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Dredging costs debated at Water Management Advisory Council

COURTESY PHOTO |  Merkel Basin, just northwest of Smith Cove needs dredging but the question of who will pay for it is unresolved.

Merkel Basin, just northwest of Smith Cove needs dredging but the question of who will pay for it is unresolved.

Unless you live in the area or have tied up your boat in the cove during a major storm, you may not even know where Merkel Basin is.

But South Ferry Hills residents know. It’s a tiny cove just north west of Smith Cove and the residents are looking to the town for financial help to dredge it.

The South Ferry Hills Neighborhood Association and the town joined forces in the past in a dredging effort, but despite the presence of a town landing in Merkel Basin, the inclination of the board is to allow a dredging permit it holds to expire. That leaves it to the residents to apply for a new dredge permit if they want to bear the costs themselves.

Waterways Management Advisory Council members wrestled with the issue Monday night with no solutions or recommendations.

There are plenty of town landings where boats can’t get in and out, said member James Eklund. That would become the case in Merkel Basin if no dredging is performed to remove the sand that is shoaling.

The most WMAC Chairman John Needham could offer was some advice to homeowners about excavating companies that might be able to inexpensively tackle the job for them. But member Alfred Loreto worried that requiring the residents to foot the entire dredging bill might set a precedent for other areas.

“What happens when it’s something like Menantic Creek?” he asked. “It’s a tremendous asset and it’s got to be maintained.”
South Ferry Hills residents pay town taxes and should be entitled to some help when it comes to keeping Merkel Basin viable, he added.

“The town has a vested interest” in keeping Merkel Basin open, agreed William Geraghty.

Another problem is a deteriorated bulkhead residents would have to fix because otherwise, dredging equipment would be in jeopardy.

There was no advisory vote so comments will go to the Town Board, which makes the ultimate decision, this time without a WMAC recommendation.

Another issue is what to do with five buoys that mark the mooring field at the Shelter Island Yacht Club. The town has maintained them, but now the WMAC is suggesting that the Yacht Club would like them and it would become responsible for maintaining them.

The WMAC gave approval to seven applications that now go to the Town Board for final actions:
• A Riparian mooring requested by 7 Winthrop LLC;
• A request from J.W. Piccozzi Inc. for a 3-foot by 10-foot finger pier in the waters off 178 North Ferry Road;
• A request from Nancy Jaicks of 71 Ram Island Drive to shorten the offshore end of a jetty, cutting it back to the mean low water line and removing deteriorated sheathing to be replaced with new CCA sheathing;
• A request from Alexander Alex to replace a sun canopy over a deck area at 119 South Ferry Road, replace 169 feet of bulkhead and a 12-foot north return and a stairway and retaining walls;
• A Riparian mooring in Coecles harbor as requested by Wellington-Denahan of 10 Lari Lane;
• A Riparian mooring in Coecles Harbor requested by Justine and Ingrid Bateman of 38 Tuthill Drive and 29 Tuthill Drive; and
• A request from Daniel Riech of 4 Hidden Path for a private mooring.