“Young families are leaving by the thousands,” she said. “Seniors are being forced to leave as well. This community is a prisoner of a 16-week economy. I am here to change that. Our environment is our economy and we have to sustain it.”
Mr. Van Scoyoc, who runs a residential building company and leads fishing charters, said he knows what it means to work several jobs to make ends meet in East Hampton.
He added that, when his wife began teaching at East Hampton High School 25 years ago, 95 percent of the teachers lived in East Hampton or Southampton. Now, he said, 90 percent of them live up island because they can’t afford to live here.
“Our middle class is being pressed here as well,” he said. “It’s not just the working poor. I think we’ve worked very constructively these past two years. None of these issues are easy to solve. The only way to move forward is constructively working together.”
Ms. Overby said she’d worked hard the past four years on surface and groundwater preservation, renewable energy, coastal resiliency and affordable housing.
On extending the CPF and using it for water quality, Ms. Turner said she supports the extension, but would like to see water quality funds in a separate pool of money. Mr. Van Scoyoc said he believes water protection “is the most critical issue facing the town” and he supports both the extension and a plan to deal with the town’s water issues.
Ms. Overby said she’s not in favor of increasing the exempt portion of the purchase price, because she believes it will simply put more money in the pockets of people looking to buy second homes. She added that she’s not in favor of ideas she’s heard to use CPF money for code enforcement.
Moderator David Rattray, the editor and publisher of The East Hampton Star, asked if there are really 750 people waiting to receive federal Section 8 rental subsidies in East Hampton.
“I suspect it’s even larger,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc. “We’ve seen housing values increase exponentially and high occupancy summer rentals have taken a lot of housing off the market.”
“I couldn’t afford to buy my house in today’s market,” said Ms. Overby, who added that the town is looking to create 12 manor houses for affordable housing.
“The town is actively seeking other properties,” she said.
Ms. Turner asked why a proposed 40-unit project in Amagansett had been stymied for so long.
She added that there are more than 1,000 names on the town’s waiting list for affordable housing.
“It’s really quite extensive,” she said.
Moderator Glorian Berk of the League of Women Voters asked the candidates what East Hampton is doing about its pledge to produce all its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
Ms. Overby said the town’s goal had hinged on PSEG-Long Island agreeing to buy the power from the proposed Deepwater One offshore wind park, which was turned down last December.
She said the town did receive approval from PSEG-Long Island for solar projects half the size they’d planned on the town’s Accabonac and Bull Path brush dumps, and has been awarded a $100,000 grant to study creating a “microgrid” with battery storage for renewable enegry at the Town Hall building complex.
Ms. Turner said there is a lot of funding available for public outreach and education about renewable resources, and that companies and homeowners can also help the town produce more energy from renewable sources.
Mr. Van Scoyoc said the town had deliberately set a lofty goal for energy independence.
“Our future depends on us being resilient and renewable,” he said.
On that note, Mr. Rattray asked the candidates about their coastal strategies in light of ongoing erosion and sea level rise.
Ms. Turner echoed Mr. Knobel’s suggestion that the town reevaluate its Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, and said she hopes to help with the town’s new Coastal Assessment Resiliency Plan.
“I’m glad to hear Margaret supports our CARP,” said Mr. Van Scoyoc, who helped the town receive grant funding for the plan. He added that recent state guidance on sea level rise shows it will be much more dramatic than had been thought just a few years ago.
“Resiliency planning is critical,” he said. “The Army Corps project in Montauk is a Band Aid. We need to look at how we can adapt to the changing environment we live in without catastrophic failure, loss of life and taxpayer property.”
Ms. Overby said the town can keep people from building houses too close to the water by having a very strong Zoning Board of Appeals.
“People are certainly allowed to come in and ask for variances, but you need to have people on the ZBA that are strong and understand what they’re doing,” she said. “If you have a strong town board, you will have a strong ZBA.”
Ms. Overby added that the town will present its Climate Action Plan next week.
“Peter already talked about the scary numbers,” she said. “This is something that this town board has been dealing with head-on.”
On helicopter noise at the East Hampton Airport, Mr. Van Scoyoc and Ms. Overby said the current town board had made great progress, but there is still work to do.
“I think we’ve accomplished more than any town board in 20 years when it comes to airport noise,” he said. “We made a very careful road map for regaining control of our airport. We’ve accomplished that in a way that’s been upheld by the courts.”
Mr. Van Scoyoc said the curfews imposed this summer have had “very modest success as far as actually accomplishing relief,” but he believes the town “has made great strides in being able to sustain greater restrictions over time.”
He added that litigation over the airport restrictions is being paid for out of the airport budget, which comes from user fees, and not from taxpayers.
Ms. Overby said the statistics show there haven’t been fewer flights to the airport, but the curfews did allow people to get a better night’s sleep.
“The important thing we’ve accomplished is we have local control of the airport for the first time,” she said. “We were allowed to determine what a noisy aircraft was for our town. Helicopters can come in if they’re not the noisy type. Aircraft companies have options and choices to make. They need to make them.”
Ms. Turner said she hopes the airport will be self-sustaining as legal fees pile up.
“I do not want the airport to be a burden to the taxpayers,” she said. “I would like to see it be financially self-sustaining.”
Ms. Turner said she’d wait to make a decision on whether the town should take FAA funding until after the full court decision on the town’s restrictions proposed earlier this year.
Election day is November 3.
The League of Women Voters of the Hamptons head over to Southampton next week to sponsor a debate for Southampton Town Board and Supervisor candidates at the Rogers Memorial Library on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 6 p.m.