Birds Might Cancel Camp Plans June 20 -- Suffolk County officials are notifying campers with reservations at Shinnecock East County Park that 19 of the sites could be closed soon if endangered piping plovers spotted at a nearby beach in Southampton Village, known as the Picnic Area, have chicks. In a letter sent out to the campers last week, Phil Berdolt, the county parks commissioner, said campsites 85 through 103 may be closed in the coming weeks “if and when the plover chicks hatch.” He said the area where the sites are located, along the oceanfront, has not yet been closed, and if it does end up closing, the Parks Department would do its best to open it back up as soon as possible.
Dance Till You Drop! January 24 -- The Bridgehampton School Elementary Student Council hosted a dance marathon on Friday in the school gym. The event was organized by fifth-grader and Student Council President, Sascha Gomberg.
The Sunny Side Of The Blind February 28 -- Harbor seals take advantage of a sunny day by basking on a duck blind in Shinnecock Bay in Hampton Bays.
Paying Respect January 21 -- Hundreds of police officers from departments across the country turned out on Wednesday for the funeral of New York Police Department Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, a Calverton resident, at St. Rosalie’s Church in Hampton Bays. Det. Simonsen was killed on February 12 when he and six other officers responded to an armed robbery in Queens.
Museum Delays Test Patience October 10 -- Brenda Simmons is exhausted. That’s the word she uses when she sits down to talk about the Southampton African American Museum, which was supposed to celebrate its grand opening in September on North Sea Road in Southampton Village. For months, work was being done on the building that used to house Randy’s Barber Shop. But that work came to a halt, after it was discovered that the contractor, William Proefriedt of West Babylon, may have falsified documents in his bid to restore the Pyrrhus Concer House on Pond Lane. He’s currently facing felony criminal charges, and was removed from both the Concer House and SAAM projects, both of which are now sitting unfinished, waiting for the next step. Mr. Proefriedt was more than halfway through the work that needed to be done to transform the old barber shop — which was designated as the first African-American historic landmark in Southampton Village in 2010 — into the museum, but the work he did was not up to par, according to both Ms. Simmons, architect Siamak Samii, and officials from LK McLean, the firm that oversees Community Preservation Fund projects. The town is now in the process of preparing to put out a bid again to complete the project, but the work likely won’t be completed until the spring, at the earliest
State Plan Could Help Lake October 10 -- The State Department of Environmental Conservation is running a pilot program that officials hope will remove or reduce the amount of bluegreen algae that plagues Lake Agawam in Southampton Village. Using new technology, the DEC plans to have the algae, also known as cyanobacteria, skimmed from the surface of the lake, pumped to a portable treatment machine, where the algae will be removed and the water treated, before clean H2O is sent back to the lake — the algae that is removed will be transported to a treatment facility somewhere in Suffolk County. “We have a frightening problem with these algal blooms — HABS, or harmful algal blooms,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said last Thursday during a press conference at Agawam Park. “These are toxic algae blooms, and they’re dangerous for pets. They’re dangerous for human consumption. They literally have toxins in them.”
Spelling Success April 11 -- The team is called “The Bridgehampton Spelling Bees,” a nod to the town’s high school mascot, the Killer Bees. They wore matching black T-shirts with their team name on the front, and, on the back, the phrase: “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an ‘I’”—the last letter shown as a Scrabble tile. The Spelling Bees are in their third year of existence at the center and are coached by Ms. Hummel, who also coaches Scrabble teams in the Hampton Bays School District, something she’s done for nearly 20 years. At the elementary and junior high level, players compete in pairs, graduating to one-onone play only when they enter high school.
Spring Song April 11 -- On Long Island, spring peepers have the distinction of being the only chorus frog around, and they are one of just two species of chorus frog in New York State; the other is found near Buffalo. They are distinguished from other small frogs and toads by a signature “X” marking on their backs. Peepers have a short life cycle—anywhere from two to three years—and in the winter, they go into a torpid-like state, their blood freezing to a slushy consistency, which allows them to lay dormant under leaf litter and other hiding places in the marsh until it is time to emerge, issue their distinctive call and mate.
Light Up The Sky August 8 --The Hampton Bays Fire Department’s annual carnival wrapped up as dusk descended.
