Gold Stars And Dunce Caps - 27 East

Gold Stars And Dunce Caps

authorStaff Writer on Jul 13, 2022

DUNCE CAP: To Sag Harbor Mayor Jim Larocca, for reshuffling the regulatory boards in the village — and leaving out two key voices in the mix. Larocca may have had the best intentions, ensuring that board seat vacancies are staggered and bringing some veterans, like John Shaka, back into the fold. But making sweeping changes to regulatory boards just as the largest project in since the Watchcase condominium development is about to begin its review raises a lot of questions. Jeanne Kane has been an excellent, vocal and effective chair of the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board and likely will prove as effective as the new chair of the ZBA. But for others, there will be a sharp learning curve at a time when the village needs stability and institutional knowledge on its boards more than ever. The loss of Susan Mead, a veteran land use attorney who may understand zoning and planning more than most in Sag Harbor Village, is unfortunate. And while Megan Toy might have been one of the younger members of the Village Planning Board, she is in the demographic most affected by the lack of housing and opportunity on the East End of Long Island, and one that is least represented in local government. Curious timing, to say the very least.

DUNCE CAP: To East Hampton Town officials, who got a painful tongue-lashing from a judge — but it’s town taxpayers who will feel the pain in their wallets. The courts have been less than kind to the town in its ongoing battle at “Truck Beach,” and there’s plenty of room for criticism of the rulings. But such rulings cannot be ignored — and town officials chose not to block access by protesters this spring, essentially thumbing their nose at a State Supreme Court justice. An earlier sign seemed to suggest that access was still available “for fishing and fishing related purposes,” even though the justice had removed that exception. Meanwhile, town officials have been uncooperative, suggesting they are either in a snit or have something to hide. Either way, both the fine and the judge’s harsh words were justified — even if he’s wrong, when a judge tells you to do something, you do it.

GOLD STAR: To Rechler Equity Partners, for bringing in a striking piece of public art, and the Southampton Town Board for letting them. There will be grousing — there always is when something unusual is proposed — but the 16-foot-tall deer sculpture by artist Tony Tasset is, well, cool. With all the changes at the Shinnecock Canal site, it’s a moment to add a roadside element that will be noticed and that will get people talking, if not fawning over it. Just watch out: You don’t want to see the ticks on that one.

GOLD STAR: To Southampton Town Clerk Sundy Schermeyer and Town Historian Julie Greene, for protecting relics of the town’s history. It’s not just for sake of posterity — the binders of 19th century maps and other documents remain important town records that need to be accessed. Both officials have full plates, so their decade-long effort to protect these municipal treasures is worthy of praise, and appreciation, from town residents.

GOLD STAR: To Mayor Maria Moore and members of the Westhampton Beach Village Board, for their vision in efforts to move and restore the Governor John Adams Dix Windmill, named for the 19th century state official who built a home on the property in 1870. What started off as a casual conversation — the new owners of the windmill site, on Sunswyck and Beach lanes, said they would be willing to donate it to the village — blew up into a full-fledged village and town effort to preserve the historic windmill. It was moved this week, in four pieces, to the village’s Great Lawn, and in coming months it will be rebuilt and restored to its original glory. That’s truly good government in action.

DUNCE CAP: To the Southampton Village Board, for continuing to ignore a perfectly reasonable plea by the Shinnecock Nation for access to Coopers Beach. It seems haughty to keep ignoring the idea that the village’s first inhabitants shouldn’t have the right to park at the beach there. Shinnecock Territory is outside the village’s borders, but history certainly suggests those borders are arbitrary, and it would be neighborly to listen to the weekend’s protests, which weren’t the first, and grant this modest request. If village officials continue to turn a deaf ear, it’s time to start asking what’s really motivating them.

