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Town board praises, dismisses Larry Penny

Larry Penny, is now former East Hampton director

Larry Penny, is now former East Hampton director of natural resources. He was praised for his work and dismissed by the town board at a meeting on April 19, 2011. (Credit: Newsday, 2005 / Jim Peppler)

One town resident complained that it seemed cold and indifferent for the East Hampton Town board to dismiss longtime natural resources director Larry Penny by simply voting to approve a $67,578.01 check for unused sick time, vacation time and other back pay.

So members of the town board Thursday night praised Penny before voting. The resolution passed unanimously.

Penny, 76, who worked for the town for nearly 30 years, is well-known in the environmental community and has strong supporters. But he also had a reputation of doing things his own way and was facing charges of insubordination and negligence.

He was suspended for 30 days without pay in December. Among the 16 charges against him was that he stored formaldehyde and animal pelts and bones in a basement storage room of the town’s office condominium complex next to Town Hall, even after being ordered to remove them.

After negotiations between attorneys for Penny and the town, he agreed to retire from his $95,910-a-year job last month and the town board agreed not to press charges against him.

“I spent 16 years working with Larry,” former  Councilman Tom Knobel said. “He made the use of pesticides and CCA” — wood treated with chromium, copper, and arsenic which prevents rotting but also harms the environment  unthinkable . . . " I can see Larry and his cap bobbing through the swamps to save salamanders.”

Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, before voting for the payout, said, “I appreciate Larry Penny.”

Photo: Larry Penny, East Hampton director of natural resources. (Dec. 15, 2011)

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