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Dec 1, 2011 4:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Will Go To Court, If Necessary, To Stop Homeless Shelter At Hampton Bays Motel

Dec 7, 2011 10:33 AM

The Southampton Town Board on Friday authorized Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato to take legal action, if necessary, to derail a controversial plan to convert a 32-room Hampton Bays motel into a full-scale homeless shelter.

Town officials said the authorization, which was approved during a special meeting, does not mean that legal action has been taken yet against the Suffolk County Department of Social Services (DSS). Rather, it gives Ms. Scarlato the go-ahead to pursue legal avenues, which could include the securing of an injunction against the DSS, to prevent the county agency from converting the Hidden Cove Motel on West Tiana Road into a full-scale homeless shelter.

A detailed conversation regarding what legal action could be taken will occur soon, during a Town Board executive session that will be closed to the public, according to Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski. That conversation was pushed back because only three of five board members were present for the special meeting. Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who has been vocal in her opposition to the county’s plan, and Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming were absent.

Last Thursday, Ms. Throne-Holst said the town was considering taking legal action against the DSS for alleged violations of federal, state and local laws regarding the proposed conversion of the motel. She also said that the town could seek a court injunction to stop the DSS.

“This is part of the town exploring all of our options,” Ms. Throne-Holst said at the time.

The supervisor added that Friday’s meeting was being convened to discuss the town’s best legal course of action with Ms. Scarlato. Ms. Throne-Holst stressed that board members could ultimately decide not to seek an injunction. She explained, however, that the board must meet in order to keep its legal options open. “This allows our town attorney to pursue all avenues,” Ms. Throne-Holst said.

Other types of action that could be taken by the town, explained Deputy Town Supervisor Francis Zappone after Friday’s meeting, include seeking a temporary restraining order or securing a cease and desist order against the county. But Mr. Zappone stressed that the Town Board will carefully review the situation and the town’s legal and ethical responsibility to the community. He said the town is not going to “turn a blind eye” to desperate people in need.

Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi noted that it has been a pattern with the county in recent years to house many of its homeless in Southampton Town. Both trailers housing all of Suffolk’s homeless sex offenders are located in the town; one is sited next to the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside and the other is next to the Suffolk County Police shooting range in Westhampton.

“I think we have to be sympathetic to the issue of homelessness throughout our community,” Mr. Nuzzi said. “However, the issue of again being the repository of Suffolk County’s homeless population is of concern.”

He added that he had concerns about the legality of converting a motel into a homeless shelter, adding that such a change of use could have a detrimental impact on the quality of life of those who live near the facility. Mr. Nuzzi said town officials will continue to review their options before taking any legal action.

Greg Blass, the commissioner of the DSS, declined on Friday to comment on the town’s actions. “Southampton goes to court while DSS continues to shelter the homeless,” he wrote in an email. “I will not comment until I see the lawsuit.”

He previously stated that the number of homeless families in the county has spiked in recent months, topping 500 families just last month.

Outraged residents of West Tiana Road met recently with Ms. Throne-Holst and Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman to discuss ways to stop the DSS from converting the motel into a shelter. In early November, residents who were renting rooms at the Hidden Cove Motel were told that they needed to vacate the property by the end of November to make way for a new homeless shelter.

Earlier this week, Mr. Schneiderman said that a Suffolk County law adopted in 2000 set the rules pertaining to the establishment and operation of emergency shelters for homeless families. Local Law 23-2000 requires shelter certification by the DSS and states that no more than 12 families can reside at a single facility. Currently, the DSS is believed to be housing approximately 10 homeless families at the motel, though up to 30 families could be living there once it is converted into a full-scale shelter.

On Friday, Mr. Schneiderman said that he had heard from a “reliable source” that there were 15 homeless families now being housed at the Hidden Cove Motel as of earlier that day.

