South Ferry dredging solution near

PETER REICH PHOTO | Equipment at the mouth of West Neck Harbor was due to move to South Ferry for dredging last October until a Long Island Power Authority Cable became a problem.

South Ferry and Long Island Power Authority are close to an agreement that will allow critical dredging of ferry slips despite the presence of an electrical cable.

If all goes ahead as expected, dredging could be done in October, said South Ferry owner Cliff Clark Monday afternoon, reporting on a meeting late last week in Riverhead with all parties involved.

At issue was a 69-kilovolt LIPA cable installed in the 1990s when Long Island Lighting Company served electrical needs. When the cable was placed, Mr. Clark and his father had a verbal agreement that it would be deep enough to allow dredging around the ferry slips. But when the dredging was slated to happen last October, LIPA officials said the cables weren’t deep enough and could be damaged by dredging. And, it turned out, there were also lines from Cablevision and Verizon in the same area.

At the end of January, near record low tides coupled with gale force winds concerned South Ferry captains who were able to get their boats into the slips, but feared that eventually, without dredging boats could end up grounded, Mr. Clark said.

The problem wasn’t yet that critical, but needed to be addressed before a situation occurred that prohibited getting boats into slips in emergency situations, he said.

Mr. Clark credits Bill Hillman, Suffolk County Department of Public Works chief engineer, with bringing about last week’s Riverhead sit-down that included South Ferry officials, representatives of LIPA and its parent company National Grid; Cablevision and Verizon; and Shelter Island Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr.; Suffolk County Legislators Jay Schneiderman and Albert Krupski Jr. and Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr.

It was a meeting Mr. Hillman had promised when the problem arose last October, but he said then it would have to be delayed until the dredging season ended. That season ended on January 15 and within days, Mr. Hillman kept his promise and arranged the meeting.

“I believe we’re very close to a solution,” Mr. Clark said Monday afternoon.

One reason for an imminent solution is drawings show the LIPA cable buried as deeply as LILCO representatives had promised.

“Logistically, it will be a challenging dredging,” Mr. Clark said.

He will boat out to the cable site with LIPA representatives in March to identify exactly where the cable sits to make sure the dredging is done without disturbing the line. Similarly, Verizon and Cablevision representatives will check the exact location of their lines, Mr. Clark said.

Besides his praise for Mr. Hillman, Mr. Clark credited the four elected officials — Mr. Card, Mr. Schneiderman, Mr. Krupski and Mr. Thiele — with taking an active role in bringing about a solution.

“We had the horsepower of our elected officials,” he said.