Not so quietly on Quiogue

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Not so quietly on Quiogue

(Updated Thursday, 05/10/2012 – 12:16 am. The person who engaged me on the House Tour, originally identified as Cherie Mcgee, was actually Vivianna Garbutt who I have been informed "sings the same song" as the Mcgee letter writers.)

Last Saturday's Westhampton Beach Historical Society's house tour was interesting on several levels, but one which I could not have anticipated was the discovery of a minor tempest being fomented several hundred yards (as the loon flies) to my East on commonly tranquil Quiogue1.

At one of the historical stops, I was engaged in some casual colloquy with a Vivianna Garbutt who, I came to realize, was trying to recruit me2 to a cause previously un­known to me.

(And that's on me... I missed any media coverage of a controversy.)

Here I thought we were discussing some of the lore of the area... she made it known that she and her husband had only been coming here for the past 25 years or so... when the subject of a proposed Hospice House in her Quiogue neighborhood was introduced.

That "subject" was immediately transformed into [sigh] "an issue," and obviously I've lost a couple of steps over the decades because I couldn't decamp quickly enough.

The big clue was Mrs. Garbutt's repetition of the phrase:

"There are concerns that...."

...and I had to interrupt her and tell her:

"Excuse me, but you're speaking in the passive voice about 'concerns,' and what I'm hearing is 'NIMBY,' or 'Not in my backyard.'"

She blinked a moment, then proceeded undaunted.

Her story was that she and her husband had never been notified by Southampton Town of East End Hospice's ap­plication, and it had been approved without any input from the immediate community.

Additionally, she had taken it upon herself to visit a hospice house in Northport3 and seen what sort of visitor, vendor and staff traffic disruptive to residential norms of peace and tranquility the facility attracted.

For my part, I stayed with the land use procedure, that no one on Quiogue could have been blind-sided by this as it would have had to have been noticed in the Legals section of The Southampton Press (and to bounders by Certified Mail), and that was the time that she and those "concern­ed" needed to have their "concerns" made known to any Town Boards involved.

I also asked how she could equate Quiogue with a hamlet, population 20,200+, in the middle of Huntington Town, but she had no response.

While Mrs. Garbutt spoke quietly, and produced no flecks of spittle at the corners of her mouth, she was single-minded in her opposition to a Hospice House anywhere in her vicinity.

We disengaged, and got on with the house tour.

I have long been critical of any sort of NIMBY attitudes, whether it involved the Seafield Center for Right Living, Rest and Rehabilitation4, the Westhampton Drag Strip (and now that it's become seniors housing, the adjacent Suffolk County Police Firing Range) and especially those trying to close down the 70-year-old Gabreski Airport because of noise5.

Doing a bit of digging, I obtained a copy of a letter my new acquaintence's like-minded neighbors had sent to the Town last September, and noted some telling points.

By their numbers:

  1. The authors have no idea that "spot zoning," which is what they are suggesting was the better and less devious way to proceed, is illegal.
  2. This part is unintelligible blather.
  3. Their history of Cranberry Marsh, which is referred to as "freshwater6 ... Aspatuck Creek," is at best fanciful, particularly the part about "townspeople ... after church on Sunday mornings" crabbing and fishing the waters!

    Any catchable fish in Cranberry Marsh were long ago caught by toropes, and of all the crabbing spots frequented by George Carmany, Frank Dickenson and myself more than 60 years ago, that wasn't one of them... and we knew every­where the blue claws hung out.

    But what it ultimately reveals is poor research into a time long before the Magees ever ventured East of Route 112.
  4. Tortuous and fatuous, and the complaint about "garbage trucks picking up dumpsters at Hampton Watercraft" is irrelevant to their brief. That marine business predates their arrival by more than half a century, so as with those residents of North Quogue who are continually pitching a bitch about their close proximity to an airport which opened in 1942, don't like it?, talk to the broker who sold you the place.
  5. A little checking would have revealed that East End Hospice has owned its property on West­hampton-Riverhead Road for over 20 years, so there are no plans to relocate the administra­tive offices to Quiogue.

Points number 6, 8, 9 and 10 are equally weak arguments in opposition, and #7 is, to appropriate a term from the Mcgees' letter, preposterous!

When one has sifted through all of the exaggerations and bogus arguments, the theme throughout is not just the familar NIMBY bleat, but it's apparent that these particular residents don't want people dying across the street from them!

A response...

In January, East End Hospice, which has been marketing the project as "Building the Dream," addressed any "com­munity opposition" (such as it is), and mounted a copy of that letter on their Website.

While there actually may be some legitimate concerns... there's that word again!... above the small-minded NIMBY irrationality, I'm confident there's nothing which cannot be addressed during the land use process before the Town.