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Ms. Supervisor, forget politics - stand up for the poor and homeless. Merry Christmas
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Dec 1, 11 6:14 PM
3 members liked this comment
Dag do live next door to this shelter? I doubt it. NIMBY seems to suit you fine
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Dec 5, 11 2:41 PM
Do you know me personally? You are making and extremely broad assertion about me based on what? Intuition? Please speak for yourself and not for me.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Dec 6, 11 4:49 PM
According to the county the Town of Southampton currently has no homeless shelters. I'm sure there is a need and room for one within the Town's boundries. If not on West Tiana the town should find a uitable location.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Dec 1, 11 8:43 PM
I live in the neighborhood and don't object to a shelter if it is run properlly. The trouble is, they never are. In this case, I would like to see that residents are required to obey the law, and that a resident would lose the right to taxpayer support & shelter at the very first offense of drugs, violence, prostitution, or any other illegal activity which is widely known to be associated routinely with shelters. There should be intelligent screening of potential residents - not just a bureaucratic ...more
By margaret8000 (6), HAMPTON BAYS on Dec 1, 11 9:33 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bob surfer (8), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 11 7:32 AM
It is absolutely false to claim that a "majority of homeless people have a mental illness" It is simply untrue.

From nhchc.org "It is a tragic aspect of our culture that homeless people, in addition to suffering from the hardship of their condition, are subjected to alienation and discrimination by mainstream society. It is even more tragic that alienation and discrimination often spring from incorrect myths and stereotypes which surround homelessness. The following examines some of ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Dec 2, 11 8:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
So this is SO important to the Town Supervisor that she couldn't show up to the meeting?

"Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who has been vocal in her opposition to the county’s plan, and Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming were absent"

Way to stick to your guns ATH
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 11 4:09 PM
How many of these people come from Hampton Bays
I would guarantee that they are being placed from other areas or relo9cated to the East End
By Legal Immigrant (11), Southampton on Dec 2, 11 4:43 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Kevin bh (1), Bridgehampton on Dec 2, 11 4:49 PM
This is a good place for a shelter.
By lucy2 (63), Southampton, NY on Dec 2, 11 5:10 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Dec 2, 11 5:34 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Dec 2, 11 5:36 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Kevin bh (1), Bridgehampton on Dec 2, 11 6:19 PM
Im reading these posts and so far the homeless have been called: druggies, violent, prostitutes and mentally ill.
"Homeless": to not have a home.
Cmon people.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Dec 2, 11 6:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
In today's economy, a lot of people are struggling--even those of us that do own homes.
By beachbabe (14), Hampton Bays on Dec 2, 11 7:40 PM
shouldn't you delete my 5:36 correction to my earlier 5:34 message?????
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Dec 2, 11 7:46 PM
how dare they propose to use a building that has been legally used to house transient guests... to house transient guests! That ought to go well in court. It's only money, right?
By diy_guy (101), Southampton on Dec 3, 11 7:30 AM
2 members liked this comment
Just look at the headline: "town will go to court to stop homeless shelter". If you are a democrat or a progressive or a caring human and you voted for ATH you must demand she addresses this issue in a positive manner. The number of families becoming homeless is increasing. They are our neighbors. We must help them. We must. Ms Throne-Holst, I am so incredibly disappointed in your cold, heartless, political reaction to this.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 11 8:08 AM
There are many people who live in the Hamptons who live pay check to pay check. There are many people who if their job was lost becoming homeless is a scary reality. It is sad to think that there are many people who feel that homeless people are degenerates who do not deserve a chance to better themselves. How is one to get a job if there isn't an address to put on an application? How is a prospective employer going to get in touch for an interview if there is no phone number to call? Most ...more
By lulu631 (7), Sag Harbor on Dec 3, 11 9:14 AM
2 members liked this comment
Based on his comments I guess Lars Clemensen will also encourage legal action to stop the future sale (of the numerous) houses on the market in HB, to anyone who has children... Article states, "Lars Clemensen was the only member of the public to address the board. He expressed concerns about how a potential influx of school-aged children could impact his district... “It’s like being in a sealed room, having the water level rise,” Mr. Clemensen said." He liked the 20 and 45 cents ...more
By alex119460 (2), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 11 9:55 AM
Dear Alex 119460:

In fact, I have no opinion or position regarding the legal action by the Town regarding the establishment of the Hidden Cove Motel as an emergency homeless shelter and if you were present at the Town Board Meeting, I did not comment on the proposed legal action. My comments to the Town Board were simply an echo of my comments to the County. In the big picture, I encouraged the town to please take into account school district capacity when establishing multiple homeless ...more
By LarsClemensen (34), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 11 12:42 PM
Mr Clemensen,

the water level continues to rise mainly because of the guaranteed wage increases and skyrocketing benefit and pensions obligations for your employees, not to mention the nice cushy salaries of the administrators. Do you even read your own budget?

