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New ways to slow down on St. Mary’s Road


No one’s declaring “problem solved,” but for the first time in many years, instead of disagreements between residents of St. Mary’s Road and Town Board members, a plan is in the works to try to slow traffic through an area heavily populated by families with young children.

In a meeting that brought together Supervisor Gary Gerth, Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. and St. Mary’s resident Dee Clark Morehead, a plan is on the table to:
• Drop the 35 mph speed limit to 30 mph.
• Put up new signs to alert drivers of the presence of children and the need to slow down.
• Re-stripe roadways to create an illusion of more narrow lanes.
• Stepped up efforts by police to enforce speed limits.
“Let’s give this a try,” Mr. Gerth said, pointing out that he hoped it prove effective.
“We’re happy for the progress and intent and hope it does work,” Ms. Clark Morehead said. She has been among the leaders of the neighbors campaigning for greater efforts to slow traffic in the area. Among the problems the neighbors have cited in the past are trucks that opt to use St. Mary’s Road rather than Route 114 when crossing the Island from north to south and vice versa.

If the efforts prove effective, Councilman Paul Shepherd said there are other parts of the Island that should get the same attention.

In an effort to revise a study on methods to protect eelgrass beds — underwater meadows that insure the cleanliness and quality of water in bays and harbors — a subcommittee of town officials and baymen have been meeting to create a redraft.

The subcommittee grew out of a February encounter at which baymen filled Town Hall to complain about the plan that had been drafted by town officials, including Councilman Jim Colligan and members of the Waterways Management Advisory Council. The officals were guided in the initial attempt ata draft plan by State Department of Environmental Conservation official (DEC) Soren Dahl.

The Baymen saw that initial draft as punitive to them and not consistent with their experiences working on the water.

Mr. Colligan has now asked that the baymen not view Mr. Dahl as an enemy and that the DEC can assist the town. At the same time, the councilman said he should have involved the baymen from the start and acknowledged that the revisions suggested by the baymen are improving the proposal.

Mr. Gerth said he’s calling back Mr. Dahl to sit down with him, Mr. DeStefano and the baymen to discuss revisions to the plan that will, at a later date, be open to further public discussion before the Town Board acts.

During the off season, Department of Public Works employees have been busy with work at the Shelter Island Country Club at Goat Hill. The property belongs to the town that leases it to the club for a token payment.

While a number of improvements have been made, the next priority, according to Mr. Colligan is to replace side wall shingles. Then the deck will need to be repainted until it can be replaced.

He said he wants to develop a master plan for maintenance of both the clubhouse and the golf course .

“We’re not looking to change,” Mr. Colligan said. It’s simply an effort to fix up the building and grounds.

The Town Board referred a revision to the town code dealing with dock renovations to the Waterways Management Advisory Council for its input. The aim of the draft written by

Mr. DeStefano was to clarify some of the language in the code so it’s not ambiguous.
The current draft would exempt from the code section dealing with renovations the following:
• Any dock that exists prior to this code change as long as it is maintained in kind or in place
• Any alteration, modification or repair to a pre-existing nonconforming dock that after review is determined to lessen the pre-existing nonconformity
• Any repairs to a dock deteriorating or damaged or destroyed by any cause where 30 percent or more of the original structure is usable and can remain as long as the repairs are in kind or in place or determined by the Town Board to less the pre-existing nonconformity.

This could be the day the town finally gets Suffolk Country Department of Health Services approval to install the long-delayed bathroom at Volunteer Park on Bridge Street. The county helped to pay for the unit, but its Board of Health balked when it was about to be installed. A hearing to allow it is slated for today, Thursday.

Mr. Gerth offered high praise to the League of Women Voters for its “outstanding job” of informing people about issues and candidates for various offices. He will be delivering the State of the Town speech that’s sponsored by the League on Sunday at the Ram’s Head Inn.

He noted he will be following the tradition of sitting with students during the luncheon, aiming to involve them in town issues.