Candidate Answers 2015

CCHB

Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays

 

September 24, 2015

SURVEY

Dear Candidates:

 

The Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays (CCHB) is a civic advocacy group formed in 2012. Our focus and mission is to identify the issues which affect the Citizens of Hampton Bays. We have identified them as DENSITY, TAXES, SCHOOLS AND THE ENVIORNMENT, all of which are connected.  Over the past three and a half years we have studied all of the above, attempted to work with various Town officials, represented the interest of Hampton Bays at various public meetings, and interacted with many residents of Hampton Bays.  We believe we have a clear understanding of the problems facing our community and are prepared to address these with responsive governmental officials.

 

As candidates for elected office we are seeking your positions as to the following questions.  The results of this questionnaire will be circulated to our membership and posted on line for all interested voters to study.  Please reply to this e-mail by 5pm on September 29, 2015.  We recognize that this reply time is limited but we feel that as candidates for office you should already have your opinions on these topics and suggestions as to how to address these issues.  Please keep your answers on topic and limited to no more than two paragraphs each.

 

Thank you and we look forward to your response.

CCHB Board

 

 

QUESTION 1

 

        The main goal of CCHB is to get the illegal housing issues facing our hamlet under control.  As you know the illegal use;

        1) Affects our water quality by stressing their septic systems

        2) Affects our quality of life when neighboring properties are burdened with numerous cars on front lawns

        3) Affects our school population with in turn increases our taxes

        4) Affects the overall density of our hamlet.

        Please provide your understanding of this problem and if elected how you would plan to address the                         following?

                a) Motels being used as full time residences?

                b) Single family homes being occupied by 2 or more families?

                c)  Single family homes lacking proper rental permits?

 

Answer: Christine Scalera:

I am acutely aware of the problem. While I will discuss below the steps I have taken please know unequivocally that I understand that there is still much to be done.  Having said that, based on my many decisions and initiatives over the last four years I believe I have demonstrated my unrelenting commitment and dedication to this community and turning these trends around. Overall, when first coming in to office I re-instated the Quality of Life and Housing task force. Having prosecuted Town Code violations in several municipalities, having been a Deputy in the Southampton Law Department, I knew everyone was working hard but still results were not being felt by the community. We then brought all the people involved with enforcement together and went through the issues. As a result over the last few years, we have computerized our efforts to create efficiencies, we have hired three new code officers and we most recently appointed a special prosecutor. Specifically, relative to a) above, I will continue to support the use of our codes and all appropriate legal avenues in Supreme Court. Single family homes being occupied by 2 or more families and those without proper rental permits take consistent enforcement so that the message is clear and I will continue to seek to reinforce this. The increased code enforcement positions and imposition of additional fines is a step in the right direction but there is still much to be done. We have made the permit process easier so as not to be a deterrent but having said that we have to maintain proper controls per New York State Building Codes to insure a homes safety. Looking at the Platform of my opponents, I find it disturbing that they would suggest allowing the rental of rooms thereby increasing occupancy. Not only do I think this exacerbates the existing problems but will create new ones from an enforcement, budgetary, staffing and liability perspective.

Answer: Damon Hagan:

The bottom line is that motels being used as full time residences is ridiculous and needs to be immediately addressed. The town attorney’s office has tried and failed to remove the people from these residences because they took a near sighted approach and only looked to the rental permit law as the grounds for removal. Since some of these motels predate the permit law that avenue was unsuccessful and the town attorney’s office gave up to the detriment of Hampton Bays. I believe that if we have a clearly identifiable goal, which is vacating the motels, then we need to apply some creative legal thinking and have our Town Leadership have the vision and skill look to other areas of the law to find the basis for removal.

If you have wooden structures designed for summer weekend use by two people overloaded with the weight associated with 6 to 8 people per hotel room 365 days a year, the beams will crack and break and the foundations will not hold. I would commit the Town Building Department and Engineers to inspect these properties to determine if they are safe. If found unsafe, I would support condemning the properties out for safety concerns and clearing them. This would be an alternative solution to meet the same goal.

b) Single family homes being occupied by 2 or more families?

As stated above we can take a condemnation approach or in the alternative involve the Department of Health. Overcrowding of homes is a significant health issue as it could lead to the easier transmission of communicable diseases. Those people then shop at the same stores as the rest of the community and sickness spreads. As such for the health and safety of the general public as well as the inhabitants of an overcrowded house the homes should be cleared out.

c) Single family homes lacking proper rental permits?

We need to be supportive of people that wish to rent out their properties the right way, that being renting a single family home to a single family, and make the rental permit process easier. This will allow for our kids to find starter homes and apartments and stay here in the community. We cannot have a process that is so prohibitive that home owners are afraid to go through the process so they decide to not make their properties available. This attitude only encourages those that would go about things the wrong way (overcrowding a home, overloading the septic systems, etc.) to continue to do so.