To put the blame on a few additional homeless families is sad.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Dec 3, 11 1:38 PM
The budget is a direct reflection of what the Hampton Bays voters want so I'm not really sure why you are blaming wage increases for our teachers.
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 3, 11 2:03 PM
It's more likely they voted for the least possibly offensive bowl of crap.
By Mr. Z (11830), North Sea on Dec 4, 11 2:31 PM
The town officials named above who were absent for the special meeting for this imprtant issue know where their bread is buttered. They would prefer to support the project at Lttle Fresh Pond where Jay Jacobs proposes to build a HUGE tennis camp and additional roads to accomodate traffic where there was once a small discreet camp and once that became defunct a community tennis club was there that also petered out. This is a beautiful little natural place that Jay Jacobs wants to turn into a$1500/week ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Dec 3, 11 11:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
What does Jacobs camp have to do with the homeless shelter in Hampton Bays.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Dec 3, 11 12:54 PM
Homeless people may not be who you think they are. Many are families much like our own who have fallen on hard times. I helped deliver several truckloads of new warm clothes to homeless families living at two motels out here years ago, one east and one west of the canal, and was surprised by what I found out.

The westerly motel had extended families living in very crowded conditions. Their kids were being bussed over an hour and a half to the Wyandanch School District each day, just to ...more
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Dec 3, 11 6:16 PM
the point is that anna throne holst supports jay jacob's project while she doesn't even show up for the meeting about the homeless project because it is to her political advantage to glad hand the wealthy dems and ignore those socially in need...politics and business as usual...hand in hand...just as in washington, dc
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Dec 3, 11 7:41 PM
As humans we should always be caring and willing to help anyone in need, with that said I agree with the other poster who said its how its run that makes a huge difference. You cant just dump these people there and offer no other assistance to them. Our job is to help them get on their feet and better the situation they are in so that they can hopefully move back into a home and feel better about themselves. So really dedicated helpers and honest people to run the place is what the focus should ...more
By Crankypants (34), SOUTHAMPTON on Dec 4, 11 8:33 AM
2 members liked this comment
Just remember to realize when you should close them, as well...
By Mr. Z (11830), North Sea on Dec 4, 11 1:32 PM
Merry Christmas to the homeless - thanks to our wonder-less leaders in Town Hall. If "All dogs go to heaven" where will these politicians go? The homeless need a shelter and we ought to help them when we can.
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Dec 4, 11 11:51 AM
1 member liked this comment
Let's put the homeless shelter right next to you.
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Dec 5, 11 2:52 PM
Just a question. What about the family whose home loses value because you decided to put a shelter literally next door to their home? What about the family who once enjoyed a quiet neighborhood, who struggled and sacrificed to buy a home in Southampton town to provide a quality of life for their children? It is so easy for you all to speak in platitudes, and leave out the other side of the equation. I donate time and treasure to help out those who are less fortunate than I ( I wonder how many ...more
By jams (129), hampton bays on Dec 4, 11 8:59 PM
2 members liked this comment
I don't get it. People buy a house right next to a motel, for a discount no less, and are now complaining about quality of life?

I only hope that if the shelter does not come to fruition that 'Jersey Shore' of the Hamptons sets up shop there for the next 10 years.

Then you can have people more fortunate than you ruin your quality of life.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Dec 5, 11 8:13 AM
Since you wondered, see you at Cooper's Saturday, and students, especially those working at a crappy job for minimum wage get their PCs repaired for free. Occasionally, the e-waste I collect becomes a "FrankenPC". I don't sell those for money.

Due to these current "lean times", alms are needed more greatly than ever. It has to be SOMEWHERE, and my only real issue is that the County was moving forward, without any town input whatsoever. That motel owner has also "struggled and sacrificed" ...more
By Mr. Z (11830), North Sea on Dec 5, 11 3:44 PM
First off, who am I going to feel worse for? A homeless person, or someone whose property value (potentially) dips for the time being. Hmm... that's a tough one! I think I'd have to side with the person living in that nice big waterfront home... I mean, if they want to sell their house tomorrow they won't be able to maximize their profit! Woe is them!

