Gold Stars and Dunce Caps - 27 East

Gold Stars and Dunce Caps

Editorial Board on Nov 22, 2022

GOLD STAR To Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s Phillips Family Cancer Center and Ellen Hermanson Breast Center, for partnering with Cancer Hope Network, which helps current cancer patients feel less alone by matching them with survivors, who also heal through the process of supporting others. Nobody should go through a health care crisis alone, and it’s even more beneficial when someone can offer support from a place of experience. This generous program is a wonderful example of a community playing its role in health care.

DUNCE CAP To Southampton Village and, to a lesser extent, Southampton Town officials, for dragging their feet in naming new police chiefs for their respective departments. Town officials get a bit of a pass, with the untimely death of Steven Skrynecki last month. But village officials have been holding their cards so close to the vest since the departure of Thomas Cummings in September 2021, there’s no way to know what’s happening. Are they in disagreement over who should take over the reins? Have they not found the right person? Is it not a priority? Perhaps the fact that Lieutenant Suzanne Hurteau, a 24-year veteran of the police force, has been holding down the fort so well is a hint at the best way forward. Regardless, both forces need a chief — without further delay.

GOLD STAR To the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, for their ongoing work rescuing and rehabilitating the creatures who make our world so special. The diversity of animals rescued by volunteers is pretty remarkable, a testimony to the biodiversity of the region. The medical staff is adept at giving the animals a new lease on life, and most end up back where they belong — in the wild. It’s an often unsung effort that deserves recognition, and support.

DUNCE CAP To Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, for practicing government on the fly, to everyone’s detriment. He has continued to limit the number of work sessions scheduled for the Town Board — these are where the real in-depth discussion of issues happen, rather than a rote show of hands to approve or reject measures. Without them, both board members and the public are less informed. Even worse are the array of last-minute “walk-on” resolutions, which ask his board colleagues to vote on something without much background, and zero public discussion. It’s public business, and it should be done in public, as inconvenient as that might be.

GOLD STAR To someone who already has a gold medal to show for his efforts: Westhampton Beach High School senior Max Haynia, who won the New York State Class B Championship race last weekend. It’s extremely tough to win a state title in any sport, and cross country might be toward the top of the list, a real challenge to an individual athlete. To that point, Haynia is just the second runner in Westhampton Beach history to win it, joining Kevin Hogan, who won it in 1989. It’s a great success story.

GOLD STAR To all the local organizations that have been working, often quietly, to host and support families who have fled war-torn Ukraine and found a temporary home on the East End. There are many; the latest is Temple Adas Israel, who has stepped up to put a protective arm around one family escaping the horrors of war. It’s only one family, but, one at a time is how you slowly change the world, and it means everything to that family.

GOLD STAR To Page restaurant in Sag Harbor, for launching a holiday fundraiser to benefit the Sag Harbor Food Pantry. The restaurant, in conjunction with the Sag Harbor Cinema, has made a $1,000 cash donation and will provide prepared foods to the pantry on a monthly basis throughout 2023. In addition, customers who purchase a reusable tote bag or show proof of having donated to the food pantry themselves will qualify for “loyalty credits” based on the amount of their gift that can be redeemed for a variety of items on the restaurant’s menu. That’s a tangible way to bring help to families in need, and it sets an example for other establishments.

GOLD STAR To the Westhampton Beach Village Board, for a proposed code change to allow restaurants to offer outdoor dining on village sidewalks on a permanent basis. During the height of the pandemic, under an emergency declaration from the governor’s office, outdoor dining was allowed as a means to help businesses survive in trying economic times. The emergency orders have expired, but the outdoor dining option in the village was so well-liked, by both the restaurants and consumers, that the board decided to set up a permanent process for restaurants to offer the service. The option for outdoor dining at more than two dozen establishments throughout the village adds a vibrancy to the commercial district and complements the Main Street revitalization work the village has undertaken over the past few years.

GOLD STAR Also to the Westhampton Beach Village Board, for recognizing an opportunity to increase revenue in the village at no expense to taxpayers — and at the same time help the region meet green energy goals. The village is in negotiations to lease out a vacant former Department of Public Works yard on Quiogue to a solar energy provider, which will install a large solar panel array. While negotiations are still underway, the village would net tens of thousands of dollars per year for at least a quarter of a century on a parcel that has sat unused for years. The village will retain ownership of the land, and could utilize the property for village purposes in the future, but will collect revenue in the meantime, with the comfortable knowledge that clean energy is being produced at the site in the meantime. It’s a win-win.

