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The East Hampton Star. (East Hampton, N.Y.) 1885-current, January 26, 1978, Image 1

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Persistent link: http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn83030960/1978-01-26/ed-1/seq-1/


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East Hampton Survives An Arctic E xperience The heaviest snowfall here in per­ haps over a decade hit last Thursday night, and by the time people peered out of their homes Friday morning it was deep enough to cancel plans, gather about the fireside, and wonder if western Suffolk’s fate had finally caught up with us. All told, the area weathered the 14-inch accumulation rather well, though there were problems along Route 114, a responsibility of the New York State Department of Transport­ ation, and East Hampton officials were criticized by some for a delay in declaring emergency conditions so that publicly-owned snow removal equip­ ment could be used to plow private roads and driveways. Yet things would have been far worse, veteran weather observers said, had the snow not turned to rain later Friday morning, producing a crust that prevented very high drift­ ing, which, with the high northeast winds gusting to 75 miles per hour, could have been expected. Fortunate “We’re most fortunate that the snow turned to rain,” said the Star’s weather columnist, Richard G. Hendrickson, later in the week. “Otherwise, we’d be digging out of ten-foot drifts now.” The freeze, though, was not an unmixed blessing, for it made plowing very difficult. The Town virtually came to a stand­ still last Friday. In the morning, radio stations announced closing after closing, and innumerable cancellations of meetings and events. Schools, Town Hall, Village Hall, businesses, mail delivery—everything came to a halt as Highway Departments and private contractors went into action. Besides the plowers, few people ventured out during the storm, and thus there were few accidents. The East Hampton Village Police reported none, while the Town Police reported only two or three as having occurred over the weekend. Those accounts appear elsewhere. Bridge Snarl A morning snarl-up of five vehicles on the Sag Harbor-North Haven bridge, however, caused by a bread truck that had slid sideways, prevented passage and the clearing of Route 114 in North Haven until about 7 p.m. Friday. Also, one of the State’s plows became stuck near the intersection of Bay Street and Hampton Street to further slow things down. Seven or eight vehicles—pickup trucks and cars—were stranded for hours that day along a mile-long stretch further south on Route 114, between Stephen Hand’s Path and Cove Hollow Road, where drifts, unimpeded by snow fencing, were as high as ten feet. Criticism of the State’s handling of Route 114 and that section of Route 27 between Town Line Road and Toilsome Lane was unanimous among local Town and Village officials in charge of highway crews. Complaints “No, the State didn't do a good job,” said East Hampton Village Highway/ Public Works Superintendent Bruce Collins. “It was a disaster as far as I’m concerned.” Mr. Collins said the Village might send a letter of complaint, and a Town Councilman, Larry Cantwell, said that if the Town Board did not, he would. “The State fell on its face on Route 114,” said East Hampton Town High­ way Superintendent John Bistrian, who had been released from South­ ampton Hospital just before the storm hit. “They used broken equipment and the guys who ran it were a bunch of amateurs.” Robert Schwarz, who was in charge of the State's operation on the East End, said Tuesday, “For that storm we were under-equipped, and so was everyone else.” The State’s troubles were exacer­ bated, Mr. Schwarz said, by the long time it took to get “authorization” from Albany to hire private contractors to supplement the two “plow-and-sand- combos” the State had here. And Praise Mr. Bistrian, Mr. Collins, and Patrick Kern, a Sag Harbor Village Trustee who oversaw Sag Harbor’s operation, all expressed satisfaction with the way things had gone in their bailiwicks, and praised their crews. Mr. Bistrian, who had been treated for pneumonia and angina at the Hospital, “made a showing” at the Highway barn on Thursday, “but my feet were wobbly and I went back home. My wife almost killed me.” He put his chief foreman, William Talmage, in charge, and Mr. Bistrian’s son, Frank, and an off-duty Town Police Officer, Kenneth Neuhaus, served as dispatchers in the Highway barn in the absence of Mr. Bistrian’s secretary, Florence Hand, who was vacationing in Antigua, and Fred Tucker, who was ill. “It went great,” said Mr. Bistrian. “I’m proud. I think we were the only community whose roads were open right through from the beginning.” Continued on Page 5 Board Covets Docks The East Hampton Town Board, snowed out of its regular meeting Friday, gathered Tuesday morning in