Town Attorney Laury Dowd presented new guidelines issued by the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) to the Town Board at Tuesday’s work session.
The directives concern methods to emphasize “natural and nature-based solutions” to protect the state’s coastlines, producing what the DEC calls “living shorelines” to better prevent erosion.
Instead of “hardened or man-made shorelines,” a living shoreline employs vegetation and planned rock formations to halt the destruction of the state’s shorelines.
The state has provided a website — dec.ny.gov/lands/4940.html — with extensive information on creating living shorelines.
What this means for Shelter Island, Ms. Dowd said, is that when the town presents shoreline infrastructure plans to the state, it will “in effect require a lot more engineering” and that if the town decides not to follow directives for a living shoreline, it might have to prove “no other option is available.”
Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card Jr. said one example of using living shoreline techniques was the work done on the Second Causeway two years ago, when plantings and stone gambions covered with sand reinforced the Coecles Harbor beachfront.
The board discussed the unisex restroom to be constructed at Volunteers Park, with hopes it will be in use by Memorial Day. Supervisor Jim Dougherty said Suffolk County is on board with $67,700 as part of the total cost of $104,670. The Chamber of Commerce is kicking in about $35,000 for upfront costs and the town will pick up the rest. Chamber President Art Williams originally proposed the idea of a new restroom.
The unit is called “the Portland Loo,” a sleek, efficient, single-toilet manufactured in Portland, Oregon, according to Mr. Card.
The idea to contact the West Coast company came from former Councilman Peter Reich.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Card said the new restroom “is as green as it can be,” with the town pumping out the unit and “nothing is going into the bay.”
The board returned to plans to replace the town-owned dock at Congdons Creek. The 195-foot dock has 37 slips for boats and has been judged by Mr. Card as needing a major overhaul.
Jack Costello of Costello Marine Contracting notified Mr. Card that the job could be done for $65,000 and the town could pay over three years. It’s unsure if interest is involved and more information from Mr. Costello will be forthcoming. The town will officially ask for bids on the project.
The 2017 town budget includes $20,000 for work on the dock. In addition, the board is considering raising fees for use of the slips from $250 to $500 for recreational boaters, and $350 for the six baymen who use the dock, to pay for the work.
Councilman Paul Shepherd wanted to be sure there is some criteria, stated in a town resolution, that someone claiming to be a bayman is in fact a commercial fisherman.
With the raising of fees, the dock could generate $17,600 per year.
It’s hoped, the board agreed, that the work can be done by Memorial Day.
It was noted that the public hearing on a proposed law regulating short-term rentals, scheduled for Friday, January 27 at 4:30 p.m., has been moved from Town Hall to the school auditorium, in anticipation of a large turnout. There will be no live streaming of the meeting by the online site “Town Hall Streams,” but it will be online by Saturday morning, the supervisor said.
In addition, a broadcast of the meeting will be on Channel 22, which broadcasts town meetings, by Saturday morning
Opening the work session on Tuesday, immediately after the pledge of allegiance, Mr. Dougherty employed some satire to comment on the national political situation. “As you can see,” Mr. Dougherty said, “Channel 22 is focusing on a bunch of empty seats, but you know how the media is. This is the largest crowd that ever attended a supervisor’s meeting in the history of Shelter Island.”