Tag Archive | "Southampton Town"

Bridgehampton Company Eyes Monopole

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

web Bridgehampton Monopole

By Claire Walla

Amongst the usual array of residential subdivisions and commercial change-of-use applications, last week the Southampton Town planning board saw this word: monopole.

At its regular meeting last Thursday, January 12, the planning board agenda included a site plan application submitted by a company called Elite Towers, LLC, in conjunction with cellular provider AT&T. The plan proposes putting a 120-foot high cell tower (known as a monopole because all antennae are contained inside the structure) on a piece of property near Foster Avenue in Bridgehampton.

The area in question encompasses 16,213 square feet close to the railroad tracks, just off Butter Lane. It also sits in a commercial district that’s currently home to an auto service and repair facility, an interior design studio, and a steel and welding company.

According to town documents, the land is owned by a company called Hampton Terminal, LLC, based in Patchogue. The property already has an 874-square foot building, which, according to the site plan, would be used to house equipment associated with the cell tower. Both Elite Towers and New Cingular Wireless PCS, LLC (otherwise known as AT&T) did not return calls for comment.

According to Southampton Town Planner Claire Vail, any proposed monopole would have to be governed by certain setbacks. In a residential zone, a tower must not exceed any height equal to or greater than 100 percent of the distance between it and the closest residential building. (In other words, if a pole happens to be 100 feet away from the closest house, it may not exceed 100 feet.) For commercial districts, Vail added, that threshold is 300 percent.

The applicants for this particular application, she said, “don’t even seem to meet this setback.” While the closest residence is technically 551 feet away from the location of the proposed pole, there are commercial buildings well within 120 feet.

Currently, the site location is considered by the town to be an Aquifer Protection Overlay District. Vail explained that this is means it is recognized by the town of Southampton as being an area of recharge for groundwater. Basically, Vail continued, “it’s an area of avoidance.”

However, Vail continued to say that the border for the “Aquifer Protection Overlay District” is not so clearly defined. And there’s also the fact that this land has already seen some construction.

“It’s a site that’s already been disturbed,” she clarified.

Vail said the last monopole application pertaining to a site in Bridgehampton was approved back in 2002. The 120-foot pole, owned by LIPA, that now sits just off Montauk Highway would have had to abide by similar commercial and residential zone setbacks, however this piece of property already contained three poles.

“We have a provision in our code that allows you to replace a pole in kind and in place if it’s within 10 feet [of its original size],” Vail explained. Even though the proposed tower ended up being 20 feet higher than the original, Vail said the planning board gave LIPA a waiver for the project, compromising on the height in exchange for LIPA agreeing to move the tower further away from Montauk Highway.

“It was a very long process… and neighbors complained,” Vail recollected. But, she said the town was satisfied with the compromise. “It’s always a give and take with these things.”

At this point Vail said the site plan for Foster Avenue has not yet been fully vetted. Last week, the board passed a resolution to hold a pre-submission conference on the application, which is currently slated for its next meeting on Thursday, February 9.

Town Aims to Increase Recycling Efforts

Tags: , , , , , , ,

By Claire Walla

Christine Fetten is developing a 15-year plan for waste reduction. As Southampton Town’s Director of Facilities Management, she’s been tasked to lead the effort to improve the long-term recycling system laid-out in the town’s overall Comprehensive Plan, which will span through 2025. And as part of this plan, she aims to track every pound of recyclable material that leaves this town, ensuring it all gets disposed of in the most environmentally sound way possible.

Overall, she said the Town of Southampton is recycling more than the national average, for which only an estimated 33 percent of households are actually reported to recycle. Of the residents who use the town’s transfer stations, Fetten said about 51 percent separate out recyclables from their rubbish.

However, she went on to explain that only 15 percent of Southampton Town residents actually use the town’s transfer stations. This is where enforcing recycling efforts can become tricky.

This is not to say 85 percent of the Town of Southampton is not recycling — Fetten made that clear. But, it does mean that 85 percent of town residents use private carters, and where those recyclables end up, Fetten said, is unknown at this point.

But this is just what Fetten aims to find out.

