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Board backs tots: Supports restoring playground

COURTESY PHOTO | The Town Board at its work session Tuesday discussed supporting the restoration of the "Tot Lot."

COURTESY PHOTO | The Town Board at its work session Tuesday discussed supporting the restoration of the “Tot Lot.”

The Town Board has lined up behind the tots.

At the board’s Tuesday work session, the first agenda item was repairing and revitalizing the “Tot Lot” playground on School Street.

It was built in 1996 on land owned by the Shelter Island School through efforts from a group of mothers. They raised more than $50,000 because the other playground on school grounds was designed for older children and not safe for toddlers. The town has done maintenance at the playground.

But now the park is in disrepair and unsafe, with the main attraction, a large circular slide, shut down.

Two residents, Katie Springer and Debbie Speeches told the board they were beginning a fund raising campaign to buy new equipment and repair what’s broken.  An estimated figure for the work is about $17,000.  This could be partly offset by about $14,000 expected from the New York State Community Development Block Grant program of.

That money has been delayed, however, and is not expected until the end of the year.

Ms. Springer said the fundraising effort would kick off with the hope of also attracting matching grants.

Councilman Paul Shepherd was in favor of fixing the slide now and not waiting for the state or private funds. Councilman Ed Brown suggested that the private money raised could be used for this since the state check won’t be cashed before December.

“Now, we have no money,” Ms. Springer said.

“Neither do we,” Mr. Brown said.

The goal, Ms. Springer said, is to have the Tot Lot back in good shape for next summer.
In other business:

• The town is working on a policy for background checks for new hires plus some current employees and volunteers. The town would use an online service that charges about $25 per person. Town Attorney Laury Dowd has estimated there would be about 50 employees who would be checked. The employees and volunteers affected would be those who spend one-on-one time with youths under 18, people who enter the homes of residents over 60 and Emergency Medical Services personnel.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty said “our insurance carriers are big pushers for this” and “it does seem to be recognizing even on bucolic Shelter Island the world we live in.”

• The newly passed law to license commercial waste haulers will have a fee attached. Ms. Dowd said the license would include a sticker on every truck of a company applying for a permit, with $100 charged for the first truck and $10 for every subsequent truck. • Supervisor Dougherty said the town had received a check for $86,184 from Suffolk County for mortgage tax revenues for the first three months of the year. If this is “annualized,” Mr. Dougherty said, the total for 2014 would come to $345,000.

The supervisor pointed out that the town had budgeted for $330,000.

“So far we’re running ahead of the game, so that’s very reassuring,” Mr. Dougherty said.

• Mr. Dougherty announced town reciepts for May. With a $25,000 fall off in garbage bag sales from May 2013 to May of this year, both Supervisor Dougherty and Councilman Ed Brown expressed interest, with Mr. Brown saying after the meeting he would look into it further.