Monday, August 03, 2009

Hamptons Zoning Board Doesn't Want Poor Kids In Its Library

The local zoning board in the Hamptons is blocking a children's reading wing in the local library, because it might attract kids from lower class areas, says a Hamptons library director.

According to an article in the New York Post, Dennis Fabiszak, the East Hampton Library Director, the expansion is being blocked because "(t)here are people with great political influence who are opposed to any expansion of services to people outside the immediate community."

The problem is that if there is an expansion, kids from surrounding areas would be allowed to use the library as well. Needless to say, this has Mummy and Daddykins worried about their precious little snowflakes.

Fabiszak said one delaying tactic was from zoning board members who wanted a breakdown of library cardholders by community.

"We refused to provide it because it's not important," he told the Post. Fabiszak believed it showed the board was concerned about the "types" of kids who would actually use the library.

Zoning board co-chair Joan Denny responded: "To say that we are opposed to kids from certain communities coming to the library is ridiculous. We're doing our due diligence. We want all the facts, on parking, on traffic, on everything."

"Certain" communities? You mean the ones with "those people" in them?

Bill Esseks, the library's lawyer, said there are some things in the meeting minutes that show the board truly is worried about kids from "certain" communities coming to the library.

Now, the board is delaying by calling for a number of environmental reviews, but Fabiszak says this is a stall tactic, because they're exempt from these reviews, since the library is an educational institution.

While I'm outraged at this type of behavior, I'm not surprised. Even in my own community, there are plenty of affluent people who maintain a panicked death grip on their belongings whenever they see someone who makes less than six figures. And there is definitely that sense of "those people" from "that part of town." I heard it from firsthand when we lived in Irvington, a historic neighborhood in Indianapolis, and I still hear it today when I live in the northern suburbs of Indy.

We just saw similar racist and classist behavior in Philadelphia last month, when the Valley Swim Club tried to stop inner-city kids from using their "private, exclusive" pool, but then invited them back after an international backlash.

I would hope that the Town of East Hampton and the manager William McGintee (email: wmcgintee@town.east-hampton.ny.us) would reconsider this elitist — some might say, racist — policy of preventing children from less affluent communities from learning. Quit hiding behind environmental studies and other nonsense. Quit clutching your purses and putting your hands over your wallets anytime someone in a domestic car drives through your community. And for God's sake, quit being such uptight ninnies. This is exactly why people don't like you.



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