By Kathryn G. Menu
The Sag Harbor Village Board is meeting with treasurer Eileen Tuohy this week in an effort to find $88,400 to fund the purchase of 17 new air packs for the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department. In the interest of public safety, this is an expense which must be covered by the village sooner rather than later, said trustee Ed Deyermond.
During the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, Deyermond said 17 of the department’s close to 60 air packs have yet to be replaced with newer models and have currently been rated as “substandard.”
The supplier of the air packs, said Deyermond, is holding onto 17 newer models for the department. If the department does not replace their packs soon, the supplier will only have the newest model, which does not conform to the rest of the department’s air pack equipment, he added.
“Rather than risk someone’s personal safety, I think we should move forward with this,” he said.
Each pack will cost $5,200 and comes with a spare bottle.
Fire department Chief John Anderson said the department has phased in the replacement of its air packs in an effort to not overwhelm any one annual budget with the cost of replacing all air packs or bottles at once.
“We did not know this was changing, Brian,” he said to Mayor Brian Gilbride, also a member of the fire department. “The standard for the new packs just changed.”
“It’s a big step financially,” said Deyermond, asking Gilbride to have Tuohy explore funding sources immediately.
Deyermond added the Sag Harbor Volunteer Fire Department Dive Team is also in the process of trying to replace two of its three company dry suits, used for diving in rescues. One of the three suits has been out for repair twice, said Deyermond, and another was just recently repaired. Deyermond said he would like to see the village consider funding the replacement of one of the suits, at a cost of $2,500. The dive team, he said, planned to fundraise for the replacement of the second suit.
“We will do our best here and make it happen,” said Gilbride.
“These guys have done an excellent job and have been involved in countless rescues and recoveries,” he added referring to the department’s dive team.
In other public safety news, Deyermond wondered if the village board could explore whether or not it could use Suffolk County Community Development Block Grant funding to erect a formal helicopter landing pad on village owned property adjacent to Havens Beach.
Helicopters performing medevac service out of Sag Harbor in the case of a serious accident traditionally use Havens Beach or Long Beach in Noyac.
Deyermond noted the sand has a negative impact on helicopter blades and that victims must be transported over rough ground. He would like to see a formal helicopter pad and paved walkway for emergency service providers installed.
“Can we do that down there,” asked Gilbride, noting he favored the concept but was concerned the village would be limited as it is considered parkland.
“It is parkland, yes, but I think you could make an argument for this in terms of a public safety point of view,” said village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr.
Village Joins Peconic Estuary IMA
The Sag Harbor Village Board agreed Tuesday night to enter into an inter-municipal agreement (IMA) with the Peconic Estuary, although the level of funding the village will ultimately offer remains to be seen.
The inter-municipal agreement, signed by the towns of Brookhaven, East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold, as well as the village of Greenport, was created in an effort to provide the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee funding to develop a comprehensive conservation and management plan, establishing long-term goals for the use and improvement of the Peconic Estuary.
The goals will include individual projects for each municipality, as well as regional projects aimed at improving the health of the estuary.
Towns have been asked to contribute $10,000 towards the effort, with village’s asked to contribute $3,000. Suffolk County has committed to providing $25,000 in funding. In addition to funding, each municipality also earns a position as a voting member of the IMA committee.
Thiele, who is also a local New York State Assemblyman, said the state will offer $2 million in funding for the Peconic Estuary, and that coordination between the towns and villages is critical.
Trustee Robby Stein said based on his conversations with Peconic IMA organizers, Sag Harbor Village could offer as little as $1,000 for its first year of funding. Stein added over time participating municipalities will have the benefit of coordinated programs and grant applications.
“They feel very strongly this will save us money in the long term,” said Stein.
“What I am looking at is if you want $3,000 from the village, what does that get us in the first year,” said Gilbride. “Not much because with our MS4 (state stormwater runoff requirements) we are pretty much up to snuff.”
“There are just a lot of unanswered questions,” he added.
Stein argued the village could offer minimal funding for the first year and then take its involvement on a year-by-year basis.
The board unanimously passed a motion to commit itself to the program without a solid dollar figure attached to that commitment.
Village Explores Yacht Yard Lease Renewal
In other news, the village board has begun a discussion with Sag Harbor Yacht Yard owner Lou Grignon about renewing a lease to upland and underwater properties owned by the village.
Grignon’s lease for over 6,000 square feet of underwater land and over 16,000 square feet of land adjacent to his Bay Street property expires on May 31, 2014.
Approaching the board of Tuesday night, Grignon said he would like to renew the lease, for as many as 20 years. Grignon has had a lease with the village since 2002.
According to Grignon, during the life of his lease he has paid almost $198,000 to the village. In the current lease, the cost of rent was raised about two percent annually. Annually Grignon said he pays $15,592 for the lease, or $1,299.88 monthly.
“As far as I am concerned I think the aspect of having another 20 year lease is something I could not support,” said Deyermond. “I think it is too long.”
Deyermond said he would also want to look at the cost of the new lease.
“Those are my two concerns — the length of the lease and the amount of money we are going to get,” he said.
According to Thiele, the village will also have to make a determination that there is no current public need or use for the property. He also suggested having an appraiser take a formal look at the property before the village board set a lease rate.
According to Grignon, the leased property is used as part of his business, which operated on an acre and a half property he owns on Bay Street. The underwater property he leases is left open, said Grignon, for navigational purposes while the upland portion of the lease is used to store boats.
When the village acquired the property from Exxon Mobil, added Grignon, it was for $1. The property cannot support new construction because of a prior remediation.
ExxonMobil operated an oil tank farm in Sag Harbor from the early 1920s through the mid-1980s on both sides of Bay Street. After the site closed, it was subject to a massive remediation effort in an attempt to remove oil that had leached into the soil over the decades.
The property on the north side of Bay Street was donated to the village for $1 in 1994. Because it is in the waterfront district, it must be used for marine purposes.
The board said it would continue the discussion at next month’s December 10 meeting.