Furthermore the current Rental Permit Law as written actually makes it harder to remove non paying renters if there is no permit. Under the landlord tenant law there are two means to evict someone, for non-payment or a holdover proceeding. As our statute is currently written, without a permit you cannot evict someone on a non-payment basis. Under the law that would then require holdover proceeding with a minimum of a month’s notice to the tenant before you can start an action. Then with the adjournments permitted under the law and time for the sheriffs to actually complete the eviction you are looking at a 3 to 4 month process at a minimum. Meanwhile that tenant is not paying the rent, and if they are not paying the rent, then it is likely that they are not paying for their garbage pickup or maintenance of the property. This brings down the character of the community and does more harm to the neighboring properties. We need to have people that understand these legal distinctions in the Town Code, working on the board to correct these issues while continuing to require rental permits.

Answer: Richard Yastrzemski:

I understand the issues of overcrowding in areas of your hamlet.  It’s unsightly and unsafe for the neighborhoods and the habitants of these dwellings.  A lot of focus is given how inhumane or insensitive it is to displace people from a residence.  I submit that it is doing a service, for these same opponents would be first in line to question how this occurred, should a disaster like a fire happen and life was lost.  In relation to parts a,b,c, it is all about utilizing current laws on the books, and having the Supervisor back up the employees who enforce them.  Enforcement is not pretty.  Not everyone is willing to own up to displacing people at 4:00 a.m., but this is unfortunately required to achieve the end result.  I feel it should be presented as actually saving lives in the long run.

Answer: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier

(Note: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier are in full agreement on the questionnaire responses and decided to submit one joint set of answers rather than three individually completed forms)

 

UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM

We are acutely aware of the problems of overcrowding that have been occurring in Hampton Bays. The residents of the Hampton Bays community have the right to be frustrated that this issue has gone on for so long with little measurable progress toward decreasing overcrowding in spite of efforts by the Town to improve code enforcement functions. We are also aware of the underlying social and economic factors that have led to a concentration of low‐wage workers living in overcrowded conditions in Hampton Bays. We would be happy to discuss this in detail in another forum. However, for now, the simple explanation is that servicing of second homes east of the Shinnecock Canal has created a large low‐wage labor demand that is priced out of living in those areas and has concentrated itself in the nearest area with a large inventory of rental homes. When rents are split enough ways, they become more affordable to low-wage workers. Overcrowding of homes places a burden on the local school system and taxpayers. Overcrowding creates noise and parking issues. Overcrowding compromises septic systems. Overcrowding can create public health and safety problems for tenants and emergency service volunteers. Lastly, overcrowding simply is not fair to neighbors who are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their home in a single‐family residential neighborhood.

It is a mistake to dismiss those concerned about overcrowding as being motivated by racial discrimination. Although immigrants of Hispanic descent comprise a significant segment of the low-wage labor workforce, the issues created by overcrowding are real and must be addressed regardless of race or immigration status. Those living and working in our area must abide by the laws enacted to protect public safety and community character. It may be true that the region has failed to meaningfully address the need for affordable workforce housing, however, that does not make it acceptable to ignore the laws regarding housing occupancy limitations. It should be noted that although code enforcement may provide immediate relief of neighbors, it does not solve the underlying need to house an essential workforce that is priced out of the housing market. It should also be noted that code enforcement needs to be conducted in a manner that is sensitive to families and preserves the dignity of all those involved. The short-term solution is to step up code enforcement and expedite the judicial process. The long-term solution is to rebuild the tourism economy of Hampton Bays while creating housing opportunities in other areas where the workforce can reside in safe affordable accommodations. We will provide further details about revitalizing tourism in Hampton Bays later in this questionnaire.

MOTELS BEING USED AS FULL TIME RESIDENCES

Hampton Bays once had a thriving tourism economy. Hotels were a viable business. Town efforts to crackdown on nightclubs and summer share houses, as well as a downturn in the general economy, led to the weakening of the Hampton Bays tourism economy. Empty rental houses transitioned into workforce housing and empty hotels transitioned into apartments. Empty hotels were even used in the past by The County Department of Social Services to house homeless sex offenders and more recently as a temporary shelter for homeless families primarily from western Suffolk (Hidden Cove). It is easy to blame motel owners for all of these problems. In general, business owners will do what is legally compliant and in their best economic interest. Many hotels in Hampton Bays have become apartment buildings. There is no reason why a long term resident would cause more problems to neighbors than a short-term occupant. In fact, short-term occupants can be rowdy inebriated young people over-crowding and partying all night. There is nothing in State Law that requires a hotel to limit the amount of time a guest can stay. Motel owners can easily structure rentals by the week or month with no long- term lease in a way that meets the Town’s transient definition for a hotel. So let’s focus on the issue of motels being used as apartments for families that send children to the local public school. Hotels are typically taxed as commercial properties. It is assumed that no children will enter the school system from a hotel. Apartments are taxed at higher rate because of the likelihood of children entering the school system. The Town should require a hotel to either operate as a hotel, or apply for a change of zone or use variance to allow the hotel to be used as an apartment. A motel owner would then have to demonstrate that the current use as a motel is no longer viable. It would be beneficial for the Hampton Bays community to transition these facilities back to hotels through a combination of code enforcement actions and economic incentives. The best solution is to make hotel uses viable again. Montauk went through the identical problem. Hotels were turning into year‐round workforce housing to meet labor demand for the estates in East Hampton. When the tourism economy returned to Montauk, the hotels returned to being hotels. As soon as the profits were greater as a hotel than an apartment, the change occurred. The same will happen in Hampton Bays and we predict the need for additional hotel capacity beyond the old inventory. Some of the hotels could also serve as summer condo/co-op apartments. These facilities are common in Montauk and allow individual unit owners to participate in a hotel rental program when they are not personally using their units. The Town blocked Condo and Co‐Op conversions for an extended period through a moratorium. However, condo/co-op conversion could create the financial incentive to convert former hotels from apartments into viable resort facilities. We are confident that the economics are right to create a strong tourism economy in Hampton Bays. Jay Schneiderman, our Supervisor candidate, has a clear understanding of this industry based on thirty years of resort management experience. With Jay’s guidance,  we have developed a series of steps for revitalizing the tourism economy of Hampton Bays. We will provide more detail later in this questionnaire (see questions #3, #4 and #6). Rebuilding the tourism economy in Hampton Bays will reduce property taxes; reduce overcrowded housing; and transition former hotels from apartments back to resort facilities.

