Hamptons Subway Newsletter: Week of February 14–20, 2020

Hamptons Subway on Charles Bermanoff's property
Hamptons Subway on Charles Bermanoff’s property, Photo: Steven Heap, artemfurman/123RF

Week of February 14–20, 2020
Riders this past week: 42,813
Rider miles this past week: 134,512

Renee Zellweger was seen carrying a shiny gold statue of a miniature person heading from Bridgehampton to Sagaponack on Monday morning. Steven Spielberg was seen on the subway Thursday afternoon on his way from Shinnecock to Southampton, practicing a speech he intended to give somewhere. Martha Stewart, carrying several books, was seen traveling from Amagansett to East Hampton on Tuesday.

Charles Bermanoff, the furniture billionaire who has a home in Sagaponack, has filed a lawsuit against Hamptons Subway claiming a portion of it runs under and across his front lawn, which it does. He and his guests endure much pain and suffering. A squealing metal sound and bursts of smelly air come up through a metal subway grating on his lawn when a train comes through. And in the summer, the water in his swimming pool shivers at these times even when there is nobody swimming in the pool.

Bermanoff has also filed paperwork in the county claiming ownership of the subway tunnel where it passes under his lawn. He bases his claim on the existence of the vent on his lawn. The vent grating, which he clearly owns because it is at ground level, is attached to “a large underground tubelike structure” that stretches entirely from his eastern property line to his western property line, and thus is his to dig up or “do whatever he wishes” to.

Furthermore, he’s filed another legal action against the Wainscott Zoning Department, stating that he can find no building permit or C of O ever issued issued that would permit any structure to be built on or below his property.

Lawyers for the Hamptons Subway take these actions seriously because after searching far and wide they indeed find that no permit or C of O has ever been issued.

“Perhaps the whole subway system is illegal,” one of the company’s lawyers, Marvin Tool,
said yesterday.

The subway system was built in 1927. That was before zoning. No permits were needed. Everybody just built whatever they wanted wherever they wanted. It wasn’t until the 1960s when zoning came in that permits were required, issued only when certain conditions were met. Everything prior to 1962 was declared legal because they were, as the saying went, “grandfathered in.”

This would normally be an “open and shut case” Hamptons Subway lawyer Marvin Tool said, “except for the fact that the developer who built the subway system in 1927 never opened it.”

As everyone knows, Ivan Kratz, the builder of Hamptons Subway, got into legal trouble, sealed it up, took to drink and died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1938. It wasn’t until 1997 that the existence of the never opened subway was discovered by workmen in Sag Harbor digging down to clean up a superfund site. Their digging went straight through the ceiling of the Sag Harbor platform.

“Nobody ever got a permit,” Mr. Tool said. “Everyone was so happy to find an operational subway system in the Hamptons all ready to go they just flicked the switch and started it up. As a result, what is now the Hampton Subway might just legally be considered a matter of oil, gas and mineral underground rights, with a permit there for the taking.”

Commissioner Aspinall of course immediately filed for such a permit, but found that Bermanoff had beaten him to it.

Later this month we will be shutting down the Bridgehampton to Noyac line for track repair. Or maybe it’s North Sea to Southampton. One or the other.


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