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Mar 25, 2008 3:13 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Eruv Might Face Roadblock

Mar 25, 2008 3:13 PM

The Hampton Synagogue's plans to create an eruv in Westhampton Beach, an area where Orthodox Jews can participate in specific activities that are normally forbidden on the Sabbath, has hit its first potential roadblock.?Westhampton Beach Village Board members have expressed concern about the size of the wooden markers that could be used to delineate the proposed boundaries of the eruv, noting that 6-foot-long poles presented by Richard Haefeli, the attorney representing the Hampton Synagogue, at last Wednesday night's work session are too big. The proposed poles, which would need to be placed on Long Island Power Authority and Verizon poles throughout the village wherever the eruv changes course, are 4 inches wide and 2 inches thick.?"I didn't think the stick was going to be that big," said Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller. "I thought it was going to be smaller, but either way, a stick that size affixed to a utility pole wouldn't make a hill of beans."?Mr. Haefeli explained in an interview this week that the Westhampton Beach synagogue intended to use a slightly different marker than the one he presented to board members last Wednesday night. He said the synagogue intends to use markers that are narrower in width, though they will most likely still be 6 feet in length. He added that the example he presented to board members was a marker used to delineate the boundaries of an eruv in Plainview.?If the Village Board signs off on the proposal, and LIPA and Verizon permit the installation of the markers on their utility poles, approximately 20 of the markers would have to be installed throughout the village, according to Mr. Haefeli.?The proposed boundaries of the eruv, which would permit Orthodox Jews to push baby carriages and carry books on the Sabbath, would run from Montauk Highway south to Sunswick Lane. Griffing Avenue and Seafield Lane would serve as its eastern border and Potunk Lane and Oak Street would be the western border. The synagogue, which is located on Sunset Avenue, hopes to have the eruv in place before the summer.?But at last week's meeting, Mayor Teller said that he and a few members of the board have received complaints from residents who do not want the large markers affixed to poles in the village. He said he is also aware that the issue has resulted in "battle royals" in other communities in New Jersey and Texas in recent years.?Village Board members will hold a public hearing on the proposed eruv at their next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, April 3. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.?In other news, village officials will also hold a hearing next week on its proposed 2008-2009 budget. Village Clerk Kathy McGinnis confirmed that the spending plan will be released at the end of the week.?"We've been manipulating the numbers all day," Mr. Teller said on Tuesday. "We'll have a finalized budget by end of the week, but at the moment, residents don't have to expect an increase in taxes. If the budget holds together, we'll have a decrease in taxes."?Also at last week's meeting, board members discussed a number of acts of vandalism targeting the public bathrooms on Glovers Lane. George Gordon, the superintendent of the Department of Public Works, said vandals have been urinating and defecating in the bathrooms without using the toilets.?As a result, the board agreed to change the hours that the bathrooms are open. Ms. McGinnis said they will be unlocked at 6 a.m. and locked at 6 p.m. on weekdays and 7 p.m. on weekends, similar to the hours kept by stores on Main Street. Prior to the vandalism, the bathrooms were unlocked at 5 a.m. and closed at 10 p.m.?The board also intends to purchase some dashboard-mounted cameras for three of the cruisers used by Westhampton Beach Village Police. Board members intend to authorize the purchase of three new digital video cameras, as well as record management software, at next week's meeting.?"The purchases for the software and the video system are already in the ?upcoming budget," Mayor Teller said. "It's going to cost around $5,000 ?per unit of the iCOP video system, and we're purchasing three units." He said the record management software will cost an additional $12,000.?"The system is good for an officer's protection and the protection of the person the officer stops," added Mayor Teller, a former police chief for Southampton Town and Westhampton Beach. He added that the village cruisers currently are not equipped with cameras.

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