SINGLE FAMILY HOMES BEING OCCUPIED BY 2 OR MORE FAMILIES

A single family home must only be occupied by a single family. That is the law and it must be enforced. However, NY State defines a family broadly, based on co-habitation. If a group of individuals are living together and sharing a kitchen and living areas, they are considered a family regardless of blood or marital relations. Local definitions of a family as being “no more than four unrelated individuals” do not hold up when challenged in court.  Therefore it is important to establish and enforce laws that restrict occupancy to the size of a home. For instance, Jay Schneiderman, while serving as East Hampton Town Supervisor, established a one person per 50 square feet of bedroom area maximum occupancy limit. This requirement conforms to State building codes. Since the Town maintains bedroom square footage information for most homes, it is much easier to bring enforcement action based on this provision. East Hampton also limits cars parked outside a rental home to no more than four. The town of East Hampton is currently considering limitations on the number and size of heavy commercial trucks at residences. Many homes have constructed illegal apartments within the home. These apartments provide separate locked entry and separate kitchen facilities. Many of these apartments are contained in basements without proper fire exits. Illegal apartments must be eliminated through code enforcement action. The town provides a program to allow accessory apartments. Most of these illegal apartments will not be allowed under the Town accessory apartment law, as the lots are insufficient in size. We would like to amend the accessory apartment law to create affordable rentals, but only in areas where the employees are actually working. This plan is detailed in our recent “Action Plan to Restore Southampton’s Quality of Life.” For the Hampton Bays area, we would like to pilot a program that would allow some homes to be rented to families on a weekly basis for vacation purposes. We believe that landlords will make considerably more money renting in this fashion than through overcrowding with local workers. Weekly vacation rentals for families will provide the capacity lacking in hotels and help support local restaurants and stores located downtown. Participating homeowners will pay a higher rental permit fee and will have to conform to guidelines designed to protect neighbors, or they will be rejected from the program. The current rental laws limit rentals to two weeks or longer.

SINGLE FAMILY HOMES LACKING PROPER RENTAL PERMITS

There are probably more single-family homes being rented without rental permits than those that are being rented with rental permits. We will need to examine the current law to see why so many are not complying. The rental law was primarily established to aid with code enforcement by obtaining greater access to rental properties. We will need to look at the whole process to determine why the Town has not made significant progress in addressing overcrowding in spite of several attempts to improve code enforcement. We need to examine the current regulatory structure, the judicial process and the staffing levels. We will also examine penalties for violations to make sure they are sufficient to discourage the unlawful activity.  Additionally, rebuilding the tourism economy and creating housing opportunities east of the Canal will provide long-term relief.

 

QUESTION 2

 

We have seen over the past year, the Code enforcement officers are doing an admirable job and aggressively working problem properties in Hampton Bays and progress is being made. The addition of an attorney to strictly work Code Enforcement cases has also been a net positive.  With that said, we feel that the Code Enforcement department's workload is extremely heavy, especially when faced with the entire Township. What plans, if any, do you have about the possibility of increasing personnel and resources for this department?

 

Answer: Christine Scalera:

As stated, one of my initiatives was to create the special prosecutor and I am pleased that we have seen some positive results as has the three new code officers that we added. I will again look at the budget to see if any additions can be made in a fiscally responsible way but having not yet waded through the budget it would be premature to commit to this. Notwithstanding, in the event we can't add new code officer in this years budget, knowing there is still much to be done, with increased staffing in the Police Department, it is my hope that the additional CRU can be integrated into the process relative to discussions and implementation with Code Enforcement.

Answer: Damon Hagan:

The most needed thing in the code enforcement department is leadership. When the Concerned Citizens of Hampton Bays hand a dossier of 600 problematic properties, identify the codes being violated there in, how they are being violated, and then give the same to our Supervisor it should not take this long to address. I believe the cause and solution is leadership over the department. Currently Code Enforcement is overseen by the Town Attorney, who is overseen by the Supervisor. We need skilled leadership on the Town Board with legal experience to be able to guide the Town Attorney’s office, code enforcement and the building department how to act to enforce these codes.

