For the past two weeks, Deb Foster has been telling readers of this paper, as a member and later chair of the East Hampton Planning Board, she rescued the town from the clutches of up-island Republican developers [“The story behind the story,” March 19 and 26].
This has been Foster’s continuing mantra, but unfortunately the actual record is different.
During the time Democrats controlled the Town Board and Foster was a member of the Planning Board, total housing units in East Hampton went from 12,971 to 19,640. Seasonal housing, or second homes, rose from 6,753 to 10,693 or from 52 percent of the housing stock to 54 percent of the housing stock, while year-round housing went from 6,218 to 8,947.
The large increase in second homes is a clear indication that developers were hard at work building new housing for New York City residents who were thrilled to own a home in the Hamptons. These numbers are taken from page 32 of Dr. Lee Koppelman’s proposed comprehensive plan dated December 2002.
The East Hampton Democratic Party was delighted to have these newcomers, which the Democrats, under the leadership of Judy Hope, persuaded to register as Democrats in East Hampton. Furthermore, Foster does not mention that Kathy Lester, as town supervisor, turned down repeated attempts by Andrew Sabin to sell Jacobs Farm to the town for $4 million. Lester hoped to develop the property as affordable housing. Sabin later sold it to the town for $12 million.
Readers of this paper must be reminded that Foster approved the purchase of Keys Island by the town with Community Preservation Fund money for $13.5 million as a nature preserve from an owner who had the property listed for sale for $1.5 million for nearly a decade.
Another purchase Foster voted for was an unbuildable agricultural reserve parcel from the late Marvin Hyman for $1 million with CPF money for a nature preserve.
Foster was an ardent supporter of the Democrats’ upzoning of East Hampton, which helped increase the price of land and homes throughout the town, making it nearly impossible for young local families to buy homes in East Hampton.
Finally, Foster voted for McGintee budgets that raided CPF funds to cover the out of control spending of the Town Board, of which she was a very vocal and self-promoting member.
On balance, I would say her effect on the lives of local middle and working class East Hampton residents was a disaster.