Town board: Reimbursement requested for late December storm damage

TED HILLS PHOTO | Councilwoman Chris Lewis said the wetlands applications needed more work.

A disaster declaration from the federal government could translate into storm repair funds for the Town of Shelter Island.

During the Town Board’s Tuesday work session, Police Chief Read reported that he submitted a formal request for state and federal funds to reimburse expenses stemming from the December 26 and 27 storm, which brought howling winds and over a half-foot of snow to the Island. Chief Read is the town’s emergency management coordinator. The storm damaged a bulkhead in Silver Beach and destroyed the wheelchair ramp at Crescent Beach.

“Any damage we can attribute to this storm, we can lay a claim,” Chief Read explained. Highway Superintendent Mark Ketcham said he hasn’t received any estimates on the price of fixing the bulkhead, but guessed it would cost around $10,000 to $15,000. The wheelchair ramp could be fixed in-house, he said, and therefore would cost far less to replace.

The request sent to the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asks to put the town on the list of municipalities looking for assistance. Representatives of those agencies will review the damage later this month. If the request is approved, FEMA will cover 75 percent of the cost of repairs, SEMO will provide 12.5 percent and the town will spend 12.5 percent, Chief Read explained.

He also told the board that there is a small chance the town could be reimbursed for snow removal costs during that storm, but that the town “should not get our hopes up.”

The $33,000 fund that the town budgeted to pay highway crews to remove snow has been completely depleted. The snow fund was projected to cover winter storm costs anticipated for December 2011 as well.

SHORE ROAD SOLUTION

Arthur Bloom, the Village of Dering Harbor’s fire marshal, explained the steps being taken to rectify confusion in sending emergency responders to Shore Road in Dering Harbor versus Shore Road on Crescent Beach.

For several years, all 911 and automatic alarm calls have been directed to the Southold Police Department, which serves as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP for Shelter Island police, fire department and ambulance.

As Mr. Bloom told the Reporter, the dispatcher receives the address from the alarm company and punches it into a computer. The computer spits out the cross streets, and “100 percent of the time, we get the cross streets of Stearns Point and Prospect,” Mr. Bloom said of local responders, even when the alarm originated in Dering Harbor. Soon that will change.

Mr. Bloom explained that alarm and phone companies and Southold dispatch are adding unique Dering Harbor IDs to their databases that will differentiate between the two areas.

Also, Chief Read and Mr. Bloom will perform a physical walkthrough of Dering Harbor and make 911 calls, with the cooperation of homeowners and the Southold dispatcher, to confirm that the correct location is given to emergency responders.

GRANT IN THE WORKS FOR LANDINGS

The town will likely receive a $30,000 state grant to repair six town landings, according to Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty. The grant was approved by the state in 2006 but never received. “It fell off the radar,” Mr. Dougherty explained. “I have a handshake from [Senator] Ken LaValle that if we show diligent efforts between now and July 31, the funds will still be there.”

The town received a DEC permit for work on the landing at Tarkettle Road and installed riprap to armor the landing against erosion, but work on the other landings was not initiated. Mr. Ketcham will file for reimbursement for that work, he said during the meeting.

“Some of the town landings were in poor, deplorable condition or unusable,” Mr. Ketcham explained. The work to be done includes installing concrete slabs to replace deteriorating asphalt and improving drainage around the landings.

OTHER TOPICS

During the March 8 work session, the board also discussed:

• Possession of Menantic Road property adjacent to the landfill. Irving Gruber, who passed away on Christmas Day in 2010, left his estate to the town, Mr. Dougherty reported. Members of the Highway Department and John Gruber, Irving’s son, have been winterizing the house while the town decides how best to utilize the structure.

Options suggested during the meeting include using the building as affordable housing, incorporating it into the adjacent Recycling Center or relocating the police impound and dog pound to the site.

“Before we decide anything we’ll take a good long look at that house,” Mr. Dougherty said.

• The process of interviewing candidates to perform the SEQRA evaluation necessary for new legislation restricting building in causeway areas. At its Tuesday meeting, the board interviewed Kyle Collins of KPC Planning Services. He charges $150 per hour for municipalities and said he could provide the board with a more accurate estimate of what he would charge for the entire project at a later date.

• Two wetlands applications, reviewing them for completeness. They requested clarifications and changes to the applications.

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