Building Momentum

With what has traditionally been called “the season” almost upon us, the concomitant increase in population, and the loosening of some restrictions as more and more Americans are vaccinated, there is a lot going on in and around our village these days. 

Spring rising. —A. Botsford Photo

There is news about government plans to tackle the erosion problem on the beach in Quogue; an update from the Quogue Library about the renovation and expansion project; another update from the Quogue Wildlife Refuge about plans for Earth Day and the final two playing spaces available in the Golfing with the Owls outing at Sebonack Golf Club on May 11; and details on a new “Go Native” initiative to support our area’s “food web” and the birds and pollinators that are sustained by it, to name only a few highlights.  

There are also virtual programs galore, including new installments of the wonderful Write America readings and discussions, and now some in-person opportunities as well, along with myriad sources of additional information on a wide array of topics. Since the online column sadly doesn’t lend itself to posting on the refrigerator, and the next column won’t be published until May 6, At Quaquanantuck would like to suggest to readers that they keep a calendar (print or computer) handy to save dates as they go through, and make use of the links provided to get more information and register for programs, or to make a deeper dive into areas of interest. 

Now, let’s get to it. 

New grass has been planted on the shored-up dunes and new stairs built at the Quogue Village Beach. —A. Botsford Photo

The Mayor’s Corner: On the Waterfront
In a village facing no shortage of important issues—before, during, and (fingers crossed) after Covid—nothing can match the significance of the existential question of how to respond to, and contend with, erosion of the barrier beach. 

Gone are the days when people were naive enough to suggest that it was only a problem for those who chose to live in homes perched on the dunes and “let them deal with it.” Accelerated by climate change, the shrinking shoreline and the threat of breaching represent a clear and present danger not only to our way of life but to the very survival of all the communities arrayed across the south shore of Long Island. 

So it was even more rewarding than usual to receive the April 5 edition of the regular missives from Mayor Peter Sartorius, which is devoted to the topic. 

The email, which can be found in full by clicking here, or visiting the Announcements page at www.villageofquogueny.gov, starts with this: “With beach stickers now for sale and the 2021 version of the stairs at the Village Beach now in place, I thought that people might be interested in the status of the long-running Fire Island to Montauk Point Project as it pertains to Quogue, and so here is my current understanding:” 

What follows the Mayor’s introduction in the email can seem a bit complicated, especially for those who might be unfamiliar with the Fire Island to Montauk Point Project. But the gist appears to be that the New York State DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have worked out a deal—which has yet to be implemented—to start working on a number of “coastal management features” from Fire Island Inlet east to Montauk Point.

Before the DEC signs any deal with the Army Corps, though, NY State needs approval of draft Local Project Partnership agreements with Suffolk County and each of the townships involved: Babylon, Islip, Brookhaven, Southampton and East Hampton. If the county and town agreements are not approved by the end of April, the project will be delayed. 

In the battle against erosion, some days are better than others. —A. Botsford Photo

The Mayor pointed out that Southampton Town may seek approval of intermunicipal agreements with each of the three villages (Quogue is one) that are involved, but it is not clear if these agreements would need to be approved before Southampton signs off on the draft Local Project Partnership agreement with the state.  

Major features of the DEC and Army Corps plan include: a contract for dredging Fire Island Inlet and depositing the sand on Gilgo Beach and Robert Moses Park, slated to start in September 2021; and contracts for sand bypassing around Shinnecock and Moriches Inlets, with a projected start date of September 2022.

The contract that most directly affects our village deals with restoring those sections of the shore that qualify to a project specification of 9.5-foot beach height and a dune height of 13 feet. The Army Corps and DEC have already determined that erosion in East Quogue and Quogue, including at the Quogue Village Beach, has placed a significant portion of that area “below project specification.” And while the projected start date for work on this contract is currently September of 2023, the only obstacle to overcome in order to move construction up to 2022 is obtaining required real estate easements from the owner of each property where the Army Corps and local contractors will be doing work. 

