Letters: Apartments, YMCA opposition and Hemingway


Apartment woes

In reference to your Feb. 9 article “Addressing the housing crisis,” the idea of splitting older homes into multiple apartments is probably the worst thing that could possibly happen.

Take it from me as an “up-islander,” Southold Town should carefully assess the additional services that will be needed to accommodate the extra cars, garbage, emergency services and children that will come to your beautiful town.

Absentee landlords will grab up these older homes and create cash cows for themselves while they sit in Brooklyn and toss notices of violation for their properties in the circular file.

I suggest the Southold Town Board contact their counterparts in the Babylon Town building department if they don’t believe it.

Charles Scudlo


Consider other views

The solution of our significant problems requires honesty with each other, respect for opposing views and separating what we know from what we feel and believe.

In the Jan. 26 issue some letters presented saccharin-dripping romantic impressions of our North Fork surroundings. Lovely as they were to read, their purpose was to damn the construction of a wind turbine near Laurel Lake. They reminded me of the 1800s romantic screeds written to gain support for obstructing progress on railroads, and machines in general.

This week I read an authoritative account of the horrid behavior of captain and crew of the Costa Concordia and the heroic behavior seen on the Titanic. Another authoritative letter described the religious history of the founding of our nation. It included a brief description of “communism at work,” the creation of village commons. Communism, really?

I read elsewhere that assuring the safety and security of all livestock, the settlers’ vital source of food and clothing, was the real initiating reason for these commons — shared responsibility for private property. My questions to these letter writers are: Were you there? How else can you know?

Another writer concerned with global warming insisted that: “All reputable scientists agree that we are at or very near the tipping point of disaster.” Yet, last week the Wall Street Journal carried a letter signed by 16 distinguished scientists (one a Nobel Prize-winner, another a former astronaut and former senator) objecting to an American Physical Society Journal editorial claiming universal agreement on global warming.

The letter opens: “… In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.”

It concludes: “… It makes no sense at all to back expensive programs that divert resources from real needs and are based on alarming but untenable claims of ‘incontrovertible’ evidence.”

To begin having a conversation and to stop shouting at each other, we need to honestly question what do we know? How do we know? What have we been told and by whom? What do we believe and why? What do we feel and why?

It may be comforting to rely on sources that confirm our views, but learning and growing comes with the discomfort of truly listening to opposing views.

Let’s agree to choose the objective of making better-informed decisions over the tactics of shouting down opponents to win an argument.

Gunther Geiss


No YMCA there

I am a resident of Aquebogue and I am opposed to a YMCA in my community.

Main Road east of Route 105 has been designated a rural corridor with limitations on what can be built. A 40,000-square-foot building (that’s as big as the Roanoke Avenue firehouse) with two acres of “supporting structures” is clearly not within the parameters of the intention of the designation.

It’s also clear to me, and should be to everyone, the main purpose of the facility is recreational, not educational as they want us to believe.

It belongs in a commercial area, not here.

Richard Wheeler


Stop the bigotry

Bigotry — from churches (think gay marriage), from politicians (think immigration), from teachers and parents and various other models for our children — is a major cause of bullying in our schools. And then the bullies grow up to be bigots, who beget bullies who become bigots and on and on.

A way to end the cycle is to embrace the American ideals of equality and tolerance. The old proverb “live and let live” is food for thought.

Live your life as you wish, and let others do the same.

Maureen Sanders


It’s too damn high

Why is it that to rent anywhere on this North Fork there has to be a three-month security?

In these times when jobs are paying low wages — and that’s the big issue here — and young and older families need a place to call home, they cannot afford these outrageous up-front fees. It’s bad enough that the rentals are astronomically high.

If someone has a rental it’s obvious they already have their own home. A second home for rent is a bonus. But when they can’t rent it, it sits empty. The landlord has no income to pay the taxes on it, upkeep goes and no one wins.

Get back to reality: Rent the property at a reasonable rent. Forgo this outrageous three-month security. One month is adequate, if there’s a stipulation that the tenant is then liable for damages sustained during their rental term.

Let’s get on with helping, not hurting, the people in our community by giving them a reason to stay on the island, close to those they love and work for.

Barbara Harkins


A shared tradition

Thank you for your segment about Commander, a fascinating annual visitor to Greenport’s working waterfront.

Commander, built in 1917, comes here because of the full-capacity marine railway. Greenport Yacht and Ship Building has been hauling this type of vessel for a century and a half. If railways could talk, this one would brag about its considerable ship-building contributions in World War II, its support of the East Coast fishing and oystering fleets and its rich history as Harold Vanderbilt’s port for his fleet and the impressive Americas Cup J-Class defenders in the 1930s.

Greenport’s nautical history is filled with other historic boat yards and notable yachts as well. Yet old boats and boat yards are more than simply fascinating objects. They are living historic artifacts that tell the story of the culture and economy for which they were built.

The “all but vanished skills and facilities” you mentioned as required to care for historic, antique and classic vessels are indeed alive and well in Greenport. Some have even called Greenport a growing mecca for such work.

Wooden Boatworks, located in historic Hanff’s Boat Yard, is another thriving business with these skills in Greenport. Hanff’s has two marine railways and has been building and repairing boats since 1850.

Wooden Boatworks has 18 highly skilled craftsmen who restore and maintain an impressive array of vintage and classic yachts.

