The town is gearing up to hire consultants to test the waters of Fresh Pond.
At Tuesday’s work session the Town Board gave the go-ahead to Town Attorney Laury Dowd to draft a Request for Proposals (RFP) that the board could approve to get bids on testing the pond. In addition to the cost of testing, the board also wants a say in how the tests will be conducted, including where and how often.
“We’ll ask for prices and you’ll decide,” Ms. Dowd told the board, “if you want to spring for it.”
The water quality of the pond has been a long-standing controversy, muddied with recent conflicting test results. In September the pond was found to be polluted with high levels of phosphorus and fecal coliforms. Coliforms are a form of bacteria that can be found in the feces of warm-blooded animals. Also found were high levels of another bacteria called enterococci. Fresh Pond was placed on New York State’s “impaired waters” list, which means a water body is too polluted to meet the water quality standards set by the state. Shortly after that the town closed the pond to swimming.
Then in November new tests on Fresh Pond found it to have a “clean bill of health,” according to Supervisor Jim Dougherty.
A December 31 report from Long Island Analytical Laboratories to John Hallman, chairman of the town’s Water Advisory Committee (WAC) said “no Giardia was detected …”
Giardia is a parasite that colonizes and reproduces in the small intestines of animals. The lab also found a positive result of blue green algae in its samples. Human exposure to the algae results in the symptoms of poisoning, including diarrhea, vomiting and high fever.
At Tuesday’s work session, WAC member Peter Grand, who lives on Fresh Pond, said the town’s MS4 Committee (for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) “was making excellent headway about costs of testing and planning appropriate testing” that would get to the bottom of the pond’s problems.
In other business, in the public discussion part of the work session, Kolina Reiter, co-owner of Bob’s Fish Market, said the recent proposal to raise the price of town garbage bags was excessive for small business owners. It was also a counter productive move by the town.
“You’re cutting off your nose to spite your face, because in the long run a lot of people will go to the [private] carters and not use the bags at all,” Ms. Reiter said.
As Mr. Card has pointed out, the town is losing money on garbage. The price per ton to haul the waste material by a contracted vendor has gone from $114 in 2009 per ton to $132 per ton this year, that price ending at the conclusion of 2013. Proposed rates will see a rise per ton of $132 for 2014 and four years down the road the projections come in at $148 per ton. But while those hauling rates went up, the price of town bags stayed flat, with no increases since 2009.
The price rise for bags, to be voted on at the board’s meeting on Friday, January 17, will be about 25 cents more for mini-bags, 50 cents more for small bags and 75 cents more for large bags.
The idea of the town carting its own waste was brought up again. Mr. Card said money could be saved in the long run but there would be a steep capital investment.
“We’re looking into that,” Deputy Supervisor Chris Lewis said. “It seems that train is coming down the tracks.”
• A recent insurance appraisal found that medical equipment, including canes, walkers and wheelchairs should be removed from the garage at the Senior Activity Center since the area is occupied by a generator and two 500-gallon tanks.
The highway department can construct a shed, Mr. Card said, for a cost of anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000. Police Chief Jim Read said another option might be to contact the shop program at the school, and for the cost of materials, the students could construct a shed.
• It seems likely the town will pass a resolution Friday, January 17, to cordon off parts of Reel Point to prevent vehicles using the beach. The town is trying to restore the beach with plantings but, as Ms. Lewis said, “efforts have been undermined by people driving on the beach.”
Pam Greene, a vice president with the Peconic Land Trust, said it would be necessary to block vehicles, but not pedestrians, for at least a year to allow the plantings to take root. She noted that presently “there are tracks and people doing donuts and being silly” with their vehicles.
Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. noted that a plan was in place to block off part of the area and have another area with a chain and key lock so emergency vehicles could respond to the area.