Initial construction of this project would be funded 100 percent by the Federal government. Annual maintenance and operating costs (monitoring, beach cleanup, repairs, etc.) would be funded by local governments. “For all of Southampton Town (including Quogue),” the Mayor wrote, “this is estimated by the DEC at $171,000 annually.” While there is no contract at this time for anticipated future “nourishments” every four years or so, the cost is expected to be split 50-50 between the Federal government and state and local entities, with the state/local share split 35/15 and prorated by shoreline length.

The weather is getting warmer, but surfers will still need wetsuits for a bit longer. —A. Botsford Photo

Public access to the restored beach is one of the conditions for moving ahead with the contract, because Federal law requires that public funds only be spent on beaches that are usable by the public. It’s important to note, however, that the required easements for repair work will not grant access to the beach across private property. In exchange for government funding, general public access (for non-residents of Quogue) will have to be provided at the Quogue Village Beach. 

To that end, “specifics remain to be finalized,” Hizzoner wrote, “but it appears that there will be some general access, daily rate parking at the parcel adjacent to the Village Beach parking lot that is jointly owned by the Town of Southampton and the Village of Quogue.” Once on the beach, meanwhile, the Mayor noted that in Southampton Town there is already “an easement in favor of the public between the high-water mark of the Atlantic Ocean and the southerly top of the sand dunes …,” as per Dolphin Lane Assocs. v. Town of Southampton, 37 N.Y.2d 292, 297 (1975). 

The takeaway from all this appears to be that real, long-term help—the kind that would be out of reach without Federal assistance—is on the way. As the Mayor noted: “While the details of exactly how much of Quogue’s beachfront will be included in the FIMP plan are not clear, we are confident that the Village Beach will be covered and that sand will be placed westward of that as well.”

At Quaquanantuck speaks for many in the community in expressing gratitude to the Mayor, not only for all the many hours he has put in advocating for the village and its beachfront with the DEC and the Army Corps as well as Southampton Town and Suffolk County, but also for keeping residents posted on the terms and conditions for obtaining this much needed replenishment and restoration along our shoreline. This columnist also dares to thank, in advance, the owners of the approximately 100 beachfront parcels in Quogue, who, by immediately granting the required easements, it is hoped can pave the way for work to begin a year earlier than originally projected. Help can’t come soon enough.

Mayor Peter Sartorius, left, presented a proclamation issued by the Village Board of Trustees to Ed Shea in honor of his 30 years of service to the Quogue Fire Department. —Kevin Lonnie Photo

Firefighter Ed Shea Honored on His Retirement
On the occasion of his retirement from the Quogue Volunteer Fire Department after 30 years of distinguished service, Ed Shea was honored with a special proclamation of “deep appreciation” issued on April 5 by Mayor Peter Sartorius and the Village Board of Trustees. 

The proclamation recognizes Mr. Shea, who is moving to North Carolina, as “a skilled firefighter, a talented organizer and an exceptional leader” who “naturally gravitated to positions of responsibility in the Fire Department, serving as an officer for many years and as Chief of the Department from 2005-2006.” 

The document goes on to note, among other contributions, that Mr. Shea “initiated or led many projects and activities of the Department, including the formation of the Quogue Firefighters Benevolent Association, the grooming of new firefighters through the Department’s Explorers Program and the managing of the annual Pancake Breakfast.” 

Saluting the retiring volunteer for his “strong work ethic, loyalty, cooperation, and good spirit,” the Trustees aptly concluded that “he will be sorely missed by his colleagues in the Department.” 

At Quaquanantuck joins the Trustees, and all the residents of the village, in thanking Ed Shea for his dedicated service and wishing him well in his new life in North Carolina.  

Correction and Apology
In the announcement of the new slate of officers in the Quogue Volunteer Fire Department in the March 11 column, At Quaquanantuck inadvertently omitted the name of Lieutenant Company 2 Tom Otis

Along with apologizing for the error, At Quaquanantuck would like to thank Mr. Otis for the good grace with which he accepted the mistake and, unasked, offered forgiveness.

