Save Us from Ourselves

save us from ourselves

It’s been a long, cold winter and the locals here, I think, have been pretty good to one another through it all. But last week, all hell broke loose. Maybe it’s the sound of loud engines revving up in the west, where the summer people come from. Perhaps it’s, oh, your guess is as good as mine. Here is some of what happened.

About three in the morning of May 5, a man who lives on Grenada Place in Montauk heard a lot of banging, crashing and grunting taking place on his front lawn. Getting up from his bed, he looked out to see a man he knew going nuts out there. He called the police.

They came and found a tree stump dragged to block the front door, a bench broken, lawn furniture, a metal fire pit and a large wooden barrel knocked around and damaged. The man who made the call said he knew who this person was. He sent the police down to the guy’s house, a few blocks away, where they say they found him extremely intoxicated. Reports speculated that he may have done this as a result of seeing the other man keeping company with a particular person at the German beer hall Zum Schneider’s in Montauk earlier that evening.

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Sag Harbor Police, who have been monitoring a dispute on Shaw Road between the neighbors there, went to Shaw Road on May 1 to remove some cinderblocks that one of the neighbors had placed in the roadway, blocking access to peoples’ homes, and told him that if he did it again, they were going to arrest him.

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East Hampton Village Police responded to a call reporting a young man “cursing and shouting” very loudly on Newtown Lane. What they found was a 17- year-old singing free-style rap. They told him to take his music elsewhere.

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A group of very vocal citizens attended a meeting at the East Hampton Airport to discuss whether to ask the FCC to approve permanent status for a summer control tower installed last summer to monitor and control landings and takeoffs. It soon became a meeting not about the control tower, but about all the helicopters that noisily take off and land there. This has been complained about many times.

“We’ve had enough,” said Elena Loreto, who opposes the helicopter noise. “Disperse the routes [they fly] and raise the altitude. If you have that ability with the tower, make it a requirement. We don’t want any more of this. And you know what? I don’t want to hear this.…” Loreto then turned on a recording of really loud helicopter noise. “I don’t want to spend my summer doing this. Enough.”

Gerard Boleis, an aircraft owner and proponent of the control tower, said the meeting was about the control tower. Control towers act as a safeguard against the possibility of an aircraft collision, which, he said, “would make a lot of noise [the air crash], not including the figurative noise of how long we’re going to hear about it afterwards.”

And so it went on and on.

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On Elm Street in Southampton, two neighbors have been at war with each other for months about a narrow driveway that goes from the street and passes between the two houses. The driveway is used by a Ms. Wilson. The neighbor, Mr. Gugliotta, uses a driveway on the other side of his house. Wilson says that for years and years, at least since the 1940s when her family bought the house, her parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles have used the driveway without any problem. Now there was a problem.

The trouble seems to have begun when Gugliotta told Wilson he noticed that a piece of the driveway, a pie-shaped piece about three-and-a-half feet wide, was actually on his property—he’d had it surveyed—and he was thinking he would landscape the part that he owned. (Thus preventing cars from using the driveway).

At one point, Gugliotta was making an application to build a pool in his yard. If Wilson would support his pool application, he would give her a permanent easement to use what the survey said was his property. Wilson never commented, either in favor of or opposed, however. She later said she wouldn’t be blackmailed. Gugliotta said he also felt he was being blackmailed.

Gugliotta put line markers up on the pie-shaped piece of driveway. Wilson reportedly responded by throwing the pieces on his lawn. Gugliotta then put large stones on the property line, which Wilson would not be strong enough to move. Wilson had workmen move them. Gugliotta then put a nail in the driveway (according to Wilson). So Wilson now parked her bright yellow Toyota SUV on the disputed property line with a note inside on the dashboard of the SUV warning of legal consequences for trespassing if he had it towed. She then chained the SUV to a column on her porch in the front and to her regular Dodge Dakota truck, the one she uses every day, in the back. She unchains the Dodge truck when she wants to go somewhere and drives away in that. But the SUV stays.

The police say that so far this is only a civil matter, so their hands are tied. Wilson says she wants to settle and get on with her life, but she’s claiming “squatters rights” under the laws of adverse possession, which say that if you use a piece of land not yours flagrantly and continuously without objection for 20 years, it’s yours. She’s also taken the threatening signs out of the yellow SUV. But the SUV remains chained up. Gugliotta says he also wants to settle, but only after she pays all his court costs.

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The trouble started when a 57-year-old Amagansett woman got into her husband’s 2003 Porsche, drove it to Napeague Harbor and, according to police, deliberately drove it off a boat ramp at Lazy Point and into the cold water there. What was she thinking? Who knows? The car didn’t sink all at once, however—it floated—and because the currents were strong, it floated away with her in it, toward the inlet and out toward open water. This, apparently, was something she had not anticipated.

And so, alarmed, she began shouting for help, and that brought her plight to the attention to two people nearby, John Glennon and Katie Osiecki, who rushed to the scene to find her having gotten through the window as the car was sinking and, in heavy clothing, trying to splash her way to shore. Osiecki, who is a trained lifeguard, then splashed out to her and helped her back to shore.

Soon after that, the driver, suffering from hypothermia, was taken to Southampton Hospital, where, when her blood was drawn—this was almost two hours after the incident—it was found to be .18, which is more than double the maximum alcohol level allowed while driving and ripe for the more serious charge of aggravated intoxication (she was originally charged with D.W.I.)

A lawyer on the woman’s behalf soon appeared in court about that, saying that his client was in another hospital being treated for an undisclosed condition and couldn’t be there to answer charges.

Police divers couldn’t find the Porsche for a while, sunk wherever it was that night. Finally, the next day, the County helicopter was called in and, hovering overhead, together with the Town Police diving team below, they located it and had it pulled out.

The two who rescued this woman, Glennon and Osiecki, are considered heroes for what they did in saving this woman and were this week treated to a story in The East Hampton Press under the headline “Couple Saves a Life—Nighttime Rescue of Woman in Bay.”

Everybody take a deep breath and try to calm down. The beautiful summer is here.

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