Letters to the Editor: 2/23/17
Applause for Affordable Cottages
Dear Ms. Menu,
What a thrill to see your front page story for the eight affordable cottages on Route 114 proposed by the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust — and now supported by the East Hampton Town Board. As described in your detailed article, these cottages are elegantly planned and environmentally sound. And we all know how very much they are needed.
I commend the members of the Sag Harbor Community Trust for their imagination, hard work, and long, thoughtful effort.
I am proud that Sag Harbor is at last taking a step to remain economically diverse, to welcome the young and shelter the elderly.
I am only sad that the only available site was just beyond the boundaries of the Sag Harbor School District. It would be wonderful if any children who might live in this housing could become fully a part of this community by going to school here too.
Opportunity to Preserve
The terrible loss due to yet another Sag Harbor fire has taken a lot of energy from the community. I feel it as we wait to see what will be decided upon in restoration, and I trust that the Sag Harbor Cinema will return.
I was then startled when I read Stephen Kotz’s fine summary of “A Neighborhood In Transition,” (Feb. 16, 2017. Page C3) reviewing the concern of those who live in the historical Sag Harbor communities in Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Ninevah and their search for village historical status. I only lived in Sag Harbor 25 years, now with my son in Montauk, although I loved it from the beginning, when it was referred to as the “Unhamptons.” It was like my old village of Freeland, in Michigan. All who live here or visit, know that Sag Harbor is a unique community that preserves the sense of history in all of its permutations. This historically black community — so unique in those days, and still so, is a part of the 300-plus years of visual history in one village. I needn’t recount how Sag Harbor became Federal, State, and Village historically recognized — its importance is in evidence. I hope that some community energy can be salvaged for the designation of these communities as an integral part of the historical definition and enlargement of Sag Harbor’s boundaries.
Bay Street Supports Main Street
The following is a letter to Mayor Schroeder and the Sag Harbor Board of Trustees.
We are writing to express our dismay at the board’s recent response to Bay Street Theatre’s change-of-date request for its annual gala. Further, we were deeply troubled by Trustee O’Donnell’s remark, on the public record: “You’re asking to take 88 parking spots at the end of the equation so that Alec Baldwin can sit down there and drink his scotch.”
Main Street business owners have made their support of Bay Street overwhelmingly clear, and attested that the parking inconvenience for one weekend was a small price to pay for the value that Bay Street brings to their businesses through the balance of the year, as evidenced by the many letters that Executive Director Tracy Mitchell brought to the meeting.
Equally importantly, Alec Baldwin has contributed millions of dollars and countless hours to our community’s causes — from our local arts organizations to our libraries, education programs, women’s health issues and clean water initiatives, to name but a few. If Mr. Baldwin chooses to attend a gala for a not-for-profit organization, it is to lend his considerable name and generous support — not for his own entertainment.
We hope the board will reconsider this short-sighted decision, and make good on this slight to both a valued local resource and an outstanding community member.
Emma Walton Hamilton and Stephen Hamilton
Co-Founders, Bay Street Theatre
P.S. Before a trustee makes a disparaging remark, he would be wise to check his facts. Mr. Baldwin is a non-drinker.
The #American Dream
Why are all these people protesting?
I’ve been hearing this question since the day after the election, when college students across the country, including my daughter, first flooded into the streets. I continue to hear this question asked — sometimes sincerely other times cynically — following more recent uprisings. Many seem bewildered or incensed by the Women’s March, the spontaneous airport demonstrations against the immigrant ban, the uproar on social media and in the press about conflicts of interest, and the flood of visits, calls and letters to members of congress.
I’ve also heard those questioning the protests answer their own question by dismissing people speaking out as “senseless,” “unpatriotic,” or even as just a bunch of “whiny, spoiled brats.” I would reply by saying that these protests are as American as apple pie.
We who speak out are doing so in an effort to protect the principles that make this country great. In accordance with these ideals, the protests so far have been overwhelmingly positive and peaceful. To borrow from Martin Luther King Jr.: We have a dream.
We have a dream of a respectful nation: that no matter who you are — no matter your color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, income, religion, age, disability, or country of origin — we are all members of the human race. We all have the right to be treated fairly and to be measured by our deeds and not by our identities.
We have a dream of an informed and thoughtful nation: with public education for all and a free and honest press celebrating truth and the open exchange of ideas.
We have a dream of a healthy nation: where all people are protected from disease and unsafe conditions, and are able to get care when they are sick.
We have a dream of a pristine nation: with unspoiled public parks for all to visit, clean water for all to drink, pure air for all to breathe, and a safe climate for all to inhabit.
We have a dream of a connected and accessible nation: with well-repaired public roads and bridges; walkways, waterways, and parks; public transportation and telecommunications.
We have a dream of a safe nation: a place where people can live free from the fear of international terrorism and of domestic violence, of street violence and of systemic violence.
We have a dream of an open nation: not a country that is shut off behind walls, punitive tariffs and immigration bans, but instead interconnected with the world to boost prosperity and peace through trade and travel.
Haven’t we all been taking this dream for granted? These values are under attack by those in our government who would trample on the truth with “alternative facts,” stir up fear and resentment, or use power for personal advantage.
Civilization depends upon civic engagement, which must not end at the ballot box. I hear too many people say, “Suck it up, it’s out of your hands now,” or “It’s just too painful to pay attention.” I get it. But it also can be empowering to take action. And while we need to pace ourselves, and pick our battles, at the very least we should try.
Like apple pie, protest is sweetly and deeply American. Whether individual or collective, a conversation or a rally, written or spoken, somber or satiric, painted, sung or knit — peaceful protest is not just a right in the United States, but a responsibility that is essential to the preservation and defense of democracy and our shared American Dream.
Safer Sag Harbor
To the Editor:
The frightening overdose of Jordan Johnson in Springs at the end of January has appropriately received a great deal of attention in local media and, as a result, has served as a wake-up call to all South Fork communities as we all talk about ways to make sure such incidents do not happen again.
Fortunately, it appears as if Jordan is on his way to recovery, and our thoughts will be with him. It’s important for parents to understand that, in reference to this particular circumstance, there is a resource to report a suspected underage party at which drugs and alcohol are being used. Parents can call the New York State Police at 1-866-UNDER21, anonymously, and they will dispatch the appropriate local law enforcement agency.
But more important is to develop strategies to engage our kids in fun and healthy activities so the drug and alcohol parties don’t happen in the first place. We are all so lucky to live in a place that abounds with fun and safe recreational opportunities the whole family can enjoy together, from our beautiful beaches in the summer to ice skating in the winter, to name just a couple.
At SAFE (Substance-Abuse-Free Environment) in Sag Harbor, we are always looking for new and fun activities for our kids that don’t involve drugs and alcohol. We’re always open to new ideas, and we encourage you to bring your thoughts to the table and help us to make sure that drug and alcohol parties involving kids become a thing of the past.
Michelle Wilks, Project Coordinator,
SAFE in Sag Harbor