These yachts aren’t museum pieces either, but their special needs keep the historic marine traditions and skills alive.

Like Commander, they, too, are under way all season, racing and sailing, and several are over 100 old. Among others in the regular fleet are two 1905 Herreshoff New York 30s, a 1921 Fife, a 1957 Phil Rhodes sloop, a 1953 Bunker & Ellis downeaster built for David Rockefeller and one that is most known and respected by local racers, the 1914 Herreshoff sloop Dolphin.

Anders Langendal & Sons also have a thriving business restoring, repairing and maintaining fascinating antique and classic boats. Side-by-side with Greenport Yacht & Shipbuilding and down the road from Wooden Boatworks, they combine to make the everyday workplace around the waterfront in Greenport a pretty historic phenomenon.

Pat Mundus


It saved her life

After reading Mr. Novak’s letter of Feb. 9 (Take an active role) I am compelled to respond.

In 1996, at the urging of a breast cancer-surviving friend, I performed a self-exam. I found what felt like a large jellyfish in my left breast. When I had my husband feel it, he suggested that I go much earlier for mammograms. I did so with our doctor’s Rx stating “with particular emphasis on the left breast.”

The right breast was easy, but the technician took nine plates of the left breast and stated she “wasn’t getting a clear picture.” She consulted one of the radiologists, who ordered an immediate sonogram, which was then performed.

The radiologist came into the room and felt my left breast. He commented, “I can feel the mass but we don’t see it.” A lumpectomy indicated a mass of lobular carcinoma, a rapid metastasizer. Had I waited six months for my regular mammograms, I would not be here to write this response.

The only test that would have indicated the mass would have been an MRI. The self-exam I performed that night saved my life.

My oncologist, Dr. Avvento, told us that the left breast had to be removed along with all the lymph nodes. Because the cancer was such a rapid traveler, my husband and I chose to have the right breast removed at the same time.

Had we not chosen that route, I would not be here to write this. Bilateral mastectomies saved my life.

All you women reading this, place the following on your bathroom mirror:

Do a monthly breast self-exam!

Robbie Simons


Memories of Ernest

I enjoyed Tim Kelly’s column on Hemingway and his cats for several reasons.

First, he’s hardly taught in schools anymore, which is a shame, since he was the greatest novelist of the 20th century and his works are still relevant.

Also, it brought back memories of my family’s visit to Ernest and Mary’s “finca,” their farm, in 1952. Not the one in Key West, but San Francisco de Paola near Havana. He did indeed have a horde of six-toed cats there as well, along with a large, black blind poodle named Blinky. I recall being amazed how Blinky and those cats somehow got along.

Other stories on our friendship with Hemingway, incidentally, appear in my book, “Stories My Father Told Me, Notes From the Lyons Den.”

Thanks again for the column.

Jeffrey Lyons

Editor’s note: Mr. Lyons, a film and television critic and baseball author, is a part-time North Fork resident.


It had to be that

Can it be?

I know it’s been a warm winter, so far, but can it be that it was warm enough to bring the osprey back?

I guess Mr. Paul Stoutenburgh will have to answer that question. He’s the expert out here.

All I know is if the large, distinctively marked bird soaring over the head of Mattituck Creek this past Friday afternoon wasn’t a big osprey, I don’t know my ospreys.

Will wonders never cease?

Keep tuned.

Jack McGreevy


Politics, not progress

The current federal budget debate is really more about timing than about substance.

Both Democrats and Republicans are interested in gaining financial balance and erasing the flowing red ink. The difference in approach is extremely important.

The Republicans really do believe in fiscal balance, but by first throwing the country into a few more years of misery to achieve the byproduct of getting rid of Mr. Obama. That’s the GOP’s grand strategy.

President Obama wants to spend on our old and failing infrastructure, green-energy development, entrepreneurial support, broadband development and tax modification and many other job-producing and country-strengthening measures.

He also supports education improvement, air quality improvement, health care improvement and other items to improve the quality of America. As jobs grow and GDP grows, government income grows, dollars become available for budget balance and then, deficit reduction.

The GOP wants to immediately eliminate energy research, entrepreneurial support, teaching positions, environmental improvement, infrastructure spending and more.

Republicans want to lower taxes on their cohorts and to make large cuts in spending right now. The result is to stop the potential for GDP growth, to stop the green shoots of increasing economic activity and to kill off the beginnings of job growth.

The Republican big bet here is to use “President Obama’s failure to right the economy” as the “beat Obama” weapon.

The big question: Is this the activity that our proud Democracy should support? Politics was once about what’s best for the country, not what’s best for certain connected constituents.

We must all pay attention and consider the alternatives. There has never been a more important election in America.

Howard Meinke

New York

Kind and caring

We wish to thank two dear and reassuring ladies (whose names I did not get, but hope they read this), the EMS and police for their kindness and efficiency when I totaled our car on Dec. 19.

My husband and I were in Peconic Bay Medical Center for a day and again received the best of treatment. Our rather slow recovery has delayed this letter, but not reduced our gratitude.

We have been summer residents of Orient and the North Fork for over 50 years and can only be grateful for the wonderful community that opened its heart and gave us its expertise to look after its people.

We are glad that our grandchildren can continue to appreciate the special quality of our woods and fields, our creeks and beaches.

Bob and Sylvia Gordon