Answer: Richard Yastrzemski:

This boils down to importance of enforcement and prosecution.  Enforcement is the part that currently is not sufficiently backed by the Supervisor, and the lack of adequate prosecution of the cases compounds the issue.  I would look into strengthening both of these resources to help clean up the areas pointed out by your group. That could entail adding or restructuring current staff levels devoted to this department.

Answer: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier:

It will be our job as Town leaders to protect every resident’s quality of life. Code enforcement is a critical part of the public safety function of the town. Town staff levels must be appropriate to address the need. If there are insufficient levels of code enforcement personnel, then we will add more officers. However, we need to examine if the problem is best fixed by increased personnel or by other changes. As you state, progress is being made.

 Over the past few years the Town has added three additional code enforcement officers and a second full time office staff member. The town revamped the information technology used by code enforcement officers and shifted rental permit operations from the Building Department to Code Enforcement. This change reduced processing time and inspection wait times. The Town also added a Town Attorney dedicated to code enforcement that has resulted in reduced time for calendaring cases and increased fines collected for violations. We will explore Peace Officer status for code enforcement officers as well as the creation of a special court, perhaps an evening court conducted in Hampton Bays, which will expedite the adjudication of cases involving violations of rental laws and home occupancy limitations. We will also look into setting up a separate unit of code enforcement just to deal with overcrowding and rental law violations, particularly dealing with landlord responsibilities and legal obligations to both renters and community. 

 

QUESTION 3

During the entire tenure of the current Supervisors term it has consistently been stated  that Southampton Town Taxes have not been increased.  Though it may be accurate as to Town taxes, our tax rate since 2008 has increased by 42.75%. (See graph attached)  Approximately 80% of our tax bill is attributable to School taxes.  A contributing factor to this increase of school taxes is a result of the increased population due to the use of motels as full time residences and multiple families using single family homes. We feel the Town has not provided enough services and resources to protect the quality of life in Hampton Bays contributing to the increase in school taxes. So while the Town's comment of "No Tax Increase" for Southampton may be true, a result of the illegal housing issue to the people of Hampton Bays has been a 42.75% Tax Rate increase. How would you address this problem?

 

    

 

Answer: Christine Scalera:

My honest answer to this as I have stated at several meetings is that I don't believe there is a silver bullet. I truly believe that as a result of continued efforts in code enforcement, a continued push and ultimate implementation for revitalizing Main street and the development of Good Ground Park as economic drivers, there are many good positive changes for Hampton Bays not only from a quality of life stand point but from potential increased tax base

Answer: Damon Hagan:

You have to clear out the overcrowded housing using the methods I had set forth above. Overcrowded housing produces more children then contemplated under tax assessments, burdens the school district with additional costs, and then those costs are them distributed to the community as a whole in school taxes. There is no reason why two school buses are being utilized to run a school bus route with only two stops; the hotel and the school. By forcing the clearing of the properties through alternative means there will not be the children there. No children in the overcrowded motel means no children in the school , which leads to lower school taxes.

Answer: Richard Yastrzemski:

This is data that I was not aware of until it was shown to me recently.  It is a perfect smoke screen by the current Supervisor to shield the fact that contrary to her statements, there have been negative impacts on taxes. This is the disconnect between her and the community.  The solution is to be aware of how this data intertwines with other town data, and to respond appropriately.  Hopefully more effective enforcement will help alleviate this tax burden.

Answer: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier:

School taxes are not controlled by the Town, but can certainly be affected by actions taken, or not taken, at the Town level. Several areas of the Town have seen their school population decrease and still

school taxes have increased, but to a lesser degree than in Hampton Bays. Hampton Bays is one of the few areas on the South Fork that has seen school population increases above demographic projections. Code enforcement of overcrowded homes, the creation of workforce housing east of the Canal, and the reviving of tourism (hotels return to hotels and some year-round rentals become summer rentals) will likely reduce school population. It will then be up to the school to reduce the operating budget and resulting tax rates.

 The reason why certain East End communities have very low school taxes is because of either large commercial tax bases or a large sector of high-end residential properties. As the tourism economy returns to Hampton Bays, three things will happen that will effectively lower the tax burden.

1)  People will build more high-end summer homes in Hampton Bays. These properties will add to the real property tax assessment within the school district. These are summer homes that will not put children in the school district. The amount collected to run the school will be divided across a larger tax base and will greatly decrease the burden on modest single‐family homeowners.

 2) As the tourism economy improves, landlords will transition rentals to seasonal rentals that will not put children into the school system. Seasonal rentals, particularly short‐term vacation rental (one week or longer), will be far more financially beneficial to homeowners than current rental practices. The school population is likely to decrease.

 3) The commercial sector will strengthen and there will be new investments into downtown Hampton Bays. This will increase the tax base without adding children to the school district.  

 

QUESTION 4

 

Hampton Bays was once a thriving summer resort community with motels, restaurants, bars and other summer recreation facilities, many of those businesses are no longer viable in Hampton Bays.  How would you revitalize the business district in Hampton Bays?

