07/11/15 8:00pm
07/11/2015 8:00 PM

In reference to the proposed developments in Mattituck — both the Pawlowski and Reeves parcels — what is missing in the discussion is a public benefit that incorporates enhanced wastewater treatment. With small lots crowding creek shores, Mattituck is a priority area for wastewater treatment.

The proposed green space of the Pawlowski lot would better serve the community by treating the effluent of both the proposed development and nearby existing neighborhoods to a higher level, possibly using the treated water for subsurface irrigation. The environment would have a net benefit. The land could still have the appearance of open space through the use of natural and subsurface treatment systems, but the benefit would be real.

Glynis Berry of Orient

07/09/15 5:59am
07/09/2015 5:59 AM
The Tall Ships crowd along Front Street Sunday afternoon. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

The Tall Ships crowd along Front Street Sunday afternoon. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

A colleague asked me a question this week that I’ve heard quite often in recent months: Who exactly benefits from Tall Ships?

I can understand why someone who did not attend the festival might ask that question. But for anyone who stepped foot on one of the ships, or danced to one of the songs performed on the event’s two live music stages, or took a bite out of the delicious food served in the streets of Greenport during the four-day festival, it’s something you wouldn’t need to ask.  (more…)

07/06/15 5:00am
07/06/2015 5:00 AM

The Pacific island nation of Kiribati has become the first country in the world to declare that climate change is rendering it uninhabitable.

Unfamiliar with the name? Try Gilbert Islands, its former name. And the World War II generation will know the Battle of Tarawa, the site of one of the bloodiest in U.S. Marine Corps history. It was a critical battle to free the Gilberts after a Japanese invasion and two years of occupation.

Now Kiribati, an independent country since 1979, with a population of 103,000, is facing another invasion. Its 33 low-lying islands are being attacked by a rising sea, a result of climate change, also interchangeably called global warming. Kiribati’s government last year began purchasing land for evacuating its people — eight square miles on Vanua Levu, one of the Fiji Islands, 1,200 miles away.

Other Pacific island countries are expected to follow Kiribati’s lead and declare themselves uninhabitable in the next few years, while major parts of other nations will also be decimated by climate change. An anticipated 3-foot rise in sea level will put one seventh of Bangladesh underwater, for example.

We here have more time, but not as much as one would think, before things get bad and then worse on Long Island and New York City. Significant portions of both are expected to be hit hard in coming decades by sea level rise.

Preparing for this, last week the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held four public meetings, two on Long Island and two in the city, to seek citizen input on a report of the Sea Level Rise Task Force created by the state in 2007.

The DEC sums up the report on its website. The DEC states: “By 2100 scientists project that sea levels along New York’s coastlines and estuaries will likely be 18 to 50 inches higher, though they could be as much as 75 inches higher.” With much of Long Island and New York City, only 2, 3, 4 and 5 feet above sea level, those kinds of increases could be devastating.

There are projections of the sea level rise at Montauk Point. In the decade starting with 2020, they range from a low of 2 inches above the levels of the last decade to a high of 10; in the decade starting with 2050 an increase of 8 and a high of 30 inches; in the decade beginning with 2080; a low of 13 and high of 58; and in 2100 a prediction of a total low of 15 and a high of 72 inches.

Long Island naturalist Larry Penny says low-lying downtown Montauk could be especially hard hit, along with other areas of the town. Indeed, much of the Napeague stretch between Montauk and Amagansett could end up underwater with Montauk becoming several islands.

As for Shelter Island, he said, “Shelter Island is pretty high,” but land along the Ram Island causeway “is vulnerable.”

Commenting on other vulnerable Long Island locations, Mr. Penny, former director of the East Hampton Department of Environmental Protection, cited parts of East Hampton, Noyac, North Sea, “downtown Sag Harbor especially,” Shirley (where one of the DEC meetings was held), “Westhampton Beach is very vulnerable,” Mastic, Mattituck, “Riverhead is very low” and Fire Island, among other locations.

“New York City will have a hell of a time,” he said. “Scary.”

The DEC also notes: “Most of the sea-level rise observed to date has been due to the thermal expansion of warming waters. But today, added water from melting glaciers and land ice sheets is starting to contribute more to sea-level rise than heat-driven expansion of existing seawater. And the Arctic and Antarctic have abundant supplies of land ice yet to melt, all of which will add to sea levels.”

The report offers recommendations, such as: “Provide financial support, guidance and tools for community-based vulnerability assessments … Support increased reliance on non-structural measures and natural protective features to reduce impacts … Raise public awareness of the adverse impacts of sea-level rise and climate change and of the potential adaptive strategies.”

Key issues in climate change are the burning of fossil fuels that have caused global warming. As important in increasing global warming is denial of the situation, led in the U.S. by Republican leaders of Congress. We must move to a society energized 100 percent by clean, green power. And reality must be recognized.

Otherwise we will see more plaintive declarations such as these on the national website of Kiribati — “Although in most of the world there is some time to plan and prepare for climate change, Kiribati is the first to feel its effects as a direct threat to continued life in our country … In Kiribati, the entire nation faces real danger — our own survival is at stake as a people, as a unique and vibrant culture and as a sovereign nation.” And little Kiribati shares none of the responsibility for the situation. Kiribati’s carbon dioxide emissions have been “lower than any other country except one in the world,” it says.

