Get Your Good News Gossip

Regular readers, and practically anyone who’s ever met me, know that I’m not a big fan of the snark. There are plenty out there who are, but I prefer to be more of a celebrator of the good things in life. Heck, that’s pretty much the founding principle of this blog. It’s also the impetus behind one of a series of columns–Hamptons Habitues–that I’m now writing for Hamptons Real Estate Showcase, for which I’m thrilled to be an Editor at Large. Yay! Hope you enjoy reading this column as much as I enjoyed writing it. If so, please also also check out my Haute Spot interview with Jill Rappaport and Long Distance Love  featuring PJ and Joe Delia, Lucette Lagnado and Doug Feiden, and some tasty morsels about Ina and Jeffrey Garten in the Presidents Day issue, now on newsstands all over the East End.



Photos & Video from NYC Women’s March


I am so proud to have participated in the Women’s March in Manhattan on Saturday, January 21. It was a beautiful day of peaceful protest and coming together of community to effect positive change. Here are a few of my photos and short videos from the experience.


And here are a couple of very short videos. The first is of my group on 42nd Street (one of dozens that fed into the main line) getting ready to join. You can hear the march approaching in the distance. Note how calm, quiet and respectful everyone is.

Also, there were cookies! You’ll never guess who offered them to us!!


Yep. Watch closely and you’ll see Tina Fey in the red Temple hat. That’s pretty cool.



I love that sign! We the People Stand with HOPE!!

*All photos and video by Dawn Watson. #womensmarch #womensmarchnyc

Nick & Toni’s is NOT Closing Here


Eric Striffler photo.

No need to panic fellow East End foodies. Contrary to what you might have read quickly in your Facebook feed, the original East Hampton Nick & Toni’s is NOT closing. Alas, the Manhattan-based Nick & Toni’s Cafe is however. Sad for Manhattanites but so very relieved for us Hamptonites.  : ))))

From Nick & Toni’s Cafe Facebook post 23 hours ago:

To our Neighbors, Loyal Customers and Friends,

It is with great regret that we will be closing the restaurant at the end of service on January 7, 2017. Being part of this community for 20 years has been a tremendously rewarding experience for us. We have fostered great relationships with many of you in our neighborhood. The challenges of running a restaurant in the city are great and continue to only get more challenging. 

That being said we want to thank you for the many years of patronage.
We leave here with many fond memories and a proud sense of what we accomplished.

With gratitude,
Nick & Toni’s Cafe Family

Here’s the original press release announcing the closure, courtesy our friends at Wordhampton:


Who:          Nick & Toni’s Cafe
What:         To Close
Where:       100 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023       
When:        January 07, 2017


Nick & Toni’s Cafe (100 W. 67th Street, NYC, {212} 496-4000) has announced it will close its doors following dinner service on January 7th. “Twenty years is a lifetime in the restaurant business. We are very proud of what we have accomplished in that time. Between rising rents and other financial challenges, the reality of running a restaurant in the city is no longer financially viable for us,” stated co-owner Mark Smith, who along with Toni Ross, own and operate the Upper West Side institution in addition to Hamptons power restaurant Nick & Toni’s. The duo also co-owns Rowdy Hall, Townline BBQ, La Fondita and Honest Catering – all located on the East End of Long Island. There are no plans to open the café at another location.

Is Everybody Heading for the Hills Hearing?

Due to intense interest and growing crowd sizes, the Town of Southampton has issued a change of venue for the third public hearing of “The Hills” development by Discovery Land.

According to information shared by Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman’s office, the public hearing  will now take place at the East Quogue Elementary School on Tuesday, January 10, at 6 p.m. instead of at Southampton Town Hall.  “The Hills at Southampton” is a proposed mixed use planned development district to develop 168 acres with 118 residential units and a golf and country club.

Another Sag Harbor Fire to Remember


Main Street at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 16. Photo by Dawn Watson

There are many people who can write more knowledgeably, with considerably more experience in the village, and who can better articulate on the subject of Sag Harbor than I, but there’s never been a place I’ve been more humbly proud (I know, weird juxtaposition but it’s true) to call home.