 

Answer: Christine Scalera:

I believe this is interrelated with 5 below so will answer together. As I stated, responsible economic development is part of the key for Hampton Bays. I have been and will continue to work on revitalization supporting the development and seeking the funding for Good Ground Park, the creation of an overlay district for main street and continuing to support tax incentives for hotels to continue to incentivize the improvements they need to enhance the vibrancy that Hampton Bays has been known for. While the CPI project was not without controversy, whether you were in support or an opponent, is has already acted as an economic driver, bringing in private industry interest and investment dollars to the area and in a responsible way, we need to capitalize on that in speaking about and marketing Hampton Bays. We also need to continue to work with community members on the revitalization efforts particular to main street to re-inforce a charm and sea-side community look and a community driven overlay district can achieve this. For example you can provide parking space relief in exchange for enhanced greening of areas closest to the curbs for an area of say 25-50 feet inward. This is just illustrative but there are many design enhancements that can be used and incentives given in exchange.

Answer: Damon Hagan:

We need to foster a responsible partnership with the local municipality, local business and the community at large to revitalize our businesses. We should be encouraging the municipality to apply for private money façade grants and then recruit property owners to seize the opportunity and reinvest in their property by improving the exterior of the buildings. I have personally received the benefit of such programs in my private practice and have seen how they work. We should then be fostering community events like the San Gennaro Festival and family fun nights on our main streets to attract the public to come out, see the facelift the Hamlet has and spend their money in our community.

Answer: Richard Yastrzemski:

Your community groups have already begun to turn around Hampton Bays, with the festivals (San Gennaro Feat) and parades (St. Patrick’s) that have been added.  It is up to the Supervisor and Town Council to make it easier to conduct and attract business, not to deter them.  It is counterintuitive to act otherwise. It would be my job to provide the resources and codes/laws necessary to continue and expand on what your community has been doing already.

Answer: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier:

Revitalizing the tourism economy of Hampton Bays is the central key to resolving many of the issues that frustrate residents. Hampton Bays has all the basic elements needed to become a premium summer vacation home location as well as a world-class tourism destination.

Hampton Bays has it all.

·         Beautiful sandy ocean beaches without commercial development

·         Peconic Bay, Tiana Bay and Shinnecock Bay

·         Boating and Recreational fishing and other water activities including surfing, kite boarding, paddle boarding, surfcasting and scuba diving

·         A downtown of ample size to create a great shopping and dining experience

·         Parks, museums, cultural and historic attractions

·         Proximity to other popular South Fork, North Fork and Riverhead destinations

·         A train station and other public transportation options

·         Ample housing for its own workforce

Hampton Bays once had a thriving tourism economy based largely on a party scene with nightclubs and young singles. It was the wrong type of tourism for Hampton Bays. Montauk faces a similar problem as it struggles with packed share houses, noise and other quality of life issues that result from the party crowd. Hampton Bays has an opportunity to get it right and create a family friendly tourism economy. Montauk’s party scene and the high cost of motel rooms are driving families to other locations. Additionally traffic backlogs from Watermill through Amagansett are discouraging tourists by adding an additional hour or more to the trip. Hampton Bays is uniquely positioned to benefit from the high tourism demand. The unpretentious working class appeal of Hampton Bays makes it more like Montauk than some of the other more affluent Hamptons locations. Revitalization will not occur without the proper infrastructure for tourism. What is needed is readily achievable. There are several key elements:

·         Revitalization of Downtown Hampton Bays

·         Improvements to Tiana and Ponquogue each facilities

·         The creation of a new waterfront park on the west side of the canal

·         A free shuttle from the train station to the beach and other attractions

·         The conversions of former hotels back to hotels and possibly a few new hotels

·         The creation of a program that allows short--‐term family vacation home rentals

·         The creation of family friendly activities like Greenport’s carousel and ice skating rink

We have many ideas specific to the downtown business district, which is the subject of this question. We will be happy to elaborate upon them at a later point. A brief outline includes the following:

·         Improvements to Good Ground Park

·         Beautification of downtown with street lighting, landscaping and awnings

·         Cafes with outdoor seating

·         Landscaping and other improvements to the north side of Good Ground Road to create a better impression as visitors are arriving at the train station

·         Addition of family friendly activities like an ice skating rink or carousel

·         Free shuttle to attractions including Meschutt, Tiana and Ponquogue beaches

 

QUESTION 5

Downtown Hampton Bays has deteriorated over the years? What would your plan be to revitalize downtown Hampton Bays?  What additional services, tax incentives, or other programs would you try to implement?

 

Answer: Christine Scalera:

See Above

Answer: Damon Hagan:

I would ask that you read the above answer to paragraph 4.

Answer: Richard Yastrzemski:

Make it easier for business to come in and expand, with utilizing some of the measures mentioned in the question.  Paving Main Street is a big improvement. That, incidentally, had to be rescued by our Town Council.  The County Legislature should not have been surprised that the altering of parameters in a grant could nullify it. That was an unavoidable error. The addition of park grounds and concerts are a big draw, and gives pride to the community.

