Last week, a letter by David Celi [“Blinding Hypocrisy,” Letters, Western Edition, October 31], who serves as member of the East Quogue Village Exploratory Committee, raised a few issues that require correction and clarification.
In particular, Mr. Celi appears to believe that our organization, and other 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations like ours, are prohibited by law from advocating in support or opposition to public referendums.
Your readers should know this is not the case, and were it not for the campaigning of countless nonprofit organizations over the decades, the vast majority of local, county and state land protection and environmental investment programs (as well as many other public infrastructure investments) simply would not exist.
At the local level, and, more recently, active referendum campaigning by Group for the East End, along with many other environmental and civic groups, expanded the purpose of the Community Preservation Fund to address water quality issues. Through these amendments, the CPF can now help to cover the cost of critical infrastructure projects like installing new water mains to combat well contamination, something very much needed in East Quogue.
What 501(c)(3) organizations like ours are not permitted to do is endorse political candidates, and we don’t. But active engagement in public referendums is a legal and established right under IRS rules.
Finally, Mr. Celi argues that an event held at The Bridge Golf Club for my organization should somehow disqualify us from having an informed opinion about another proposed development that contains a golf course. Again, your readers would do well to know that our efforts to reduce the potential impacts of The Bridge development (including litigation) when it was first proposed (largely at the request of elected officials) as two golf courses, a conference center and well over 100 residential units, were identical to those that we have undertaken to try and reduce the impact of Discovery Land Company’s current golf resort proposal in East Quogue.
In the case of The Bridge, the ultimate project — due in significant part to the owner’s understanding of the area’s sensitive environmental resources — was reduced by more than half, leaving the owner with a single golf course and 20 residential lots on roughly 600 acres. Short of full preservation, this was an acceptable outcome and significantly improved the protection of natural resources over the original plan.
In the case of Discovery Land’s resort proposal, we have hoped for the same level of consideration — but, to date, the project remains significantly more intensive than The Bridge, which was a highly disturbed site and approved all the way back in 1993.
We can and must do better.
Robert S. DeLuca
Group for the East End
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