An egret gang gathers by the Ponquogue Bridge. —A. Botsford Photo

Quogue Wildlife Refuge Gearing Up for Earth Day
First off, Quogue Wildlife Refuge Associate Director Marisa Nelson reports that the last two playing spots for the Golfing With The Owls outing at Sebonack Golf Club are only available as part of the Owl Event Sponsorship package, which goes for $10,000. 

The rolling fairways of Sebonack Golf Club overlook Peconic Bay.

As Ms. Nelson wrote in an email this week: “I know that is a high price to play golf, however it also supports a wonderful cause, is tax deductible, a great advertisement for the sponsor, and Sebonack is an exclusive [and magnificent] course to play on. We are keeping our fingers crossed that a generous sponsor will come forward and join in the fun.” 

Other sponsor opportunities include: Eagle “Lunch” Sponsor, $7,500, company name in all event publicity, signage and promotional materials at lunch, special mention at lunch, and opportunity to place promotional materials in golfer gift bags; Birdie “Breakfast” Sponsor, $3,000, signage in dining room during breakfast, company brochure in golfer gift bags, publicity in pre-tourney advertisement, and special mention at awards reception; Purchase a Hole Sign, $750, one prominently displayed hole sign on the course, or Purchase a Tee Sign: one for $200, two for $350, three for $500. For more information, visit https://quoguewildliferefuge.org/news/sebonack/

Earth Yoga outdoors with Amy Hess on Wednesday mornings at 9 a.m. has already gotten underway at the Refuge.The one-hour class is held in a large outdoor space on woodchips near the pond, weather permitting. Participants are asked to bring a sheet or blanket and a yoga mat, and dress to be outdoors and consider sunscreen and insect repellant. The cost is $15 per class; early registration is advised (click on Earth Yoga on the Events page at www.quoguewildliferefuge.org) as space is limited.  

As for Earth Day, the ever more important mission-embracing special day in April, Ms. Nelson writes that “our plans are still coming together,” with details being posted on the QWR website soon. “As of now we are planning for the self-guided Conservation Walk: 19 installations of great information on how folks can make some simple changes in their lives to make the planet a healthier place. The stations start at the beginning of the green trail and will be up throughout April. 

A sample of the information posted at stations along the Conservation Walk at the Wildlife Refuge.

“We are thrilled that Bartlett Tree Experts will be donating hundreds of native flowering dogwood trees (Cornus florida) for our free tree giveaway (drive through or walk up) held on Saturday, April 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (or until they’re all gone!). Supporting native wildlife by planting native trees is crucial and an easy way to attract and nurture our pollinators and birds. 

“Also on April 17, knowledgeable birders from ELIAS (Eastern Long Island Audubon Society) will be here for birding questions and to share info about their field trips and bird walks. 

“QWR will have a fun raffle table set up on Saturdays throughout April to help raise money for the Refuge. Earth Day is every day for the staff at QWR, and we look forward to seeing folks during their visit. Please check our website for details, and follow us on Facebook.” 

At left, a rare smoke morph turkey. (More information at https://www.audubon.org/news/wild-fact-about-wild-turkeys) —Florrie Morrisey Photo

Keep Your Distance … from Seals, Too
A reminder for beach walkers who encounter seals: Atlantic Marine Conservation Society Chief Scientist Rob DiGiovanni notes that “Social distancing benefits us all. While practicing social distancing on the beach or on a nature walk, please remember if you encounter a marine mammal, step back and give the animal its space, both for the animal’s safety and yours. If a seal can see you, you are too close. Refraining from interacting with wildlife can help save the lives of these animals and reduces harm. Together, we can continue to protect these amazing animals that utilize our waters year-round.”

Quogo Neck sunset. —Roger Moley Photo

New Push to Help Pollinators
At Quaquanantuck notes with great pleasure that a new “Go Native” initiative has recently been launched in Quogue. Inspired by Doug Tallamy, a renowned entomologist and ecologist, village residents Paula Prentis and Lulie Morrisey have been circulating an email asking Quogue homeowners to commit to introducing native plants on their properties, refrain from the use of pesticides and herbicides, and reduce outdoor lighting. 

