The next town election for both East Hampton and Southampton will be crucial to determining how they, both towns, will grow for the rest of this century.
Now that the shakeout of the great Real Estate Bubble has begun to fizzle the mandatory slashing of all budgets has reached critical mass. The idea of doing more with less by cutting personnel and budgets eventually reduces services and in the end can actually become the opposite of cost effective. Infrastructure must be maintained and improved if long-range health and prosperity are true goals.
Retired residents although important voices, should not be the only voices to dictate how government is run. These seniors should think what would have happened if the generation before them did not invent, from thin air, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If not for these helpful programs many seniors would not be going to the doctor as often, and living so healthy into their 80s. Think of paying for all those bypasses and curable cancer treatments out of pocket, especially after you are 65 years old.
But that is the macro level of politics and this article is about the two towns of Southampton and East Hampton.
Hurricane Sandy was just a tropical storm in the Hamptons, yet inflicted painful, hurtful damage throughout all of Long Island. I interviewed Biloxi, Mississippi, residents after Katrina. They spoke of the 32 feet above sea level surge that turned their whole town "into a moonscape," using their words. What was the surge of Sandy? Answer: Around 13 feet.
What I reported years back was a U.S. government projection for damage to just the Town of East Hampton for a Category 4-5 Hurricane would be over $5 billion, (just for town infrastructure). That’s not including homes, cars, etc. The rebuilding of roads, power grid and other infrastructure no doubt has gone up since that article in 2005.
So how the next town supervisors of EH and SH revamp the beaches, the bulkheads, the bridges, the coastal roads will be important decisions. Even before Katrina, the U.S. government suggested 17-foot sand dunes be created along the whole East Hampton coast. It was this same report that had subjected improving the levies in New Orleans.
When I showed the federal report to the then EH town supervisor, (who at the time was caught in a budget shortfall situation scandal), he said, such action was not ever going to happen. Someone else at town hall said, “Imagine every one having to walk over 17-foot barriers to get to the beach. That’s like two flights up and two flights down to get from the car to the beach.”
Just writing that now I think of that Atlantic City Roller Coaster now in the ocean.
The clubhouse politics of "Who Gets What Where When and How" all over Long Island will have a nice chunk of $50 BILLION-plus to spend on all sorts of things. Hopefully not on expensive commissions to friendly consulting firms. (Remember that last sentence in the next year).
So what I am saying is this: In both the towns of East Hampton and Southampton the balance of power on the all-deciding town boards are up for grabs this November. The candidates will most likely say what they think will elect them. Hopefully in the end the wisdom of the long-term future, will counterbalance the short-term misery of too many. The “Real Estate Bubble,” created many blue-collar millionaires. Now many former millionaires are upset about making ends meet. They do feel real pain, but some of it is self-inflicted. They should think about their needs, but not neglect the needs of the town they live in for the long term.
It’s time to declare an end to total austerity for the sake of austerity. It is time to make sure when every dime is spent for the future, it is spent prudently, so there is one.