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Jun 24, 2009 12:14 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Around Southampton Town Hall

Jun 24, 2009 12:14 PM

Despite its opulent mansions, its affluent residents and its reputation for being the playground of the rich and famous, many in Southampton are struggling to fulfill even their basic needs, according to Mary Ann Tupper, executive director of Human Resources of the Hamptons, and the plight of the less fortunate has only increased in the flagging economy.

Ms. Tupper and other social service advocates, including members of the clergy, met with the Town Board on Friday to discuss solutions to the growing problem, and Town Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst suggested forming a task force to find ways to maximize the resources the town already has allocated to human services. The task force would also look for creative ways to raise money privately to meet the needs of social services throughout the town, she said.

“We are a community in crisis,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “People are not able to meet their mortgage payments, find affordable rentals and, as a side effect, people are seeing their utilities shut off, and there are people who are hungry and in need of clothing for themselves and their children.”

During the meeting, the idea of establishing a soup kitchen near one of the bus routes on County Road 39 was also discussed.

Ms. Throne-Holst, who is running for town supervisor this year, said there is a common misconception that only a small group, mostly migrant workers, is in need of social services “when, in fact, those in need represent all cultures and all areas of this town.”

According to Ms. Tupper, 95 percent of those served by Human Resources of the Hamptons are residents who were born and raised in Southampton. “We serve our neighbors,” Ms. Tupper said. “That’s how it is.”

Town Supervisor Linda Kabot said that during a difficult economy, needs for social services increase as those already struggling are hit even harder. “There are human beings in this town who are hungry and who are going without,” Ms. Kabot said. “There is a role for government here.”

What exactly that role is, and how the task force will function are yet to be determined, but Ms. Throne-Holst said she plans on meeting with the town’s various human services groups on a monthly basis.

Business Advisory Council

The Town Board agreed on Tuesday to create a Business Advisory Council in the hopes it will help the town government and local businesses work together to weather the recession.

Sponsored by Councilman Chris Nuzzi, who said local business and industry is struggling more than ever, the new council will function as an advisory board to the town to help strike a balance between local government initiatives and the needs of local businesses.

“The purpose of this council is to give the business community a formalized voice in town to offer commentary on initiatives that the town is working on that can either help or hurt the business community,” Mr. Nuzzi said. “The idea is for the council to offer ways in which we can help the business community. I mean, where would we be without them?”

Prospective members of the council include Bill Berkoski, Rocco Carriero, Jane Held, Nancy McGann, Shane Smith, and Bob Strebel Jr. Mr. Nuzzi and Town Supervisor Linda Kabot will serve as ex-officio members, he said. Other members of the business community wishing to join or take part in the council are encouraged to contact the Town Board, Mr. Nuzzi said. There will be no set number of members or official terms for their membership.

No meeting schedule has been set for the council, Mr. Nuzzi said. That will be left up to the council members.

“These are all successful members of the business community. The idea is for them to guide us,” the councilman said.

Mr. Nuzzi is running for reelection this year on the Republican Party’s ballot.

Ms. Throne-Holst co-sponsored the resolution to form the council and it was approved unanimously.

Shelter Privatization Talks

Ms. Throne-Holst, liaison to the town Animal Shelter, confirmed this week that a private entity may take over the shelter, although discussions about such a move are very preliminary.

According to Ms. Throne-Holst, an individual interested in taking over the shelter’s administration has reached out to the town, although the councilwoman would not reveal the individual’s identity. The interested party would like to assume administrative responsibilities for the shelter for two years with an option to extend that contract, she said.

Ms. Throne-Holst said the town is also preparing to solicit bids from others who might be interested in taking over the shelter.

If the shelter were turned over to private hands, Ms. Throne-Holst said certain conditions would have to be met.

“I am not personally willing to move forward with this effort without the assurance of ironclad protection and parameters for the well-being of our current staff,” Ms. Throne-Holst said, adding any discussion regarding privatizing the shelter would require full civil service protection, benefits, and rights for the shelter staff. “I will not budge on this point.”

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Oh please! Are you serious Linda?
By Terry (380), Southampton on Jun 24, 09 10:51 AM
Is Linda serious about what? From what I read Ann is doing most of the talking in this article - is she serious?

If we put the shelter in private hands, do we get to be rid of the ongoing ramblings letters to the editor from that Lynch woman?
By bb (910), Hampton Bays on Jun 26, 09 11:57 AM
REALLY??! 95% served by Human Resources of the Hamptons are residents who were BORN and RAISED in SOUTHAMPTON???? Then that explains why I notice Cadilacs and Range Rovers (older models of course) going into Sacred Hearts for food staples and designer clothing.
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Jun 30, 09 6:12 AM
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