Supervisor Ronald P. Rioux’s office instead, decided to ask the State if it could rent the disused docks at Promised Land, appointed two Town attorneys, heard a lament from a Northwest resident whose private road the Town had not plowed, stood for a minute of silence in memory of Senator Hubert Humphrey, and received a letter of resignation from a Town Assessor who has been appointed as a “special legislative aide” to the County Legislature. The Promised Land docks, which served the defunct fish factory there, became State property last year with the acquisition of the State Park at Napeague. Apparently the westerly part of the dock complex can be made usable again with comparably little effort, while the easterly part is in a state of sorry decrepitude. The Town Board’s idea is to trans­ form them into a Town-run docking facility for commercial fishing boats, like the Town docks in Lake Montauk and Three Mile Harbor. Councilman Samuel Lester, chairman of the Board’s harbors and docks committee, said he thought they could be made to accom­ modate at least 12 vessels. How much would the work cost? “You’re probably talking around $20,000,” he said. In return the Town would collect a docking fee, as it does at its other docks, of $6 per foot per year. Negotiate A resolution the Board passed Tues­ day authorized Supervisor Rioux to try to negotiate a lease with State Park officials, who, according to Mr. Lester, have “said they would be willing to talk about it.” The lawyers the Board hired, Ed­ ward Horne and Stanley Hyman, join James 0. Berlinger, who was named Town attorney earlier this month. Mr. Berlinger, whose salary is $15,000, is to concern himself mainly with Town Board matters, while Mr. Horne, to be paid $3,689, was named the Zoning Board’s lawyer, and Mr. Hyman, $3,500, the Planning Board’s. Mr. Horne's was a reappointment. The previous Town attorney, Duane Whelan, also counselled the Planning Board as part of his duties. However, the Board is planning to have its augmented legal staff handle some of the litigation for which an outside law firm has always been hired, thereby, it says, saving money in the long run. Mr. Butts The Assessor who is resigning, Frederick Butts Jr. of Sag Harbor, was named by Joseph Caputo, presiding officer of the County Legislature, “to serve as liaison representative be­ tween the Suffolk Legislature and the County’s Towns and Villages.” Mr. Butts is also co-chairman of the Town Republican Committee. He said his salary as a legislative aide would be “twenty thousand and change.” As chairman of the Town Board of Assessors, he was paid $16,050. He has also appeared on the State Assembly’s payroll as a “research assistant” to the Republican minority with a bi-weekly salary of $255. He described this, however, as an “off-and-on” job that he was given when the minority needed advice on assessment matters; he was not drawing State pay now, he said. Mr. Caputo, who became presiding officer when Republicans regained control of the Legislature this year, was quoted in a press release as saying Mr. Butts’s job “was created to clear the way ‘for meaningful dialogue’ between different levels of government in Suffolk County.” Appointment The press release added: “ ‘We are especially concerned that there will be agreement in most municipal matters, like requests for home-rule resolutions and things like that,’ said Caputo of East Islip who said Butts also would be in touch with State Legislators in Albany from his office in Hauppauge in cases where such inter-government contact is beneficial to Suffolk resi­ dents.” Mr. Butts said the aide’s position he would be filling was not itself new, but its duties would be. Town Republican chairman Edward V. Ecker reportedly asked the Repub­ lican Committee Tuesday night to round up resumes of potential candi­ dates for appointment by -the Town Board to the Assessor’s post Mr. Butts is vacating. A rumor that the Com­ mittee planned to recommend ex- Assessor and ex-Town Justice Edward Hults was denied by Mr. Butts, who said it had not yet begun discussing specific names. Other Town Board business Tuesday included the scheduling of a special meeting, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7, to which various public hearings that were to have occurred at Friday’s snowed-out meeting were postponed. V. Schaffner Club Sale Is Questioned As negotiations were being held this week between the Montauk Improve­ ment Company and the State concern­ ing possible purchase of the Montauk Golf and Racquet Club, questions surfaced here about an association between the Company’s president, Morton P. Hyman, and Governor Hugh L. Carey and whether it might have an effect on the selling price. The figure being given here was $1.5 million, though no one would say where the figure came from. The Hyman- Carey link was mentioned privately, and Mr. Hyman, when confronted yesterday, said the following: “That price is not