Shelter Island Town Board work session report

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | The Town Board met in work session Tuesday.

The only buzzing heard this summer will be mosquitoes, if an agreement on helicopter routes stands.

“We should be helicopter free,” Supervisor Jim Dougherty announced at the Town Board work session Tuesday.

Mr. Dougherty has been opposed to a helicopter route that would bring people from New York City into East End airports flying over narrow Shelter Island Sound because it is designated a “water route” and so is less stressful for residents.

A group called the Multi-Town Helicopter Noise Advisory Committee, composed of elected officials and airport executives, had been pushing for the route between Shelter Island and North Haven. Mr. Dougherty said the chairman of the committee, East Hampton Councilman Dominick Stanzione, had lobbied him hard to vote to make the Shelter Island Sound route unanimous. But Mr. Dougherty had dug in his heels against it.

Mr. Dougherty said at Tuesday’s work session he had just  heard from Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) who had brokered a deal with the leadership of  the committee to have the choppers fly a route well west of the Island on their way to the South Fork.

On the LIPA cable project slated to run from Crescent Beach to the North Fork, the board got an update from  Deputy Highway Superintendent Barry Ryder. Mr. Ryder said equipment was scheduled to be brought in Thursday, May 9, and drilling was to begin Monday, May 13.

The board passed a resolution allowing dredging at the Merkel Boat Basin after a request form the South Ferry Hills Homeowners Association. The SFHHA will foot 50 percent of the bill, and the town will use the sand dredged for mitigation efforts, getting the material for much less money than if it had to purchase it.

This is not the first time the basin has been dredged, and Councilman Ed Brown asked for a discussion on setting a precedent where individuals or groups can  come to the board for frivolous or repeated dredging requests.

Councilman Paul Shepherd noted that each dredging project is judged on individual merit, and that language in the resolution states the dredging permit will lapse in 2015.

Mr. Brown was especially wary of organizations coming forward. “This is a group, and sometimes they have more pop than just an individual,” he said.

Mr. Dougherty said he was “not real happy about it” just because the town was desperate for cheap sand.

Town Attorney Laury Dowd said she had put the phrases on letting the dredge permit lapse in two years “because they come to us every two years.”

“I’m not against the project,” Mr. Brown said. “I just want to make sure we get it right for the future.”

The board agreed to rewrite the resolution, and it passed unanimously.

In other business:

•  Mr. Dougherty said the board had received a letter from Suffolk County offering the town Sunset Lane, a short road off South Ferry Road acquired by the county in 1983 after nonpayment of taxes. The board decided to contact residents and let them know the town had no interest in acquiring the property.

• The board continued it’s discussion of its Watershed Management Plan, this week taking up the section devoted to  stewardship and education recommendations. The board is looking to prioritize recommendations to improve conditions. Once the board decides what it wants in a final draft of the plan, the funding process can begin.

• A review of the town’s email policy was discussed. In a memo last week to board members, Ms. Dowd noted that emails are considered records under state law and it’s necessary to retain all electronic correspondence, with the exception of emails that have been received as a copy. Also, if a board member’s personal email address is used for town business, that must be released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Ms. Dowd noted that the town has “a very formal policy for paper” and needs the same for email.