Columns

Codger: On the waterfront

While pre-habbing for a hip replacement in two weeks, Codger has been reading a book so scary in its planetary prognosis that he has hardly had time to think about his own moldy bones.

If you believe in science, it’s time to pray. Within the lifetime of Codger’s children and grandchildren, it will become too hot to work outside in many parts of the world. By that time, of course, people there may have already died of thirst or drowned.

The name of the book is, “The Uninhabitable Earth.” It’s not a fun read, although the author, David Wallace-Wells, is curiously optimistic. Since we created the problem, he says, we might be able to fix it. In a recent essay, Al Gore agrees.

Saving the world is not in Codger’s contract, so he’d rather think about the prime climate-based problem of Shelter Island’s future, which is water quality. This is complicated by the climate disregard and dumb bullying out of Washington that have started to seep into Island politics.

Creepy seepage alert: A reasonable request by Jim Colligan to stem the rising tide of three-abreast bike riders evoked a resident’s response comparing the councilman to Colonel Klink, the Nazi commander of a prisoner-of-war camp in the 1960’s sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes.”

As noted before, Colligan is being targeted by the opposition in the upcoming election, but this was pretty shady for Island politics. A Nazi camp commander? Really? Codger would rather believe the attack was the work of a Russian hacker from Southampton.

Who ever knows these days?

Codger does know that this is how the trolls try to take your eye off the ball, create a partisan scuffle to divert attention from, say, rising sea levels, salt-water intrusion into wells, super-sized homes, pesticides, irrigation, pool-topping, nitrogen pollution into drinking water and baywater, short-term-rentals and the seemingly lax regulation of building near waterfront and wetlands. Call them battles for property rights, but Codger calls them skirmishes in the Water War.

The current scuffle at Bootleggers Alley, where new owners want to replace two recently built waterfront houses with a monster manse, some 11,000-square-feet yuuuge, is an example. The site is in a drinking “water-challenged” neighborhood, according to Councilman Albert Dickson. The house will have 11 bedrooms, although the owners’ lawyers have been assuring the board that people will not be sleeping in all of them. Maybe some will be media rooms, sewing rooms, music rooms, ahhh, reading rooms, no wet bars allowed. Codger will drink to that.

As the board’s discussion about the building application dragged on this summer, people began to cite the site as a harbinger of the Island’s possible future as an unregulated dump for mega houses and pack-‘em-in weekend rentals, which could sometimes be the same.

This could make the Island uninhabitable, at least for everyday folk, even before rising waters do.

But, wait. There’s always something newer and more interesting on the Island. The “farmhouse“ on Cobbetts Lane catches Codger’s eye. It’s offered for $15 million. Last year, a Sagaponack couple bought, for $1.6 million, two parcels of land there for a house and their horses, they said, and legally leveled a stand of old pine trees. Some neighbors used the word “desecrates” to describe what had been done to the neighborhood, another compared it to abortion. Creepy seepage. The new owners, in a Reporter ad, were sarcastically dismissive in response.

All was free speech, Codger maintained at the time, but the excessive snideness seemed to not bode well for the tone of things to come.

No worries. It’s much jollier now. According to a recent prospectus for that four-plus acre property, there is room for a six-building “family farm,” which has been designed as an “adult playground.”

Half the playground, although “suited for horses, livestock, vegetable farming or other uses,” could also be used as a vineyard (grapes love water, notes Codger) or “as a site for a guest house or another home.”

How many bedrooms? Wet bars? Will the Town Board be supervising construction, and who will be on that board then?

But what truly got Codger’s attention was the considerate connection the sellers have made with Shoreline Aviation so the buyers would never have to languish on the Long Island Expressway: “From New York’s 23rd street Skyport Marina travel time by seaplane to the farmhouse front porch swing is about 30 minutes.” That includes the estimated two-minute walk from “Dering beach.”

The global warming costs of plane flights have been extensively reported lately, including in that scary book, so Codger perversely added the cost of a Shoreline roundtrip from 23d Street to Crescent Beach for himself and Crone this coming weekend.

It was $3,000. He couldn’t feel his hip at all. Cheap at the price.