Gold Stars And Dunce Caps - 27 East

Gold Stars And Dunce Caps

authorStaff Writer on Dec 1, 2021

A dunce cap to the East Hampton Town Board, for dumping $4.2 million of Community Preservation Fund revenues into a dubious purchase. Just three building lots, totaling less than 2 acres, will be preserved — at an ultimate cost of $6.8 million, with Buckskill neighbors willing to contribute the difference. Why? They are the only real beneficiaries, and it’s a bargain for them. For taxpayers? Not so much. Tiny gold stars to Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Councilman Jeff Bragman for sticking to their guns and voting against this bad deal. As property values soar, and the CPF continues to rack up staggering numbers, the stakes are higher than before. Shrugging off the big numbers as the cost of making a deal misses the point: This is when priorities must be set carefully and adhered to religiously. There’s no way saving this trio of building lots was on anyone’s shopping list, except the neighbors who eagerly chipped in. A very bad precedent. That said …

A gold star to the same East Hampton Town Board, for pushing forward with an affordable housing project, despite hurdles, just outside of Sag Harbor Village. Affordable housing was a crisis before COVID-19 — and now it is a complete disaster. All towns and villages need to start working collectively on a regional affordable housing plan, and projects like this one, to ensure that a year-round population survives in the next generation.

A gold star to East Hampton Village Mayor Gerry Larsen, for appearing to grow into his new role. Sure, he’s adept at things that matter in a small town, like the return of the Veterans Day parade and ceremony, but the star is for his willingness to listen to criticism, and to take it to heart. Since an early strong-willed stance in favor of pushing through measures hastily, defended as decisive action, he’s taken the foot off the pedal long enough to allow more discussions first — and, more important, allowing them to be more than just window dressing. The result will be better measures and a more satisfied citizenry.

A gold star to Amos Goodman, for the good citizenship buried in a villainous act. Rather than kicking the former East Hampton Town Republican chair while he’s down — facing at least a month behind bars after a plea agreement over allegations that he falsified signatures on petitions — let’s note that the prosecution never would have happened without the cooperation of … well, Amos Goodman. Leveling identical accusations against a rival party leader at a time when he appears to have been doing exactly the same — was it his conscience at work? Regardless, the result was to uncover a most sordid act of malfeasance, and to warn offenders (who knows how common this is, or how long it’s been going on) that the Board of Elections will be watching, and there will be consequences. And for that he deserves some tiny dollop of credit, melting on the hot mess he created for himself.

A gold star to Sag Harbor Village Trustee Aidan Corish, for his detailed report on paid parking this past summer on Long Wharf. Corish, currently serving his third term on the Village Board, provided the public with a detailed report and presentation on how the village fared with its first foray into the world of paid parking. The report included a bevy of information, including a bottom line of roughly $57,000 in net revenue, which will help the board and public decide on the best path forward when the issue comes up for debate early next year. Whether or not the board, or the public, ultimately supports the initiative, this initial report will provide solid ground to get the discussion started. Meanwhile …

A gold star to the Sag Harbor Village and East Hampton Village boards of trustees, for finally giving paid parking a test run. The reality is, this is a model used throughout the world, and it can be beneficial, especially in Sag Harbor Village, where infrastructure needs a fair amount of repair. The statistics seem to confirm fiscal benefits, and very little negative impact on year-round residents. Ensuring that paid parking and free parking are both available throughout the village has proven successful in both communities — and the boards should be lauded for pushing forward with an idea that had less than unanimous support.

A gold star to local school districts, the towns, the health care community and the state for ensuring that vaccine clinics are available to all children. Finding appointments for younger kids, ages 5 to 11, proved challenging when vaccines opened up for that age group, and the call for access to vaccine clinics was heard — and just in time for the holidays. Parents locally had timely options, and that should mean a more robust commitment, and perhaps some added protection this winter.

A gold star to the Sag Harbor Cinema, for offering compelling and accessible programming in its first year. The diversity of programming available at the cinema has made it a place for everyone in Sag Harbor … for the first time in recent history. The region’s cinephiles have longed for a little movie house where current indy gems are screened along with masterpieces from the past. With all the challenges, it more than delivered in its first year — and gave the South Fork one of its great cocktail spots on the roof to boot. Also …

A gold star to the Hamptons Doc Fest, for bringing back the documentary film festival to Bay Street Theater and adding the new Sag Harbor Cinema as a venue. There is another festival that gets all the headlines, but this one is a true labor of love that features films that not only move audience, they can change things. It’s a cultural gem that the region is fortunate to have.

A dunce cap the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals, for its handling of the Schiavoni application, and for having a membership unavailable for the singular monthly meetings held via Zoom. While the development of the Schiavoni property certainly needs to go through a proper review, it should have been granted exemption from the moratorium at this point and allowed to proceed with that review. This is a family that did the village a favor when it agreed to raze its Long Island Avenue commercial property when the former gas ball property — now a parking lot coveted by both private developers and the village itself — needed to be remediated. They were made promises they could move forward with plans to rebuild, and while the plans proposed have differed from what was there, requiring a formal review, they should have been allowed to proceed. Instead, one cannot help but think that private interests, working both in the open and behind the scenes, are hoping this longstanding Sag Harbor family will become so frustrated that they throw in the towel and sell to the highest bidder — most likely someone who has already purchased property nearby.

A gold star to director Michael Disher, who has battled a cancer diagnosis and is returning to theater by offering “Miracle on 34th Street” at Southampton Cultural Center as a holiday gift to the community. It’s a true gift when a talented man gives of his heart, and this holiday presentation should be cherished by the local community and celebrated as a tribute to the man making sure everyone hits their marks.

A gold star to the Southampton Village Police Department, for using technology to its best advantage. A story this week documents the arrest of a suspect in a hit-and-run involving an ambulance — and the creative way cameras were used to track him down. There’s clearly a level of concern about the “surveillance state,” but this is a story of how observant eyes are necessary to solve crimes, even if they’re electronic. And they require a human brain to put the puzzle together in the end.

A dunce cap local officials — and citizens — for far too much silence at a time of societal change. Cannabis is legal in New York State: All that remains is a legal framework, and local decisions about how to work this new delicacy into our local lives. Now is the time for lively, educated debate about where it should be available, and how, and what precautionary steps must be taken. But the silence has been deafening. In East Hampton, both the village and town held hearings before deciding whether or not to opt out of allowing retail sales for adult recreational use — and nobody spoke, for or against. It’s a change that’s coming, ready or not, and every single citizen should do the homework and speak now, or forever hold you peace.

A gold star to Southampton native Vin Kampf, for his colorful effort to remind people about the threat of pancreatic cancer, to urge support for research into a cure and to pay tribute to those who it has taken from us. The program director of Project Purple, Kampf’s family has been affected by the deadly disease that has killed so many, including, recently, some beloved celebrities. His efforts in November to bathe in purple light four iconic locations in Southampton Village, North Sea and Bridgehampton was a moving observance of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and a powerful call to action.

A gold star to the Southampton Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity, for breaking ground on five new affordable homes in Riverside. In the face of rising construction costs and red tape, these vital organizations will help five more families achieve the American dream. Every little bit matters.

A gold star to the Southampton Town Board, the East Hampton Town Board and the Southampton Village Planning Commission, for the pursuit of adopting NYStretch, an energy code for home building and commercial construction that is about 10 percent more efficient than the standard state building code. International Building Code, which New York largely bases its building code on, is updated every three years, but the energy standards are not being strengthened fast enough to reduce carbon emissions to the degree that is needed to mitigate climate change. All of our local governments should join in the state’s Climate Smart Communities program and adopt NYStretch.