WindwardShoreswas the brainchild of Ed and Mary Pospisil, who had a Montauk real estate agency they were expanding into a mini-empire. Later they would retire to Florida. At the time, condos and co-ops were a new concept on the East EndFor developers they were
, a big improvement over motels, which you had to build and maintain, then cater to fussy guests who would steal the towels. Condos you built and sold. You got your money back right away.
WindwardShoreswas perfect to attract New Yorkers used to apartments who wanted easy living by the ocean. So what if it became a real windward shore in a hurricane. If the boxy condos were a visual blight on the unspoiled dunescape, well, the new residents would be looking out, not in. The fragile ecosystem didn’t do much for the tax base anyway.
The salty aquifer was so shallow the septic rings had to be built up on fill so they weren’t sitting in groundwater. Drinking water would be piped in from Amagansett. Otherwise future condo dwellers would object to the briny taste, and to drinking their own effluent.
Local investors inWindwardShoreswere politically connected and were a ubiquitous presence in Town Hall. To pave the way for development interests,East Hampton’s Republican Town Board and Town Supervisor, Mary Fallon, abolished the Town Planning Department. They replaced it with a consulting firm, Rochris, widely perceived as a rubber stamp for new projects. All along the Napeague Stretch condos were being built or converted from mom and pop motels: Colony, Hermitage,WindwardShores, Sun Haven, Dune Crest, Driftwood. It could have been renamed the ‘Mary Fallon Memorial Mile’.
Save Our Beaches took pictures, wrote letters, and agitated about the travesty occurring before our eyes, with no discernible effect. But in the next election voters were galvanized and started to throw the bums out. Tony Bullock, Democrat, a 24-year-old political neophyte in his first run for office, soundly thrashed a Republican stalwart, Walter Hackett. Then, a year later,  Democrat Judith Hope was elected as Town Supervisor, and Bullock was re-elected along with incumbent Randy Parsons to give the Democrats a majority. Mary Fallon had resigned, and fill-in Republican appointee Ron Greenbaum – who famously wore a gun to a Town Board meeting – governed for a while before the Democrats took control.
The Democrats reinstated the Planning Department and drew up a Comprehensive Plan to control future development. In1989 anew coastal planning initiative got underway. I was appointed to the Waterfront Advisory Committee. Save Our Beaches was for me evolving into actual policy. The coastal planning process was a partnership withNew YorkStateunder federal Coastal Zone Management, a bureaucratic mouthful called the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, ever after referred to by its initials, LWRP.
After Montauk surfer and environmental attorney, Russell Stein, resigned as the Waterfront Advisory Committee chair, I inherited it. Tony Bullock went on to serve four terms as Town Supervisor from 1988 to 1995. His successor was Cathy Lester, a baywoman who worked doggedly to preserve her ancestral home waters.
Like Tony Bullock, Cathy Lester followed an activist’s path onto the Town Board. As council-person she was the liaison for the LWRP. As Supervisor she supported it through the seemingly glacial planning process. The State’s model LWRP had forty-four policies covering the waterfront from commercial fishing to flooding, each to be adapted to local conditions. Committee meetings, public hearings, conferences with Town and State planners, dragged on.
Town staffers writing the plan came and went.East Hamptonhad become known for cutting-edge environmental policy, but they didn’t pay a lot. Housing was expensive, and young planning professionals often moved on to greener pastures. In the final push to complete the plan, Supervisor Lester and Planning Director Lisa Liquori asked me to help write the document. At a desk in a corner of the Town cartographer’s office I word-processed 700 pages of bureaucratese.
After a decade of labor and sometimes scrappy negotiation the LWRP was approved by sixty-five State and Federal reviewing agencies. In December1999, inthe waning days of the Lester administration, the Town Board also gave its seal of approval. I thought my work was done.