Southampton Town is required to draft a waste management plan by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The town initially set to work on this document in collaboration with environmental consultants from CDM (Camp Dresser & McKee) and Smith Associates, who recommended the town continue operating its transfer stations. (In addition to facilities in Hampton Bays, Westhampton and North Sea, there is also a smaller transfer station in Sag Harbor.)

However, part of continuing operations included one crucial caveat: “The DEC wants us to gain more information on what all of the town’s garbage is doing,” Fetten explained.

Thus, her department will begin issuing permits to commercial carters in an effort to begin tracking that information.

“We’re looking to obtain: tonnage collected, tonnage disposed of, ultimately tonnage recycled and the location of the receiving facilities and the routes,” Fetten continued.

By collecting this information, Fetten said the town will “Gain an idea of the recycling rates in all parts of the town.”

Currently, she said the town itself is making all efforts to dispose of waste products in ways that minimize their impact on the environment.

“We bring our co-mingled [garbage] to the town of Brookhaven,” Fetten explained. “Plastics are generally baled and loaded into a trailer for overseas transportation containment.”

She said paper is also baled and sent overseas, but the town receives money for these recyclables.

“Waste management is set up to be an enterprise account,” Fetten continued.

So, the fees associated with the sale of recyclable materials go toward running the town’s transfer stations. So does the sale of compost to commercial carters, which is $2 a yard when loaded on site, and $3 a yard when delivered by the town. (It’s free for residents.)

“In addition to being sustainable, we need to make sure we’re covering our costs.”

Fetten said the town sends recyclable materials (paper, cardboard and metal) to Gershow Recyclables in Nassau County; it sends e-waste (including computers, cellular phones and televisions) to e-Scrap Destruction up island; and it takes all other recyclable materials (including glass and plastic) to Brookhaven Town’s recycling facilities, where Fetten said they are reduced and reused.

However, not all materials that can be are currently recycled. Fetten said her department is looking into ways to properly dispose of batteries and Styrofoam. While rechargeable batteries can most often be returned to the store where they were purchased, at this point Fetten said alkaline batteries can only be chucked into green bags, which eventually end up at a landfill.

The same is true for Styrofoam.

“There’s no longer a recycling facility on Long Island for that,” she explained. “At least not that I know of. That’s why it goes in a green bag [used for generic trash].”

She said the town is looking into opportunities to ultimately bale these products and then sell the materials for market value.

In the end, while Fetten said the town will continue to explore the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable recycling options, and will continue to explore newer recycling technologies, she said the overall message is tied to a much bigger picture.

According to statistics compiled by CDM & Smith Associates, individuals in the Town of Southampton generate an average of 4.43 pounds of waste materials a day. And with a year-round population of 60,000, which is estimated to climb to 180,000 in the summer months, Fetten said, “that’s a lot of waste!”

The ultimate goal is waste reduction, she continued. In part, this is contingent on state and federal governments, which have the power to introduce new technologies, like soy-based Styrofoam, which decomposes instead of being co-mingled with regular rubbish and tossed in a landfill.

But, on the local level, Fetten said the town needs to work on fostering sustainability goals and options. Not only encouraging residents to recycle, but teaching them how to cut-down on their waste from the get-go.

“There are so many different opportunities for the population to make choices” about the materials they use, Fetten continued. “That’s really the goal of our education and outreach program: To provide that information to the public.”

The public comment period on the town’s Waste Management Plan will be open through January 31. The public is invited to review the plan online or in the town clerk’s office, and submit comments.

Waterfront Plan Seeks Public Involvement

Tags: , , , , , , ,

By Claire Walla

Do you have any thoughts or opinions about local waterways in the town of Southampton? The vitality of marine life? Public access to town-owned beaches? The quality of water in this coastal region?

As the town of Southampton is in the process of developing its Waterfront Protection Plan (WPP), now’s the time to make them known. And, with its new website created specifically to address issues of water safety and environmental sustainability, the town of Southampton is making that task very easy for you.

As part of its much greater effort to develop a WPP, members of the WPP steering committee — planning and development administrator Jefferson Murphree, assistant planning and development administrator Freda Eisenberg, chief environmental analyst Marty Shea, town trustee Ed Warner and councilwoman Bridget Fleming — helped launch the website www.waterfrontprotectionsouthampton.org.

While it’s certainly an effort to share information with the public, it is also important for culling information from the public as the town continues to pursue drafting this plan to protect its waterways, according to Eisenberg.

