By Kathryn G. Menu
Questions raised last month by Sag Harbor Village Trustee Ed Deyermond about the Havens Beach remediation project — and its funding — appeared to be put to rest during a Wednesday morning work session. While Deyermond said he remained concerned with the fact the project has gone over budget, he said an accounting of the remediation, provided by village treasurer Eileen Tuohy, answered many of his questions and he dropped calls for an external audit of the project’s finances.
“My question was it is well over budget and I want to see how the payments were made over a two-year period,” said Deyermond. “Eileen did that for me. It is what it is.”
Deyermond said he had no further questions after looking at the accounting.
The Havens Beach remediation project largely consisted of dredging the existing drainage ditch leading from Hempstead Street to Sag Harbor’s only bathing beach, filling the dreen with clean sand and native plantings which are meant to act as a means of bio-filtration. A second means of filtration — through a vault containing antimicrobial Smart Sponge polymer paks — was placed near the end of the dreen closest to the beach.
According to Tuohy’s report, the original purchase order for the project from contractor Keith Grimes was for $373,967.98. An additional purchase order for $87,256 was later requested followed by a final purchase order earlier this month of $30,524. Coupled with the $42,160.59 expended on the project to cover costs outside of contracting like engineering, surveys and planning, according to Tuohy’s figures the total cost of the project is $533,908.69.
According to Tuohy, a Suffolk County grant will help fund the project with $147,500, with the state also providing an additional $146,982. The total cost to the village is $239,426.
On Wednesday, Mayor Brian Gilbride said he did not think the project was “way over budget.” He admitted the amount of sludge that needed to be removed from the ditch was underestimated. However, Gilbride said he was able to negotiate a better price for sludge removal and for the clean sand coming in, saving the village between $25,000 and $26,000.
“At the end of the day this is a project that has been on the drawing board for the village for many, many years,” said Gilbride.
The board passed a resolution at the close of the meeting to fund the village’s portion of the project out of the village’s unallocated fund balance of roughly $1.2 million, rather than through the village’s repair fund, which would require a public hearing, according to village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. The repair fund, said Thiele, also has about $1.2 million.
Tuohy said she originally recommended it come out of the unallocated fund balance because if the project was to be funded through the repair fund she thought that decision would have had to have been made at the start of the project.
Thiele agreed that was usually the case, and would have required a public hearing as such, but that legally the village could still use the repair fund as long as it was within the same fiscal year.
Gilbride added that with the potential of drainage projects and any renovations or repairs to Long Wharf planned in the next year, the repair fund could still be utilized for important projects.
Tuohy noted the village could look at bonding for any Long Wharf repairs, which could be in excess of $800,000 based on a 2010 estimate for just over $600,000 in needed repairs from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works.
“I know you are not a big proponent of borrowing money, but I will tell you it is dirt cheap,” said Tuohy, noting at current rates $1 million could be borrowed for less than $15,000 a year.
“When I was elected mayor I said I would like to get some projects done without borrowing money,” said Gilbride. “However, I could still say no and the rest of the board could vote to borrow money and that is okay.”
He later said he would be open to having a professional look at what the cost of needed repairs to Long Wharf would be, and make a decision then.
“I am going to sound like someone I don’t want to sound like, but a $1 million project is probably a project we could get in there and get done for the 2014 boating season,” said Gilbride.