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April 1st, 2004

Paradise Lost: an Editor’s Lament

by John Herrick

Somewhere in the pine barrens not far from Manorville lurks a time warp, a gateway to another, magic America, the America that Happy Days and Leave It To Beaver tried to recapture, a perfect place for families. First stop, a quaint village with nose to the curb parking on main street, a pub called Magic’s, schools kids can walk to with play grounds and sport fields galore and not a McDonalds, Pizza Hut, or Domino’s in sight. But look again. One resident warned you will notice there is not much else in sight either, unless you eat, drink and sleep real estate stores. Looks can be deceiving.?Ǭ Walk around the corner from Main Street and you’d think someone listened to too much Joni Mitchell, Pave paradise and put up a parking lot. In the heart of the village is a huge, empty asphalt parking lot. In fact the village seems to be drowning in parking lots, for schools, behind Magic’s,?Ǭ on all sides of Waldbaums, and soon a new parking lot to come, surrounding the new Village Hall at Six Corners. Yes, there are rules and regulations for parking lots, to go with all the other rules and regulations in the village code covering signs, and skateboarding, and roller blading and certificates of occupancy (more about those later) and speeding and stop signs. And more to come. But it brings back the sad story of a village cop from days gone by. “It seemed,” he said,” I spent half my time chasing kids away from the seven-eleven parking lot and the other half my time chasing the same kids away from the Rogers Beach Parking lot back to the seven eleven”. But Officer Krupke, Officer Krupke, where can we go?

The sad part of the story, said the cop, is I knew I didn’t have any answer for them. There is no place for kids in town.

How ?ɬbout a suggestion? Turn that parking lot in the heart of the village into a skate park. Light it up. Keep a nice open path to the fire department for security and first aid. And take down those signs that say “No.”

Where is the Yes? Several people have complained recently that somehow the village is paying more for less. Really, the village is no bigger now than it was fifteen or even twenty years ago; But, like the new Village Hall, village government has been getting bigger.

Take the police, for instance. Go back and there used to be more than twenty bars and less then ten cops. Now there are closer to twenty cops and less than ten bars. The bars kept the cops busy, and some would say, the town lively. Where is the crime wave keeping the cops busy now??Ǭ They check out burglar alarms, but residents pay a yearly fee to have a burglar alarm and then they get charged for having the cops go check out the house if the burglar alarm goes off. But didn’t they already pay taxes for police to serve and protect them? Do they need to get more money by hiding behind bushes to give out tickets?

The building and zoning department got bigger and what happened? Did it get easier to get a building permit? No, it got harder. Any if you buy a house in the village suddenly you need a new certificate of occupancy.Why? What was wrong with the certificate of occupancy you had to provide to get a mortgage and title insurance?

Back to that new Village Hall. It’ll have room for village offices and village police and village building inspectors and?Ǭ code enforcers. But it doesn’t have any room for a village Rec Center, or an arts and crafts center, or youth center. In fact, a look at the village budget shows that police cost close to two million dollars, but spending for youth services amounts to less than $3,000. The budget also classes the beach a youth program but in fact the beach and the yacht basin make money and most of the people using them are adults.

The village of Westhampton Beach looks like a piece of paradise, but all too often it turns out to be part of the land of NO.

Where is the Yes and the Welcome?

-John Herrick

Filed Under: Articles | Politics | the Hamptons

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