  1. A name derived from the early Native American tongue for "tiny land that shakes like thunder when trod upon by heavy moccasin," i.e., a small quaking bog.
  2. My best sense is that Mrs. Garbutt had no idea that I wrote this blog.
  3. At first I thought she had said "North Fork," but when she repeated it, it was "Northport." A little research revealed that she actually meant the Hospice House on the corner of Locust Place and Laurel Road in East Northport.

    While it too is an eight-bed facility, it also runs the business from that location as well.
  4. Right across Main Street from me!
  5. Their pointy little heads would have exploded if they'd lived here during the '50s and '60s when it was an active Air Force base!
  6. It's actually brackish because of backflow into the "pond" from Aspatuck Creek proper.


1. Jackie Bennett said...

Well Dean, it seems that Cherie Magee didn't make it clear that she is a native of Westhampton Beach. She is Allie Carter's daughter and Tillie Bauer was her aunt. If she's having a NIMBY problem, I'm sorry to hear that. But she is a local and went to school with my kids, and some of her childhood memories of Cranberry Marsh may have validity. She is a very nice person as is all her family.

ack! No!, she did not make it clear that she was a local, so now I'm wondering if it was indeed Cherie Magee who braced me on the tour.

The tone, tenor and content of the Mcgee's letter to the Town was remarkably similar to what was expressed in our meeting, but that woman never even alluded to any earlier ties to the area. Is there, can there be, a doppelgänger loose on Quiogue?

I'm not very good on ages of females, but I imagine that she could have been a contemporary of your progeny.

Addendum: there actually is a doppelgänger, at least a political doppelgänger. Viviana Doncovia-Garbutt seems to be the one who spoke to me, not Cherie Mcgee... apologies.


2. EastEnd68 said...

"Points number 6, 8, 9 and 10 are equally weak arguments in opposition, and #7 is, to appropriate a term from the Meyers' letter, preposterous!"
I lost track – what is "the Meyers' letter?"
Typo corrected. Thanks for the "eyes." It's the "Mcgee's letter."

3. Hambone said...

For an unrelated reason I spoke to the Southampton Town about the proposed hospice. Overall they are very much in favor of it. When I pointed out that they had recently approved development on the backside of the Bridle Path development and also the hospice, which is a lot of property bordering water they were genuinely surprised. Simply put, they hadn't considered the effect on Aspatuck Creek in a holistic sense. Still they made no bones about it, progress will be made.

Just to be clear I am not for or against a hospice, commercial venture, or home. My point was that it was a lot of development near a waterway. Leaving it alone would be better for the bay.

Interesting, Andrew... don't know who, or what department, in "the Southampton Town" you spoke to, but there would have to be an Environmental Impact Statement in East End Hospice's application, and that is available for public inspection. Reviewing it will often provide valuable information.

I recall an EIS which accompanied an Application to construct a tennis court on an improved parcel in the Stillwaters subdivision when I was on the Village Zoning Board of Appeals. It stated that the distance to the water table was "18–24-inches," yet when we made our physical inspection of the property, water bubbled up around our shoes while traversing the area where the tennis court was proposed.

As my successor as Chairman, Chris Bean, and I were fond of telling applicants for variances in that area, "There's a reason why it was named 'Stillwaters.' It was always wet, it's still wet, and will always be wet!"

Felt sorry for the guy; his wife was carrying on with her tennis instructor in the City, and he thought he might save his marriage by building her a court next to their house out here.

4. The Quiogue Kid said...

Don't know much about the pros and cons of the hospice but must stick up for my beloved Cranberry Marsh that I literally grew up on, which indeed yielded both fish and crabs albeit on the salt water side. Crabs caught on fish heads given to us by Wexelbaum's and snappers and eels on fishing lines. Cranberry Marsh was also where Red Eckart used a bow & arrow to shoot toropes for turtle soup and where, when frozen over in the Winter, Karl Cutler would drive his VW on the ice as we all waited for it to fall in. It never did!

When Quiogue becomes the Quiogue Republic, seceding from the US and becoming a micronation, Cranberry Marsh will be our Mississippi River!

Started crabbing in 1949, and never got one in Aspatuck Creek any further North of Turkey Bridge.

Fish heads were the best... you could almost hear the crabs scuttle across the floors of silent seas (ah, there, T.S. Eliot!) when you'd drop a fish head over the side.

I think the last time I saw Cranberry Marsh that frozen, was in January 1964! And don't tell Van Howell about Red Ekart shafting the toropes... all of his (many) idiosyncrasies can probably be attributed to seeing as a child Mayor Wilson Reynolds hacking one to death with a garden tool.

5. Seeker said...

Re VH - not to mention his father nailing one to a tree....

You're right! Gawd, I'd forgotten that!

6. Virginia Whitelaw said...

The first house I lived in was at the end of Griffing Avenue. I loved the Cranberry Marsh and use to sled and iceskate there.

Me too. as did most of us of a certain age.

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