hope will promote change—and, more specifically, action from the Southampton Town Board.

Members of the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays, as the organization is called, first met more than six months ago to discuss issues that they said resulted from the opening of a homeless shelter on West Tiana Road, at the site of a former motel, by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services (DSS). The group will hold its first open meeting on Wednesday, August 29, at 6 p.m., in the Hampton Bays High School auditorium, with the goal of raising awareness about the issues they say now plague the hamlet.

“This whole community is on the verge of tipping,” Robert Liner, who is a founder of the organization and serves on its board, said last week. He noted that the group now boasts more than a hundred families. “There is no concern or care for Hampton Bays, resulting in the formation of the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays.”

Mr. Liner, along with his wife, Gail, live on West Tiana Road near the shelter, which opened last winter at the site of the former Hidden Cove Motel. He said since the shelter has opened, he had his identity stolen, someone attempted to burglarize his neighbor’s house, and another neighbor had his tires slashed, all incidents he alleges were committed by residents of the shelter.

Southampton Town Police did not immediately honor a Freedom of Information Law request seeking copies of reports filed with them by West Tiana Road residents, and Police Chief William Wilson Jr. did not return calls seeking comment.

Mr. Liner said Hampton Bays has become a “repository” for social issues and receives little attention from the Town Board despite the fact that the hamlet makes up the largest block of voters. Beyond the concern that crime has risen as a result of the homeless shelter opening, Mr. Liner said the facility’s operation has affected the value of his home and neighboring properties.

Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said Tuesday that she understands the group’s frustrations, and placed most of the blame regarding the shelter opening on DSS and, specifically, commissioner Gregory Blass. In a previous interview, Mr. Blass explained that Suffolk is directed by the state to provide housing for all of the county’s homeless, and that his office is not required by law to notify towns or villages whenever they open a new shelter. He also said that privacy laws preclude disclosure of shelter locations.

“We share their frustration and concern—in fact, I’m livid about it and have been since day one,” Ms. Throne-Holst said about the decision to open the homeless shelter. “The fact that we have a commissioner of social services who feels that he is perfectly entitled to completely surpass the town on decisions he makes on where these shelters will be located—I mean, that’s the root of our problem here. He has consistently ignored the will and the want of the town and gone ahead and put these establishments in place.”

Ms. Throne-Holst added that the town has repeatedly tried to have the facility shut down. “The location is not a conducive location for that shelter activity and service, and we have gone to the state, we’ve gone to the county, we’ve looked at any legal remedy we might have. But, again, we are trumped by higher law than town law, and that is something that, unfortunately, we have no control over,” she said. “It sounds as if we are throwing up our hands, but we are not.”

Rosemary Dehlow, the chief program officer for the Long Island office of Community Housing Innovations Inc., which oversees the shelter on behalf of the county, did not return calls seeking comment this week.

Last week, members of the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays, including Mr. Liner and Michael Dunn, another board member, spoke before the Town Board to urge them to take swifter action in shutting down other former motels in the hamlet that are being used illegally as apartments. Town code enforcement officers have issued hundreds of violations this year to the owners of three such motel properties, the result of controversial early-morning inspections that revealed a slew of problems, including overcrowding and a lack of fire detectors.

Mr. Dunn and Mr. Liner explained that the motel properties place a strain on the Hampton Bays School Districts by adding children without increasing the tax revenue, and they harm the environment by operating with sewage systems that cannot handle such year-round use.

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$30,000 sounds like lots of $$ until you divide it by 7. Then figure how much the landlord gets in rents, not much of a hit after all. If the fines were working the same people wouldn't be fined repeatedly.

By bb (892), Hampton Bays on Aug 21, 12 4:41 PM
I have noticed an increase in 'transient' folks in HB over the past couple of years. I assume this is stemming from the homeless shelter? Particularly there is one woman whom I see often sitting in front of Starbucks. She doesn't seem to bother anyone but she does look like she needs help. Not sure if she belongs to this shelter or not.
By johnj (1004), Westhampton on Aug 24, 12 9:02 AM
Mr. Liner, along with his wife, Gail, live on West Tiana Road near the shelter, which opened last winter at the site of the former Hidden Cove Motel. He said since the shelter has opened, he had his identity stolen, someone attempted to burglarize his neighbor’s house, and another neighbor had his tires slashed, all incidents he alleges were committed by residents of the shelter.

