Initial petitions sent to Town Trustees and Town Board

September 21, 2018

Dear Francis, Bill, Rick, John, Brian, Dell, Jim, Susan and Susan, Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of East Hampton

Dear Peter, Sylvia, Jeff, Kathee, and David, Town of East Hampton Board

We write on behalf of hundreds of named members of the Wainscott community about the planned landing of Deepwater Wind powerlines at Beach Lane. While we are very supportive of alternative energy sources (including wind and solar) and conservation, the selection of Beach Lane will permanently alter an already fragile and eroding iconic beach. Given that multiple viable alternative routes exist for Deepwater Wind, we petition the East Hampton Town Trustees to not disturb Beach Lane with its planned power cable landing site. More than 341 Wainscott residents and community members have already signed the petition to date, which was mainly distributed door-to-door and hand-to-hand in the hamlet over three weeks.

A for-profit company installing power cables will forever alter our sole, undivided community beach. As you know, Beach Lane beach is already prone to erosion on its own. Permanent cable landing infrastructure on land and in the water will affect our iconic beach, wildlife (including piping plover and fish) and community. Indeed, the same type of cable with the similar installation approach executed by the same company two years ago became exposed in Block Island last month. Deepwater made the same inaccurate assurances to our Block Island neighbors. (See Block Island Times article; Exhibit 1).

Many alternative landing sites exist other than Beach Lane. Deepwater Wind itself proposed four alternative sites. It was clear from the start that private company wanted to land at Beach Lane; that site maximizes its own profits and financial returns to its investors. It cherry picked landing sites and drew routes to create false choices. Nearly all those already-identified alternative sites would have less impact than on a heavily used public beach. We believe (if even needed) additional viable options can be easily and independently identified across the 70 miles of Atlantic and bayside shoreline in East Hampton Township. All of these reasonable alternatives – including options on both Town and State-owned properties, for example – would not disturb or run high-powered cables under popular beaches can be identified and used. Besides, why would you run high-power lines underneath childrens’ feet if you do not have to?

Furthermore, the town should not sell out nature and the natural beauty of our iconic beach, known around the world, for so-called ‘community benefits.’ Over the 20-year term of the proposed Deepwater Wind contract, the $8.5 million face value of the proposed community benefits is equivalent to less than half of 1 pct. of the entire Town of East Hampton’s 2018 annual budget.[1] Furthermore a significant portion of the package goes to infrastructure (e.g., burying overhead electrical cables) that Deepwater Wind itself needs or contributions to ocean- and fish-related funds whose livelihoods Deepwater will impact. Marring our iconic beach – one of the most photographed scenes of the Hamptons – has no price, let alone when multiple reasonable alternative routes exist.

Finally, Wainscott already shoulders a disproportionate set of burdens for our broader community. For example, this summer the Town was forced to declare a State of Emergency of our water due to toxic chemical contamination from the airport. Beyond our health, homeowners are now bearing significant personal expense ($5,000 to $30,000+) to tap into the recently laid public watermains. We also bear the brunt of noise, air traffic and disturbance from the airport. We may be the smallest hamlet, but that does not mean we can be taken advantage of.

Our concerns have not been sufficiently heard. More than 341 of us – a true groundswell – reject Deepwater’s profit-maximizing route and the East Hampton Town Trustees’ and Town Board’s willingness to trade natural beauty for money. We disagree with the highly contested 3-2 vote in July by the Board stating its intent to grant Deepwater an easement to Beach Lane. We demand that East Hampton not disturb Beach Lane and identify and then select one of the other, multiple viable alternative options for the landing site. Our objections need to be acted on.

[1] Even assuming below-historic budget growth rates