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January 10th, 2006

Dockers: An environmental disaster in the making

by D. Clark MacPherson

The project at Dockers seeks to create a 60-slip marina behind a restaurant whose mini-bluff was created in the 1960’s by developer/landowner Bill Swan. He apparently operated by his own version of environmentalism and just set to work whenever he felt like it. In this case, he dredged a 600-foot long channel in this location, before there was an effective D.E.C. review process under the Tidal Wetlands Act. Swan’s little “procedure” is still returning to normalcy in this shallow water system in Shinnecock Bay-but it now faces a new onslaught.

An application by Larry Hoffman, a major partner in The Inn at Quogue, and friend of the Republican Hierarchy as well as owner of Dockers seeks to create a marina that would be like a Christmas present to a number of other owners that also want to “improve” their property. We would have marinas in a number of locations along Dune Road, such as Westhampton, Quogue and Hampton Bays, and potentially in Southampton, if this project gets the green light. It would set a precedent.

Kevin McAllister, the BayKeeper, advises us that this plan would involve dredging 3600 feet of the Bay, 50 feet wide and minus 4 feet deep to accommodate boats of up to 35 feet long-all pumping effluent and human waste into the water. It would affect the Tidal Shoals, the Mud Flats and interfere with spawning areas. Ultimately it would disrupt the food chain in Shinnecock Bay. McAllister describes this plan simply as “a really bad idea.” We think so too. He also points out that the D.E.C. requires that if there are more than 10 boats using a location (pumping human waste into the water, folks), shell fishing is not permitted. This means that Shinnecock Bay would literally be a Dead Sea for the Baymen and for us. Who decides? (This is where it gets really interesting). The Trustees for Southampton Town are an independent group of (Republican) politicos who are charged with oversight of the Bays. This power is derived from the “Dongan Patent.” Along with some graft, the King of England, charged the Trustees with control over all undivided land and waterways for the “Freeholders.” There is little undivided land left but much water-thus their control over the Bays. What is interesting in all of this, is the fact that the Trustees were and are responsible to the “Freeholders” or, the modern version of this, the taxpayers. In other words, folks, the Trustees are responsible to us, not the government of Southampton. Only to us. But you wouldn’t know that by the way they act. In reality, Scott Strough, Ed Warner, John Semlear, Eric Schultz and Fred Havermeyer, work for us, the property tax payers.?Ǭ While rumors abound about the inside tactics aimed at enabling this Dune Road project to go forward, one thing is clear. If this project succeeds, we will all pay the price. And, by all we mean local residents, tourists and New Yorkers as well. For it is the main reasons why the Hampton’s are popular: the purity of the water and the quality of the beaches. Let’s face it; it’s not Coney Island. You don’t usually have to swim around in human waste in Hampton’s waters. Since the ZBA has dropped this issue like a hot potato, claiming that they do not have jurisdiction in this matter, the buck stops with the Trustees. The Trustees have hired a consultant and Dockers has hired their own consultant, (Rich Warren of Interscience). By law, however, the Trustees are responsible to the taxpayers-those with whom they have apparently forgotten to consult. And would you be surprised to know that both consultants are Republicans and have worked for the Town of Southampton? Here’s the bottom line on this project. It is detrimental to all of us to allow an environmental disaster of this proportion to go on under our noses-we can’t let them destroy our natural resources for the cash payments that are rumored to be floating around. As Harry Truman said, let’s make sure that “the buck stops here.”

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