the price being discussed. Discussions with the State commenced, I guess, about two years ago, long before my appointment [he was appointed by the Governor last October as vice chairman of the State’s health planning commission]. I have not participated in any of the discus­ sions, and I, personally, don’t have any economic interest involved. I am an employe of the Corporation that owns it, but I’m not a shareholder.” Below Value Mr. Hyman continued: “I think it’s very distasteful that a tie-in should be made. I don’t get paid for my public service, and the negotiations pre-date my appointment.” Asked about the rumored $1.5 million selling price, Mr. Hyman said, “It’s less than $1.5 million, but at this stage I don’t feel it’s appropriate to say. The price is below the appraised value, below replacement value, and way below the cost of any new facility. Surrounding acreage is also being discussed, 20 or so additional acres, contiguous with the golf course.” Asked if purchase by the State were imminent, Mr. Hyman replied, “They’re Ice-Scape John Spear well along in negotiations.” John Sheridan, general manager of Parks and Recreation in this area, said, “We certainly are talking, but nothing has been resolved.” Committee Talk At a meeting of the Montauk Citizens Planning Committee Tuesday morning, at which about six of its 15 members were present, the talk ran against State purchase on the following grounds: the recreational facilities (golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool, and club house), now taxed at about $9,000, would be taken off the tax rolls; the State would fence the perimeter, and the Town would lose control of the golf course, which had been designated open space in perpetuity in return for permission to cluster 192 units on a 29-acre parcel within the course. Captain Joseph Moakley was the Continued on Page 10 Offshore Oil: Handle With Care Oil spills from offshore drilling operations could cost Long Island’s recreation and fishing industries more than the “modest” economic gains such operations may bring in the form of jobs for New Yorkers, according to an “Assessment of Impacts” released last week by the State Department of Environmental Conservation. The study, which also characterizes the energy gains from offshore oil and gas as uncertain and at best relatively small, was regarded as good news, but rather late, by environmentalists who have opposed offshore drilling for years and are suing to prevent it. The possible economic gains would depend largely on whether the oil companies decide, and are allowed, to build onshore support facilities in the State. The study names 12 potential sites for them, including Fort Pond Bay in Montauk. In “Subplan” Fort Pond Bay was also described as technically the best place on Long Island for such onshore facilities in an “Energy Facilities Subplan'’ prepared by the Nassau-Suffolk Regional Plan­ ning Board, part of the Board’s recently-completed Coastal Zone Man­ agement Plan. The Plan and the DEC’S study were both funded through the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act. The Energy Subplan does not recommend building such facilities at Fort Pond Bay or anywhere else on Long Island—it simply identifies feasi­ ble sites for them—and it paints a bleak picture of their environmental con­ sequences. When it first became known last October that the Plan would name Fort Pond Bay as a possible site, Lee Koppelman, the Board’s director, ex­ plained that provisions of the Act required it to make such an inventory, even though the Board in fact opposed offshore drilling. The Board had, he noted, done the research for Suffolk County’s lawsuit opposing it. Academic Question? What the plans say about Fort Pond Bay may be academic anyway, since the East Hampton Town Board in 1975 amended the Town’s zoning ordinance with some wording that it was con­ fident would keep oil drilling opera­ tions out. The part of the Bay shore that environmentalists had viewed with alarm, and which the Energy Subplan envisions, is a 172-acre tract on its west side, formerly used for sand mining and now vacant and idle, zoned “commercial-industrial.” As the amended ordinance reads, “light processing and manufacturing activities” are allowed in commercial- industrial districts. They “are to meet the needs of the local community for building supplies, etc., and are not intended for any heavy manufacturing or distribution activities unrelated to the local community.” Petroleum pro­ ducts can be stored there, but only “for local retail distribution.