Answer: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier:

Please note that although we may have a lot of ideas for Hampton Bays, it is important that these ideas are fully vetted with the Hampton Bays community. Many local residents will have ideas of their own that should be considered. We will look to engage the Hampton Bays community in planning for its own future. We will not look to progress any ideas for the community that do not have strong grassroots support. Therefore we plan to reach out to all members of the business and residential community to develop a revitalization plan. We will use Jay Schneiderman’s experience in government to help secure grants and other economic development funding to assist in accomplishing the community supported goals. As County Legislator, Jay Schneiderman worked hard to advance the resurfacing of Montauk Highway in downtown Hampton Bays. Jay helped secure $1.2 million dollars in County funds to join with $600,000 in Town funds for this important project. This highway resurfacing work is scheduled to begin shortly. Jay also recently helped secure $2 million to dredge Shinnecock Canal and $1.5 million to repair the tide gates and locks. Jay recently supported a land swap to reconfigure the intersection at North Rd (CR 39) and Montauk Highway (CR 80) and helped negotiate a provision for 24 hour public access on the east side of the canal. Jay also encouraged the County to install a new septic system at Meschutt Beach. In 2010, Jay Schneiderman was named “Angel of the Year” by the Hampton Bays Beautification Association for his work in securing important grants for community improvements. For other ideas to revitalize downtown Hampton Bays, please see our answers to question #4 and #6.

 

QUESTION 6

Hampton Bays has some of the most beautiful beaches on the east end and there are no houses on these beaches generating high tax revenue for Hampton Bays. How would you look to promote our beaches and tourism to bring much needed revenue to Hampton Bays?

 

Answer: Christine Scalera:

Our beaches are amongst the most beautiful in the world. We should try and more proactively promote them as such through the Chambers of Commerce and the Hamptons tourism bureau but we also have to provide some much needed infrastructure repairs to our facilities. This is something I will look at in the budget. Being conservatively fiscal we have to balance these needs but I will be looking and working with parks about the feasibility of potential improvements. Again, not having waded through the budget it would be premature to commit something I may not be readily able to follow through on but it is on my mind.

 

Answer: Damon Hagan:

As Montauk begins to crack down on tourists we are in a unique position to take advantage of this,opportunity to promote Hampton Bays as a total and complete vacation destination. We should be,promoting the ease of access to our ocean, bays and fine dining. We should be highlighting the sport,fishing charters, restaurants and live entertainment mere yards from the ocean, inlets and bays. We,should also be encouraging local events to attract business to our Hamlet. Come for the art show and,stay for dinner on the water.

I would also like to see Hampton Bays promoted as a wedding destination and an easing on the current,restrictions of only three tented events a year affecting several of our local businesses. Weekend,wedding business touches several businesses in a short term and positive way. Generally the make-up,of a wedding spans a wide variety generations, ages, and socioeconomic groups. Hotels have weekend,guests that come and leave Monday. The wedding venue holds the event, another location for the,rehearsal dinner, and usually a third locale for the wedding party to celebrate after the event or the,night before. Also the guests of the wedding will be frequenting the restaurants that we have in,Hampton Bays. Currently several businesses with spectacular views are affected by restrictions of only,having three tented events a year. This has a detrimental effect on the ability of a location to market,itself as a wedding destination because they can’t put up an event tent. We should be easing and,removing these restrictions to improve the right kind of commerce to Hampton Bays. As more people,come to Hampton Bays, and see all we have to offer, they will return.

Answer: Richard Yastrzemski:

I would like to have seen the Neptunes and Summers property use more efficiently to promote tourism.  One building is being used for events, and I would like to see that expand.  Make sure all ocean beaches are kept pristine and provide the comforts and attractions that tourist and locals alike desire. I would continue/expand on promoting Hampton Bays as big fishing destination, due to the inlet.

Answer: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier:

The ocean beaches are the number one tourist attraction in Hampton Bays. The fact that there is no residential development around these beaches can be a positive thing because it creates a natural setting and the ability to allow activities without affecting neighbors. However, the Town facilities at Ponquogue and Tiana are in need of Improvement. Neither has a full concession like the County maintains at Meschutt, Cupsogue and Smithpoint. Both Tiana and Ponquogue should offer the ability for visitors to sit down and enjoy lunch with an ocean view. Full concessions at these facilities could earn the Town significant revenues to sustain these parks. A free open‐air shuttle should connect these beaches to downtown Hampton Bays. This would allow people to stay in Hampton Bays without a car. It will also help support businesses downtown. The shuttle could stop by the Town park along the west side of the canal, Canal Café and even Meschutt Beach. It could loop along Springville Rd (Green Door and The Station Bar), Lynn Ave and Canoe Place Rd (Rumba and Cowfish). On the way to the bridge it could stop at popular spots (Beach Bar, Tully’s and the Inn Spot). The shuttle could stop at the Shinnecock Inlet and other nearby locations (Sundays and Oaklands). The shuttle would allow summer renters and residents to access many locations without a car. The shuttle could also one day connect to a new terminal with a water taxi that could bring tourists to places like Riverhead, Sag Harbor, Montauk, Greenport and Orient Point. The waterfront along Canal Road West, located on the west side of the Shinnecock Canal, is already a popular spot for fishing. A chain‐link fence separates the waterfront from a Town park at 6 Newtown Road. The fence and vegetation should be removed and the park opened to the waterfront. The park should contain a public restroom and trash receptacles. This new waterfront park could be a location for events such as farmers markets and craft shows. It is important to maintain parking close to the waterfront to allow easy access for fishermen. The anticipated renovation of the historic Canoe Place Inn will provide a needed banquet hall as well as lodging opportunities for visitors.  We will also help advance improvements to Good Ground Park, which are currently being designed by the Town with community involvement. For additional ideas to promote tourism please see our answers to questions #3 and #4

