Councilman Peter Reich back on board after lengthy absence

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | The Town Board at its Tuesday work session with Councilman Peter Reich participating via speakerphone. From left, Councilwoman Chris Lewis, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Supervisor Jim Dougherty and Councilman Ed Brown.

Councilman Peter Reich, absent from the Town Board for almost two months, returned Tuesday.

After the Pledge of Allegiance to open the board’s work session, Supervisor Jim Dougherty asked everyone to remain standing to welcome Mr. Reich back, who appeared live on the Town Hall meeting room’s video screen from his Shelter Island home.

“We’ve missed your wisdom and counsel but most of all we’ve missed your friendship and companionship,” Mr. Dougherty said.

“It’s good to be back, if only this way,” Mr. Reich said. He added that “most of the Island knows where I’ve been for the last six weeks,” but for those who didn’t, he offered a recap of the illness that has kept him away.

In the middle of August he was feeling under the weather and consulted several doctors and all three East End hospitals, he said.

“Basically going down hill, “he was admitted to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City on September 15, Mr. Reich said, and finally received a diagnosis of angioimmunoblastic lymphoma.

He has qualified for an “experimental chemo drug, which is the good news,” Mr. Reich said. “The bad news is the experimental protocol will make my chemo a three-day event rather than a one-day event and I’ll be missing every third work session until the beginning of January.”

Mr. Reich thanked his colleagues and everyone at Town Hall for helping fill his absence. All of the board members welcomed him back.

Mr. Reich remained on speakerphone for the rest of the meeting and contributed to discussions.

The board turned to its Watershed Management Plan, a scientific study of the town’s surface water bodies — bays, creeks, harbors and ponds. There are 87 recommendations in the plan to improve the quality of Shelter Island’s surface waters and the board identified the top priorities it has come up with for implementation.

First is focusing on Fresh Pond, which has been declared polluted, and also testing West Neck Bay, Creek and Harbor and seek a partner to study an algal bloom problem. Also on the priority list is identifying septic systems near marine waters and get funding reduce system maintenance and/or replacement costs, and add a drainage control system at Serpentine Drive and Sunnyside Avenue where it intersects with Shore Road.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty reported on well measurements for the 13 Island-wide test wells. All but two were down. The Big Ram and Little Ram wells were up, “which is hard to explain,” Mr. Dougherty said.

The Menantic Road, Shorewood and Dering Harbor wells were “well below their September averages,” Mr. Dougherty said. “We should be getting the autumn rains soon, hopefully. It’s nothing alarming, but we’re keeping our eye on it.”

Joy Bausman, volunteer CEO of the Red Cross chapter here after 37 years of continuous service, officially gave the board her resignation and a report on the transfer of the ambulance service from the Red Cross to the town.

“I verbally promised the Town Board that I would stay six months,” Ms. Bausman said. “It’s now almost two years.”

Board members praised her service. “The town owes you a tremendous debt of gratitude,” Mr. Dougherty said. “Thank you for hanging in there during the transition.”

Councilwoman Chris Lewis added, with a smile, “Don’t go far.”