Starting with a single spark, which quickly grew to a blazing conflagration and ultimately ended in considerable loss, yesterday became another one of a series of days that will be marked with sadness in the history books for Sag Harbor. The destruction of a large piece of the heart of the village leaves holes in the hearts of many, much larger than the now empty space that formerly housed 90 Main Street.


Sag Harbor Main Street just after 10 p.m. on Friday, December 16. Dawn Watson photo

I am saddened by the loss of the iconic Art Deco neon Sag Harbor Cinema sign and the building which it has graced for decades, of the countless original artworks that had been on display at the RJD Gallery, of the other businesses that have served this community so well, and most of all by the homes and hearts of the people who have been displaced. But I know that although this is, right now,  a crushing blow, I also know that Sag Harbor will rise again, as it has done every single time in its storied history. Sending love and light.



Marine Park, 10:30 p.m. on Friday, December 16. Dawn Watson photo


The Sag Harbor puzzle I received as a Secret Santa gift from Kathryn Menu on Friday morning, opened on air with Bonnie Grice, Brendan O’Reilly and Annette Hinkle at 88.3 WPPB, fewer than two hours after first hearing the news of the devastating fire in Sag Harbor. I will treasure it. 

Truck Beach is For the People


This is not Truck Beach but I think it illustrates the point. Dawn Watson photo

The East Hampton Airport decision didn’t go our way but the one for Truck Beach did. Small victories. We’ll take them.

Here’s the official statement from the Town of East Hampton on the court’s ruling that yes, Truck Beach/Napeague Beach is in fact a public beach:




After a five-day bench trial, the Hon. Ralph T. Gazzillo, Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, issued a Post-Trial Decision upholding the rights of the East Hampton community to access Napeague Beach for its traditional public uses. “The Town of East Hampton is very pleased that the Court, in the strongest of terms, recognizes the longstanding public use of this oceanfront beach in Napeague,” stated Supervisor Larry Cantwell. “The Court issued a common sense decision rightfully rejecting the ‘questionable’, ‘unimpressive’, and ‘contradictory’ testimony of the Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, while finding those life-long community members who testified on behalf of the Defendants’ to be ‘credible’, ‘harmonious’ and ‘persuasive’.”

The Court’s 33-page decision, which Justice Gazillo stated culminated his nearly 50-year career in public service, methodically reviewed the testimony of all the witnesses and found what everyone knows, Napeague or “truck beach” is a public resource that has been enjoyed by our community for generations. Councilman Fred Overton, who was called to testify on behalf of the Town and the Trustees, stated, “The Court specifically found, ‘It is also clear and undeniable that in living memory—and even perhaps well before—the community has consistently used the beach as a recreation location which is open to the public.”

The Court’s decision explicitly denied the Plaintiffs’ private ownership claims of the beach, as well as their claims that the Town was creating a nuisance by allowing public use of Napeague beach. “The Town will remain steadfast in protecting our public access to our ocean beaches and public land,” concluded Supervisor Cantwell.

Court to East Hampton Airport: Buzz Off


Of course now that we’ve moved slightly farther along in limiting the godawful helicopter noise coming in to and out of East Hampton Airport, the federal court has ruled that what’s been done to make the situation tolerable for the 99 percent isn’t legal. On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals found that East Hampton Town doesn’t have legal legs to stand on regarding its flight curfew laws.

What that means is that is the curfew that made sure there weren’t flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. has been deemed unenforceable. As has the one that restricted super noisy aircraft to flying in between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Because it’s more important for the uber wealthy (and those who esteem to live the large life) to fly out on a whim than for us poor sad sacks to get some sleep. So now the 1 percent  can go back to doing whatever they want, whenever they want and the rest of us can sit and spin. Sigh.

From the desk of East Hampton Town Attorney Michael P. Sendlenski:

November 4, 2016- The Town of East Hampton is deeply disappointed in the Second Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision to enjoin the Town’s three local laws regarding access restrictions at East Hampton Airport. The Court’s opinion undermines local control of operations at the Town-owned airport property and establishes that the federal bureaucracy controls regulations in the area of aviation noise abatement and control. A summary of the Court’s decision is attached.

