I am one of the petitioners in a lawsuit filed against Southampton Town with respect to the Hampton Bays Waterfront Revitalization Plan. As noted in The Press, this resulted in my banishment from the Hampton Bays Citizens Advisory Committee [“Southampton Town Appoints Hampton Bays CAC Members, Removes Several Existing Members,” 27east.com, March 11].
As I am no longer on the CAC, I am free to write this letter and to publicly express my opinions.
The Town Board complained that the CAC didn’t do enough to encourage community participation and lacked diversity. The CAC agreed and enlisted a number of new people to volunteer. Not one of these new volunteers was appointed by the board.
In spite of its goal of diversity, the Town Board also declined to appoint any minorities who were on the proposed list. The board, in fact, insulted those who had applied for appointment by failing to provide them the professional or common courtesy of advising them that they would not be appointed. Instead, these people learned of their “rejections” through rumor and the media.
The CAC was provided no assistance or resources and was prohibited from using social media for any reason, other than to advertise its meeting notices. At the last meeting, some members noted that many people were not aware of the CAC and, therefore, the Town Board could engage in community outreach and post information on its website alerting the Hampton Bays community that it was seeking new members. The Town Board made no such effort to engage the community.
Appointment to a Citizens Advisory Committee should be open to all members of the community and not just friends and acquaintances of the Town Board, relatives of current town employees, or former town employees who may or may not seek business opportunities with the town.
The petitioners challenging the Hampton Bays Waterfront Revitalization Plan are two attorneys and one engineer. We have a combined 90-plus years of experience in, among other areas, municipal law, environmental law, litigation and wastewater treatment. We concluded that the town’s own record did not support its decision and that the town did not follow the law when it adopted the Hampton Bays Waterfront Revitalization Plan, or the plan for the Bel-Aire Cove Motel, or when it engaged in its environmental review.
When I told people that we had filed suit, I was advised that the town would take revenge — I would never get reappointed to the CAC. As an attorney and former government employee, I dismissed these concerns. Now, however, I see those naysayers might have had a point.
I sincerely wish the new CAC success. There are a lot of issues facing our hamlet. I look forward to seeing a new and effective CAC rise to the challenges that lie ahead.
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