Letters to the editor: IDA did not listen


IDA did not listen

The recent unanimous 7-0 vote by the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency approving the $2.7 million tax relief package for The Enclaves, a $43.9 million 40-room luxury resort hotel in Southold, makes one thing clear: The IDA did not listen or did not understand Southold residents or the Town of Southold’s opposition to the project. 

At the public meeting on Dec. 11, 2023, residents shared their concerns and a member of the town Planning Board stated that this was “the worst project that has ever come before the Southold Town Planning Board. It offers nothing beneficial to our community and residents.” More residents subsequently wrote letters to the IDA opposing the tax breaks. But the IDA considers Southold residents’ voices inconsequential and believes it knows better than those directly impacted by their decisions and the Town of Southold itself.

IDA member X. Cristofer Damianos says, “North Fork is a tourist destination.” Yes, for some that is true; however, for many, Southold is home. While the central concern of the IDA is economic, they should understand that Southold residents see their “investment” in their neighborhoods, community and hamlet in a currency more valuable than the rigid business concerns of the IDA. Their commitment to the area is shown by choosing to raise their children here, retire, live and die here. 

IDA vice chair Kevin Harvey makes a statement that calls into question the efficacy of his agency, saying, “There’s always a misconception as to what the IDA does and how effective it is . … We’re here to educate the public as well as to provide tax incentives to builders.” If there’s “always a misconception” and it’s their job “to educate the public,” then the IDA is not doing a very good job. Many Southold residents cannot understand how the IDA can dismiss the efforts of residents who are respectfully asking for their side to be heard. 

In retrospect, it seems dishonest for the IDA to stage a hearing in Southold to show that the agency is transparent and open to hearing disparate views. When a Suffolk County agency like the IDA renders a 7-0 decision after hearing from a majority of Southold residents in opposition, followed by numerous emails and vocal opposition from Southold Town, one must ask: Who represents the needs of the people living in Southold? 

Nick Antonucci

Mr. Antonucci is a board member of the Southold Peconic Civic Association.


The numbers don’t add up

Gaza health authorities have reported that at least 74 Gazans died in the Israeli raid to save two hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7. That’s a ratio of approximately 35:1. Doesn’t it beg the question, how many Gazans would have died if Hamas had simply returned the two hostages they kidnapped? And doesn’t that beg the further question, what are the chances the Israelis would agree to a cease fire in exchange for all the remaining hostages? Probably pretty good.

If the 19 hijackers who took down the World Trade Center on 9/11, killing 2,997 people, had never flown those planes into the towers, how many Iraqi lives would have been saved? It’s estimated that 170,000 Iraqi civilians died in the Iraq war. That’s about a 57:1 ratio of Iraqi deaths to American deaths. The United States population is about 35 times greater than the Israeli population. Israel lost 1,200 people in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. The Israeli loss of innocent life is the equivalent to a loss of 42,000 innocent lives in America.

So it all begs yet another question: What would this country have done if some enemy came here and killed 42,000 Americans? And to boot, how would we have responded to the kidnapping of 7,000 people? That’s what Israel is dealing with.

If Israel had exacted the same response in Gaza as the United States did in Iraq, then it wouldn’t have been 74 Gazans who died in the recent raid, but 114, or 57:1. So isn’t this the pot calling the kettle black when the world screams at Israel’s self-defense?

The bottom line: Nobody, on the Israeli or Gazan side, should ever have died, period. But the simple fact is that Hamas started this war and Israel responded with less fury than the United States did in Iraq. Hamas should return the hostages and Israel should take its troops home. That’s the only thing that makes any kind of sense.

Michael Levy


Balance conservation and sustainability

Preserving farmland is a noble pursuit, crucial not only for the North Fork of Long Island but also for agricultural regions across the globe. Selling development rights stands as one of the most admirable gestures in land preservation, albeit one that is often misunderstood and undervalued. In the heart of farming communities, the decision to sell development rights is not taken lightly. It’s a testament to deep-rooted love for the land and commitment to safeguarding it for future generations. 

Yet sustainability in agriculture is an intricate dance, fraught with challenges and uncertainties. The financial risks are immense, from unpredictable weather patterns to fluctuating market demands. The initial investment, coupled with ongoing expenses for labor, resources and maintenance, often outweighs the returns, leaving many farmers teetering on the brink of financial ruin. 

The soaring land values, exceeding $100,000 per acre in some areas, present both opportunities and threats. While increased land values promise prosperity, they also cast a shadow of temptation for farmers grappling with economic pressures. The choice between selling land for development or preserving it for agriculture becomes increasingly complex, especially when regulatory constraints impede the latter. 

This is where the struggle begins — a battle between preservation and prosperity, between tradition and progress. How many are truly aware of the intricacies of development rights and zoning regulations that shape the fate of our farmland? It’s imperative that we demand more from our local officials — clarity in interpreting existing easements and flexibility in zoning restrictions. Farmers should have the autonomy to adapt their land use to meet evolving needs, whether it’s addressing traffic concerns through on-site parking for agritourism ventures or exploring innovative agricultural practices. 

Preserving farmland isn’t just about conserving landscapes; it’s about sustaining livelihoods, preserving heritage, and nourishing communities. As stewards of the land, we must heed the call to action, advocating for policies that strike a harmonious balance between conservation and sustainability. Only then can we ensure that the harvests are bountiful, and the legacy of farming endures for generations to come.

Vincent Guastamacchia


To Assemblyman Fred Thiele 

Dear Mr. Thiele: 

I have written you several times for different concerns. You always reply expeditiously, courteously and concisely. I want to recognize the announcement of your pending retirement with gratitude and, admittedly, a sense of sadness. You, sir, are the epitome of a “steady hand at the wheel” amid a sea of chaos, where government, local as well as national, seem as dysfunctional as ever. I wish you happiness and health as you begin this new chapter of your life. 

Charlie Benkov


County IDA made a terrible decision

I am a longtime resident of Southold Town and am so sorry to see the changes taking place in this lovely hamlet. My wife and I are in our 80s and won’t be around much longer. My kids can’t afford to live here, so our family place will be gone. My wife has been coming here since the ’40s. I am particularly concerned about the IDA financially supporting this monstrosity called The Enclaves. It will be used by “rich folks” who have already raised the value of properties on the North Fork so average people can’t afford homes here. Yes, it will employ folks, but they will not be able to afford to live here and will be commuting from up-island. That will only make our traffic worse.

Richard Brewster


LaLota must act

Our congressman, Nick LaLota, has made a strong statement mourning the Russian martyr Alexei Navalny and condemning the dictator Vladimir Putin. Very commendable — but will Mr. LaLota act on these sentiments? Each of us who cares should urge Mr. LaLota, via phone (202-225-3826) or his website (lalota.house.gov), to sign a discharge petition demanding that the House vote on the urgently needed aid to Ukraine.

Stanley Brown


Something is missing

I am heartened that there have been 20 years of discussion regarding land preservation. However, I am not heartened that these 20 years of discussions have been described as including “disparate stakeholders.” It seems some groups of disparate stakeholders were absent from this meeting. Not just this meeting, but the last 20 years of meetings. 

Most notably absent were tribal representatives of communities where much has been discussed about protecting their interests. Perhaps they elected John v. Halsey to speak on their behalf.

Steph Gaylor