As she explained to Southampton Town board members at a meeting last Friday, December 16, the website is part of an agreement the town made with the state one year ago when it accepted grant money to create a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP).

“One of the components of our contract with the state is to have a community outreach program,” Eisenberg explained.

Since it launched nearly two months ago, Eisenberg said the site has seen several hundred hits a month and has generated several comments from the public. Many of the issues raised on the website are being addressed by members of the town’s consulting agency, the Urban Harbors Institute at the University of Massachusetts.

While individual questions may not necessarily get answered directly, Eisenberg said the consultants will search comments for common themes and address overarching issues.

The website also includes research and information, such as the town’s current Peconic Estuary Plan and Regional Plan. And it further clarifies information, such as explaining why the town decided to develop a Waterfront Protection Plan — the town’s own terminology — rather than a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, or LWRP.

An LWRP — a common method of putting plans in place to protect local waterways that many local municipalities (including Sag Harbor) have already adopted — is technically what the state’s grant money is earmarked for.

However, Eisenberg explained, “the reason why it’s ‘waterfront protection,’ not LWRP, is that … the term ‘revitalization’ has connotations of redevelopment that aren’t particularly consistent with what we want to do in Southampton. The emphasis here is on protection and preservation enhancement.”

The website, she added, is important for getting information to the public in a more timely and efficient fashion.

“Instead of waiting until we have a complete plan at the end of the project to come out for a public hearing, we’re going to post material as it becomes available,” she said.

In January, Eisenberg said the committee plans to upload a research report submitted by the project consultants.

“They admitted they were a little overwhelmed by the amount of information Southampton has out there,” she added. “But, we’re still pretty comfortable in keeping to the finish date.”

The town is only one year into its two-year contract with the state.

Paper or Cloth? Southampton Town Seeks to Ban Plastic Bags

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

By Claire Walla

“In my opinion, we’re going to look back at this and question why we didn’t do this earlier,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said to her fellow council members.

Throne-Holst was speaking at a town board work session last Friday, December 9 in reference to a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags throughout the town of Southampton.

“I think the entire world is moving in this direction,” added Throne-Holst, a stanch proponent of the measure.

The proposal to ban plastic bags in the town of Southampton comes nearly six months after the first work session was held on the matter. In that time, the town’s sustainability committee chairman Tip Brolin sought more information from the town’s business community and consumers, specifically addressing concerns many businesses initially expressed regarding the high price of replacing plastic with recyclable paper.

The town’s proposed plastic ban initially would effectively ban single-use plastic bags less than two mils thick, and less than 28 inches by 36 inches in size. Smaller plastic bags — like those used to hold fish and produce — would not be affected by the ban.

The legislation also originally included provisions that would have allowed stores to carry paper bags made of 40 percent recyclable materials, a stipulation that essentially mirrors similar legislation already enacted in Westport, Conn. (Most grocery stores use paper bags that are made of 30 percent recyclable materials.)

“I do generally agree with the fact that we need to get greener,” said Debbie Longnecker of Cromer’s Market on Noyac Road.

However, she expressed some concern with the added price tag associated with purchasing reusable bags and paper bags.

At one point, she explained, “We gave reusable bags away. However, not everyone brings them back.”

She said the store’s winter clientele is more inclined to get into the habit of consistently bringing reusable bags when they shop. But she said it’s a different story with the summer people who are in the area for a short period of time and less inclined to bring their own bags when they shop.

“I think a lot more planning has to be done before [this law is enacted],” she added. “There needs to be a cost-effective alternative before you say to people: You can’t do this anymore.”

Partially quelling Longnecker’s concern, Brolin explained last week that the proposed legislation will in fact allow stores to use the less expensive paper bags made of 30 percent recyclable materials. Plus, he added that follow-up surveys with nearly 1,700 shoppers in Westport, Conn. revealed that 53 percent were consistently using reusable bags after the plastic ban went into effect. Brolin compared this number to the nearby Norwalk/Wilton area — which has not implemented a plastic bag ban — where the number is closer to 10 percent.

