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Sag Harbor Trustee Calls for Audit of Havens Beach Remediation Project

Posted on 09 October 2013

By Kathryn G. Menu

Sag Harbor Village Trustee Ed Deyermond, a former town assessor in Southampton, has called for a formal audit of the Havens Beach remediation project that was completed this summer.

Deyermond made the request during the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, noting the project was over budget and stating the accounting behind it was confusing, leading him to believe either the county or New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli should audit the project as the village’s partner in the remediation.

The Havens Beach remediation project dredged the existing draining 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.

The technology removes coliform bacteria from storm water runoff, but also removes hydrocarbons and heavy metals, other pollutants that can impact water quality as a result of runoff.

Other drainage improvements were also made during the project and a fence, originally planned at four-feet in height, but expanded to six-feet, was also constructed.

While Deyermond — and the rest of the board — signed off on a resolution Tuesday night to approve a change order for the project to cover additional costs of removing more dredge spoils than anticipated, increasing the size of the fence and enclosing it at both ends, at a cost not to exceed $38,025, Deyermond said he was uncomfortable approving any other resolutions. Monthly bills, he said, come in on the project but he has not been able to get a complete accounting.

The project was originally estimated to cost $500,000, but according to Deyermond’s calculations is running closer to $533,000 or even more. Suffolk County is slated to provide $146,000 in funding with the State of New York having also awarded a grant for the project at $147,000. The village is responsible for paying the remainder of the cost.

According to another resolution regarding the project, which was tabled Tuesday night, the village portion of the Havens Beach Project will cost $238,707 and will be paid for by the general fund balance as of May 31, 2013.

Mayor Brian Gilbride said that village treasurer Eileen Tuohy recommended the resolution; despite the fact the village originally intended to fund the project through the repair reserve fund, which requires a public hearing.

“So you are trying to avoid a public hearing,” called out former mayor Pierce Hance, who ran an unsuccessful bid to unseat Gilbride last spring.

Gilbride said he was advised to take the funding out of the general fund and then replenish those monies with an account like the repair fund.

“So you will have a hearing, but all the money will have been spent,” replied Hance.

The board continued to debate the figures surrounding the project, but ultimately Deyermond said until he could see a full accounting he wanted to table the last resolution.

“We keep getting warrants for additional charges,” he said. “I would like the whole thing audited by the county comptroller or the state comptroller because they are our partners in this,” said Deyermond.

Trustee Ken O’Donnell noted part of the issue may be that board members like himself and Deyermond are coming onto the board at the tail end of the project.

Village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. suggested the board receive an accounting from Tuohy before going to the county or the state.

Save Sag Harbor Calls for Traffic Calming

The Sag Harbor Village Board is looking to create a committee to examine traffic calming measures in the village following a presentation by the organization Save Sag Harbor and urban planner Jonas Hagen Tuesday night.

John Shaka, a board member of Save Sag Harbor who organized a February traffic calming workshop with Hagen, said the hope was the board would consent to a 12 member committee that could come up with specific traffic calming initiatives for the village.

The committee is conceived to include members of the public, a board member, police and emergency service personnel and someone from the department of public works.

“We would meet regularly, report to you monthly and come up with actionable items we can do in the community,” said Shaka.

Examples of initiatives the village could explore, said Shaka, are looking into Safe Routes to School funding to create safer streets leading to Sag Harbor Elementary School and Pierson Middle/High School, said Shaka. Another idea the committee could vet out for the village board is looking at “Complete Streets.” This is policy making in the village — meaning any time a roadway project is planned, it takes into account not only drivers, but also pedestrians, cyclists, and the needs of seniors and children.

“There is no cost to that but it creates a context where roadwork is looked at in terms of the totality of its users,” he said.

Hagen, a Sag Harbor native who biked and walked his way to school, town and his friends’ houses said that is just not a reality for the children of Sag Harbor today.

“As a child it is putting your life into your own hands and as a parent it is almost willful neglect,” he said.

Hagen suggested the board look at traffic calming solutions employed elsewhere, whether that be lowering speed limits, creating high visibility or raised crosswalks, raised intersections, pedestrian islands, narrower travel lanes or radar speed signs.

Hagen said he believes federal funding is available, either through Safe Routes to School or through air quality improvement funding.

One traffic calming measure that may not need funding is the use of speed radar signs. Susan Mead, a board member of the newly founded Serve Sag Harbor — a not-for-profit that raises charitable donations for local causes — said she has raised $4,700 in pledges for digital speed radar signs.

“For those of us who have houses on Main Street, our houses are shaking at night and it is difficult to have quality of life when the speeding is so rampant,” said Mead.

However, working with the trustees and local police, she noted, was critical to actually put those signs to use, hence the need for a traffic calming committee to communicate with the board directly.

“A number of us who are impacted are willing to put our money where our mouth is,” said Mead.

In other village news, the board sent information regarding code violations at Madison & Main at 126 Main Street to the State Liquor Authority (SLA). This move comes after the trustees were petitioned for the second month to weigh in on an application by Timeless Hospitality Group, a company looking for a new liquor license at the restaurant space.

“They are not being good neighbors,” said Deyermond. “There are a lot of issues with overcrowding on the sidewalk.”

Thiele advised the board to forward complaints or citations to the SLA.

Deyermond said he would like to take a look at the board’s policy in terms of sidewalk dining as well as renting out public spaces such as Havens Beach to ensure liability is limited.

“We need a comprehensive review of this between now and January 1,” he said.

Thiele said if outdoor dining is going to be amended the board should work on it sooner rather than later as applications will start pouring in.

“That is not a location that should have outdoor seating,” said Gilbride of 126 Main Street.

O’Donnell, the owner of La Superica, added that outdoor seating should be viewed as a privilege, not a right.

The village board agreed to appoint Jennifer Ponzini to the Sag Harbor Zoning Board of Appeals  to fill the unexpired term of Michael Bromberg who resigned earlier this year. Ponzini’s term will run until July 2015.

The board also adopted a local law that officially changes the speed limit in the Redwood neighborhood of Sag Harbor to 25 miles per hour, down from 30 miles per hour.

Lastly, the village board is going to explore whether or not it can use $24,858 in Suffolk County Community Development monies from 2012 as well as funding from this year and a grant applied for by Sag Harbor Village Justice Andrea Schiavoni to put an elevator in the Municipal Building.

The elevator would be able to reach the fourth floor, and would replace an existing lift from the first to the second floor. The introduction of the elevator would make the third floor of the Municipal Building usable. The fourth floor is not habitable for anything other than storage, noted Gilbride.

“Give it a shot,” said Deyermond.

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