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Mar 25, 2009 12:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

CAC wants soup kitchens for day laborers

Mar 25, 2009 12:36 PM

Members of the Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee are asking Southampton Town Board members to remember a group of people who may be most affected by the economic downturn: day laborers.

At a meeting of the CAC held on Monday, March 23, members asked Councilwomen Nancy Graboski and Sally Pope to look into the possibility of the town setting up or sponsoring soup kitchens and shelters for day laborers who are struggling.

“I think the town should create a major feeding facility,” said Fred Cammann, chairman of the Bridgehampton CAC. “[Day laborers] need some place to eat and sleep.”

Mr. Cammann said that on Monday he saw about 50 day laborers standing in line behind Southampton Tire on North Sea Road to get food. On Tuesday, Southampton Tire owner Carol Whitby confirmed that she and her husband, Albert, have been working with Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church, located in Southampton, to provide food to day laborers who congregate near her business.

Steve Long, director of the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton said he felt like there is support within the community to ensure that these people do not go hungry.

“We’re in a really bad recession. We shouldn’t wait until later,” agreed CAC Vice-Chairman Tony Lambert.

On Tuesday, Ms. Graboski said that while there has been interest within the town government to get more involved in providing food and shelter for those who need it, the current $4.9 million deficit in the town’s capital budget has not left much money for any projects of that nature.

“In most instances out here, we rely pretty heavily on local not-for-profits,” she said. “As far as local government getting involved, I’ll try to research it. I don’t really have an answer to that.”

Also at the meeting on Monday, CAC member Jeffrey Vogel asked Ms. Graboski and Ms. Pope about a new law being proposed by Town Supervisor Linda Kabot that would permit members of the CAC to address the Town Planning Board before the first public hearing of any application. At a Planning Board meeting earlier this month, board members said they supported the law, but noted that state law would require the board to give public notice before any CAC member could address a specific application. As a result, they recommended that the proposed law be amended so that CAC members could speak generally to the Planning Board, but not refer to any one application.

Mr. Cammann told Ms. Graboski that his committee could also use additional time to review applications prior to the first public hearing. As an example, he noted that he had received plans on March 20 for several applications that are scheduled for Planning Board hearings on March 26, which is not enough time for the CAC to review the application and comment on it. More important, however, Mr. Cammann said that it is much more difficult for his group to comment on applications before the Town Zoning Board of Appeals in a timely manner. He said that is because it is impossible to talk to ZBA members except at hearings, and there is only one staff person who works for the ZBA. In contrast, the Planning Board has a team of planners who are available during business hours to talk with CAC members.

“There’s no way to penetrate the veil of the ZBA,” he said.

Ms. Graboski said she would look into getting the various boards to provide more notice to the CAC when seeking input on various applications.

She added that she still has several concerns about the proposed law, including whether or not comments aired by CAC members during the work sessions would be included in the application’s record. Currently, any person with questions or concerns about an application must give their name, which is included with their concern, in the record.

“I think it’s important to be careful,” she said, noting that a more informal airing of these concerns could potentially open the town up to litigation.

Nevertheless, she agreed that there could be restructuring in the site plan application process, possibly to include a more structured pre-submission process that would allow the public to speak much earlier. Currently, the town has a pre-application process in place for subdivisions, but not site plans.

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Ms. Grabowski is right. Sharing public information is dangerous.
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Mar 25, 09 9:52 AM
The perfect spot for a combination soup kitchen and hiring hall would be the lot south of the 7-11 in Southampton. That piece of land is already owned by both the Village and the Town, is commercially zoned, and there are no houses that would object to such a use. Perhaps funds can be obtained from the state to build it.
By Ms. Jane Q. Public (147), Southampton on Mar 25, 09 4:02 PM