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Preservation Board concerned about water use

Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board Chairman Gordon Gooding.

While the Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board is charged with recommending land acquisitions to the Town Board for purchase with money from a 2% tax paid by property buyers, members agreed on Monday morning that they would like to have a say about water use.

Board Chairman Gordon Gooding brought up the topic at the regular CPF monthly meeting, telling his colleagues he’s not happy about mega-houses being built here. Member Chuck Kraus said he would like to see a moratorium on construction of new houses that occupy more than 5,000 square feet of living space.

“We have to learn how to say no” to proposals that threaten the water supply and can affect the quality of water on the Island, Mr. Gooding said.

“Sometimes I feel I’m the voice in the woods,” said Councilman Albert Dickson, liaison to the CPF. He’s been more outspoken than some of his colleagues on the subject of large projects. “We’re reaching a tipping point” on the Island that needs to be addressed, he added.

Supervisor Gary Gerth told CPF members views are changing on the Town Board and encouraged CPF members to attend the next meeting where the issues of water use and mega houses are being discussed.

The supervisor also said he anticipates action on a 17-point water use program he introduced early in his tenure.

Until now, the CPF committee and the Shelter Island Trail Club members have taken primary responsibility for stewardship of properties acquired with CPF money.

They would still have responsibility for local acquisitions, but could create their own volunteer program similar to one under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

At the same time, for those acquisitions acquired by the state, Heather Amster, regional real estate property supervisor for the DEC, was on hand to encourage more volunteer efforts.

Individuals or groups can apply to the DEC to act as volunteer stewards taking on a number of responsibilities, including lawn mowing on state preserved sites, picking up litter, or reporting violations on properties so the DEC can take action.

A volunteer or group can choose what responsibilities to take on and an agreement will be written between the DEC and the individual or group.

The DEC doesn’t encourage volunteers to confront illegal situations they may encounter, but they should report those violations to the DEC for investigation, Ms. Amster said. The town can also request signs and even kiosks for state-acquired lands here.

Volunteers are covered for liabilities by the state as long as they act in a way specified by their contracts with the DEC.

“We’re down to bare bones, which makes the volunteer program more important,” Ms. Amster said.