Thiele blasts LIPA

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) addressing the Town board Friday.

Although Shelter Island is usually on relatively good terms with the Long Island Power Authority, Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) described the company as “something Rube Goldberg might have designed” and said the company has “a real lack of transparency and accountability.”

On hand at Friday’s Town Board meeting, the assemblyman said there’s “a great deal of skepticism about going back to privatization” of the utility company, but the solution might lie in keeping LIPA as a holding company and having the Public Service Commission oversee its operations. In the past, decisions about the now defunct Long Island Lighting Company and LIPA were “rammed down our throats” and this time, the people on Long Island need to be part of the discussion,” Mr Thiele added.

Mr. Thiele’s words about LIPA brought attention to the new cable LIPA will be installing between the North Fork and Shelter Island to protect against power loss and rolling blackouts during the peak summer season .

Shelter Island has had two feeder cables running under the bay and one is out completely while the second is “very old, indeed,” Supervisor Jim Dougherty said. Work that originally was slated to be completed by early June is now slated to begin this week and run through the week of June 24, Mr. Dougherty said.

“The dates have already slipped a lot,” Mr. Dougherty said. “This is like undergoing serious surgery.”

Mr. Dougherty appealed to residents to “please, please bear with us during this period” of reconstruction.

Mr. Thiele noted that CHIPS money — state funding that comes to municipalities for road and bridge work — is to increase this year by 22 percent. It’s the first increase in many years, Mr. Thiele said.

He also noted that Albany is examining opportunities for land acquisition downstate and said he thinks with money drying up at the county level, there might be some opportunities for partnerships with the state. Suffolk County is talking about “dismantling” its open space acquisitions, Mr. Thiele said. But the need remains for both open space and shoreline improvement efforts.

“Right now, I wouldn’t count on too much help from the county,” Mr. Thiele said.

Board members approved the following applications:

• American Direct for installation of an 8,000 pound boat lift at an existing dock in Shelter Island Sound;

• Michael Coles of 42 Gardiners Bay Drive for reconstruction of stone revetment on the south end that was destroyed by Sandy; and

• Joseph Hakim of 8 Club Drive for construction of a new jetty and splash pad to replace a nonfunctional structure.