GOLD STAR: To the Wobensmith family of Sag Harbor, for going over and above for a turtle in need. At a time when it’s ambitious even to expect a motorist to stop and help a turtle trying to cross a busy road, the family found Lilly, an injured diamondback terrapin, four years ago, and got her to Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons. Now that Lilly is fully recovered, they got to release her into Noyac Creek, near their home. It was a happy ending, and a reminder of the positive impact humans can have on the animals we share this beautiful setting with.

GOLD STAR: For the Plain Sight Project, and its founder, David Rattray, for a continuing act of fundamental justice that forces the region to come to terms with a painful history that was too long hidden. The East Hampton Star editor created the project in 2017 to tell the untold stories of men and women who were enslaved by East End families during the settlement’s early years. With the help of his daughter, Evvy, the effort now includes installing engraved bricks identifying these men and women, giving them tangible purchase of the land they helped build. It’s a simple and stunning effort that continues to gain momentum and truly has made a difference.

GOLD STAR: Belatedly, to the graduates of 2022, who deserve an extra helping of congratulations for getting through their final high school years in the chaos of COVID. Rarely has the world changed so significantly in such a short time, and much of the impact was felt in schools, where students were forced to find new ways to learn. To their credit, so many of these young men and women rose to the occasion, developed the new skills and strengths they needed, and recently walked on stage to pick up a high school diploma, no small victory in these circumstances. Here’s to the challenges ahead, which, we’re confident, they’ll meet with confidence.

GOLD STAR: For the Bridgehampton Civic Association, for taking matters into their own hands. As members of the Citizens Advisory Committee, they found the town simply ignoring their input on key issues. The switch from CAC to Civic Association seems incidental, but it’s not — freed from the strictures of serving Town Hall directly, the new group can take much more of an advocacy role when necessary, and it also can expand to tackle beautification projects in Bridgehampton. In short, it can be louder and prouder, and that’s definitely good for Bridgehampton and its residents.

DUNCE CAP: To the neighbors of 230 Elm Street in Southampton Village who moved to the neighborhood in the past decade and would have the rest of us believe that the venue was never a catering hall prior to 2000. The caterer Elegant Affairs plans to use the facility for weddings and other events — which is not unlike how it has been used since its inception, when the Polish-American Political Club of Southampton built it. Still, the neighbors are trying anything they can — including fighting a new handicapped-accessible entrance — to prevent the business from opening. It’s fair to say that neighbors had a difficult few years when the site evolved into something more like a nightclub. But that’s why the neighbors should be celebrating this new tenant instead of lumping it in with a past operators of 230 Elm Street and nearby venues. The neighbors should keep in mind that parking violations, litter and late-night noise are code enforcement issues, not zoning issues.

GOLD STAR: To Shinnecock Nation member Kelly Dennis, who has been selected to be part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee. Dennis has been a key part of the nation’s new leadership, and she will provide outstanding representation for the entire region’s Native American community as the federal government moves forward. It’s wonderful to see local talent recognized in Washington, D.C.

DUNCE CAP: To the region’s reckless, aggressive drivers — if you wonder if we’re talking to you, we probably are. There have been several fatal accidents this summer already, and though reckless driving was not necessarily a factor in those particular tragedies, they offer a reminder of the high stakes every time you get behind the wheel. Summer on the South Fork means more cars, more bicycles, more joggers and pedestrians, more kids. It also means an influx of drivers who are less familiar with the quirks of driving through the hamlets and villages, and on the back roads. Everyone: Slow down, please, and use the summer to try a new tactic — be courteous on the roads.

GOLD STAR: To Theresa Roden and her i-tri organization, for returning this week with the Hamptons Youth Triathlon, which will take place on Saturday, July 16, at Long Beach in Noyac after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The triathlon, which attracts some of the East End’s elite junior athletes, also serves as a ceremonial finish line for months of hard work by i-tri girls, ages 11 to 14, many who were unable to swim long distances or bike more than the length of their own block when the program began. Any program that fosters self-respect, empowerment, self-confidence and healthy lifestyle choices for adolescent girls is worth the hard work to bring back, hopefully, for many years to come.