Should Southampton Town decide to implement legislation that bans single-use plastic bags, it would follow in the footsteps of both Southampton Village, which banned plastic last spring, and East Hampton Village, which adopted similar legislation last month. The legislation proposed for the town would essentially be the same as that adopted in the Village of Southampton, except that paper bags would only have to be made with 30 percent recyclable materials as opposed to 40 percent.

Before adopting the legislation, Brolin reported that the town initially discussed promoting the use of reusable shopping bags by educating the community on the harms of single-use plastic bags — the fact that most of the bags are not recycled and are piling up in landfills and littering the oceans, thereby potentially harming at least 260 different sea species. However, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said that after a lackluster response from the business community, she feels the best tactic at this point is to adopt the legislation and spend six months before the policy is enacted making residents aware of this change.

According to Liz Plouff, the town’s sustainability coordinator, education will come in the way of press releases and conferences, as well as a partnership with SeaTV, the town government television channel. In addition, Plouff has suggested the town hand-out reusable bags to town residents at no charge. She said the town could finance this measure by getting local stores and businesses to pay a small fee in exchange for getting their logos printed on the bags.

The town board will hold its first official public hearing on the proposed plastic bag legislation on Thursday, December 22.

SouthamptonTown Reexamines Sand Land

Tags: , , , , ,

web SandLand

By Claire Walla

There is a 50-acre sand pit on Millstone Lane in Bridgehampton that does more than process sand. There are also mulching and composting activities at the site, which residents in the area say are loud and smell badly—and are not legally part of what that facility is zoned to do.

The owners of the sand and gravel operation disagree.

The dispute between those who own and operate the Sand Land Corporation facility on Middle Line Highway in Noyac and the facility’s neighboring residents has been going on for years. Most recently, the issue was brought to last week’s Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting on November 17 as residents appealed a decision that essentially okayed the facility’s current mulching activities.

Southampton Town Chief Building Inspector Mike Benincasa ruled last June that the site was “pre-existing nonconforming” based on the fact that — as Sand Land’s lawyer, David Eagan, has argued — the business existed prior to 1957 when zoning laws were enacted. Sand Land was thus granted the “certificate of occupancy” it had been out to obtain since 2010. Benincasa’s decision essentially allows the business to proceed as is.

Residents are not happy.

Neighbor Jenice Delano said, “it’s really noisy.” Not only are there trucks traveling in and out of the property “all day long,” she said, “going, Beep! Beep! Beep!” she continued, abrasively imitating a car horn, but she said that part of the business’ activities includes crushing rocks.

“When they crush rock it’s earsplitting,” added Margot Gilman, who lives due south of Sand Land. “And sometimes there’s a low roaring in the background like the sound of lawnmowers from my neighbors.”

Not only that, Gilman continued, “The smell of the compost can be so overwhelming. There are days when I get to my house and it’s unbearable. And there are days when I wonder if my guests notice it.”

The business argues that mulch is created on-site to help with “reclamation.” The mulch is used to fill in the gaps and holes where sand has been dug-up, and it is generated on site for this purpose.

But according to Gilman and two other property owners listed in the lawsuit against the business, Sand Land still does not have the proper authorization for this usage. In a formal appeal drafted for the ZBA, Zachary Murdock, a lawyer working on behalf of the property owners, called the “certificate of occupancy” granted by Benincasa “unauthorized,” “illegal,” and unsupported by current evidence.

Prior to 1957, he argues, the property was not being used as it currently is.

Indicating an aerial photo taken in 1959, Murdock noted that “No sand pit or any disruption of vegetation in what became the pit is visible in this 1959 photo.”

Then, referencing an aerial photo taken in 1967, he pointed out the fact that Sand Land was well into its operation by then.

What’s more, he noted the minutes from a town ZBA meeting from 1961, in which the 25 acres of land in question is referred to as “scrub land.”

“Mining was clearly a proposed and not an existing use at the time,” he responded via email.

According to Delano, the residents’ appeal has raised a lot of issues for the town concerning the Sand Land property.

In fact, further complicating the matter, Delano referenced the fact that lawyers for the Sand Land property are now arguing that, because zoning laws changed again in 1972 to create a residential district, the Sand Land operation would only have had to exist in its current form prior to 1972 in order to be considered “pre-existing nonconforming.”

Murdock continued, “Inasmuch as the owner/operator has now redrawn the line in the sand, so to speak, at the point of the 1972 rezoning, we are focused as well on that as the crucial time for analysis.”

