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Letters to the Editor: Card and Colligan respond to Dougherty

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr.
REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr.

Get real on roads
To the Editor:
I ask Supervisor Dougherty to, as he wrote, show us “the five miles of roads” that are paved every year (“Your Letters,” December 1).

And it’s impossible to have a real 10-year paving cycle, with a $130,000 budget. Following are the approximate budget figures for paving the Highway Department has had to work with over the last five years for 52 miles of town road:
$25,000 — 2012
$10,000 — 2013
$53,000 —2014
$0 —2015
$100,000 — 2016

Our current bid price, for installed asphalt pavement is $89.50 per ton. It takes about 1,657 tons to cover one mile of road, or $148,301 per mile. To do five miles of road, we would have to have purchased 8,285 tons of asphalt, costing $741,507 per year, but in actuality we have been only paving a quarter of a mile per year, for the last five years. This represents a 70-year plus paving rate, not a 10-year paving rate. The typical life span for an asphalt paved road is 19 years.

Our service stations collect far more money in gas tax than we receive in funding. I brought this to the attention of our two state legislators, Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag-Harbor) and New York State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson). They’ve been extremely supportive to my requests to the tune of $725,000 for road paving grants. These are 100 percent, no share, no cost grants. We do have to spend the money first, in order to get it back.

Our representatives want to make sure all of it goes toward the specifications of the grant and not into the general budget or elsewhere.

A grant agreement basically says, if you pave your road(s), the state will give you financial support. Send us the cancelled check and the invoice from the contractor, and we will wire you the money for that exact amount.

So far, we’ve paved Winthrop Road and have received $100,000 back from the state. Cost to the tax payers to pave Winthrop Road? Zero. We received the $100,000 back from the state in about 60 days from the time they received our request for payment. The supervisor wants us to “Trust but verify” the grants. If a signed grant agreement from the State of New York is good enough for the Deer & Tick Committee, Taylor’s Island, and the Medical Center’s roof, it should be good enough for road paving grants. After all, their from the same office.
Superintendent of Highways, Town of Shelter Island

A response to Mr. Dougherty
To the Editor:
Our supervisor would have you believe that his fellow Town Board members have somehow lost their way.

But the truth is, we as a board, including Mr. Dougherty as our chief financial officer, have worked hard to put together a responsible 2017 budget. It maintains a focus on all three board priorities (aquifer, ticks and taxes) but also directs much needed money to important infrastructure needs. Some of this effort is aimed at repairing town buildings, beach bathrooms, town-owned docks, jetties and bulkheads, to mention just a few needs. And yes, roads.

Mr. Dougherty wants you to believe that $130,000 is sufficient to pave five miles of roads and that we are on a 10-year repaving cycle. That simply is not accurate. Approximately two years ago, the Cornell Local Roads Program conducted an extensive study of our roads utilizing trained experts. Our score for the 172 road segments was an overall 63, which represents the bottom end of “Good” (60-80).

Unfortunately, 71 of these road segments (41.3 percent of the 172) were rated as either “Fair,” “Poor,” or “Very Poor.” Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. has been successful in securing four road paving grants to help address two dozen roads that are in jeopardy of falling into such disrepair that they would require “rebuilding” or “reconstruction,” which is far more expensive. This will burden taxpayers in the future and is something that your board is trying to prevent.

Finally, none of the four board members voted to “go over our unanimously adopted road maintenance budget by raiding our cash reserves in anticipation of future grant monies,” as stated by our supervisor in his December 1 letter. We did, however, elect to execute the first two of our four road paving grants totaling $725,000. For the record, Mr. Dougherty did not support borrowing at a low interest rate to support these grants.

As a board, we accepted that and developed a plan to initiate all four grants over a two-year period. All of these grants are 100 percent reimbursable, but do require payment of the work “up front,” prior to submitting the paperwork and bills to the state for reimbursement.

That is how the system works for road paving grants, as well as for most grants.

Choosing not to take advantage of these grants will delay this cost further, making repairs more costly in the future.

Councilman, Town of Shelter Island

Check in the mail
To the Editor:
How a person manages money says a lot about their financial values. In my view, a wise person does not spend money until the “check in the mail” has been received. A disciplined person makes a budget to allocate resources to the greatest needs, including contingencies for unforeseen emergencies. Maybe most importantly, a prudent person lives within the budget and uses contingencies in only the most critical situations.

