East End Digest – July 24

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Bob Posillico of CPG Construction has been appointed to the board of directors for the Long Island 9/11 Memorial. The Westhampton Beach resident has had an extensive career in the construction industry and said he is honored to have the opportunity to participate in the memorial’s worthy cause.

East Hampton: Reflecting Deer

According to the East Hampton Group for Wildlife in a report they gave to the East Hampton Town Board, preliminary findings on Stephan Hands Path in East Hampton suggest the Strieter-Lite roadside reflectors reduce vehicle/deer collisions.

Between January 17 and June 30 zero collisions occurred on a six-tenths of a mile test site, compared to nine collisions on the 2.8 miles of the rest of the road (east and west of the test site). The possibility of this difference in collisions occurring by chance is less than one percent, according to a press release issued by the East Hampton Group for Wildlife.

The group decided to conduct a pilot study of the effectiveness of the reflectors because vehicle/deer collisions take such a heavy toll in both property damage and deer mortality. Each year, there are over 250 deer pick-ups from collisions in the town.

In January 2008, Ron Delsener, vice president of the group, donated funds to purchase the reflectors. Michael Moran, president of the East Hampton Fence Company, donated the labor for the installation. The project was supported by the town of East Hampton with collision data provided by the town highway and police departments.

“This study is small, but it shows that the reflectors are promising,” said Bill Crain, East Hampton Group for Wildlife President. “The town should support a much larger study. The study suggests humans can live in harmony with wildlife, if only they think more creatively about it.”

U.S. Senate: Home Heating Worry

With oil prices rising, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer pointed to a new report last week detailing the astronomical prices New Yorkers will pay to heat their homes this winter. Schumer’s report shows that prices are set to skyrocket between 25 percent over last year, saddling New Yorkers with an average heating bill increase of $720 for oil this winter. This increase will mean that New Yorkers will pay an estimated $1.24 billion more this winter than last winter. Schumer says there are simple steps now that seniors and low-income families can take to help reduce those bills well in advance of the winter freeze.

Schumer unveiled a plan to dramatically expand the federal LIHEAP program that provides direct aid to help families cover high home heating bills.

“Unless we take immediate action, families across New York State will be paying an arm and leg to heat their homes this winter,” said senator Schumer. “The energy crisis isn’t just hitting New Yorkers at the pump, but it’s going to hit right at home this winter.”

Schumer revealed data regarding the expected jump in heating costs for the winter 2008-2009 home heating season. With crude oil prices spiking to over $140 a barrel earlier this month — and some energy analysts are predicting it could hit $150 a barrel this winter —estimates are showing that the average American household will once again face ever-increasing home heating bills this winter. The expected price increase per household for the winter heating season is $780 for fuel oil. Last year, New York families paid an average of $1,996 to heat their homes with fuel oil over the course of the winter season.

Suffolk County residents are expected pay $287.1 million more this winter to heat their homes. Exactly 297,010 Suffolk County households use fuel oil to heat their homes. 

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. residential electricity prices are also expected to increase at a rate of three percent this year. States undergoing market restructuring continue to experience more rapid price increases as rate caps expire and higher fuel costs are passed through to consumers. In some instances, customers may see rate increases of up to 50 percent. 

Schumer unveiled his plan to dramatically expand the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides direct assistance to low-income families and seniors who are struggling to pay their bills. Schumer is joining with a bi-partisan group of Senators and introducing new legislation, S.3186, the Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act, which would provide $2.53 billion in additional emergency LIHEAP funding for this winter.

Schumer is also requesting the President release an additional $120 million in emergency LIHEAP aid to get the money flowing in to the system right away. Schumer argued today that opening up LIHEAP is essential to assisting New York State households meet rising bills this winter.

Bridgehampton Historical Society: Rogers House Update

The Bridgehampton Historical Society will announce the details of its progress to date and launch the next phase of efforts to fully restore the Nathaniel Rogers House at 2 p.m. today, Thursday, July 24 at the Rogers House site. Officials, including Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot, will be on hand.

Located at the apex of Montauk Highway and Ocean Road in Bridgehampton, this circa 1840 Greek Revival residence is to serve as the Bridgehampton Historical Society’s headquarters as soon as restoration is completed. Named for its most famous resident, miniaturist Nathaniel Rogers (1787-1844), the site plan includes multiple gallery spaces, a public research center, a gift shop and a meeting room, in addition to offices and archival storage areas.

The current home of BHHS, The Corwith House and outbuildings, will continue to be maintained as a farming museum complex and its grounds will continue to host large annual events such as the Annual Heritage Fair. This year’s fair takes place on Saturday, August 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features a host of live events for all ages including family folk band Edna’s Kin, Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre, folk artist demonstrations and a juried craft fair. Admission is $5 for adults, children under 12 free.

Great South Bay: Brown Tide

Standing in Shorefront Park on the Great South Bay with local fishermen, where the thick brown tide has spread for miles, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Brian Foley last week called on the United States Commerce Department to declare immediately a “Commercial Fishery Failure” in the Great South Bay caused by a record outbreak of brown tide.

The massive bloom of brown tide first appeared in April of this year, spreading as far west as South Oyster Bay, but now has moved throughout the estuary with blooms in Southampton, Quogue and the Moriches. According to Stony Brook University, this year’s bloom is “the largest and most intense ever recorded in this ecosystem.”

For more than 20 years, outbreaks of brown tide have crippled boating and fishing in the bay, particularly the clam-fishing industry. The bay now only produces one percent of the standard clam catch that was being caught in a typical summer as recently as the early 1980s. With the industry on the brink of collapse and the overall health of the bay at stake, the commerce secretary’s disaster declaration is a first step for Congress to address and appropriate money for federal research and restoration dollars. In June of 2005, the Massachusetts and Maine delegations got two separate declarations to address the “red tide,” a similar condition.

Schumer and Foley said that this outbreak of “brown tide” in the south shore estuaries threatens to deliver the final blow to Long Island’s coastal economic and recreational communities. 

The algae is lethal to the juvenile and larvae populations of the scallop and hard-clam fishery, and seems to have discouraged seabird populations, crabs, and horseshoe crabs in Great South Bay as well. Moreover, mass die-offs of eelgrass meadows have been reported already throughout the bay, bringing the specter of light scallop landings during the fall harvest.

Recent efforts undertaken by The Nature Conservancy and other local government to “re-seed” the bay – 2.8 million seeds at a 13,400 acre bay bottom preserve off West Sayville – will be severely and negatively affected by this intensified bloom. This program was meant to reinvigorate the environmental and economic health of the bay and the brown tide severely undercuts the effort’s efficacy.

To attack this problem, Schumer, Foley, and members of the local Long Island fishing community have made a direct appeal to Commerce Secretary Carlos Guitierez asking him to declare a “commercial fishery failure.” The disaster declaration will help Senator Schumer and the Long Island congressional delegation secure funding for research and rehabilitation to help state and local officials combat the tide.

Schumer added that he would fight to secure the necessary funding for an immediate assessment of causes of the failure as well as the social and economic effects of the failure and for projects to restore the fishery or prevent reoccurrence of the brown tide-induced failure.

 

 

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