There are compelling reasons powering this new movement, which is spreading across the country.  Native plants feed native insects which in turn feed native birds and much other wildlife. Native trees provide nesting places for native birds. In effect, wild creatures need wild plants to survive, but a typical landscaped yard is full of non-native plants that feed no creatures at all, rendering it to all intents and purposes a “parking lot,” according to Mr. Tallamy. The alarming loss of habitat combined with the use of pesticides has contributed to the die-off of three billion birds in North America since the 1970s, or one third of the entire bird population.

Most insects can develop and reproduce only on the plants with which they share an evolutionary history. Just 5 percent of our native plants make 75 percent of the caterpillar food that drives food webs. Caterpillars are the primary food source for migrating and breeding birds and are essential food for baby birds. A chickadee must catch and consume six to nine thousand caterpillars to rear one clutch of babies.

Native plants are needed to support pollinators and other insects.

As one example of the benefit of native plants, Mr. Tallamy describes oak trees as a “keystone species” that supports at least 30 percent of our moth species and is also a favorite refuge for many species of birds. The case for planting oaks is made eloquently in a New York Times article at this link: www.nytimes.com/2021/03/31/realestate/oak-trees-why-you-should-plant.html 

Mr. Tallamy’s central idea is “small efforts by many people.” It is up to individual property owners to do their part in restoring an ecosystem that benefits all of us. Making an impact can be as simple as planting one oak tree or reducing the size of your lawn by planting an area with native shrubs such as meadowsweet, ironweed, trumpetweed, Joe Pye weed, clethra, field thistle, Virginia rose and flowers such as bee balm, helianthus, goldenrod, echinacea, asters and blue flag iris. Don’t be put off by the “weed” in many of these names; the seeds and pollen in these plants will attract butterflies and bees

Oak trees are considered a “keystone species.”

The idea is to get enough Quogue residents on board with this effort in order to create a “conservation corridor” or “pollinator pathway” from individual backyards throughout Long Island and the rest of the country. Anyone interested in finding out more is asked to contact Lulie Morrisey at lulieinquogue@gmail.com. Also, the Westhampton Garden Club has been promoting this education effort for several years and readers might consider getting involved with their organization: www.westhamptongardenclub.org/. The club planted the Lily Pond Garden of native plants in our village several years ago and is establishing a Pollinator Garden at the newly renovated Quogue Library this spring. 

Some resources for the curious include “Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard” and “Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants,” both by Douglas W. Tallamy; and the following websites: www.234birds.org; www.perfectearthproject.org; www.audubon.org/native-plants; www.homegrownnationalpark.org; www.longislandnatives.com (nursery in Eastport); www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/documents/AttractingPollinatorsV5.pdf; and extension.psu.edu/planting-pollinator-friendly-gardens.  

Parents who would like to see their children get in on the act can register little ones age 5 and up for the virtual “Flowers and Pollinators: Best of Friends” program sponsored by the Quogue Library on Sunday, April 11, at 2 p.m. Local artist and wildlife educator Tonito Valderrama will teach participants all about flowers and the role of pollinators as he guides them in creating unique pieces of art. Each child must be registered individually. Click here to register or visit www.quoguelibrary.org and click on the “Flowers and Pollinators” flier on the home page.

All pansies are violas, but not all violas are pansies. —Ginny Rosenblatt Photo

Quogue Library Ever Closer to Completion
Almost as much as village residents are keeping an eye on the beach, everyone is watching and waiting to find out when the renovated and expanded Quogue Library will open and patrons will have a chance to investigate and enjoy the many wonders of this time-honored and yet brand new facility.

At Quaquanantuck reached out to Library Director Jenny Bloom this week for an update and she graciously responded with the following: 

“Renovation continues. We are working through the last big to-dos that are necessary to get our Certificate of Occupancy and be able to open. A couple of critical missing parts and pieces are needed to be able to do the final work, which will allow us to bring back our collection and have staff in the building. We are expecting to be able to be open in June. 

“Now if the delivery trucks show up with our parts, we’ll be good as gold. And I hope everyone will agree it will have been worth the wait. This beautiful library is full of improvements and and we can’t wait to share it with the community.

