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Board rethinking South Ferry Road substation site

 

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | A July 17 visit to the PSEG Jamesport substation, attended by Island residents, town officials and PSEG personnel, might have changed some minds about siting an Island facility at the Old Highway Barn.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | A July 17 visit to the PSEG Jamesport substation, attended by Island residents, town officials and PSEG personnel, might have changed some minds about siting an Island facility at the Old Highway Barn.

Back to the drawing board.

That’s the reaction of the Town Board after a coordinated and vocal campaign of outrage that a PSEG substation be built in a residential neighborhood at the Old Highway Barn site on Route 114.

At Tuesday’s work session, Supervisor Jim Dougherty said he’d been misled by PSEG representatives, who told him a Jamesport substation would be “very similar” to the proposed site. But after a visit to the North Fork facility, he was “quite disappointed” it was “not in a residential neighborhood.”

Councilman Ed Brown has been outspoken in his opposition to any substation for the Island , preferring the drilling of another cable for power under the bay to the North Fork.

Councilwoman Chris Brown said the visit to the substation made clear to her that a similar facility for the Island would “be too ambitious a project … It’s too big, too high, too wide, just for starters. We’ll have to find another location.”

Police Chief Jim Read, who is the town’s emergency management coordinator, said his greatest concern “is electrical reliability. I’m a proponent of a substation somewhere.”

Two alternative sites were discussed at the work session; a portion of land at the Recycling Center, which has been floated before as an option, and town-owned property near the intersection of West Neck Road, New York Avenue and North Menantic Road. This is a 4-acre parcel across the street from the Capital One Bank with Ice Pond to its north.

The advantages to both alternatives, Chief Read said, is they are town owned, at a distance from residences and near enough for an easy access point for PSEG to run cables.

The West Neck Location, the chief said, is “really not adjacent to any specific homeowners.”

There are construction challenges, Councilman Peter Reich pointed out, with the land falling quickly away from the roads to a hollow, so it might have to be filled in before building could begin. Mr. Dougherty noted that the property is also near wetlands.

In other business: The board briefly discussed the final report from the Irrigation Committee, with Mr. Dougherty saying it was “an informal debriefing” of members’ opinions and a look at “next steps.”

He summarized one of the main findings of the committee that “the Town Board 10 years ago might have made a mistake that irrigation systems are the culprit” for Island water problems.

Councilman Paul Shepherd, who was the board’s liaison to the committee, said the conclusion of the final report is that “we’re essentially OK.” One goal would be to get certified upgrades on the 108 inground irrigation systems on the Island.

Looking at possible new legislation, Mr. Shepherd said he had spoken with Mr. Reich who had agreed to work with him on organizing and drafting legislation, to “grind out the details” and then come back to their colleagues for discussions.

Some of those details for the town code will be semantic, Mr. Reich said, perhaps in changing “sprinkler” to “irrigation” where appropriate for example.

Councilwoman Chris Lewis said she was very much in favor of the committee’s recommendation to allow the collection of rainwater for cisterns, although Mr. Reich was not convinced this would be a good move.

He cited the need for rainwater to filter down to drywells to keep them from saltwater intrusion.

Mr. Dougherty commended the committee for its work avoiding the “draconian” and for looking “forward to the future rather than penalizing people” for past actions.