Three want first place in East Hampton
East Hampton has been filled with musical chairs this election cycle, with three candidates for city supervisor and five candidates for two city council seats. City Councilor Jeff Bragman, who first won his seat on the Democratic Party line, is running on the Independence Party line to overthrow city supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, after Mr Bragman was dismissed for approval by Democrats to run for his current seat.
Republicans are offering Ken Walles of Montauk, longtime owner of the Oceanside Resort and chairman of East Coast Management, to run for supervisor.
Democrats backed incumbent adviser Kathee Burke-Gonzalez for re-election and backed their hometown party chair Cate Rogers to run for Mr Bragman’s seat. Republican candidates for city council include former East Hampton School Board chairman George Aman and Joseph Karpinski, an arborist and volunteer with the Amagansett Fire Department.
John Whelan, a longtime East Hampton resident, Democrat and architect who has served on several city land use councils, is running for city council on the Independence Party line.
Republican candidates declined to attend the Hamptons, Shelter Island and City of North Fork Women’s Voters ‘Candidates’ debate on October 21 because it took place on Zoom and not in person. League debates have long been the go-to event for candidates seeking employment in East Hampton Town.
But the presence of third-party candidates has always allowed for a lively LWV forum on issues facing the city, including the potential closure of East Hampton Airport, whether or not to allow marijuana to be sold, which may be done to help local businesses recover from the pandemic and how to best afford affordable housing.
The status of East Hampton Airport is in the spotlight right now (see page 3), with some big decisions to be made in the near future.
Mr Van Scoyoc and Mr Bragman discussed at length the nuances of their views on closing the airport, with Mr Van Scoyoc saying he believed the city should take a deliberate approach to reducing traffic to the airport, in an effort not to overwhelm neighboring airports, especially a small private airport in Montauk, while Mr Bragman, who is currently the city council’s liaison with the airport, claims, as he made in a recent letter to East Hampton Star, which he thinks the airport should close for a whole year. His comments earned him a mountain of criticism during a recent meeting with Montauk residents who fear air traffic is now heading their way.
Ms Burke-Gonzalez, a former city council liaison at the airport, said she was in favor of temporarily closing the airport this winter and then reopening it with more restrictions in place.
“We would tighten the valve and keep working on it until we hit the sweet spot of not diverting traffic to Montauk and relieving the people who live under the roads,” she said.
Ms Rogers, who is a climate leader trained by former Vice President Al Gore, said she believes the city should consider the impact on the climate and the environment with future activities at the airport. .
Mr Whelan said he would “support the reopening of the airport, eliminating and banning helicopters, jets and commercial traffic.”
“I would support the purchase and condemnation of Montauk Airport,” he added. “I think it’s obvious the people of Montauk don’t want small jets and helicopters landing there.”
Applicants also weighed in on the Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Fund, a proposed fund for affordable housing based on the Community Preservation Fund’s property transfer tax model. New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law in early October allowing each of the five East End cities to hold referendums on the creation of these funds.
“There are a myriad of ways this money can be used to address what is truly an epic affordability crisis and a real shortage of rental housing and housing for seasonal workers,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc. . “We can offset costs and subsidize housing to enable local families to purchase housing, with the city retaining the underlying rights to property so it can remain affordable in perpetuity.”
Mr. Bragman said he was very excited about the fund, which “opens up a whole new area of creativity” in affordable housing.
“People overwhelmingly support single-family housing,” he added. “We will have the ability to buy smaller homes when they are on the market and maintain their affordability. And it will be much easier to do the financing…. It opens up a whole new world for us.
“I believe the money raised can be used for down payments on a first home, to buy a property for affordable housing and to offset the cost of construction,” said Ms. Burke-Gonzalez. “It’s a real victory for our community.
Ms Rogers urged everyone to work to secure the vote for the referendum creating the fund, which will likely be held in conjunction with the general election in November 2022.
She added that the legislation provides the flexibility “to offer both rental and purchase of homes and to be able to use the money to rehabilitate existing buildings,” and added that the inclusion of improved septic systems reducing nitrogen in housing will be a key to making sustainable affordable housing in the future.
“Everyone in town agrees how wonderful it is that this bill has been signed,” Mr. Whelan said, adding that he hopes the city will open up the design process to local architects. .
On reducing the effect of climate change on the city, Mr Van Scoyoc touted his track record in supporting the South Fork Wind Farm, an offshore wind farm off the coast of Montauk, as well as the first solar farm in the megawatt-scale city on the capped city dump at Springs, a program to offset peak electric load demand and modernize the city’s fleet of electric vehicles, as well as the city’s work to expand a coastal assessment resilience plan for its coastline.
Mr Van Scoyoc also said Mr Bragman had opposed the electric vehicle charging stations in Montauk and the South Fork wind farm.
“We must do everything possible to deal with this crisis,” he said, adding that the devastation of the city’s forests by the mountain pine beetle, which is moving north due to warming temperatures, is just one example of why it is so necessary to tackle climate change.
Mr Bragman said he was not opposed to electric vehicle charging stations – he opposed a project that only included Tesla chargers in Montauk.
“They were very expensive vehicles at the time. I insisted that they put universal chargers, ”he said. “I didn’t want to convert Montauk into a Tesla dealership.”
Mr Bragman added that when the developers of the South Fork wind farm first approached the town by offering $ 8 million in community benefits funds in exchange for easements to place the power cable of the wind farm under the city’s road rights-of-way, Mr. Van Scoyoc had entered his office, leaned over his desk and insisted that the city accept the contract. After several years of negotiations, this funding was increased to nearly $ 29 million.
“He tells this story about how I walked into his office and physically hovered it over him,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “Jeff was not involved in the negotiations. It was myself, the outside lawyers and the trustees.