Gilman said she is hopeful this issue may begin to get resolved.

“It was made clear to the zoning board members that this is way more complicated than anything Benincasa was shown,” she added. “The positive thing about all this is that [Zoning Board of Appeals members] really did get interested in this [case].”

ZBA members have requested more information on the matter and aim to resume discussion after the holiday, at their next meeting January 16.

Cops and Trustees’ Last-Minute Budget Talks

Tags: , , , , , ,

by Claire Walla

Perhaps no department in the town of Southampton has been as fiercely scrutinized during this year’s budget process as the Southampton Town Police Department. Though it’s still unknown how deep into the red the department’s overtime budget will be before the end of this fiscal year, it’s already seen a deficit in overtime spending that’s topped $250,000.

What’s more, Southampton Town Police Chief Bill Wilkinson has been tasked with streamlining the department, reducing current staffing levels from 96 to 90 officers.

While he’s been charged with finding a solution for his department’s current deficit, he also faces some backlash to his proposed plan to trim his department — which, he argues, would help alleviate the issues with the current deficit. The chief’s plan hinges on introducing new technology into the force.

“The technology program is critical,” Wilkinson told Southampton Town Board members at a town hall work session on Tuesday, November 15. “We’re looking to streamline and flatten out the command structure [of the police department] — that’s dependent on having the technology project.”

According to Wilkinson’s estimates, a standard Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) arrest typically requires officers to take roughly four to five hours to process the paperwork associated with it. With the proposed technology project — an automated system that would cut down on the amount of paper work and data entry officers are now responsible for — he said the time it takes to process a DWI would be cut in half.

Among town board members, there seemed to be few arguments with the benefits of the program. However, Councilman Jim Malone said he wondered whether the project, at roughly $700,000, would be too expensive to implement in this economic climate.

“It’s a balancing act,” he said. “With the state of economics being what they are, we’re trying to get by year to year… [The technology project] is an investment, but it carries a cost.”

For Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, the decision of whether or not to invest in new technology is not a simple matter deciding whether or not to pay for a $700,000 project. “The balancing act is: do we invest in the technology, or do we invest in more police officers?” she asked rhetorically.

Because if the town decides not to invest in the new technology, she pointed out that the police force would be short-staffed and would not be able to function adequately — without dipping into its overtime funds.


After several meetings with town board members regarding their proposed budget for the 2012 fiscal year, the Southampton Town Trustees finally seemed to come to an understanding with the board regarding how much money each entity is willing to spend to keep the trustees in operation.

The trustees’ ultimately requested permission to put up a bond measure for $250,000 that would be met with a financial contribution from the town of $150,000.

This money would be put toward a series of four projects that trustees said are of high priority. The first and most important project would be to build a new structure to replace the existing storage facility on Jackson Avenue in Hampton Bays ($275,000). Additionally, the trustees need $15,000 to fix the Wooley Pond bulkhead, $200,000 for the Old Fort Pond dock, and $200,000 for the Baycrest Avenue dock

While Councilman Jim Malone noted that the total cost of these projects comes out to $690,000 and the trustees are asking for $400,000 in funds, Trustee Eric Schultz noted that the trustees would simply get through as many projects as they could before their funding ran out.

“I support the bonding,” Malone finally commented.

Additionally, the trustees asked to keep the services of attorney Joe Lombardo, who they said is well-versed in patent law and was instrumental in helping the trustees successfully defend their rights against implementing a saltwater fishing license in the town of Southampton. His has been written out of the supervisor’s tentative budget.

“If you decide not to keep him,” Schultz added, “We request that we have someone with the same amount of time dedicated to us.”

Finally, the trustees argued that they needed the services of a marine maintenance supervisor. The position is currently vacant due to retirement. And in order to save costs, the trustees proposed a 50/50 deal, in which they would pay half of this person’s salary, which they estimated would total $75,000.

Honor Flight on Veterans Day

Tags: , , , , ,

By Claire Walla

Occurring on 11.11.11, this year Veteran’s Day already seems more epic than most.

But for four Sag Harbor residents, its significance doesn’t stop there.  The holiday will also be marked by an Odyssey nearly 40 years in the making, during which the four Vietnam veterans will journey to Washington D.C. and visit the Vietnam Memorial for the very first time.

