In the wake of an April 3 decision by the Deer & Tick Committee to reject a proposal for the town to burn open spaces to control ticks, Supervisor Gary Gerth said the Fire Department would begin training for residents to have controlled burns on their properties.
At the April 12 Town Board meeting, Mr. Gerth said the town is instituting a plan for controlled burns on private property. After consulting with Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) Mr. Gerth was told there is no license or permit needed, but the burns will be controlled and regulated by the Fire Department.
There will be no burns this year, Mr. Gerth said, but a training session on a lot near South Ferry will take place with the date and time to be announced.
Next year, the supervisor said, at least 12 residents who apply for the burns will be accommodated.
Mr. Gerth said that burns reduced ticks on lots up to 96 percent and were good for two to three years.
In other business: The board passed a resolution allocating up to $40,000 from the town’s reserve fund to clean-up drinking water at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church.
After excessively high levels of nitrates were found in the church’s water, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services mandated that the town fix the problem. The county ruled that since the town had nutritional programs in the church building, along with a partially town-funded pre-school program, the church is a “public water supplier” and must have potable water.
The money will come out of the reserve fund, but the town may seek reimbursement from the Water Quality Improvements Advisory Board (WQI) after a public hearing.
The WQI is funded through a 2 percent tax on property that buyers pay, which had been used for years solely to purchase and preserve open space. But a referendum passed in November 2016 declared that up to 20 percent of that money could be used for water quality improvement projects. The WQI was created to vet and promote clean water projects using that money.
When the funds for the church project was discussed at the April 9 Town Board work session, most members agreed that the WQI would foot the bill.
But Councilman Albert Dickson, who stressed he was all in favor of the remediation efforts, cautioned his colleagues that dipping into the WQI for all water project would set a dangerous precedent. In the future, Mr. Dickson said, the WQI could be used for projects not spelled out in its mandate.
The board agreed to pass a resolution to take money from the town’s reserve fund.