-- Key word is "alleges". It's easy to blame on the crimes on the neighborhood black sheep. I suppose ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 24, 12 9:17 AM
No she was here before the shelter,I believe she actually is homeless. The shelter folks just walk back and forth to Stop and Shop enjoying this "wonderful" existence their govt has provided for them. Last night I was actually scared for the first time driving down my road as there was a man in front of the shelter waving his fists screaming into a cell phone basically in the road. If it was a drunk kid from the Boardy barn he'd be arrested but he's from the shelter so shhhhh.
By jams (127), hampton bays on Aug 24, 12 9:26 AM
What is wrong with the Hampton Bays Civic Association? Is it because it is really just an arm of the Towm Democratic Party, or am I the only one to notice that?
By Phadreus1340 (144), Southampton on Aug 24, 12 9:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
Why would that be a problem if it were true. The democrats do not control any board in the town. Not one. Not even the town board. And I think over 80% of the town employees are republicans. So tell me again, what is the problem?
By baywoman (163), southampton on Aug 24, 12 4:22 PM
The problem is exactly as you played it out. Firstly, a civic association is normally a non-profit, as as such, can't play politics, as the HB Civic Assoc does. Secondly, if the Dems are such a minority, the HB Civics can't possibly represent the hamlet with only a minority of "their" party on the board, and thirdly, the Republicans on the board won't listen to them cause they know they can't get through to them.
And most of all, if they are doing such a ccrappy job of representing the hamlet ...more
By Phadreus1340 (144), Southampton on Aug 27, 12 7:37 AM
Wake UP East End!!! They are, in my opinion, taking away our community
with overcrowding in our schools and! homeless shelters!! Is the
East End for Sale??? Our quality of life and security has been taken away!!!
When will our leadership step up to the plate and secure the East End??!!!
By East Ender (64), Southampton on Aug 24, 12 11:43 AM
1 member liked this comment
It seems like people in HB are only upset about the things that happen in the extreme proximity of their homes. For example, the people complaining about Rumba live right next to it. The people complaining about the homeless shelter live right next to it. The people complaining about Dream live right next to it. Can we take a minute and examine some issues that impact the entire hamlet and it's residents? Over the years I've noticed the HB Beautification Association has done an amazing job - the ...more
By BaymenNYC (59), Manhattan on Aug 24, 12 12:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wow - it took a guy from NYC to be the voice of reason. Don't see that out here every day
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 24, 12 12:45 PM
Nature,

I've lived in Hampton Bays since 1990. I attended school in Hampton Bays my entire childhood, kindergarten to twelfth grade. I now return during the summer for work. I have many friends and family that reside here. I still consider myself a member of this community.
By BaymenNYC (59), Manhattan on Aug 24, 12 2:20 PM
regardless - I'm glad someone spoke up!
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 24, 12 2:44 PM
Time to rise up and voice your concerns. Let's have a big turnout at the High School Auditorium.
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on Aug 24, 12 1:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
The east end is a cash cow for the misplaced misfits of up island patronage jobs and politicos alike. Motels were designed to provide accommodations to visitors not to provide permanent homes to families.
By Geppetto (59), Southampton on Aug 24, 12 4:02 PM
What's your solution? The county came in and did what they wanted - the Town has no say.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 24, 12 4:18 PM
The biggest problem is the town supervisor-she has no concern for anything that happens west of the canal. Talk and no action.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Aug 24, 12 8:41 PM
NIMBY- Hampton Bays chapter.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Aug 24, 12 9:30 PM

Lets all stand up for our town next week at the meeting. Oh and by the way the homeless lady isnt hurting that bad with a starbucks coffee and cigarettes always burning I can think of much better ways to spend your money there is another women who walks the streets in much more in need of help then her
By baymen (26), hamptonbays on Aug 24, 12 9:35 PM
Ha. Yeah, I saw her picking up food in Scotto's the other day so she mustn't be doing too bad.
By johnj (1004), Westhampton on Aug 28, 12 9:11 AM
have you noticed how fast the press moved this story off the home page
By joe hampton (3364), south hampton on Aug 25, 12 10:37 PM
Joe, I did notice this. It was almost impossible to find and to locate it I had to search for "concerned."
By Jetsboy (3), Hampton Bays on Aug 26, 12 10:44 AM
If we keep commenting on this though, we can have it return to the "most commented" section!
By Jetsboy (3), Hampton Bays on Aug 26, 12 10:47 AM
The Press did a terrific job burying this story.
By BaymenNYC (59), Manhattan on Aug 28, 12 3:45 PM
Drive-in movies,Coopers Beach, Southampton village