A Crisis Continues May 16 -- About 45 survivors, friends, family members and support personnel attended a second annual candlelight vigil in Good Ground Park in Hampton Bays to remember those who have lost their lives in the opioid addiction crisis. The event was sponsored by the Town of Southampton Addiction and Recovery Committee.
Let There Be Light May 23 -- For more than 80 years, the neon sign on the façade of the Sag Harbor Cinema stood sentinel over Main Street, its red and blue lettering announcing exactly where one was in the world. Then, on the morning of December 16, 2016, the old movie theater, which was built in 1936, caught fire along with several other buildings on the west side of Main Street. By nightfall, the façade was deemed too weak to stand and was brought down by a bulldozer—the iconic Art Deco letters spelling out “Sag Harbor” came down along with it. The sign, battered and damaged, has been in storage at Twin Forks Moving & Storage in Bridgehampton ever since. But over Memorial Day weekend, the neon sign will once again shine over Main Street. On May 13, the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center, which is rebuilding the movie theater, announced that the Sag Harbor sign will be re-lit on the cinema’s façade in a ceremony on Saturday, May 25, at 8 p.m.
Incubments Return November 7 -- Tuesday was a night for incumbents in Southampton Town, as Jay Schneiderman easily won a third term as supervisor, while his Democratic running mate, John Bouvier, cruised to a second term on the Town Board, assuring that the party will retain its 4-1 margin on the board for the next two years. The four incumbent Town Trustees on the ballot also won reelection — though one seat could be up for grabs when absentee ballots are tallied — and a former longtime Trustee won a vacant fifth seat. Mr. Schneiderman, a resident of Southampton, had 55.25 percent of the vote, a total of 7,087 votes — most on the Democratic line, plus 660 on the Conservative and 258 on the Working Families lines, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of
Eagle Nabbed From Refuge July 18 -- The Quogue Wildlife Refuge’s only bald eagle was stolen from its enclosure early Tuesday morning. As of Wednesday, it was still missing. At 8:30 a.m., refuge staff found an empty enclosure that was cut open, according to Cara Fernandes, the refuge’s program coordinator. They believe that the eagle was taken by an adult man between 3 and 4:15 a.m., based on security footage from cameras in the parking lot, she added. “I think we’re all shocked,” Ms. Fernandes said. The 35-year-old male bald eagle, whose name is Sam, had its right wing amputated and has lived at the refuge for 31 years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service transported him there after it injured its wing in the Western United States. Ms. Fernandes noted that Sam lost his ability to fly as a result of his injury and cannot survive without their care.
Quick Action Closes Dune Breach October 17 -- Big surf and strong winds from a nor’easter churning in the Atlantic Ocean caused a section of Dune Road near the Shinnecock Commercial Fishing Docks to experience washovers on Thursday night, October 10, prompting local, county and state agencies to pounce into action to bolster the dunes. The washovers were the result of a nearly 100-yard section of dune eroding away with the surf and tides, which were higher than normal during the storm. Last Thursday, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman declared a state of emergency due to severe erosion and the potential of coastal flooding along the eastern end of Dune Road, in anticipation of the nor’easter. The declaration allowed the town to accelerate any required coordination with the State Department of Environmental Conservation to move sand and rebuild the dune. It also allowed the town to request assistance from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works to bring in heavy equipment to reconstruct the dune.
Shhhh! It’s A Party! August 15 -- The Southampton Arts Center hosted a “Silent Disco Outdoor Dance Party” on Saturday night — everyone attending donned headphones and moved to their own beat without disturbing the neighbors.
Main Street: ‘It’s Not Closed’ October 3 -- Westhampton Beach clothing store owner Elyse Richman was forced to relocate Shock, her 33-year-old Main Street shop, because the building she was renting space in was about to be rebuilt. She had planned to move into a building across the street in the meantime. But once the village’s Main Street reconstruction project began on September 16 — two weeks earlier than originally planned — she discarded that plan and decided instead to close her business until the building is rebuilt, letting her two employees go. She knew she wouldn’t attract enough customers during the village project to offset the cost of rent and other expenses. “Why would I? I would go, and for what?” Ms. Richman said of relocating. A chain-link fence that lines the sidewalks separates businesses from an active construction site, with vehicles hauling away chunks of Main Street and heavy equipment drilling into the ground. This is the type of view that merchants will see out their storefront windows until mid-May, when the entire project is expected to be completed. The street will be closed through January, but yearround businesses and sidewalks will remain open, as well as all parking lots.