DUNCE CAP To anyone — anyone — who has a luxury vehicle and leaves the keys or key fob inside while it’s parked in the driveway. Wear that cap if your car is stolen, because police have been warning for a very long time about the scores of vehicle thefts, the rings operating out of neighboring states, and the ease with which they can identify and snag your luxury SUV overnight. Hint: If you leave your fob in the car, many models will not automatically fold in the rearview mirrors. Congratulations: You’ve put a flashing neon sign out that car thieves won’t miss. Don’t be stupid, don’t be a victim — lock the car, take the key or fob.

DUNCE CAP To New York State Supreme Court Justice Paul J. Baisley, for saying that East Hampton Town’s plan to impose restrictions on flights and to measure the effects of the change, so that it could understand what the real-life impacts would be on places like Montauk, does not conform to state law. That seems debatable at best, and clearly the approach is the most sensible. Instead, the judge seems to say the town must use hypothetical statistical analysis of impossibly complicated factors before new rules are put in place, which has the potential to trap everyone in misery if the projections are off, because the whole process will have to be done over. Judge Baisley, with his clumsy verdict, and the plaintiffs and their attorneys who raised the issue have done themselves and everyone else a colossal disservice.

DUNCE CAP to the members of the East Hampton Town Board, for not revealing the intention behind the purchase of 18.8 acres of land in Montauk. As Springs resident David Buda said at a recent meeting, if the deal is so great and the prospects for the property so exciting as to be worth spending more than $4 million, the Town Board should be forthright about their intentions. If they want to use it in a potential land swap for a site for the Montauk sewage treatment system, as some skeptics say is in the works, then the town is going to have to hear the critics out on that proposal eventually anyway. Starting out the conversation with secrecy and a shrug of their collective shoulders is disrespectful to town taxpayers who will fund the transaction. Just be honest.

GOLD STAR To Sarah Chami, Brianna Farrell and Caitlyn Lupia, the 14-year-old Girl Scouts with Troop 475 who recently earned their Silver Awards for a project to build wooden benches at St. Joseph’s Villa in Hampton Bays overlooking Shinnecock Bay. The Silver Award is presented to Girl Scout Cadettes who research an issue, make a plan to address it and then take action to improve their community — and Sarah, Brianna and Caitlyn did just that.

GOLD STAR To John Nicholas, who worked for many years toward gaining approval, which was awarded recently, for an oyster farm at his family’s Sunset Cove Marina in Springs. Cultivating oysters and other shellfish is essential for improving and maintaining the health of our local waters as well as the East End economy. Every little effort contributes to the greater good. It’s good to see Nicholas’s patience pay off.

GOLD STAR To a village to our west, for raising an issue that should pique the interest of local officials. According to the website Gothamist, Lynbrook, in Nassau County, has put together a contingency plan in case the internet is ever lost for months. It creates noninternet solutions for government operations, including building permits, payroll and emergency response. The internet is a basic utility these days, and the village is smart to plan for a day when the service would be lost for some reason, either a major storm or a ransomware attack. Towns, villages and school districts on the South Fork should take notice: The time to prepare for catastrophe is when things are working fine. Be prepared.

GOLD STAR To the 106th Rescue Wing based at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, for regularly offering up astounding tales of heroism. The latest is told in Ron Howard’s recent film “Thirteen Lives,” which is about a rescue team, including two local airmen, who saved a boys soccer team and their coach who were trapped in a cave in northern Thailand in 2018. It’s always nice to acknowledge the heroes who live among us — and rare is the community that has heroes like this.

GOLD STAR To Anna Tuzzolo of East Quogue, whose simple actions might well save lives. Anna, a young girl who has autism, has put together 150 GoBags for local emergency responders, helping them to understand the special challenges of dealing with a crisis involving someone with autism, and tools to help in the moment. Through the Flying Point Foundation for Autism in Water Mill, Anna is drawing attention and raising awareness to an important and often misunderstood issue. And she’ll stay busy: The GoBags are a hit, and virtually every organization in the region wants them.

GOLD STAR To the Southampton Town Board, for agreeing to drop the appeal of the ruling that threw out the Hampton Bays Downtown Overlay District legislation. Resident Gayle Lombardi’s lawsuit frustrated town officials, but it led to an important pause in what was becoming a runaway disaster. To truly “start fresh,” as Supervisor Jay Schneiderman has pledged, the specter of the appeal needed to be exorcised. Now, the ball is in the court of Hampton Bays residents to articulate a realistic, yet ambitious, vision for the hamlet’s downtown.