The newly renovated library is a beautiful gift package, and patrons can’t wait to see what’s inside. —A. Botsford Photo

“In the meantime, curbside service continues at our Midland location, with homework and tech help available by calling (631-653-4224), emailing (info@quoguelibrary.org), or just dropping in.

“Virtual programs continue. We are all looking forward to when programs can be in-person again, but are making those decisions based on the transmission rate statistics and Health Department recommendations. It will be much easier to swing back to in-person and hybrid programs than it was to go virtual.

“Our Great Decisions Foreign Policy Association discussions kick off April 10 at 5 p.m.; we have  great poetry programs to celebrate National Poetry Month; fun and fresh storytimes happening each week; grab and go craft projects; our very popular fitness classes continue; and—it’s not just an advertising line—so much more. I hope people will visit our website for a full list and easy registration. And I’d love to have people join me on Saturday, April 10, at 10 a.m. for a conversation about our collection: how we select books and what books and resources they’d like more of, or what  different ones they’d like to see. Our goal is to have a selection that is responsive to what the community wants, so input is crucial.[click here for Zoom registration, or see details below.]

“Our summer Conversations with the Author series is in the planning and we are excited about the potential lineup. Our Summer Learning pen pal program will be bigger and better with activities, programs for tweens and teens, and lots of great postcards from Sammy the Seal and his friends.

“Staff are hanging in there, although the anticipation is difficult. We are ready to spring into a new expanded schedule of Sunday hours (we’ll be open six days, closing Wednesdays) in the new building.

“I deeply appreciate the grace and support the community has shown staff and the Board of Trustees. The pandemic’s effect on construction and global supply chains—and on our budget with an unforeseen investment in PPE, cleaning, staffing and equipment—has been a lot for a small library. We are hoping for strong support of our proposed budget, so please take a look at it (info available at the library and on our website) and we hope people will vote YES.

“With the vaccine and the construction wrapping up, this summer looks really good!”

As always, the library budget will be voted on at the same time as the Quogue School budget, this year on Tuesday, May 18, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room at the Quogue School. While safety protocols will be in place for in-person voting, some voters may wish to apply for absentee ballots due to the risk of Covid-19. To obtain an absentee ballot electronically, visit quogueschool.com and find a link to the application form on the Budget Information page. 

Completed ballots should be mailed to the Quogue School by May 5: Attention District Clerk, QUFSD, PO Box 957, Quogue, NY 11959. Absentee ballots may be delivered in person to the Quogue School during regular school hours until May 17. 

While we’re on the topic of budget votes, it should be noted that the traditional public hearing on the proposed 2021-2022 Quogue School budget will be held at the school on Tuesday, May 11, at 7:15 p.m., by which time details of the budget should be posted on the Budget Information page of the school’s website.  

A most welcome sign of spring: the return of the ospreys. —Florrie Morrisey Photo

Another Cornucopia of Virtual Programs
As noted by Ms. Bloom above, the Quogue Library continues to offer a wide array of virtual programs for all ages and interests.  

First up this weekend is the “Community Conversation: Your Quogue Library Collection” program on Saturday, April 10, at 10 a.m., offered as part of the American Libraries Association (ALA) Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries grant program. The program will offer opportunities to learn about what gets selected for the collection and why, and how the library makes purchases and de-selects items. 

Questions and suggestions welcome. Register here or click on the flyer on the library home page.

Sign off on the Community Conversation on Saturday and sign on to the “Celebrate Poetry Month with Grace Dilger” at 11 a.m. Ms. Dilger—a former colleague of At Quaquanantuck at Stony Brook Southampton Creative Writing MFA program—will discuss what makes an image stick in this workshop and will offer tips and tricks for nurturing deep-rooted symbolism in your poetry. All writing levels are welcome. 

Next up on Saturday, April 10, at 5 p.m. will be the return of the Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions Discussion program, focused this time on “The World Health Organization’s Response to Covid-19.” 

