Tempers flared at the East Hampton Town Board’s work session on Tuesday over spending at East Hampton Airport, with Councilwoman Theresa Quigley accusing Councilman Dominick Stanzione, airport liaison, of “running rogue” and keeping the rest of the board in the dark regarding airport matters.
At issue was a revelation that the town spent about $200,000 for a federal environmental assessment form, or EAF, for the airport’s traffic control tower. Ms. Quigley sharply criticized Mr. Stanzione for not having brought the expense to the rest of the board’s attention and said she found out about it only upon receiving a purchase order recently.
Airport manager Jim Brundige, whom Ms. Quigley asked to appear before the Town Board that day to clarify matters, acknowledged that the expenditure was an out-of-budget expense.
“The $200,000 was a surprise,” he said, adding that he had “raised the red flag” to town budget officer Len Bernard and Mr. Stanzione. The Federal Aviation Administration told the airport it needed to have the federal EAF done, in addition to a state one that had been approved by the Town Board.
Ms. Quigley, voice rising and finger pointing at times, scolded Mr. Stanzione for not informing the board.
“Basically what’s happening is that you’ve got a Town Board member running rogue, spending money without doing the proper process, spending money without telling the Town Board,” she said.
Mr. Stanzione countered that the hired contractors did what they were supposed to do and that the control tower has been the board’s central focus in improving airport safety. When he expressed appreciation for getting the tower up, Ms. Quigley accused him of deflection.
In an attempt to tighten enforcement and crack down on illegal rentals, such as share houses—a frequent source of quality-of-life complaints from residents—the Town Board continues to discuss how best to start a rental registry.
Such a registry would require landlords to inform the town about their rental plans.
Mr. Stanzione on Tuesday said he has drafted a proposed resolution to streamline the rental permit process.
Numerous issues remain to be sorted out, however, including which town department will be tasked with the matter. Town officials said that a rental registry in Southampton Town is handled by one employee and is plagued by a backload in cases. In addition to the administrative burden, the severity of penalties also need to be worked out.
“If the fines aren’t scary enough, no one’s going to care,” said Pat Gunn, East Hampton Town’s public safety officer, who previously said that requiring property owners to submit to inspections would be unconstitutional, meaning the code enforcement officers would not gain much clout without the ability to conduct inspections.
Board members said they also need a way to distinguish different types of guests. A homeowner who throws a party and lets several guests spend the night so that they don’t drive home drunk is not in the same boat as one who lets guests stay for extended periods, Ms. Quigley said.
A proposed new parking plan around Springs School will be up for a public hearing on Thursday, September 5.
The Town Board on Tuesday scheduled the hearing after listening to a presentation by School Board president Elizabeth Mendelman, in which she presented several solutions intended to limit parking along School Street to protect the Pussy’s Pond preserve and protect students walking to and from school. The proposal includes parking limits, as well as no-stopping and no-standing areas.
A renewed effort on Tuesday by the two Democratic members of the Town Board to rescind the sale of Fort Pond House in Montauk failed.
Mr. Van Scoyoc presented a draft resolution to pull the nearly four-acre town-owned property off the market, describing it as a “community asset and resource of value” to the people of East Hampton that has served as a meeting space for groups like the Boy Scouts, but Mr. Stanzione said he needs more time to think the matter over.
Councilwoman Sylvia Overby told him that time is up, but he countered that it is not if they want his vote.
As part of ongoing efforts to appease Springs residents who have complained about the noise, traffic and litter resulting from ballgames and other organized events taking place in residential neighborhoods, the Town Board on Tuesday unveiled a map showing areas where such activities are permitted.
The list is a step toward redirecting event participants toward those designated areas, rather than disrupting the neighborhood.
The number of such gatherings that should be allowed is still at issue, and Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc said they would like more feedback.