Letters to the Editor: School board fight continues to linger


Much is at stake

Local commercial and residential real estate broker, and former mayor, Dave Kapell is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts.

His letter “Putting the cart before the horse in Greenport,” Sept. 21, asserted nothing is being done about housing and that any new residential use in the commercial district would require paid parking. This is FALSE. The newly proposed code allows for year-round housing on the second floor all along the south side of Front Street as of right with the zoning change to Commercial Retail from Waterfront Commercial. There is zero cost for parking for this use in the proposed changes. Moreover, as has been discussed in code committee and several public meetings, the board intends to create a housing overlay in the commercial district to encourage even more housing at an affordable level. Our current code prevented someone from building affordable housing on the corner of Front and Third streets several years back and allowed a new hotel, which was built, including a third-floor variance.

His letter stated any new business and residential apartment would be required to pay for parking. This is FALSE. Our current code requires parking for most uses and at a fee. The newly proposed code exempts all allowable uses in CR from parking requirements except for more intensive ones like larger restaurants and hotels (now proposed as conditional uses). The new code incentivizes small business and makes it easier and more affordable to open and create new jobs. A new retail store or moderately sized restaurant would NOT be required to have parking and would pay NO fees in CR. Our community spoke out about more intensive uses like hotels and larger restaurants and we responded accordingly in the proposed language.

Additionally, the letter suggests we will become East Hampton with chain stores. The fact is the new code proposes “formula businesses” (chain stores) are now a conditional use and would require a higher level of scrutiny and public benefit. In our current code a CVS, Dunkin’ Donuts or J. Crew could open very easily as of right now. The new code is about updating decades old code that only benefits big-dollar developers and real estate brokers. It is long past time for the community of Greenport to be deciding its future.

My hand and that of our administration is outstretched to Mr. Kapell and others to participate in the process. Please attend our meetings and let’s keep facts facts rather than spreading misinformation.

Kevin Stuessi
Mr. Stuessi is the mayor of Greenport Village.

Kapell has it wrong

I woke up last Thursday morning and, as is my custom, the first thing I did was to flip through the new issue of The Suffolk Times to encounter a letter written by former mayor [Dave] Kapell , which to anyone who has actually engaged in the code amendment process, is clearly full of disinformation.

Maybe I’m just taking it too personally as someone who has spent countless hours engaged in the code amendment process, including attending weekly public code committee meetings, numerous public hearings and information sessions, but I really object to the publication of this letter and its timing. Former mayor Kapell has not attended one of the meetings that I have been present at (and I have been at almost all of them). There has been plenty of opportunity for him and others to comment, and the board of trustees has taken to heart the input it has received by making changes to the draft amendments to address concerns raised.

Moreover, the letter is just incorrect in its summary of the parking provisions of the proposed code amendments. This has been explained over and over again in public meetings, information sessions and responses to email inquiries. The fact that the former mayor is still mischaracterizing the substance of the proposed changes is due to his failure to engage in community discussions and meetings at best or an outright attempt to continue a misinformation campaign at worst. 

I’m saddened that a former mayor, who contributed a lot to this village, would decide not to participate in village meetings and clearly fail to really understand what is in the proposed amendments but feel free to send a letter which is clearly intended to inflame tensions within the community. 

I want to thank all of the village community members who have bothered to take the time to have real engagement during this process and educate themselves and look forward to working with those that truly care about the village and its future in continuing to work to create a framework that allows residents and businesses to coexist in a community that they can all enjoy and see flourish. 

Unfortunately, former mayor Kapell’s letter just serves to remind us that you can’t always believe what you read and you need to do your own homework.

Patricia Hammes
Ms. Hammes is chairperson of the Greenport Village Planning Board and a member of Greenport Village code committee

Shelter Island Heights
She’s only ‘guilty of being French’

In the last few issues of the [Shelter Island] Reporter, we’ve seen breathless coverage of various lawsuits and disgruntled assertions about Marie Eiffel, the proprietor of several successful island businesses.

