Yes, Shelter Islanders, in 2016 you get to be your own Santa Clauses, having expressed your concerns about water quality to the Town Board and how you want your tax money spent.
The town will pay an anticipated $37,600 for testing, but will dig deeper to come up with another $5,800 since learning that a 20 percent discount for testing won’t be applied to the first year of a three-year testing program.
That’s the word the Water Advisory Committee got Monday night from Supervisor Jim Dougherty. Mr. Dougherty said the Town Board is prepared to spend a total of $43,320 to test water quantity, as well as testing the quality of the Island’s water, including chemical content and saltwater intrusion into wells.
The 20 percent discount is expected to be applied during the second and third years of quality testing, acting WAC Chairman Ken Pysher said.
The WAC will set up a meeting, likely in January, with representatives of the United States Geological Survey to work out final plans for just what chemicals will be tested. Also on the agenda will be whether existing test wells will be used for both quantity and quality testing or additional wells will be included, Mr. Pysher said.
He also noted there will be a delay in meeting with Suffolk County Department of Health Services officials in Yaphank to review some definitions affecting water quality. With two new members —Jim Colligan and Mary Dudley — on the Town Board, WAC members want to wait until the board’s organizational meeting in January to determine who will be assigned as a liaison to the committee.
What’s in a name?
“Fragile zone.” It’s a concept that’s been discussed since June when a committee of Town Board members Peter Reich and Chris Lewis and Town Attorney Laury Dowd presented a proposal for new restrictions in some areas that would parallel parts of the New Shore overlay district.
But while the Near Shore overlay district covers about 50 percent of the Island, the proposed fragile zone was intended to cover only about 20 percent — those areas most critically in need of protection of water resources.
It could include Silver Beach, Menantic Peninsula, Tarkettle Peninsula, Shorewood, both Ram Island causeways and Little Ram Island, Ms. Dowd told the Town Board at a June work session.
The goal was to achieve plentiful and fresh water by regulating the size of new house construction or reconstruction of existing houses.
At the time of its introduction, there were serious questions about the proposal. Mr. Dougherty asked how such a zone might affect property rights and suggested a new overlay district could be “confusing to the people we work for.”
The Planning Board had a look at the proposal and suggested it be scrapped. The WAC offered many suggestions to try and simplify the concept.
But by this week, the focus was on the name “fragile zone.” Some don’t like the idea of being identified with fragility, Mr. Pysher said. It needs a new name — perhaps “aquifer challenged,” he suggested.
Who’s in charge?
When John Hallman stepped down as chairman of the WAC last spring, Hoot Sherman reluctantly agreed to serve as interim chair, hoping someone else would step up to the plate. No one did until this fall when Mr. Sherman resigned from the committee and Mr. Pysher reluctantly accepted the acting chairman’s position.
This week, he told his colleagues he will be away for a couple of months beginning in January. No one has agreed to take the job, even as on interim basis, so it could fall to the Town Board to appoint a chairman, Mr. Pysher said.