“On behalf of everyone, we really appreciate the opportunity to go down there,” said Daniel Sabloski, an Honor Flight participant who grew up in Sag Harbor and served as a combat soldier in Vietnam for 11 months.  “I look forward to going,” he continued.  “This is something I feel I need to do.”

He will be joined by Sag Harbor residents Jay Babcock, Richard Henn and Steve Peters, as well as nearly 40 other veterans from Long Island.  The entire event will also include veterans from Philadelphia and Atlanta, bringing the total number of participants to over 120.

The event was organized by Honor Flight Long Island, which operates out of the Department of Human Services at Southampton Town.  Bill Jones, the director of human services who graduated from West Point and served in Vietnam shortly after the end of the war, will also accompany the veterans.

As someone who’s been to the Vietnam Memorial—and someone who’s attended many Honor Flight trips in the past—Jones said he expects the journey to be a powerful, emotional experience for all those involved.

“I was really moved by it,” Jones said of his visit to the memorial back in the ‘80s.  The stone wall is a zig-zagging surface that holds more than 57,000 names.  “It’s not a minute’s walk,” he continued.  “It takes you a long time to see it all.”

“I know that what the guys talk about more than anything is the fact that every single name is up on that wall,” Jones continued.  “It’s not just a general memorial for those who fought, but it’s for those who died, too.  That’s extremely personal.”

The Honor Flight crew is taking a handful of “guardians” with them, one of whom is Richard Henn from Sag Harbor, so that veterans will be able to experience the memorial with somewhat of a support network.

“I know it’s going to be difficult for a lot of the guys going down, they’ve already expressed that to me,” Jones added.  “Although I didn’t experience it myself, the loss of life right next to you is hard to talk about,” Jones said.  “But Honor Flight has allowed that to happen.”

Jones said one of the most important things Honor Flight does is it gives veterans the chance to talk to one another about experiences that they’ve all shared; experiences they are not necessarily able to talk about with those who haven’t experienced war.

“They think a lot about it,” he continued.  “[War] leaves such an indelible mark, if you’ve served for one year in Vietnam or three or four years in World War II.”

Over the past four years, Honor Flight has worked to bring nearly 750 veterans of World War II down to D.C. to visit the World War II memorial.  And while Honor Flight’s mission remains dedicated to veterans of WWII—whom they hope to accommodate first, as that population continues to age—the trip to the Vietnam Memorial came to fruition because of a special project funded entirely by the History Channel.

According to Virginia Bennet, deputy director of the Southampton Town Human Services Department, the grant from the History Channel “paid for everything.”

She explained that the History Channel—which aired its three-part series on the Vietnam War earlier this week—is working in conjunction with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) to collect photographs of every single person whose name appears on the Vietnam memorial wall in D.C.  The photographs will be part of an interactive exhibit at the VVMF Education Center that’s expected to open in 2014.

Leaf Program Leaves Landfills in the Dumps

Tags: , , , , , ,

By Claire Walla

The Southampton Town leaf pick-up program has changed this fall in an attempt to streamline and speed up the whole process. But Southampton Town Board members now worry that the new program may put a strain on another town department.

“It seems the costs are being shifted,” said Councilwoman Bridget Fleming at a meeting last Friday, October 21. “That’s why I called this work session.”

Board members heard from the town’s Director of Facilities Management, Christine Fetten, who expressed concern that this year’s leaf pick-up program would create more work for her employees.

In an attempt to make the leaf pick-up process more efficient in the fall, Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor created a program that eliminates brush from the fall pick-up routine. Instead, residents will be issued vouchers that will allow them to bring sticks and small branches to one of three town service stations in Westhampton, Hampton Bays and North Sea. Residents will still be able to put their leaves by the side of the road for pick up, but they will be required to bundle them into town provided paper bags, rather than leave them in loose as has been done in years past.

With more residents and private carters bringing brush and loose leaves to the town’s waste disposal facilities, Fetten said employees at each site will need to spend more time monitoring these drop-offs. Employees will also have to physically hall the materials left by residents and private landscapers from the drop-off site to the compost pile site at the back of the facility. (Only town employees are permitted on site.) This, she said, will require more workers.

