The Price of Refusing Compromise
With respect to the article “Airport Closure Put on the Table” in the February 7 edition of The Express, I would like to make two points:
First, the article states that the overall number of complaints dropped from 2017 to 2018 and insinuates that the situation has improved over that period. I suggest an alternate interpretation, which is that after years and years of documenting the problem with nothing to show for it, many have simply given up. There are a number of ways to submit complaints but all are time consuming and frustrating in their own way and frankly, if nothing is going to change, why raise your blood pressure? Surely the airport knows the volume and flight paths being used by traffic at the airport — why should it be the responsibility of those affected to further document the problem?
Second, Mr. Feurerring of the East Hampton Aviation Association states that the bulk of the complaints come from a concentrated number of households in the area and the subtext here seems to be that, you know, maybe the problem is with those making the complaints, not noise from the airport. Honestly, I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to those who have the time and dedication to continue to document the problem. I know I am not always able to stop what I am doing to make a complaint, but that doesn’t mean I am not affected by the noise; I suspect the same is true of many others.
It is unfortunate that aviation interests continue to dismiss the very real problems associated with the airport and fight reasonable efforts to ameliorate those issues (for example the curfew on overnight flights). Closing the airport seems like a drastic step but as long as they refuse to countenance any compromise with those affected and make the airport an ‘all or nothing’ choice they will drive more and more to conclude that full closure is the only solution.
Pursue Scale and Harmony
To the Editor,
Tony Brandt is right, the Bialsky plan for development of the property at 2 West Water Street is, simply put … too big. Proposed are three townhouses, each an average of 7,500 square feet, requiring variances of 300 percent from existing code. The precedent set by this development is a dangerous one: in exchange for a plot of land destined to be become a park, the developer, Mr. Bialsky, is demanding permission to build three huge townhouses — three times the size normally approved in this area of town.
The argument is made that, “as of right” the developer could build 13 townhouses. Frankly, I think this would be preferable for the village: 13 townhouses targeting the merely wealthy, instead of the three proposed townhouses that will only be accessible to the uber-wealthy. Nothing against the uber-wealthy, but should the village of Sag Harbor be in the business of facilitating their entry into our town at the expense of ignoring our zoning regulations?
In addition, 13 townhouses would be of sufficient number that the county/state affordable-housing regulations would kick in, requiring the developer to contribute to the fair-housing fund or to build affordable housing. Why are developments of only three townhouses exempt from the requirement to provide for affordable housing? If true, the Bialsky project exposes the problems with that exemption.
It is unfortunate that the zoning board granted the enormous variances for this project. This is unprecedented and will commit the village to more outlandish deviations from zoning standards in the future. Tony Brandt is right. We can only hope that the village’s Board of Historic Preservation and Architectural Review adheres to its existing mandate to consider “scale and harmony” in evaluating the Bialsky project and votes it down.
Victoria L. Sharp
When Dr. Carl Bonuso was the interim superintendent of schools at Sag Harbor, he instituted workshops for various topics. The board held workshops for the IB program, common core math, the budget process, and other topics. The attendance at these workshops superseded most other board of education events. The primary reason was that these workshops were interactive. Members of the community, sometimes students, the board and presenters would have an open discussion. A workshop, by definition, is a meeting at which a group of people engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project. Now, with the new board of the Sag Harbor school district, workshops are still held, but in name only.
I attended a budget workshop on February 11, 2019. Dr. Philip Kenter presented a preliminary budget for 2019-2020 with specific information on transportation. I and one other member of the community asked questions. I also made a comment about the transportation budget when the board president interrupted me, asking if I had a question. This is not in the spirit of a true workshop, and, from my perspective, she was quite rude. I felt she was also quite rude to one of the board members.
When our new board member asked me a question about the statement I made during Input 1, the board president shut him down, saying board members were not allowed to ask questions of a community member. This board member was just trying to understand the issue, which was not explained. It seems counter productive not to allow him a question, policy or not. The board has ignored policy and even the law in the past when it suited them.
It is disturbing to witness the board president quelling attempts at communication with community members, both during a workshop, where interactive communication is the heart of the process, and during Input 1, where a new board member is attempting to understand an issue. Obviously, communication with the public and transparency are not a priority. Watch the meeting, which is recorded, and see if you agree with me.