 

QUESTION 7

   What is your overall vision for a revitalized Hampton Bays and how would you achieve that goal without further taxation of the people of Hampton Bays?

 

Answer: Christine Scalera:

The whole idea of a vision for revitalization for Hampton Bays is to bring back the economic viability it once had with the tax base this would create this should provide some of the much needed tax relief for Hampton Bays residents.

Answer: Damon Hagan:

Hampton Bays has the best access to beaches on the east end. The problem is that the average beach,goer will go to the ocean for three hours and then they go home. If there is no reason to stay beyond,the beach they leave. The thing that is harming Hampton Bays, and the Town of Southampton as a,whole, is we no longer have the restaurants and night time attractions that once drew the crowds to,come here and stay here. It is no coincidence that as things to do at night in the Town of Southampton,has declined, business and overcrowding in Montauk has increased. It is not that people have suddenly,discovered Montauk, it’s just that tourists have been driving east, did not have a reason to stop in,Hampton Bays, and continued to drive until they ran out of island.,We need to have responsible partnerships between the municipality and the businesses in the,community to have more options available to the average tourist. More choices make Hampton Bays a,more attractive option to the traveler. As tourism increases so does local business revenues and with,that comes revenue from sales taxes, property taxes and alike.

I would also direct your attention to my answer at paragraph 4 above.

Answer: Richard Yastrzemski:

The vision is to highlight the simple, natural beauty that Hampton Bays embodies.  It is important to capitalize on how Hampton Bays is the perfect Hamptons destination, minus the pretentiousness.  There were areas east of the canal when I grew up that did represent that.  They have become fewer now.  Hampton Bays is a blank canvas, in my opinion.  It possesses all the pieces necessary to bring it to the next level.  Those pieces being a willing community, and the desire of a Supervisor and Council to provide the resources and incentives to achieve it. If implemented properly, the side effect could be the relaxing of the school tax increases.

Answer: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier:

We feel that we have covered this question in our responses to all of the earlier questions

 

QUESTION 8

We have heard a lot about the deteriorating water quality of our bays due to Nitrogen intake. Wouldn't it seem evident that the septic systems of the motels in Hampton Bays, many of which are on or close proximity to the water and were originally designed for transient use, cannot handle the heavy full time use? Also, single family home septic systems that were designed for single family homes are being abused by illegal overcrowding also? We at CCHB are shocked that in the 3 plus years of our existence that these two areas of abuse have not been looked at more closely as an area of concern for pollution. As a candidate for office, do you believe that this is an area of concern for the abuse of our waterways and if so, how do you plan to address this issue?

 

Answer: Christine Scalera:

It is without question an area of great concern and again I will point out that while we have done some, we need to do more. This is exactly the type of violation I targeted when I created the environmental surcharge which is a charge that is placed on violators of environmental offenses in addition to any of the recognized penalties. The point was to direct that charge into the Water Quality Protection Fund I created. Under the heading, if you're responsible for the degradation, you're responsible to help clean it up. This is also I believe and important aspect of enforcement actions going forward.

Answer: Damon Hagan:

As stated in paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 above we need to clear out the overcrowded housing. Less people,mean less use of septic systems, and less nitrogen loading. In addition to that we need to be,encouraging private money grants to local septic system replacement funds to free up resources for,private home owners in problem zones to replace their current septic systems with ones that prevent,nitrogen loading but are cost prohibitive to the average consumer. We also should be supporting green,initiatives for natural filtration such as the protected oyster and clam beds being planted by such groups,as the Conscious Point Shellfish Hatchery, the Moriches Bay Project and SUNY Stony Brook’s Marine,Science Center in Southampton.

Answer: Richard Yastrzemski:

This is an area that clearly needs to be tackled, but not just as an isolated scenario mentioned here.  This is a town wide issue, or more accurately an island wide issue.  Looking into improving and utilizing more efficient sewage treatment is a big priority.  I have already begun to address that in my current position as a Trustee and Deputy Mayor Southampton Village.  The overcrowding is not helping the situation either.   Actual enforcement and prosecution should help to deter that.  A more accommodative County Legislature would help as well, by reducing the DSS residents.

Answer: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier:

Yes, it is an area of concern. It is best addressed through code enforcement. Please see our answers to questions #1 and #2

 

QUESTION 9

        Based upon Hampton Bays being the largest voting bloc in Southampton we recognize that all candidates will respond by stating what they anticipate we want to hear. How are you going to assure the people of Hampton Bays that you will deliver on your campaign promises?

