The Village of Dering Harbor might have saved residents a significant amount of money had research been conducted earlier into options for replacement of the municipal water tank, an aging steel structure that sprang 20 new leaks during the deep freeze earlier this month, a new report concluded.
Instead, taxes will rise about 7 percent to cover replacing the tank, which dates from about 1955.
That’s the conclusion reached by Trustee Patrick Parcells, who had been deputized by the newly-elected Board of Trustees last fall to look into the matter.
He delivered his final report at a special meeting on Saturday, January 20 attended by about a dozen residents. Early estimates, from about 2012, had put the cost of replacing the stand tank that stores water for the municipal system at about $200,000, Mr. Parcells said. But the actual cost proposed by the project engineers in April 2017 was $740,000.
While the village won a grant and no-interest loan from New York State to pay up to $600,000, it will have to issue bonds to cover the remainder, causing the estimated 7 percent tax increase.
Resident Jim Goldman had pushed last fall for an investigation into replacing the one above ground tank with an underground hydropneumatic system of tanks.
Mr. Parcells researched the option and concluded that while such a system could work in the village and would be much less expensive — $400,000 instead of $740,000 — the village would have to begin anew the process of applying to the Suffolk County health department to approve the change and applying to the state for funding, pushing the project start date further out with no guarantee that alternate system or funding would be approved.
With no option but to approve the more expensive stand tank project, the board adopted a resolution that enables Mayor John T. Colby Jr. to move ahead with the project in the hope of having construction of the new tank concluded before the summer.
In other business: The village’s former mayor, Tim Hogue, has, along with resident Marian Brownlie, filed a lawsuit against the village, the Board of Trustees, the Architectural Review Board and residents Brad Goldfarb and Alfredo Paredes.
The action, filed in Supreme Court of the State of New York for Suffolk County on January 8, seeks judicial review of a decision by the trustees to grant a license to Mr. Goldfarb and Mr. Paredes for a row of holly trees they planted between their property and Ms. Brownlie’s property.
Under Mr. Hogue’s leadership, the village had ticketed the couple for planting the hedge without permission in violation of a village ordinance regulating so-called “living fences.”
Fed up with the dispute about the holly hedge (and another legal fracas related to the couple’s property), voters rejected the three incumbent candidates running for re-election last June, replacing them with three write-in candidates. Mr. Hogue, who had sued the write-in candidates to keep their names off the official ballot, quit after the election mid-way through his 13th consecutive term.
At Saturday’s meeting, Mr. Colby reported that the village had received notice of Mr. Hogue’s latest legal action but would have no comment on the matter. The mayor and trustees went into executive session to confer with their attorney.
Rob Ferris, an outspoken critic of Mr. Hogue, told the board: “We really are getting tired of this. Has he nothing better to do? If he loves this place so much, why doesn’t he leave?”
Mr. Hogue did not attend Saturday’s meeting, but was represented by an attorney and a stenographer who took notes throughout the proceeding.
Mr. Goldfarb and Mr. Paredes said they were disappointed but not entirely surprised by the lawsuit.