In its capacity as proprietor of the East Hampton Airport, the Town Board has always held the belief that it had a public policy responsibility to protect local residents from the loud and disturbing effects of aircraft noise. The Town Board has sought to provide residents who are impacted by aircraft noise meaningful and deserved relief. In April 2015, the Town adopted three local laws imposing use restrictions on certain operations at the Airport after historic efforts to engage public comment, study aviation noise issues and find balanced solutions.

In doing so, the Town relied upon written statements made by the Federal Aviation Authority to then Congressman Bishop stating that the Town was not required to engage in the lengthy FAA bureaucratic review and approval process under the Airport Noise and Capacity Act (ANCA) but could instead, as proprietor of the airport, adopt reasonable noise restrictions. Unfortunately, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision has usurped the Town’s local authority, contrary to the assurances of the FAA written statement to Congressman Bishop, therefore making

burdensome ANCA review and FAA approval mandatory for any aviation noise regulations adopted by an airport proprietor.

A group of opponents sued in federal court to enjoin these local laws in 2015 and in late June of that year, Federal District Court Judge Joanna Seybert enjoined one of the laws that restricted noisy aircraft to one round trip per week. The other two curfew laws have been in effect and enforced since July 2, 2015.

The Town Board vigorously defended its enactment of these three reasonable local laws at both the District and Circuit Court of Appeals levels in attempt to effectuate the solutions arrived at through the deliberative process of the Town Board. In two summer seasons of implementation, the Town saw over 99% compliance with the curfew regulations. Although today’s court decision places the solution to aviation noise problem firmly at the feet of Congress and the FAA, the Town will continue to explore every available option so that the residents of the East End won’t continue to be inflicted by an unrelenting din from the skies above.



Judge Raggi wrote the decision for the panel, holding that all three Local Laws are preempted by ANCA and remanding the case for the district court to enter a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of all three laws.

First, the court holds that ANCA does not limit a federal court’s equity jurisdiction to provide an injunction against enforcement of a state or local law that violates federal law. The court states that there is no textual basis to conclude that the loss of federal funding is the only consequence for violating ANCA. In particular, the court relies on 49 U.S.C. § 47533(3), which states: “Except as provided by section 47524 of this title, this subchapter does not affect . . . the authority of the Secretary of Transportation to seek and obtain legal remedies the Secretary considers appropriate, including injunctive relief.” According to the court, section 47524 is unavailing to the Town because it prohibits suit only if its procedural requirements are satisfied. The court further states that the FAA’s authority extends to private parties where, as here, those parties are not simply seeking to enforce federal law but rather to preclude the Town from subjecting them to local laws enacted in violation of federal requirements. The court also relies on the AAIA grant assurances to support its opinion. According to the court, if loss of funding eligibility were the sole remedy, then an airport proprietor could simply obtain an AIP grant on one day and on the next day promulgate non-ANCA-compliant laws.

Second, the court holds that ANCA preempts the Local Laws. The court focuses on the language in section 47524 that a noise restriction is allowed “only if” it meets the procedural requirements, and holds that this language is mandatory for any public airport regardless of federal funding. The court also explains that the remedy in section 47526 to withhold federal funding does not state that this remedy is exclusive. The court further holds that the statutory findings and

legislative history support its interpretation because they speak about consistent noisy policy at the national level. Finally, the court also relies on the FAA’s regulations, which state that “notice, review, and approval requirements set forth in this part apply to all airports imposing noise or access restrictions,” 14 C.F.R. §§ 161.3(c), 161.5 (emphasis added), and that “the procedures to terminate eligibility for airport grant funds . . . may be used with or in addition to any judicial proceedings initiated by the FAA to protect the national aviation system and related Federal interests.” Id. § 161.501(a) (emphasis added).

Third, the court holds that National Helicopter is inapposite because it did not directly address the ANCA issue. The court also notes that, given its reading of National Helicopter, it circulated the opinion to all active judges prior to filing the opinion (and presumably none of the other Second Circuit judges objected).

Fourth, the court holds that its opinion does not transform federal aviation law. The court states that ANCA’s procedural requirements are properly understood to refine what can constitute a “reasonable” exercise of the proprietary authority reserved by the ADA. The court also states that the lack of FAA approvals in the past does not mean the FAA would not approve restrictions in the future, and that if the process is burdensome, that was Congress’s choice.