So far, Fetten said she already expects to see about a 176-hour shortfall of man-hours each week. While she said her department wouldn’t be forced to hire any more full-time employees, it will have to dip into the emergency funds set aside for part-time hirees.

“We’ve never tackled this kind of a program before,” Fetten said on Friday. “One of our great concerns is we have a limited number of payloaders, and they’ve been operating non-stop since [Tropical Storm Irene].”

In an interview on Monday, Fetten further explained that her department will try to work with the vehicles it has on hand, and will only resort to leasing a more powerful yard truck should the work load demand it.

The other obstacle comes by way of the paper bags residents will be required to use to gather leaves.

“In order to make this an effective program — for which these bags are composted — you have to water them,” Fetten continued.

Bio-degradable paper bags are being required this year because Gregor — who couldn’t make it to last Friday’s meeting and was unavailable this week for comment — has previously explained that using bags will quicken the collection process for highway department personnel.

But Fetten said the durability of these two-ply paper bags makes them difficult to compost without extra manpower. While she said it’s “not totally improbable” to use water at the service stations to break down the bags, it would be problematic.

In a meeting with the highway superintendent earlier this month — shortly after she learned the details of the new leaf pick-up program —Fetten said she requested that highway department personnel physically rip the bags open when the leaves are taken to the service station. She said the processors on site may not otherwise be powerful enough to break the paper bags down. As of this week, Fetten said she has yet to revisit the issue with Gregor.

“We really didn’t anticipate this,” Fetten continued. “ But I believe that we might be able to work certain things around … We might have to dip more into our over-time or part-time budgets, but I think we’ll be able to manage [the work load] within the budget we have right now.”

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst expressed concern that Fetten may have to dip into monies that have been set aside for emergencies, when the department is forced to take on extra labor: like during last year’s excess of snow storms and this year’s Tropical Storm Irene.

“The loose-leaf program that was proposed [in years past] seemed to work very well,” she added, but “at this point, it would be too late to modify the information that’s been submitted to the public.”

In addition to a leaf forum Gregor held last spring, fliers about this year’s fall program have already been distributed.

Fetten continued, “I don’t know how to make the program better at this point.”

Estuary Program Eyes Ligonee Brook for Restoration

Tags: , , , , , ,

web_Ligonee Creek 10-19-11_2517

Historically, Ligonee Brook in Sag Harbor has served as a migration path for alewife, a species of herring, and eels, which travel up the brook from Sag Harbor Cove to spawn in the fresh waters of Long Pond.

But in recent years, the lack of consistent water flow has become an issue in the brook. For that reason, the Peconic Estuary Program has earmarked almost $17,000 towards the research, engineering and design of a restored Ligonee Brook in an effort to re-establish the fish populations.

The Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt (FLPG) want to make sure this project — one of five fish path restoration proposals funded by $80,000 in grants secured by Peconic Estuary Program through the New York Department of Environmental Conservation — earns public support. According to FLPG vice-president Sandra Ferguson, one of those projects will ultimately be implemented through another $100,000 grant, and FLPG members want to do everything they can to make sure their project is considered a top priority.

They are so committed to the restoration, last week FLPG president Dai Dayton said that even if the project is not given funding for implementation, armed with the engineering schematics and research developed over the next two years, the organization would seek funding from the Southampton Town Trustees.

“We are going to make this happen,” said Dayton.

Last spring, the Peconic Estuary Program announced that Land Use Ecological Services had won the state bid to develop a comprehensive plan to restore Ligonee Brook and improve fish migration. Dr. Will Bowman will oversee the project, according to Ferguson, and over the next two years will develop and present his proposal for the brook.

The Ligonee Brook Diadromous Fish Passage Restoration will specifically develop a plan to restore drainage water flow, freshwater wetlands and the alewife and eel run at Ligonee Brook.

Other fish passage restoration proposals being developed through the funding are located in Southold, East Hampton, Shelter Island and Riverhead.

On Friday, October 7, Ferguson and FLPG member Priscilla Ciccariello reached out to the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee for its support.

While Ligonee Brook has traditionally served as a migration path for the fish, because of barriers — some natural, but mostly manmade — like the culvert under Brick Kiln Road and debris in the brook, Ferguson noted there is not always sufficient water flow to allow the migration.

