It was pretty quiet in the Hamptons all winter. But if you think about what has happened in just the last two weeks, one can hardly wait for what the summer is going to be like. It’s crazy.
The Shinnecock Indian Nation has begun building two 61-foot-tall structures on the side of the Sunrise Highway in Hampton Bays between Exit 65 and 66, just to the west of the Shinnecock Canal. They own wooded property there. It backs right up to the highway and extends all the way to Peconic Bay. It’s not part of their 800-acre reservation on the south side of Hill Street in Southampton, where federal laws prevail and they have electrified and neon signage, but the Nation claims its status covers this property, too.
Local authorities have sent letters to the tribe asking that construction on these billboards stop for a variety of reasons—concerns about height restrictions, neon and electric light restrictions, dark skies laws, motorist distraction and lack of neighborliness—but the construction continues. The tribe calls these objects monuments, because its seal appears between 45 and 61 feet, up top you could call it a monument, but the bottom 45 feet will have 30-foot lit electronic billboard advertisements.
Tribal Trustee Lance Gumbs told me that the monument is part of an ongoing project to “alleviate the economic disparity between the Native community and the surrounding Southampton Area.” And there is certainly that.
The Southampton Town Supervisor told the New York Post “this is more befitting of Times Square or Las Vegas. People are driving on that highway to escape that urban environment to come out to the Hamptons.”
This wooded area north of the Sunrise was the proposed site of a Shinnecock bingo hall and casino 15 years ago. Land was cleared, but for one reason or another, it did not proceed. Perhaps this is the start of a revival of that.
It should be pointed out that the sculpture Stargazer, which many consider a monument signifying the beginning of the Hamptons, is 50 feet tall and is located on Manorville Road near where it meets up with the Sunrise Highway, a bit further up-island. One should also note it was originally scheduled to be put up at the entrance of the Animal Rescue Fund property opposite the East Hampton Airport, but, I was told, officials felt it would distract aircraft pilots coming and going and might even be a height hazard because it was on the flight path.
An anonymous donor has offered more than $300,000 to the East Hampton Town Board to buy a military-style road vehicle for the police department. Objections arose when this was presented to the general public, so the Town is holding off for the moment to consider further input.
The vehicle is called a Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. It is fully armored, has bulletproof glass, puncture-proof tires, off-road handling and shut-down potential to make it impervious to poison gas or airborne chemicals. The vehicle goes by the name of BearCat, which is what the first letters in each word in the name of the vehicle spell. It doesn’t sound so menacing when you call it that. But then remember that the manufacturer of the M-17 military assault rifle has called its civilian version the “sports” model.
“Unfortunately, it’s a response to what we see in national trends,” Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoy told the media. He mentioned school, church and synagogue shootings around the country, one only a week earlier. More than 800 police departments have such a vehicle at the ready for such emergencies, The Independent reports, and Southampton Town has an earlier version, known as the Peacekeeper.
In the past, lectures have been given about literature at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton. E.L. Doctorow has spoken there. Bob Caro has spoken there. On April 27, the library hosted Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Todd Spencer, whose topic was “Run, Hide, Fight: How to Respond to an Active Shooter.” The first option is run. If that’s impossible, hide, and if you can’t do that, fight. Fact is the biggest defense against an active shooter is a good guy with a gun, and there are numerous examples of that. It’s also been said the increase in civilian ownership of automatic military weapons is the lead cause of such problems. Other causes are elevated drug use, and the increase in people suffering from mental illness not in hospital settings.
ARREST IN CLUBHOUSE FIRE
This past December, a fire caused considerable damage to the office section of The Clubhouse, an entertainment center with a bar and restaurant at the East Hampton Indoor Tennis complex. Last week, a 56-year-old man named Scott A. McKallip was arrested and charged with setting it.
He was also charged, back in December, with violating an order of protection given to a woman who worked at the Clubhouse. He had been accused of sending her nude selfies. And he showed up there anyway. He’s also been arrested numerous times on other charges, including petty larceny, and, on one occasion, allegedly entering Fierro’s Restaurant in East Hampton shouting, according to patrons there at the time, that he was suing the police department and that he had set that fire. He’s a veteran, and a good guess is that he might need some help. He was remanded to jail up island.
In other arrests this past week, the East Hampton Police Department reports the April 27 arrest of a woman who allegedly crashed her car into a tree on Abrahams Path in East Hampton and, The Independent reported, according to police, told the arresting officer “I stayed up all night to get ready for spring.” Police say she said she had taken Ambien and Xanax.
There was also the case of a Brooklyn man who was arrested while behaving suspiciously at the Montauk 7-Eleven. When approached by police who had “run” his car’s registration and found out it was stolen, the man reportedly told the police officer “my confidential informant, a former student, an Asian girl, gave me the car when I was leaving the Queens Hospital last night, around midnight,” according to The Independent. He was sent to Riverhead jail, with paperwork stating he might have mental issues.
For more than 20 years, Cablevision was the only provider of internet service and cable television on the East End. It still is the only provider major provider of internet service here, although the company got sold by its founders—the Dolan family—three years ago and is now called Optimum.
In any case, part of the Cablevision company during those years included several cable television channels, sports teams and sports arenas, among them Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks basketball team and the New York Rangers hockey team. Those parts of the company, never sold, are still owned by the Dolans, now billionaires, who live in a compound on Long Island. Which leads us up to what happened last week.
One shareholder of Madison Square Garden (MSG), the parent holding company of those entities, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of all other shareholders, claiming that James Dolan—the reigning executive chairman and CEO and son of the founder—who has failed to mount an impressive sports team during the last 15 years, has been spending too much of his time touring the country with his rock band JD & the Straight Shot, to the neglect of his duties as CEO. He works part time, the suit claims, and his compensation for his part-time CEO work is “excessive.” He was reportedly paid more that $75 million during the last three fiscal years, an amount about double of the average paid to CEO’s of similar-size national corporations, the suit says.
The suit points out that in 2017, his band had gigs in 41 different cities and 6 foreign countries. On one such nationwide tour, I recall, he worked sometimes as the opening act for the band Chicago or the Doobie Brothers.
MSG’s response, according to the New York Post, was a statement saying the suit was “nothing more than corporate harassment” by law firms that “represent the worst in our legal system.” The statement went on to say, “We look forward to fully litigating this matter to conclusion. We will never settle nor give in to this corporate extortion.”