South Ferry ready for tank job

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | President of South Ferry Cliff Clark, seen here at a Town Board session in April, 2012, told the Town Board Tuesday a newly approved fuel tank was ready for installation.

The South Ferry company was all set to begin installing an above-ground 10,000-gallon fuel tank at its property near the end of South Ferry Road Wednesday, one day after the Town Board held a special meeting to grant a permit for the project.

The tank “is to be delivered tomorrow if all goes well today,” South Ferry President Cliff Clark said at a brief hearing before the board voted 5-0 in favor of granting a “special exception” use permit for the tank and a waiver from the required rear-yard setback from 15 feet to 10 feet. The site is in a residential zone, where ferry companies are allowed to conduct operations only with “special exception” permits issued by the Town Board.

The double-walled tank replaces a 10,000-gallon single-wall tank that was buried on the property. It was removed in late 2009 after the county banned buried fuel tanks because of the environmental damage they can cause when they leak. Since then, the company has been unable to buy fuel at bulk prices because the ferries must be individually fueled from tanker trucks, Mr. Clark said.

Being able to take larger deliveries will save the company $.43 a gallon on the $3.80 to $3.90 it has been paying for each gallon of diesel fuel, he said. The company buys about 90,000 gallons a year, Mr. Clark told the board.

The company did not proceed with plans for a replacement tank until the County Legislature gave it “rate relief” in June in the form of its first rate hike in four years, averaging 12.2 percent. The new tank was one of several capital projects the company said then that it would address if the rate hike were granted.

A price tag of $350,000 is typical for installing a new above-ground 10,000-gallon tank but South Ferry’s job will cost about $200,000, Mr. Clark told the board. Some of the savings will come from using a used tank bought from the East Hampton School District, which cost $12,000 to buy and $6,000 to rust-proof and paint, according to Mr. Clark. A new tank typically costs $48,000, he said.

The company will re-use the old tank to hold water for fire department pumpers, Mr. Clark added.

The plan for a new tank “makes perfect sense,” Councilman Peter Reich commented at the hearing. He said it was “a wonderful thing they’ll have a tank” because it will allow the company to assure continued service even when fuel deliveries are interrupted, as they were regionally after Hurricane sandy.