Property values aren't going lower because the County is making this a homeless shelter - the place already *IS* a homeless shelter. ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 4, 11 9:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
You are so wrong. Again with the platitudes! Your average homeless shelter is not widows and orphans wake up! How can you honestly say having a homeless shelter next to your home won't affect it. So a drug addict with a criminal past you feel bad for but not the family,two parents working making month to month. Are you serious? I guess just leave us out of the equation because we don't matter at all. So the homeless get a waterfront home and the rich get to decide where to put it. And us in ...more
By jams (129), hampton bays on Dec 4, 11 9:29 PM
I'll ask you to re-read what I wrote, specifically this part:

"Property values aren't going lower because the County is making this a homeless shelter - the place already *IS* a homeless shelter. ..."

Drug addicts and alcoholics and the dregs of society already live there (the police reports prove this). So the County making this an "official" homeless shelter changes things how?

And I would argue the people living in that neighborhood are
A) Upper-middle class ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 5, 11 9:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
Property values aren't going to be lowered because county is making this a homeless shelter. Absurd statement. People who live in funky hotel rooms are for all intents and purposes are homeless. Another absurd statement. I'm sure the people down the road who bought co op apts in a very similar building would love to know that. From real experience, not your two minute drive by and assessment, I can tell you for the most part that property housed mostly single young and middle age working men ...more
By jams (129), hampton bays on Dec 5, 11 11:44 AM
I would definately be concerned. Thats why I don't live next to shady motels.

By C Law (354), Water Mill on Dec 5, 11 12:04 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well not all of us can afford to live in Watermill, some of us have to reside in, how did you put it, the mastics of the Hamptons?
By jams (129), hampton bays on Dec 5, 11 12:25 PM
So, what you're saying is you JUST noticed that it's been a shelter for low income, and homeless people for years?

'Cause that's what it looks like from here...
Dec 5, 11 3:50 PM appended by Mr. Z
"Currently, the DSS is housing approximately 10 homeless families at the motel, though up to 30 families could be living there once it is converted into a full-scale shelter." Shall we stress COULD?
By Mr. Z (11830), North Sea on Dec 5, 11 3:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Not in my backyard."... That's what I'm getting from a large percentage of these comments.

Why are people so damn uncomfortable with the statistics of the homeless population? Is it because that maybe, one day, the fear of becoming homeless might actually happen to the staunch opposers themselves? Or, is it just simply the "fear" of those who ARE homeless RIGHT NOW?? It's cold outside, people... some cannot afford to fill their oil tanks.. some cannot afford to pay their LIPA bills, ...more
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 5, 11 2:10 PM
“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike, to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

~ Anatole France
By Mr. Z (11830), North Sea on Dec 5, 11 4:40 PM
If only it were true.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Dec 6, 11 8:38 AM
The law DOES in fact forbid that from happening.
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 6, 11 10:08 AM
. . . unless you are part of Occupy Wall Street, in which case, proceed"
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Dec 6, 11 10:30 AM
Nature, if you thumb a book called "The Great American Stickup", you would most likely better understand the Ocuppy movement's purpose. It even taught me a few things I didn't know, like how deeply Senator Phil Gramm's wife was involved with the CFTC, deregulation, and the lack thereof in the early days of the derivatives market in the '80's.