\ These restrictions were enacted following an anti-offshore-oil campaign by the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, which also joined in the County’s lawsuit. But William Dudine, the CCOM’s lawyer in the suit, said this week that he still thought offshore oil was a threat to the Bay, despite the restrictions, which he warned were “vulnerable” to requests for zoning variances, or could be rescinded by some future Town Board. Downzoning was “always a possibility,” he said. Conceived Threats Another conceivable threat was mentioned by Town Supervisor Ronald P. Rioux, who noted that, while oil companies would have to comply with local zoning, it apparently would not bind the Department of the Interior if the Federal government ever decided to get into the business of offshore drilling itself. Mr. Dudine also expressed unhap­ piness with the Energy Subplan, despite the official disclaimers. “We have had assurances from Dr. Koppel­ man that nothing was serious, that oil depots were not contemplated, that it won’t happen,” he said, “but all the assurances we can gather might not be enough to withstand a concerted effort by the oil companies—and by concerted effort I mean propaganda—to make this thing look terribly attractive economically, and minimally harmful from the environmental viewpoint.” The oil companies themselves, he added, “all through the lawsuit have taken the position that they are planning no onshore facilities on Long Island. But any time they want to change their mind they can.” Drilling Sites He conceded that the DEC’s new report was good counter-propaganda. But he complained that he “would have expected hearing it sooner.” “They’re reciting the gospel,” he said, “that we’ve been arguing for nearly three years now: the alleged economic benefits are indeed minimal— for us—and the risks are tremendous.” Two sections of the ocean bottom that appear destined for drilling are 569,000 acres in the Baltimore Canyon area 100 miles south of Long Island, for which the Interior Department sold oil Continued on Page 9 School District Merger? The Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton School Boards have decided to look into the costs and benefits of merging their two Districts, an idea that been discussed informally at recent meet­ ings of both Boards. The decision was made at a private joint-session of the two Boards held on Monday, Jan. 16, at which the chief administrators of the two Districts, Lyle Chenoweth of Sag Harbor and Dr. Frank McGowan of Bridgehampton, were instructed to seek assistance for the study from Philip Peters, superin­ tendent of the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, District One. Dr. McGowan said Tuesday that he has since contacted BOCES about the study, and Mr. Chenoweth said either Mr. Peters or another BOCES repre­ sentative was expected to meet him and Dr. McGowan within the next two weeks. Mr. Peters added that he had not received any formal request for a study from the two Boards, but that he was aware of their joint-meeting and the merger discussion. A Lot To Learn Members of both Boards emphasized that their discussion had been “in­ formal” and that both Districts had “a lot to learn” before any decisions could be made. They also said they expected the study to take some time, and that no deadlines had been set for complet­ ing the study or putting a proposition before the voters of their Districts. John Niles, president of the Bridge­ hampton School Board, said there definitely would be no action at all before the end of the school year. “It was just a discussion,” Mr. Niles said about the recent joint session, adding that the meeting raised more questions than it answered, foremost of which was cost. “They have debts and we don’t,” he said, speaking of Sag Harbor. “Naturally we would have to assume all debts,” he said. Another important issue that would have to be studied is the matter of teachers’ contracts. While Sag Harbor schools are unionized, Bridgehampton is not. None of the persons questioned about the recent closed meeting of the two Boards was willing to give his own opinion about consolidation, or comment on how the idea was received by the individual Boards. All said the meeting was “congenial” and “friend­ ly,\ but added little else, and both Boards voted to make Mr. Niles and Dr. John Bishop, who is president of the Sag Harbor Board, official spokes­ men on the consolidation issue. Other Board members and School adminis­ trators would be forbidden from making public statements regarding the controversial subject, it was de­ cided. Skeptical Dr. Bishop’s report on the joint session, given at the Sag Harbor School Board’s regular monthly meeting, Jan. 19, was short. He indicated, though, that Bridgehampton officials were somewhat skeptical of the consolida­ tion proposal, initiated by Sag Harbor, although they were willing to partici­ pate in a study. Both Districts have junior and senior high schools, with relatively small enrollments (Bridgehampton has 135 students in grades seven through 12 and Sag Harbor has 410 students in the same grades). The budget in Sag Harbor is nearly twice the Bridge­ hampton school budget—$2,302,064 Continued on Page 6 VOL. XCinV NO. 21 JANUARY 26, 1978

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