A $710,000 price tag might seem a lot to pay for a new piece of equipment, but Highway Superintendent and Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. calls it a money saving purchase.
Mr. Card was referring to the cost of a new grinder that has just gone into service at the town Recycling Center. The cost, he said, has to be balanced against what the town has been paying to hire a company to do its grinding, plus the inability to get the job done in a timely manner so that ground materials can be sold at a profit for the town.
He estimates that since he has been on the job, the town has spent about $600,000 to pay for the services of the private company. There was at least one year when the company’s grinder broke down and the town ran out of mulch to sell.
What’s more, with the town budgeting $100,000 a year to hire the private company, there’s nothing to show for all the money spent. But once the town has paid for the grinder, it will own it and have to budget only for maintenance.
Under Mr. Card’s direction, the town has also purchased an excavator and truck in a similar manner, again saving money with the purchases.
“We eased our way into capital budgeting,” Mr. Card said. In the past few years, he and Town Engineer John Cronin have fought unsuccessfully for a capital budget to maintain town assets.
The new administration under Supervisor Gary Gerth has expressed a willingness to create a capital spending plan.
There are no plans to share the grinder with neighboring municipalities, Mr. Card said. But in an emergency, if Shelter Island could spare it, the town would certainly lend the grinder out and be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
“That’s just being good neighbors,” he said.
In an attempt to win an exemption from a Suffolk County regulation banning the town from storing road salt in a barn at the Recycling Center, Mr. Card argued his case before a three-member board at a hearing last week.
After a recent inspection by the county of the Recycling Center, Mr. Card was told the town couldn’t store road salt on the Island. Suffolk County Department of Health Services banned the storage, concerned the salt would leech into groundwater and run off into surrounding bays.
The department has always mixed the road salt with sand to minimize the amounts used here, but some is necessary to properly treat roadways following a storm, Mr. Card said.
He argued it was a public safety issue but thinks what may have really won the day was his explanation that because the salt is kept in the barn and made available to everybody on the Island, there’s no need for others to store it on their property.
“I’m sure they’re going to find for us,” Mr. Card said. He’s hoping a decision is made within six weeks.
Volunteer Park bathroom
The other issue plaguing Mr. Card and the town is gaining permission to install a bathroom at Volunteer Park. The unit was partially funded by Suffolk County along with money from the Chamber of Commerce and the town. But following its delivery, the county Department of Health Services insisted it couldn’t be installed unless the town linked it to a septic system.
Cost aside, doing so would result in wastes being leached into Dering Harbor and Chase Creek, Mr. Card said.
When the county put up $67,000 to purchase the unit, Mr. Card said officials knew how it functioned and understood that it would be pumped out regularly, the same as the Port-A-Potty currently in the parking lot on Bridge Street. The only difference is the Port-A-Potty is a temporary structure while the new unit to be installed at Volunteer Park would be permanent, he said.
When County Legislator Bridget Fleming read about the Health Department’s holding up the installation, she became involved and now Mr. Card and Mr. Cronin are in the process of preparing for a meeting with county officials to try to cut through the red tape.
If all goes smoothly, Mr. Card hopes to be able to have his workers install the new unit this spring in time for the summer season.
Still pending is a lawsuit filed by Jack Kiffer, owner of the Dory, who blames the town for failing to move faster to put a bathroom in the Bridge Street area so visitors aren’t asking him to use the bathroom at the bar and restaurant.