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Town to set up new group on water protection

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Town Board decided Tuesday to set up a new committee to vet clean water projects.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Town Board decided Tuesday to set up a new committee to vet clean water projects.

Ticks and water quality were on the Town Board’s Tuesday work session agenda.

The board heard a report from Animal Control Officer Beau Payne on efforts to calculate the number of ticks on the Island and strategies in 2017 to reduce their population (see  previous story).

With the passage in November of a law allowing the town to take up to 20 percent per year from the Community Preservation Fund (CPF) for clean water projects, the board agreed to set up a new committee to identify and vet the projects.
Until the election, the CPF was used solely for purchasing, preserving and maintaining open space through a real estate transfer tax.

A December 7 memo from Supervisor Jim Dougherty, Town Assessor BJ Ianfolla, Town Engineer John Cronin and Town Attorney Laury Dowd states that the CPF’s advisory board “is charged with identifying and negotiating for open space, and would be distracted from that important function if it had to also deal with water quality improvement projects.”

The memo recommends setting up a five-member “Water Quality Improvement Project Advisory Board” with liaisons assigned from several existing town committees, have open meetings, public oversight “and clerical support.”

The goal of the new body would be, according to the memo, to “review the need to identify guidelines for prioritizing water quality improvement projects and the need for clear goals so that achievements can be evaluated and reported to the Town Board on an annual basis.” The board seemed unanimous in agreeing to the formation of the new group.

Also on the subject of water quality, Mr. Dougherty said he had attended a meeting in East Hampton last week with County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac), who represents the Island, Deputy County Executive Peter Scully, “some key county health officials” and others where water quality on the East End was discussed.

The county officials acknowledged, Mr. Dougherty said, that sewers would not be coming. Terming it “a good/news bad news thing,” Mr. Dougherty noted that sewers couldn’t arrive in time to cure the problem, and that “the problem is worse than we may realize,” with nitrogen levels “still rising sharply in East End waters and aquifers.”

Mr. Dougherty also said he was informed of a study of certain areas of Long Island “where property values are beginning to stabilize and drop a little [due to water quality]. We’re late getting started but we really have to get going.”

In other business, the board seemed in agreement to grant a fuel oil contract for the town to a Brooklyn-based company over a local company. Two bids were received by the town clerk for a contract with the town; United Metro Energy Corporation proposed charging .5248 cents per gallon above the “rack price” and Piccozzi’s bid is .529 cents per gallon above the rack price. Rack price is the cost of the fuel, transportation and overhead paid by the supplier.

Councilman Paul Shepherd asked Ms. Dowd if the town’s obligation is always to accept the lowest bid. Ms. Dowd said, “You have to have a good reason for not doing it,” and if there are “any downsides, I’m not aware of them.”

United Metro has a Calverton facility and supplies the towns of East Hampton and Southampton, Mr. Dougherty noted. The company guaranteed the town deliveries even during bad weather conditions.

“If it was my house, then it would be another thing,” Mr. Shepherd said about the option of purchasing fuel oil from an off-Island company. “Then I could exercise my prerogative to loyalty.”