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Roadwork, dredging dominate May 30 work session


Town Board members agreed at their May 30 work session that Shelter Island will adopt the Cornell Local Roads Program of standards for maintenance purposes.

It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel when Cornell has done the work that applies to upkeep on what are mostly considered low-volume roadways, Town Engineer John Cronin said.

At least 80 percent of the Cornell standards are in line with the town’s needs, he added.

At the same time, he advised the board to re-examine standards for road maintenance every five years since circumstances can change. The Island is experiencing increased traffic from heavy trucks that opt to access its roads between North and South ferries, crossing the Island to reach either the North or South forks. There are also more trucks carrying water to fill swimming pools, Mr. Cronin said.

That could result in more frequent need for maintenance to ensure roads don’t fall into disrepair to the point where they need to be replaced rather than resurfaced, he said.

Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. said there are a few roads currently not up to standards and he wants deal with them while taking necessary steps to keep the rest of the Island’s roads on a regular maintenance schedule.

It’s something he and Mr. Cronin have long been seeking in trying to get previous Town Boards to create a capital projects budget. That’s in the works now since Supervisor Gary Gerth took over leadership on January 1. Mr. Gerth has been working with the two men, Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams and members of the town’s Grants and Capital Projects Committee to establish capital budgeting.

Mr. Cronin noted that despite not having a capital projects budget in the past, the Highway Department was able to get enough money to make repairs to a substantial number of roads and said 101 of 172 them are in excellent condition. Mr. Card confirmed that he has updated his list to show roads that have been improved. But he noted that he hasn’t yet had time to look at others that may have deteriorated and might need more expensive fixes in the future.

The town has identified five major sites where dredging typically needs to be performed on a regular basis:
• Silver Beach Lagoon, last dredged in November 2013 with a permit allowing dredging through this August.
• The entrance to West Neck Harbor, for which the permit expired in January.
• The entrance to Dickerson Creek,  which is permitted through January 2021 and was surveyed by the Suffolk Country Department of Public Works in 2013 and determined to have adequate channel depth.
• South Ferry, with a 10-year permit, that was dredged in 2016.

In addition, Mr. Gerth listed in a memo to Commissioner Gil Anderson of the Suffolk County Department of Public Works that the town is focused on the following projects:
• The entrance to Coecles Harbor that “continues to be a great concern as storms have changed and continue to threaten the inlet.”
• The entrance to Menantic Creek and the town landing where the town would like dredging to create a depth of 9 feet.
• An extension to Menantic Creek.
• The entrance to West Neck Harbor, which needs to have a renewed permit that would be modified to create safe passage for the many boats requiring deep water. The spoils from that dredge could be placed at Wades or Shell beaches
• West Neck Creek, which is one of the first locations in Suffolk County to have brown tide algae blooms that could be lessened with dredging to increase flushing action.
• The Merkel Basin/Smith Cove entrance, which needs a new permit since its 1998 permit expired in 2015.

Damage to the north side of the clubhouse at the Shelter Island Country Club, caused by a May 26 auto accident, is temporarily fixed, but work will have to be done on the building. Mr. Card told the board that plywood now covers building where a car hit the wall close to an electrical panel. He said payment for the damage would be financed through insurance and he didn’t envision repairs halting operations at the clubhouse or golf course.

At the same time, he was expecting delivery of a new stove to replace a failing unit that previously had been determined to be dangerous.

Who’s tracking vendors working at Shelter Island beaches? It appears no one. But Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. has agreed to contact three vendors operating at Crescent Beach to let them know they must complete filings at Town Hall to continue doing business.

One vendor is licensed and two have applications pending while a fourth has not applied for a permit. That rankles Councilman Paul Shepherd, who told his colleagues at the work session that he would “fight it tooth and nail” if any other vendors want to set up shop at town beaches.

He wanted assurance that an effort would be made to contact the two businesses that have not completed their registrations and the other one that hasn’t made any effort to register.

Councilman Jim Colligan made a plea to drivers to slow down and watch for turtles crossing roads. He’s seen some tire marks that make it appear drivers were intentionally trying to kill the box turtles. Drivers should stop and, if possible, carry turtles to the side of the road in the direction they are heading. Turtles are generally headed toward water, Mr. Colligan said and to reverse their course is likely to lead them back into the road where they could face being run over by another driver.