“We, as the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt, have cleaned the shores and the bed of the brook, we have cared for the creek, but this is an opportunity for a very serious restoration project that will restore the natural flow of the brook,” said Ferguson.

With no guarantees the project will be implemented, Ferguson said FLPG is reaching out to local civic groups and organizations to help raise public awareness about Ligonee Brook and its potential restoration.

“We want every level of government to understand this project has strong community support,” said Ferguson. “We want to be the voice of the Long Pond Greenbelt as this moves forward and we would like you to be with us.”

The CAC agreed to be a vocal organization in support of the project.

According to Ciccariello, one aspect of the Ligonee Brook restoration that makes it a viable contender for financing is that it is a digestible project, that wouldn’t likely take much funding to implement.

“But even if we don’t win that prize we will still have the schematics, which is quite a gift in itself,” she said.

East Hampton Town Supervisor’s Budget Lowers Taxes, Sells Poxabogue

Tags: , , , , ,

The tentative budget submitted to the East Hampton Town Clerk by Supervisor Bill Wilkinson on Friday raises spending by 2.5 percent — but it also cuts taxes.

The $65.6 million budget shows a 0.2-percent tax cut for residents of the town who live outside the villages of East Hampton and Sag Harbor and a 9.4-percent reduction in taxes for town residents who reside within those villages.

“With the 2012 tentative budget, like the 2011 adopted budget, we continue our sensitivity to the tax burden on town residents and limit spending to the greatest extent possible,” wrote Supervisor Wilkinson is his budget message. “Our 2012 tentative budget decreases tax rates for those living inside and outside our incorporated villages. Spending increases slightly, due primarily to employee benefit cost escalation and in part to money needed to eliminate the $27.3 million deficit created by the previous administration.”

In his budget message, Supervisor Wilkinson goes on to note that in the last 20 months, town government has been “restructured,” merging the Harbors and Docks Department into the Police Department. There has also been a “streamlining” of Human Services, brining ordinance enforcement, the building inspector, fire marshal and animal control under one Public Safety department, and the establishment of a Finance Office representing finance, information technology, human resources, the tax receiver and purchasing.

These changes, he wrote, have helped reduce spending and maximize how town personnel are used.

Supervisor Wilkinson said discontinuation of the leaf pick-up program coupled with the closing of the town’s Recycling Center on Wednesdays has resulted in $700,000 in annual savings.

The tentative budget also maintains funding levels from 2011 for the East Hampton Daycare and Learning Center, the Family Service League, the East Hampton Food Pantry, Phoenix House, the Montauk Youth Association, the Springs Youth Association, Project MOST, RSVP for Seniors and the Pediatric Dental Fund.

The tentative budget also includes the sale of East Hampton Town’s portion of The Poxabogue Golf Center to Southampton Town. A resolution authorizing that sale, for $2.2 million will be offered at Thursday night’s town board meeting.

On Tuesday, during a town board work session, Supervisor Wilkinson said that in addition he expects the town will receive about $200,000 in owed revenues from the golf center.

Supervisor Wilkinson added that he was told East Hampton residents would not be charged differently from Southampton Town residents for the use of the golf center as a result of the sale. Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley explained that the town had done what it hoped to accomplish – prevent the close to 40-acre course from being privately developed. The Town of Southampton originally purchased the property with Community Preservation Funds (CPF), which will protect the land from future development, she said.

In 2004, East Hampton Town purchased half of the golf course for $3.25 million alongside Southampton Town in an effort to preserve the recreational use of the land. It could not use CPF monies for the purchase, explained Supervisor Wilkinson on Tuesday, because the property lay outside the town.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Wilkinson did not say how much debt the town still owed on that purchase, but estimated with the sale to Southampton, East Hampton Town should about break even.

The East Hampton Town Board will meet tonight, October 6, at 7 p.m. The town board must approve a final budget and send it to the state by November 20.

“I am proud of this 2012 tentative budget because it builds on and continues the management and financial disciplines introduced in the 2011 adopted budget and places the town in a stronger position as we move forward,” said Wilkinson in his budget message. “Over the next several months I will be introducing, and the town board will be reviewing, a three-year capital improvement plan and budget that will address plant, equipment and the future infrastructure needs of the town.”