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Public bathroom blocked by Health Department

JULIE LANE PHOTO Volunteer Park on Bridge Street.

JULIE LANE PHOTO Volunteer Park on Bridge Street.

Months after a bathroom was expected to be installed at Volunteer Park on Bridge Street, the unit is still stored at the Highway Department barn.

Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. and former town engineer John Cronin continue to work their way through the bureaucracy to get Suffolk County Department of Health Services permission to install it.

“They’re not making it easy,” Mr. Card said about Health Department officials who are now, he said, telling him the town will have to apply for a variance to use the unit.

The bathroom was purchased with a $67,000 Suffolk County grant along with $30,000 from the Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce, plus $20,000 from town coffers.

When the county grant was received in 2015, the Health Department knew how the unit functioned and Mr. Card said he was led to believe it would be smooth sailing in getting a permit for installation.

Last February, Mr. Cronin met with Health Department officials to outline the detailed plan and left convinced the town would get the permit with no difficulty. But it wasn’t much later when the permit application was denied and Mr. Card was told he could appeal the decision. That was supposed to be in August when the town case could get on the Appeals Board agenda.

What the Health Department is requiring now is a “full blown septic system for a four-bedroom house and they don’t care that it would leech into Dering Harbor and Chase Creek,” Mr. Card said.

The flush unit would be pumped out just as the Port-A-Potty in the parking lot on Bridge Street is cleaned, Mr. Card said.

In the interim, Dory owner Jack Kiffer sued the town for $50,000, complaining that the lack of the bathroom facility results in people asking to use the bathroom in his bar and restaurant.

Despite the town’s response that it was ready to install the bathroom, but was being held up by the Board of Health, Mr. Kiffer said he’s been complaining for six years about the need for a public bathroom at Volunteer Park and planned to push ahead with the suit.