It's even more scathing than Griftopia.
Dec 6, 11 7:57 PM appended by Mr. Z
Lack of regulation regarding derivatives, that is.
By Mr. Z (11830), North Sea on Dec 6, 11 7:57 PM
There is nothing majestic nor equal about the corrupt system of law in this country.
By Brelane (16), Southampton on Dec 6, 11 6:36 AM
2 members liked this comment
Better watch out discussing ''families" and move to discussing "individuals". Homeless families tend to number in the dozens i.e. 30 families could be over 300 people.
Dec 10, 11 6:51 AM appended by Brelane
My comment had absolutely nothing to do with a person's skin color or country or origin. Homelessness does not discriminate.
By Brelane (16), Southampton on Dec 7, 11 6:51 AM
What?
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Dec 8, 11 12:41 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Dec 8, 11 8:09 PM
what i had said, which was blocked, was that philathome can't possibly talk to people the way he insults them on this blog. He throws around the race card, and if he did this face to face, I (as well as many other people) would hold him accountable. Also, phil, I notice that you didn't respond to my question regarding the ethnic makeup of YOUR street. Don't worry, we can all take a guess at how racially diverse it is. You, sir, are a hypocrit.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Dec 9, 11 9:37 PM
ok philathome, out of about 60 houses on my street, there are people from at least a dozen different countries from five different continents, various different religions and speaking about at least five different languages (and yes-alot of them are minorities) So since you moved there because of the "obvious" opposition hampton bays holds toward minorities.tell me, how many people on YOUR street are of different ethnic bsckgrounds?
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Dec 9, 11 3:38 AM
If I lost my job it would only be a matter of time before I was homeless. Nice to know that nobody wants me.
By Sam (252), Westhampton Beach on Dec 10, 11 7:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
And guess what? Change starts with one person and one idea.
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 12, 11 10:25 AM
2 members liked this comment
No room at the inn?
By btdt (449), water mill on Dec 12, 11 11:00 AM
Awww... someone thought my comment was off-topic or had innapropriate content.

Oops.
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 15, 11 2:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
There is an excellent interview with Suffolk County Commissioner of Social Services Greg Blass in the current issue of another East End newspaper (an independent, free one). In it, he refutes all the arguments that have been made against the homeless shelter. If he is correct, I was under a number of misapprehensions myself. It's worth a read.
Dec 16, 11 2:28 PM appended by highhatsize
I should have mentioned that what makes it particularly readable is that he doesn't take a conciliatory, compromising attitude towards critics. If this is what he says for publication, I would like to hear what he says in the office. Refreshing stuff.
By highhatsize (4214), East Quogue on Dec 16, 11 2:28 PM
1 member liked this comment
A sure way to help these families would be to place them in an area that offers an opportunity to be productive and to thrive. There are few jobs nearby. There is extremely limited public transportation and our taxis cost a fortune. Hampton Bays is a dead end for these families. The goal of economic self sufficiency will never be reached here in the Hamptons. We are simply warehousing these families by whomever will take them. While I understand that in many cases hard times got these families ...more
By teachourkids (36), southampton on Dec 17, 11 10:20 PM
Breaking News:

There are few jobs to be had anywhere! So, even though I understand that point... it just seems to me that it has the ring of a subtle "not in my backyard" stance. If economic self sufficiency will never be reached, how then are you and yours surviving?

In the surefire way of economics, those who are willing to work for less than their counterparts WILL receive those jobs. It's a fact...and i guarantee you, that they would be grateful for it.

To get ...more
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 18, 11 9:30 AM
1 member liked this comment
Frankly, their environmental record makes our Industrial Revolution appear as a candidate for Canonization.

Heavy metals and waste from mining operations alone have literally poured poison into the land, and water.
By Mr. Z (11830), North Sea on Dec 20, 11 9:23 PM
OK Allergic...call it what you want, but it's not in my backyard, not even in my neighborhood. so please don't question my motivation. Even if residents of that hotel were willing to work for less, how would they get there? I drive to work, as do most others on the east end. Many of the residents of this type of housing can't afford a car, insurance and high fuel costs and our public transportation system isn't the answer (do buses even go by that hotel?). There are no affordable or public day ...more
By teachourkids (36), southampton on Dec 19, 11 9:39 PM
It's right off of Montauk highway.. what do you think? Busses sure do! And as to day care? Yes there are places.. babysitting with the kid in the room next door, Pine Tree in riverhead (roanoke ave.. main thoroughfare) the Southampton Headstart, and people can get rides from friends/neighbors. It's called compassion and understanding. When my sponsee and her husband were living there, I would pick her up from riverhead to help her out.. It's called doing the next right thing.
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 30, 11 11:11 AM
Thanks, Highhatsize, for the link. Here is an important piece of that ariticle:

"I, and everyone in the department is extremely disappointed in those in a public service position who have been resoundingly silent in the face of this appalling bias that's been expressed by some," Blass said. Homeless shelters, like the one Suffolk is establishing in Hampton Bays have been described as "warehouses for criminals and drug dealers" that are sheltered to "pursue a hedonistic lifestyle," the commissioner ...more
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Dec 20, 11 8:06 AM
1 member liked this comment