Democrats took advantage of renewed interest in the beach driving lawsuit last Thursday night, criticizing the town board Republican majority's "lack of leadership" on the issue.
Long time party operative Betty Mazur was first to the podium during the town board's public comment period. "The largest jewel in the crown of East Hampton may be stolen from us," she warned, speaking of the ocean beach in Amagansett that's the subject of a lawsuit by neighbors hoping to claim it for their own. (See accompanying article on the suit.) "I'm nervous because we're not going to be able to stop the thieves," Mazur declared.
Any settlement of the suit would set a terrifying precedent, Mazur continued, urging the board to "fight this with all that you have."
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson pointed out the town trustees are the lead agency in the suit, but the town board has been coordinating with them. "We'd fight to the very end to retain our beaches," Wilkinson assured. Still, he said, the board respects jurisdiction and "This is a trustee issue that is on their table.
Mazur pressed for a public meeting between the town board and the trustees to discuss the suit. Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said the board doesn't discuss litigation publicly.
It should, Democratic Party Chair Jeanne Frankl said when she got her turn at the podium. "I want to know what's being done," she demanded. "We're fighting it," Quigley retorted.
Pressed for details, Wilkinson said the board will address the issue with the same passion they devoted to solving the town's fiscal crisis; a crisis the Democrats did nothing to avert. Frankl said the swipe was "unworthy" of the supervisor.
Town GOP chair Trace Duryea spoke next. Asking for a "civilized conversation," Duryea expressed hope for "a change in attitude" with a focus on coming together to maintain the town's quality of life.
Speaking to Mazur's comment about "thieves," Ken Silverman, one of the litigants in the suit, said he didn't appreciate "libel and slander." Councilman Dominic Stanzione said he was disappointed by the rhetoric and apologized to Silverman. Councilwoman Julia Prince assured, "on this issue, we're doing the right thing."