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Are studies just a delaying tactic?

REPORTER FILE PHOTO REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Jim Dougherty embraces the Long Island Nitrogen action plan, but thinks more study is a delaying tactic when the water quality problem is already critical.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Supervisor Jim Dougherty embraces the Long Island Nitrogen action plan, but thinks more study is a delaying tactic when the water quality problem is already critical.

There’s a disconnect between Shelter Island officials and some Suffolk County groups seeking to address issues related to water quality and transportation.Both Supervisor Jim Dougherty and Councilwoman Chris Lewis expressed frustration at Tuesday’s work session about plans for more studies of issues they consider critically in need of action now.

For Mr. Dougherty, it was a meeting he and Town Engineer John Cronin attended in Riverhead Tuesday with the Long Island Regional Planning Council, representatives from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and representatives from Suffolk and Nassau counties and various local officials to discuss the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan.

On the table was a $5 million grant to study nitrogen-loading in ground and surface waters.

There’s general agreement that solving the problem of overloads of nitrogen and other contaminants in area waters could cost as much as $8 billion to solve, and there’s no way local towns and villages could tackle that kind of expense.

But there’s wide disagreement among players from Eastern Long Island and those from the west of what needs to be done and how urgent the problem is, Mr. Dougherty said.

“I’m totally committed to this nitrogen plan,” he said. “But the problem is already here.”

The study is “inadvertently” a delaying tactic that will take at least four years, said the supervisor, who is also chairman of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association.

Transportation

Similarly, Ms. Lewis reported on a meeting with the East End Transportation Council that has already spent several years looking at extending service to East End towns and villages.

Now the Long Island Rail Road is about to launch a two-year study of its entire system that will include a look at East End service. But it’s hardly the first such study and with each incantation, circumstances change, Ms. Lewis said.

An earlier plan to run scooter trains on the East End apparently won’t work now because of changes to equipment, she said.

But progress has been so slow that she questions whether anything will be done to improve services on the East End in a timely way.

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