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Day Laborers Still Convening On Street Corners; Residents Unhappy

Originally Posted: February 28, 2008

Andrea Aurichio

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Southampton resident Ron Landowski asked the Town Board to intervene and come up with a solution regarding the day laborers who continue to convene on street corners at the entrance to the village. Photo by Andrea Aurichio

Southampton - Impassioned citizens called upon the Southampton Town Board Tuesday to solve the on-going problem created by the gathering of day laborers on a street corner near Aldrich Lane in the Village of Southampton.

The residents cited a recent New York State Supreme Court ruling noting a Village owned park nearby could not be used as an "open air hiring hall" or gathering place for the day laborers, who are still very much in evidence on the street corner and besieged the town to help find a solution.

Citing the ruling handed down by New York State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Arlen Spinner in a lawsuit brought against the Village of Southampton by Aldrich Lane residents who live across the street from the village owned park, residents demanded action.

One outspoken critic suggested Southampton Mayor Mark Epley was in contempt of court, because the day laborers are still congregating in the park, and on the corner near the village owned Aldrich Lane Park, despite the court ruling noting the public park could not be used as an open air hiring hall as the mayor had suggested last year in an effort to try to solve the problem.

"Mayor Epley is in contempt of court," Ron Landowski charged in his impassioned remarks to the Board, before Supervisor Linda Kabot enforced a speaking limit of three minutes set for all town hearings. Landowski went to the podium during the public comment portion to address the board. "They shut me down," Landowski commented as he took his seat after Kabot informed told him he had already exceeded the speaking time limit.

Southampton resident Elaine Carl also addressed the board on this issue. "I am here," Carl said, "because I really sincerely care. I'd like to be part of the conversation. This is one of the gateways to the Village," Carl asserted, referring to the location just south of County Road 39 that funnels traffic into downtown Southampton.

The convenient location has made the corner of Aldrich Lane a preferred pick-up and drop-off point for day laborers who gather on the corner in front of the local 7-11 and McDonalds's while they wait for employers to pick them up. According to eyewitness accounts there are frequently dozens of workers gathered on the side of the road in the early morning hours.

"There were at least a dozen guys there this morning after 8 a.m." Landowski said, "which means there were probably more guys out there earlier in the morning."

The day laborers hired primarily by local landscapers, contractors and homeowners do odd jobs, yard work and carpentry.

Tried To Help
In an effort to solve the problem, and create a safe and less visible gathering point, Mayor Epley suggested the use of the Village owned Aldrich Lane Park last year and dispatched village work crews to the site to plant shrubs concealing the park from the road. The Mayor also had crews install a bluestone turn-around driveway in the park designed to facilitate traffic flow at the site.

Soon thereafter, Aldrich Lane residents, who live across the street from the park, filed a lawsuit against both the Town of Southampton and the Village contending the park, originally purchased by the Town with Community Preservation Funds, could not be disenfranchised by setting aside a portion of the public park during certain hours of the day for a specific purpose as an open air hiring hall.

The town, initially named in the lawsuit against the village, joined forces with the Aldrich Lane residents after the lawsuit was filed maintaining the formerly town-owned park could not be used as an "open air hiring hall".

The town and the village have been trying to find alternative locations for the day laborers with little success since the ruling was handed down earlier this year.

"We have to find a better way of controlling our town, and having safety in our streets," Carl said. "What are we going to do to clean up that area?"

The town board sat quietly as the speakers voiced their concerns. "How many people where out there this morning," Dan Russo, the newly appointed councilman asked.

Russo registered his objections to the use of town money to fund the creation of hiring halls when he was a candidate seeking election to the town board in November 2007. Russo lost in the election, running a close second to the successful Democratic candidate Councilwoman Anna Throne-Holst, but was appointed to the board earlier this month to fill the seat vacated by Supervisor Kabot when she assumed the town's top job in January.

Village officials noted this week that they are at an impasse and have not been able to find any acceptable alternative locations where the day laborers can safely congregate without spilling over into the Aldrich Lane Park and surrounding streets in the neighborhood.

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Guest (Americans for the Good of America) from Southampton says::
I am an American who doesn't feel the need to offer my generational connection to this country every chance I get. I am an American who believes in legislation and leadership that offers inclusive, well thought out solutions to difficult problems. The level of discourse on this subject gets lower by the day. So low is this discourse that it scares the intelligent people away from the table. At a legislative Public Hearing on IR 1105 AKA (The Anti Immigrant Bill) I endured hours of painful and reductive speeches blaming illegal immigrants for various ills within our society and economy including *motorist death (I'm betting drunk US citizens probably exceed that overall number many times over), *loss of homes (Sub Prime anyone?), *and graphic description of rape and murder by undocumented immigrants. Here's the problem folks: The chorus of the xenophobic [sic] is being listened to by our local politicians. If you care about intelligent discourse, if you care about this community, if you believe in the future of this community as a diversified, multi-cultural, economically healthy place - then start getting involved. Remember: Vote Globally Act Locally. We need your voices.
Mar 5, 2008 12:00 am

Guest (Rule of Law) from Southampton, NY says::
Our Town and Village, as reported by Hamptons.com, has stated that they are at a lose for a corrective action to the problem of loitering on Aldrich Lane in Southampton. Suggestion: Code Enforcement -- and I reference the actions taken by East Hampton to eliminate the gatherings at the railroad station. It is important to note, that we in the USA have several layers of code enforcement departments. And much to my frustration everyone has turned a blind eye to the criminal behavior in our neighborhood! Though, I realize, to remove and turn away these laborers, creates another set of problems - filling the summer jobs. We are advocating the expansion of the H2B temporary visas and eliminate loitering in our Town/Village. By not handling this situation, in my opinion, will only get worse in the future. All those that oppose code enforcement are in fact co-conspirators in breaking the rule of law! Hopefully, our leaders will be statesmen and stateswomen and not politicians!
Mar 1, 2008 12:00 am

Guest (Paul Forthmuller) from Southampton says::
It is not any level of government or political office to aid and abet illegal activity. It is common knowledge that many immigrants are actuality illegal aliens. The last group should all be deported. 287g should be implemented. Bring suit against the next higher level of government - County, State, Federal. The last group should be respecting the laws of the host nation and stop disrupting the peace of the resident citizens.
Mar 1, 2008 12:00 am


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