Oh, please.

I’ve only known Marie as an occasional customer over the many years she’s been on our island. What she “is” is apparent to anyone who lives here or who visits her shops regularly: an extremely hardworking and dedicated independent woman with an infectious enthusiasm and fierce aesthetic for food, design and quality. She’s attracted a variety of visitors from afar to our island, to the benefit of all who live and work here.

Yes, she is guilty of being French … and some of what that may imply. She cares intensely. She is fastidious, insists on excellence and is often a perfectionist in all she does.

Mon Dieu!

How lucky are we to have Marie on this island.

Elaine Lafferty

Thrilled about new Greenport Theater

I recently moved to Greenport and noticed the prospects of a theater on my daily walks to get coffee. Glad to hear it’s really happening and look forward to watching the progress. Will you include an exhibition space? I’m a painter and will want to share my work with Greenporters.

Laura Elkins

Don’t the rules apply to board members?

Article 5300.30 in the Southold UFSD Code of Conduct, under the sub-heading Prohibited Student Conduct, lists No. 3 of prohibited behaviors as: “Using language or gestures that are profane, lewd, vulgar or abusive.” It reads: “Students may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including suspension from school” when they engage in this type of behavior.

The profane language and subsequent suggestion to “move to another town if you don’t like it,” stated by board vice president Dr. John Crean to a parent during August’s school board meeting, encouraged me to seek out the rules and regulations regarding conduct at Southold schools. I quickly found the student Code of Conduct, as stated above, but had trouble locating a similar code for the school board members.

I would imagine that, at the very least, refraining from the use of foul language, both among the board and when addressing a parent or community member, would be a given. Also at the very least, I would imagine that if and when a board member (or a parent or community member) sinks to this level of behavior, that the standards we hold our students to would also apply to our board members and our community members.

As for “cancel culture” playing a role for those defending Dr. Crean, I don’t think it applies. Merriam-Webster defines cancel culture as: “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.”

Expecting a board member to follow a code of conduct that exemplifies respect and diplomacy when representing our school should not be considered “canceling” when community members move to take action against this behavior when feeling threatened and unheard, as a direct result of the language and attitude expressed by Dr. Crean.

If we hold our students to this code of conduct, doesn’t it follow that we should also hold our board members to this same code? If the code is violated, as it seemingly was by Dr. Crean, shouldn’t he also be subject to the same consequences as our students? When a parent is verbally abused by a board member, and told to move, is an apology enough?

I would hope that our school board members see themselves as role models for our students as well as stewards working to make our school and our community as close knit, connected, welcoming and successful as possible. That is how I would like to view them. Allowing Dr. Crean to continue to serve with only an apology does not seem like a good enough remedy to assuage this conflict. I would hope that the board would seriously consider stricter consequences on this matter, as this sets precedent for future conflict and inability to find resolution. This is a matter of basic human decency to one another, regardless of code.

Erika Wood-Heidemann

Please do a better job covering this

Maybe I missed it, but this is a pretty important topic, the current status of which I did not spot in The Suffolk Times other than a couple of column inches in a Noncarrow legal notice on page 17 of the last issue. I did accidentally stumble upon the topic in Newsday and thus was waiting to see your own coverage. This updated regulation impacts owners, and potential short-term (weekend) tenants as well as the community at large with its primary result, if enforced, on what is described as a plague of weekend (VERY short-term) rentals.

I do manage a family rental property, which we list on VRBO (always a two-week minimum) and it definitely has steamed me to see so many property reviews, when I go on the site, where the renter reports on a “wonderful weekend rental with friends; our third year at this property and we’ll be back next year.”

The new level of penalties and fines are, by themselves, noteworthy. Anyway, if I missed your coverage, I apologize. It might be worth an article in your paper as well, again, unless I missed it.

Dave Kilbride

Editor’s note: See “Southold Town Board weighs new short-term rental rules,” June 29, at