It seems that our Town Board has decided to spend money for road maintenance that is not in the town’s recently adopted 2017 budget. In addition, it is betting that “the check in the mail” for future grant monies will be received. I cannot support this approach to the management of our money (e.g., the taxes we pay).

I commend the financial values Supervisor Jim Dougherty defines in his recent letter to The Reporter. The priorities identified by Mr. Dougherty (taxes, aquifer and ticks) make a lot of sense to me. While I have no doubt that our board members have only honorable intensions in their actions, I agree with the supervisor’s vision that “none of us want to turn Shelter Island into a high tax, overly manicured and regulated paradise.”

I encourage the Town Board to stick to the budget it approved and wait for the “check in the mail” to arrive before spending money not in the budget. Unfortunately, sometimes that “check in the mail” gets “lost!”
Shelter Island

Kudos to Peter Waldner for “nailing it” with his illustration of the American flag in tatters (“Paw Print,” November 10).

The national election results gave us, a democratic nation, much to mourn. The constitution gives all citizens the right to free speech.

Let’s remember that when we raise the flag.
Shelter Island

Heartless, barbaric
To the Editor:
Many of us have seen our singing wild turkeys strutting their stuff in the neighborhood, pleading at Thanksgiving time for our consideration of a truly grateful holiday not involving the taking of life.

Now, many of us wake up to the cannonic wars of the hunters’ guns preying on innocent other animals who arrived on the Island well before we did, a re-enactment of what was done to the Indian population here first.

We bemoan a world in which terrorism is now a norm and yet merrily contribute in a heartless, even barbaric way that sets that standard, all defended in the name of balancing nature while the supermarket freezer abounds with already killed meat for those still unready for much more healthful vegetarianism.

May they at least be ready for no further violation of simple, healthy noise ordinances.

As I write this letter, my pet cat, Peter is quivering from more sound of gunshot and adults with an infant complained about this past week in my living room.
Shelter Island

To the Editor:
The Center firehouse’s whistle wasn’t a thing that I was going to make an issue out of since I bought my house, which sits right behind the firehouse, after the whistle was in place. But after reading the recent article (“Higher tower for Center firehouse?” December 1), I feel inclined to point out something that could save the Fire Department money and time in maintenance. The article stated that even the chief, who works two blocks away from the whistle, doesn’t always get a call. My impression was that the whistle was there as a backup to alert people to a fire in case the pager wasn’t working.

Perhaps the Fire Department may want to consider reviewing whether the fire whistle is still worth having or an obsolete object that no longer serves its function. If the firefighters are only relying on the pager signal, then it may be prudent to take down the whistle and free up the time and money spent in maintaining it. This is only an idea I raise for people to consider, and is in no way a criticism of the Fire Department; they do a great job and I am very thankful for their presence as well as proud of every volunteer who so thoughtfully and wholeheartedly serves our community.

As for another issue raised in last week’s Reporter (“Short-term rental proposal scaled back,” December 1), a person renting their house for whatever length of time is not turning residential neighborhoods into commercial neighborhoods because the tenants are doing the same thing that a year-round renter would be doing, which is just living in the house. If the tenant was running some sort of large commercial-scale business then that would be a different story.

The government should not get involved in people’s business renting out their house to vacationers. The government needs to acknowledge the fact of how expensive this area is and how people need to do what they have to do to get by. If the town is seriously considering hiring a code enforcer to keep an eye on what people are doing with their own properties then I can’t think of a bigger waste of our tax dollars.
Shelter Island

Holiday fire safety
To the Editor:

The following are a few suggestions that I hope will be helpful.
1. If a live Christmas tree is used, do not bring the tree into the house until the day you plan to use it.
2. Place the tree in a stand that will hold water and keep it filled every day.
3. Never place the tree near the source of heat (fireplace, radiator, heating vent) or blocking exits.
4. Check all wires, plugs and sockets before they are placed on the tree.
5. Never use candles on or near the tree.
6. Use non-combustible decorations.
7. Remove the tree from the house as soon as possible and before the needles get too dry.
8. When using artificial trees, also check the wiring before placing on the tree.
9. Place all wrapping paper in a closed trash container as soon as possible.
10. Electrical toys for children should be supervised by an adult when being used.
11. If lighting decorations are used outdoors, make sure they are for outside lighting.
12. Regardless of the season, every family should work out a good fire escape plan. Get smoke detectors.
ANDY STEINMULLER, GREG SULAHIAN, Shelter Island Fire Department