History lesson

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Deb Foster’s piece [“Planning Department abolished,” The Story Behind the Story, April 9] about the abolishment of the Planning Department missed a few details and misstated a few facts.

The Citizens Planning Committee Inc. (not “Community Planning Committee”) was formed in March 1982 by Neil Noland, a local poet; Herb Mulford, whose Republican father was a former East Hampton Town supervisor; and me (I suppose I’m the English realtor Deb refers to). It attracted 5,400 registered supporters, which in a town of about 10,000 at that time was a staggering recognition of the problem we faced.

Our attorney was Bill Fleming, who had the distinct pleasure of serving the Town Board at its regular meeting with a restraining order, temporarily preventing them from passing a resolution to abolish the Planning Department. Through litigation and other efforts, the CPC subsequently forced the reinstatement of the Planning Department.

As the membership ballooned, Neil, Herb and I realized that we had bitten off more than we could chew. None of us had the time needed to shepherd this movement in the direction it had to go. A retired retailing executive, Ed Gorman, had written some supportive letters to the local paper, so we turned to him to lead the CPC. He did a great job with it.

Many people got their introduction to local politics through involvement with the CPC’s activities, including Tony Bullock, Rick Whalen, Tom Ruhle, Cathy Lester, and others.

Russell Stein, a Montauk attorney who was active in planning matters, wrote “Strategies for Survival: A Review of Alternatives Available to East Hampton Town at the Eleventh Hour,” which was published by CPC in September 1983. I still have a couple of copies.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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