As Pope Francis emphasized last week in his encyclical on the environment: “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political … It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

grossman_karl150 Karl Grossman’s syndicated “Suffolk Closeup” column is printed in the Shelter Island Reporter, a Times/Review Newsgroup publication.

07/05/15 6:00am
07/05/2015 6:00 AM

I am a lucky guy: I have three vacuum cleaners. It took years for this achievement. A story of hope. Each machine promised a dust-free life. Just let the new cleaner run in the house. Sit back, watch and relax. What is dust anyway? I never got a clear answer. All I know is that you can write your name in it wherever it settles. Never makes a sound. A good companion in a way. It doesn’t ask for much except no dusting, please.

Is dust dirty? If you leave it alone it doesn’t move about. If you come with a duster, cruel instrument, then it will fly until it finds another landing patch. I’ve lived with it at times. Then a woman friend comes in, frowns, raises her voice, pulls a broom out of her tiny purse and says, “How can you live like this?” Never try to answer such questions.

The problem with three vacuum cleaners: It raises the issue of choice. Which one to use. A perilous moment. The one with the “long-haired” brush, the one that can climb walls or the cordless that needs recharging just when I want to press on.

Which reminds me: Many years ago I drove in the “Press on Regardless Rallye” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We started early on bumpy roads and I’d like to report that my Renault won top prize. But it’s not true. We did finish in a cloud of dust, one of the last cars on the road.

“Press on Regardless,” when it involves pushing a recalcitrant vacuum machine around the obstacles scattered in the house, is not quite as noble as negotiating treacherous turns on a dirt road. Although in my house I seem to have done a pretty good job at replicating a Michigan road race. I wonder if some new invention, one day, will come along with a gadget that would swallow all the useless things that we manage to settle in our good homes. A machine that would have better intelligence than I to decide what can stay and what has to go. I classify myself as incompetent in this activity.

Perhaps I was born with a built-in incompetence. It seems that my brother Jean came into this world with an active filing system at his side. Where I stumble confused in search of answers he can pull out a file out of his well-organized cabinet and the answers to all questions are within reach. His speed of knowledge gives him authority. In a peaceful way. No need for loud demonstrations.

I’m running. Late again. Last chance one Saturday in New York City. Gavin Brown’s Enterprise gallery. The first re-creation in the United States of Jannis Kounellis’s “Untitled (12 Horses.)” Twelve live horses. A church-like quiet. We don’t speak, we whisper. The horses, tied to walls, stand barely moving. Their magnificent, powerful bodies awaken a sense of peace. So unexpected. An experience of the spirit. At the end of the show, one by one they are taken to a trailer and driven away. The crowd is subdued, in a meditative mood. Not a word spoken. At times the sound of munching or a hoof unsettling the hay covering the floor.

Twelve horses, a work of art. No need for explanations. We just stand and listen to our own silence. So simple. Beautiful. All it takes, a gathering of horses at peace with the world.

Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: npgazarian.dc@gmail.com

07/04/15 2:00pm
07/04/2015 2:00 PM

To the editor:

Graduating in a class of 131 students and knowing every single one of their names always drew attention to me when I traveled elsewhere and told people. No one could fathom the fact that I not only had that few but also knew each one so personally. The next thing that shocked people was when they found out I knew every teacher and each of those teachers knew every student’s name. (more…)

07/03/15 6:00am
07/03/2015 6:00 AM
John Williams. (Credit: Marty Heitner)

John Williams. (Credit: Marty Heitner)

If you’ve lived on the North Fork for a while, you probably have driven past it numerous times. It’s at the southwest corner of Front and Fourth streets in Greenport, and it’s currently known as The Captain’s Cottage in its most recent iteration as a rental cottage. But before that the little white frame building was the home of Williams & Company, the advertising and public relations firm, and, concurrently and somewhat improbably, the headquarters of the National SCRABBLE ® Association.  (more…)

07/02/15 5:50am
07/02/2015 5:50 AM

It’s no secret a developer is looking to build on 21 acres he owns on the south side of Main Road just west of Sigsbee Road in Mattituck.

Under current zoning, he has the right to build about eight single-family homes on the property. Last fall, he proposed the construction of a 75-unit affordable rental housing complex but scratched those plans after the project failed to muster enough support at Southold Town Hall and from the community.

Now the developer is seeking a change of zone to develop about 3.5 acres of the property with a mix of retail and rental housing. Five individual structures would be built as part of the “campus-style” development, with five businesses operating there, he said. Twelve residential apartments would be built above retail shops. The apartments would be rented at the county’s affordable housing rate.

The remaining 17.5 acres would be donated to the town as open space, with the developer pledging to pay for the maintenance and also offering to construct an open-air pavilion on the town portion of the property.

While the proposal is sure to receive intense scrutiny in the coming months — as it already has from Southold Town, the newly formed Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association and local environmentalists — this newspaper believes it is the better of the two current options.

[Related: Zoning, affordable housing discussed at Mattituck civic meeting]

(more…)