At last, comments from the other side of the argument. For years, members of the Springs community have urged the East Hampton Town Board to get tough with enforcing quality of life concerns in the hamlet. One resident in particular, David Buda, approaches the board at nearly every opportunity, often bringing pictures of supposed code violators to illustrate his viewpoint.
Last week his request, during a hearing on next year's proposed budget, for more staff in the ordinance department prompted comments from one family that's been singled out as accused violators.
"My house has been exposed to pictures, to assumptions," Roslen Tavera said. She and her husband Walter Quiroz have had a landscape company for 17 years. They're citizens and have "complied with everything," she said. It's not fair, that someone can take pictures of her property and show them at televised town board meetings, she said.
"I have a 20 year old daughter," Tavera informed. How does she know pictures aren't being taken of the young woman through the window? The family has stopped using their pool out of discomfort.
Buda has used photos of select properties to support proposed regulations regarding the parking of commercial vehicles on residential properties. As town officials have debated the adoption of legislation prohibiting the parking of large trucks on residential land, it's been repeatedly suggested that people who operate businesses from their homes find other, commercially zoned land for the parking of their trucks. Tavera informed the board that she's been on a waiting list for such a place for two years.
"I personally believe our community should go back to being a community instead of a police state," Councilwoman Theresa Quigley asserted. The proposed legislation prompted a call for a business needs study, which has just begun. Quigley said the earliest data reveals 60 percent of the businesses in town work out of their homes. "If we say take your equipment and leave, 60 percent of our financial community is out of work . . . That's not acceptable to me," she continued.
Although board members haven't tried to stop Buda from showing pictures of private properties during his many presentations, Quigley said she finds it "reprehensible" when residents are accused and pictures of their homes are "brought in here for a Kangaroo Court."
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson thanked Tavera and Quiroz for speaking to the board and offering another side of the story. He encouraged them to notify the police if they find anyone trespassing on their property and taking pictures.
The supervisor told Buda that throughout a 35-year career in the private sector that focused on staffing, he'd never seen a correlation between manpower and performance. It's "totally untrue" that increased staffing improves performance, he asserted.
In other news of the proposed budget:
• Carol Campolo opined that if the next administration adds a town manager to the payroll, salaries for town board members should be "vastly reduced" to cover the cost.
• Zach Cohen spoke of budget errors dating back to disgraced former supervisor Bill McGintee's era. Wilkinson likened the fiscal predation of the time to the Everyready bunny, "it keeps going on and on."
• Jeanne Nielsen, chair of the town assessors, asked for more hours (and money) for her staff. She said she'd be willing to forego a proposed two percent raise she's slated to receive as a department head to help cover the cost.