The FPA description of Saturday’s topic points out that “the Covid-19 pandemic has thrust the World Health Organization (WHO) into the limelight, for better and for worse. While some of the Trump administration’s criticism of the organization was unfair, the response to the early stages of the pandemic left many experts wanting more from the WHO.”

Questions to be addressed in the virtual program moderated by David Rowe and facilitator Susan Perkins will include: What is the WHO’s role in responding to international pandemics? And what can be done to improve the WHO’s response to future global health crises?

The Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions Discussion program provides background information and policy options for the eight most critical issues facing America each year, serving as the focal text for discussion groups across the country. For more information, visit www.fpa.org. To register for Saturday’s program, click here or click on the flyer on the library’s home page. 

Meanwhile, the current schedule of exercise classes continues in April with Pilates on Mondays at 10 a.m. and Sculpting and Cardio Dance for all ages on Tuesdays at 10 a.m., both with instructor Leisa DeCarlo; and Yoga with Jillian for adults and youngsters 8 and up on Fridays at 10 a.m. 

Other virtual programs coming up include: the Adult Book Club discussing “Writers and Lovers” by Lily King on Sunday, April 11, at noon; a tour of “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” exhibit in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 18, at 8 p.m.; a College Funding Workshop on Thursday, April 22, at 7 p.m.; and “How Sustainable Eating Can Be Fun and Healthy” on Wednesday, April 28, at 1 p.m. For more information and registration instructions for any of these programs and a host of offerings for children, visit the Quogue Library website at quoguelibrary.org and click on the program flier on the home page. Remember that new programs are added regularly, so check the website often to make sure you don’t miss out.

Write America Maintains Momentum
The new Write America weekly program dreamed up by writer, teacher and Quogue resident Roger Rosenblatt continues to offer wonderful readings and stimulating discussions between gifted writers on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. on the Crowdcast channel hosted by the Huntington independent bookstore Book Revue. 

Julie Sheehan

At a time when spirit-sustaining live readings are not possible, At Quaquanantuck has truly enjoyed all of these very different virtual programs, and salutes and gives thanks to the writers and the series creator. Those readers who have not logged on for one of these very special evenings is encouraged to do so: the rewards are many. 

Coming up in the “weekly readings and conversation about how books and art might bridge the deep divisions in our nation” are: award-winning poet Julie Sheehan and award-winning poet and short story writer Claudia Acevedo-Quinones on April 12; National Book Award finalist Natalie Diaz and award-winning poet and founder of Ecco Books Daniel Halpern on April 19; bestselling author Paul Auster, Man Booker Prize nominee Siri Hustvedt, and Pulitzer Prize winner and New Yorker editor David Remnick on April 26; and award-winning novelist Carlos Fonseca and poet and human rights activist Rose Styron on May 3. 

David Remnick

The Write America mission is beautifully encapsulated in this excerpt from “Paul Robeson” by Gwendolyn Brooks: 

We are each other’s
harvest:
We are each other’s
business:
We are each other’s
magnitude and bond. 

Rose Styron

As series creator Roger Rosenblatt wrote in an email: “Every week is different, every one a splendid surprise. The most gratifying moment in the venture as a whole has been reaching a total of 80 writers with half that number being writers of.color. It’s a  richly talented group. And they never lose sight of the core mission of healing divisions in the country.”

As noted, Write America runs weekly, every Monday at 7 p.m. EST on Book Revue’s Crowdcast channel. All events are free; registration is required at bookrevue.com/write-america-series. A selection of signed titles will be available for purchase with each Write America episode; Book Revue ships worldwide. For more information, click here or visit bookrevue.com/write-america-series.

Your Comments Welcome
At Quaquanantuck is happy to provide a forum for civil discussion of village issues and initiatives and welcomes all comments. All are encouraged to share observations, ideas and opinions by writing to AtQuaq@gmail.com

News Items and Photos
At Quaquanantuck encourages readers to send in news and notes and photos of interest to Quogue residents, even if the items are being sent from winter addresses or other parts of the country—or the world. Friends and family who enjoy all things Quogue are encouraged to email AtQuaq@gmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list.

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