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Sparks fly at Town Board over new generators proposal
Power was on the minds of members of the Town Board at their work session Tuesday.
Specifically how to keep the government and police department operating when power goes out and how much it will cost.
Police headquarters already has an emergency generator but there’s none for the three buildings that house town offices.
The idea of providing a generator for town government has been around for some time, with the edge of the parking lot dug up at one point to run wires to set up a generator.
Police Chief James Read, who is also the emergency management coordinator for the town, told the board an alternate power source was essential in light of severe storms battering the island two years in a row.
Characterizing the generator at police headquarters as “underpowered,” Chief Read suggested it be transferred to Justice Hall, and new generators be purchased for the police department and for the town municipal buildings.
Department of Public Works Superintendent Jay Card Jr. agreed with the necessity of an operating power source in an emergency. “When things are at their worst, people look to us to be our best,” Mr. Card said.
Responding to a question from Councilman Peter Reich, Mr. Card said the optimum generator for police headquarters would be 30 kilowatts and 50 to 60 kilowatts for the town buildings.
Rather than run on propane, Mr. Card said a better option would be diesel fuel, since when Hurricane Sandy hit gasoline and propane were in limited supply or nonexistent for a number of days.
The highway department has its own supply of diesel and a 275-gallon service tank, Mr. Card said, which would ensure a steady supply of fuel to all municipal generators in the event of a blackout.
Both Mr. Card and Chief Read asked approval to initiate a request for proposals, estimating a total cost of around $100,000, with the police department generator costing about $30,000, with the balance going to power the town’s buildings.
“How is this RFP going to break out?” Councilman Ed Brown asked. “Are we going to have [all three generators] together, or are we going to break it up?”
Mr. Brown added that it was his understanding the board had agreed not to look into the issue until after first quarter financial numbers were in. He seemed surprised the discussion was not restricted to the purchase of only one generator, but had escalated.
“Police was the first priority and now this time it pushes it right along,” Mr. Brown said. “I say we should do research and see were we are after the first quarter.”
Chief Read said he understood Mr. Brown’s point about splitting up proposals for generators, adding, “But as emergency management coordinator I’m reluctant to do that, because I wouldn’t want to see the town say that one [municipal entity] is more important than the other.”
Mr. Brown shot back immediately, reminding Chief Read of a past opinion, “Chief, you said it. You said it very clearly.”
“I take it back, Ed,” the chief said. “I take it back right now. You guys operating here are of equal importance.”
Councilman Reich, who was concerned about the size of the proposed generators, noting that a highway department generator was “oversized,” was appointed to work with Chief Read and Mr. Card on a planning group to look into specifications and prices for generators.
In other business, at the top of the meeting, Emergency CPR was quickly administered.
But the victim was a mannequin and the first responder was a sales representative from a company pitching its product for approval by the board.
Joy Bausman, Shelter Island Emergency Medical Service volunteer director, introduced Diane Delapava from Physio-Control, a Redmond, Washington manufacturer of medical devices with an office in Glen Cove. Ms. Delapava demonstrated Physio-Control’s Lucas Chest Compression System, a portable, battery operated machine that delivers automated chest compressions to those suffering cardiac arrest.
Weighing 17 pounds and carried in a backpack, the Lucas System is set up in seconds and delivers 100 compressions per minute, Ms. Delapava said. The advantages are a consistent CPR delivery; a patient can be moved easily while the machine is operating and continues CPR in an ambulance, providing extra safety for EMS workers who can buckle up on the way to the emergency room.
The cost of about $13,000 will be entirely borne by funds provided by the American Red Cross to the Shelter Island EMS, Ms. Bausamn said. On January 1 of last year the Red Cross gave $200,000 to the EMS for a anew ambulance and capital equipment and the Lucas system falls under a capital expense, MS. Bausman said. Additional funds will be provided by the Shelter EMS foundation. The board will vote on a resolution outlining the EMS request at a future meting.