Another Leviathan Falls November 21 -- Researchers from the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, or AMSEAS, conducted a necropsy on a dead humpback whale that washed up onto the beach near Halsey Neck Lane in Southampton on Thursday morning, November 14. AMSEAS received the initial report at 8:35 a.m., and the team arrived on the scene at around 10:45 a.m. and began examining the juvenile female whale, which was 27½ feet long and appeared to be underweight, responders said. The AMSEAS team worked with the Southampton Village Highway Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and a rescue team from the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut to complete the necropsy at around 3:30 p.m., with no significant findings to report. The responding team collected samples that will be taken to a pathologist to help determine the cause of death, which may take several months. The whale was buried on site after the examination. According to AMSEAS, this was the 13th-largest whale and seventh-largest humpback that the organization responded to this year. They said an unusual mortality event has been affecting the regional humpback whale population since 2016.
For The Warriors July 25 -- Hundreds of cyclists and supporters turned out for the annual Soldier Ride to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, on what turned out to be one of the hottest days of the summer. The ride, of varying distances, started in Amagansett, then made its way to Sag Harbor before turning back.
Hot And Cold February 14 -- Firefighters battled a fire in frigid conditions at an unoccupied house on Dune Road in Westhampton during the early morning hours on Sunday. According to a press release from the Westhampton Beach Fire Department, crews were dispatched to the scene at 5:59 a.m. and, upon arrival, found a small house fully engulfed in flames. First Assistant Chief Mauro DiBenedetto said the home was located on Dune Road between Westhampton Beach and West Hampton Dunes, in unincorporated Westhampton. Once the first engine arrived, the flames were knocked down within 20 minutes, and the crews spent another 20 minutes extinguishing another fire in a chimney area. Firefighters spent additional time inspecting the house for any other hidden pockets of fire within the walls or ceilings.
An Antiques Mecca Loses Its Anchor January 3 -- Walking through Eastport’s quaint downtown district, it was hard to miss Lloyd’s Antiques. The three-story, 10,000-square-foot concrete building naturally stood out from the surrounding cottage-style stores. Large windows that lined its facade always displayed an array of curious antiques, with big “sale” signs hanging from the ceiling. Inside, the store was filled with a seemingly endless number of trinkets and treasures, household goods and used furniture. Now, peering through the storefront windows, passersby will see an empty interior that hadn’t looked that way in over 40 years. The Montauk Highway building sits vacant as it waits to be signed over to its new owner. The antiques shop’s owner, 87-year-old Lloyd Gerard, spent the last three years clearing everything out of the cavernous store before finally closing for good in November. He held big “going out of business” sales, getting rid of most of his merchandise, and ultimately transferring what was left to a storage unit on his 15-acre Calverton farm. “The antiques business just ain’t what it used to be,” Mr. Gerard said, when asked why he decided to close the shop that he had operated since 1978.
A Disaster Discovered In The Bays November 7 -- A massive and mysterious die-off of bay scallops over the past summer wiped out as much of 95 percent of the valuable and iconic shellfish in parts of the Peconic Bay system, raising concerns about the effect that climate change may have on the future of the East End’s most famous natural resource. The scale of the losses, the scientists who have documented the destruction said, is so great in some areas as to be reminiscent of the devastation wreaked by some of the infamous “brown tide” algae blooms of the late 1980s and early 1990s, which decimated the wild stock and all but ended a centuries-old commercial fishing industry that relied solely on harvests from the East End’s bays. The cause of this year’s devastation is not immediately clear, but scientists say that the archenemy of bay scallops — algae blooms like brown tide and the more recent “rust tide” — do not appear to be at fault, and other likely culprits also do not seem to be to blame. What’s left to blame, according to one of researchers who has tracked the die-off, is a confluence of environmental conditions and the stresses of the scallops’ own biological cycles that may have killed the shellfish, even as they sowed the seeds of next year’s stock.
Sign Controversy May 2 - The Shinnecock Indian Nation began constructing two 61-foot-tall electronic billboards at the same site on Sunrise Highway and were sued by the State Department of Transportation for failing to obtain state work permits for the project. Tribal leaders claimed that their federal recognition meant that they did not have to obtain approvals from the state for work done on tribal land. The legal battle continues.
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