 

Answer: Christine Scalera:

I can assure the people of Hampton Bays I will deliver on my promises because I already have. This is not to say that I am done or even close, but it is to say that I have been open about the issues we face. I have been honest about where we have needed to step it up and honest about where something has not worked and then have taken action to correct it. We are in this together and I think you can tell from my answers I am not one to commit to something unless I know I can deliver. The issues facing Hampton Bays didn't happen overnight and are not solely fixable by code enforcement. But continuing to work together, to have open and honest dialogue, I know we can keep the ball rolling forward.

Answer: Damon Hagan:

I am active in the local community and I am easy to find. I do not want to just be locked behind closed,doors in Town Hall should I be lucky enough to have your support and be elected. I live in East Quogue,,but spend my free time and shop in Hampton Bays. I am active in the Ancient Order of Hibernians in,Hampton Bays. I march every year in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I go to mass in the crying room with,my kids at St. Rosalie’s. I buy my groceries at Stop and Shop. I like the six dollar wings and beer special,at Gators. I am invested in Hampton Bays. I believe that our elected officials need to be accountable to the communities they represent and the people who have backed them. To have your endorsement and support would mean that you have put your trust in me to do all that I can to support Hampton Bays and revitalize our Town. With that would come great responsibility and it is a duty that I would not take lightly. As your endorsed candidate and elected official I would do all I can to live up to your trust. I want to be called to account for my actions at the grocery store, at dinner, at church. I want the people of Hampton Bays to be able to raise their concerns with me when they see me. I assure you that I will not be quiet in raising those concerns before the Town Board.

Answer: Richard Yastrzemski:

Quite honestly, you have no hard assurances or guarantees. You have only my word and my reputation as an eight year representative of Southampton Village.  As someone whose upbringing is one of a working class family and has parents on a fixed income, I fully understand the struggles to live on the east end of Long Island.  As someone from “east of the canal”, I understand that “all that glitters is not gold”.  I consider the challenge of transforming this blank canvas into a work of art an absolute honor.

Answer: Jay Schneiderman, Julie Lofstad and John Bouvier:

As we hope you can tell by the detail of our responses to your questions, that we have given considerable thought to finding solutions to the problems of Hampton Bays. We are a leadership team that brings experience and a willingness to work closely with the community to improve our quality of life. Our goal is to protect the things we love, restore the things we’ve lost, and chart a course to a future that is as bright as our past. We each offer a personal commitment below:

JAY SCHNEIDERMAN

I have been the County Legislator representing Hampton Bays for the past 12 years. I have delivered on widening CR 39, adding Sunday Bus service, getting rid of the Sex Offender trailers, closing the Hidden Cove Shelter, resurfacing Montauk Highway (about to begin), building an indoor public pool at the eastern campus of Suffolk Community College (about to begin), opening a local veterans health clinic, getting more County sales tax dollars for our local police, and many other important initiatives and projects. I have also delivered 12 consecutive years without any increases in County property taxes. I have delivered on every campaign promise so far. As Southampton Town Supervisor, I will continue to make every effort to continue to deliver for the people I represent.

JULIE LOFSTAD

I grew up in Hampton Bays. I am raising my daughter here. I have a business here. I do not plan on leaving. My heart is in Hampton Bays, and I want to do my best for our hamlet and the people who live here. I am invested in our community. I cannot promise that I can fix everything that ails us, but I can promise you that I will never stop trying to advocate for what is right. To me, that means people should live in dignified and safe conditions, landlords who violate our laws should be penalized, schools should not be stressed with overcrowded classrooms, our property taxes should not be exorbitant, and we should be able to enjoy our homes without seeing numerous cars parked all over neighboring lawns with overflowing garbage containers. Hampton Bays has so much potential. I want to work to make it the gem of the Hamptons. I know my team has the leadership, dedication and experience to make that dream a reality.

JOHN BOUVIER

Along with my running mates, I have given considerable thought and consideration to the issues that are of concern to Hampton Bays voters. In the larger sense, these issues are of concern to the entire Town of Southampton and I would hope that all candidates have taken the same steps we have to not only recognize them but to formulate a plan of action as to how to solve them. Many of the issues are symptoms of larger problems that have direct and indirect pressures on our quality of life. Our action plan is the result of many hours of listening and responding to the very real concerns of all of  Southampton Town residents. It should indicate to you how serious we are in asking you to work with us to solve these issues. It would be irresponsible to make specific promises just to win an election. From traffic congestion, overcrowding, over development, tax inequities and degraded water quality, the future work and priorities of any elected official is clear. The only promise that can be made is to take this work on with passion and a dedication to solve the problems. Our team represents three people who all bring with them separate but overlapping skills and a work ethic that promises all the residents of Southampton a comprehensive action plan, dedicated public service and recognition of the important and critical nature of the work ahead. I was born here and went to school here. My record on the Conservation Board, having brought two environmental legislations to the Town Board that were unanimously approved, my background as an Engineer, business owner and professional accomplishments speak to my approach to getting things done.

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