The Local Blogosphere...

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Local Blogosphere...

Eric Cohen blogs at Saghampton, which affords a clue as to where he lives. He says that he used to live in East Quogue for "a few years" in the late '70s so I might have met him some­where along the line, but as I enumerate three of those years as "blackout" ones, I have no such recollection. No matter, I like what he's doing with his blog, especially this excerpt:

"I do love living on the East End, but less so with every passing year; every new McMansion; every additional BMW/Mercedes/Jaguar/Land Rover; every new de­sign­er boutique; every branch of a New York restau­rant that opens here; and every transplant from the city who moves here, renovates a house so that it looks like it was designed in 1860, and then insists on an immed­i­ate halt to any changes in the community so that it will always be the way it was the day after they moved in."

While I don't see "branch restaurants" as an issue for the greater Westhampton area1, I certainly "get" the rest of it!

The McMansion issue is a particularly hot one for me, not so much the building of them... although has any­one taken a look at the old John Elliott Cutter estate to the South just before crossing over Turkey Bridge and onto Quiogue?!?

My new neighbors to the East have just spent the better part of the last two years taking a 19th Century inn ("The Griffing Halfway House" where the stage to Montauk used to put in overnight) and re-imagining it into something only they and their own Higher Power know what.

Southampton Town Sole Tax Assessor Ed Deyermond seems to have the best idea of what #268 Main Street is... while he acknowledged that it was substantially larger than my own modest half-acre family homestead, according to some secret equalization formula he utilizes, he used the renovated three-story house as justification for upping my assessed valuation 219% and causing my property taxes to rocket 154% in the Village!)

Am I resentful? As Gabby Hayes used to say, "You're durn tootin'!"

But that has as much to do with the fact that the "family estate" once defined by permeable hedges on which sat the Griffing house, our own homestead, a sizable vegetable garden, a two chicken coops and a horse barn with a pigeon loft, is now three separate lots the other two of which are marked by fences and tree-line screening, and each containing a swimming pool!

(One of the philosophies I took with me to the Zoning Board of Appeals in 1985 was that there is no absolute right to have a swimming pool! If you have room and really really want one, okay, but don't be asking for a variance for one! The muni­cipality has two wonderful beaches, less than three miles away from the most distant point in the Village, to which all residents have a riparian right of access. We live on the Atlantic coast, for the love of Pete Klotz! Go to the beach for a swim!)

But hey!, Thurston Raynor doesn't keep cows on the "Great Lawn" anymore, either.

Another target squarely in Mr. Cohen's blog sights are "box stores," which hasn't been much of an issue in Westhampton Beach. I mean, they're still bowling in the alleys across from the firehouse despite a stated intention to raze and rebuild as a CVS Pharmacy two years ago, the announcement of which caused a number of the good burghers of the Village to rise up against the notion!

Talk about "mob mentality!" Exhorted by an ignorant editorial in The Southampton Press Western Edition and an emotional appeal from "little" Barth's Pharmacy about the terrible im­pact of a chain-store competitor just up the avenue from them, irate people crowded the next Planning Board meeting in an effort to torpedo the CVS project. What a misguided approach that was, and I never felt greater sympathy for Chairman Kurt Hofmann and the Members of the Planning Board than I did at that moment!

(Especially ironic was the "Poor Pitiful Pearl" type approach of Barth's: "There's already a local pharmacy here! What's to become of us?" Hello!? Do the names "Speed's" and "Sheeley's" sound familiar? They were both well-established local pharmacies when Barth's expanded here from Riverhead in the '70s!)

So Westhampton Beach is not likely to be swamped by "box stores" or branches of Manhattan eateries as Mr. Cohen fears for Sag Harbor.

But I like that he's a watchdog in the blogosphere, and has an often contrarian point of view... and that he's graciously providing, unsolicited, a link to this blog.

Self Congratulatory Notation
  1. 'Tis but a minor thing, but 'twas I who came up with the "Greater Westhampton Area" coinage adopted by the local Chamber of Com­merce back in '72 when President Dorothy Winters of The Cockle Shell awarded my fledgling graphics enterprise its inaugural commission, the Chamber's first-ever "book."


1. Matlynn Carville said...

Butbutbut we've already GOT a box drug store, Rite Aid. It sells a bunch of junk food and competes unfairly with the excellent, small, and local Lynne's Cards. Heck, she's one of the few businesses left on Main Street, what with real estate stores occupying a whole lot of space. Why? Technically, I understand they don't have a large sewage burden. (Is that because the realtors are "full of it?") Saayyyy, how about another National Store? I had to go through several local stores before I could find a white spool of thread. Unbelievable!

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