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Supervisor, committee chairman cross swords at public meeting over airfield use for Center wastewater project

Cantankerous describes the encounter between Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board and Supervisor Gerry Siller Monday morning.

The dispute focused on how CPF-acquired properties may or may not be used for anything more than preserving land for passive activities, such as hiking. A recommendation from Lombardo Associates to locate a waste treatment system at Klenawicus Airfield has been flaring since the report was made public a couple of weeks ago.

The Monday dust-up started with Mr. Gooding saying he wanted to ensure the Advisory Board would be engaged in the conversation about possible use of the airfield, and that Mr. Siller had not reached any conclusion about whether the airfield would be an appropriate site for the treatment system.

“We’re just looking to be included,” Mr. Gooding said.

The Advisory Board should have been heard prior to public release of the Lombardo report, member Cathy Kenny said.

That the controversial recommendation was put forward without such consultation “creates rancor,” Albert “Twoey” Brayson said.

Mr. Siller, one of the liaisons to the CPF Advisory Board, said the suggestion of the use of the airfield was one of several possible sites and representatives of all committees would have opportunities to raise questions and present comments at the following day’s Town Board work session.

Mr. Gooding jumped in at that point saying he had information indicating that Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. had approved use of the airfield.

The Town Attorney is not in a position to approve anything, Mr. Siller said.

Mr. DeStefano said he previously clarified that he wasn’t approving the use, but simply offering an opinion that it would be legal to use the airfield, but it would be up to the Town Board to decide whether or not to approve its use.

Mr. Gordon tried several times to put an end to the discussion, saying it wasn’t his intention to create more controversy.

But Mr. Siller insisted that the discussion go forward, charging Mr. Gooding with lying in his statement about having written proof that Mr. DeStefano had approved use of the airfield for the wastewater treatment system.

“You might take a lesson in listening,” Mr. Gordon said.

Mr. DeStefano reiterated his previous statement that he was simply commenting on the legality of using the site, not rendering a decision by the Town Board that has yet to act on the decision.

The agenda for the Jan. 11 Town Board work session called for a discussion by members of various committees, the CPF Advisory Board included, to comment on the Lombardo report.

In other actions, the CPF Advisory Board:

• Revealed a major acquisition is in progress. Mr. Gooding said he was disappointed not to be able to close on the property prior to the end of 2021. But member Chuck Kraus said the closing is expected shortly.

• Noted that a virtual presentation of its “This Land Is Your Land” exhibit at the Shelter Island Historical Society of CPF sites is available on the society’s website — shelterislandhistorical.org.

• Noted a book is being compiled by Ms. Kenny featuring the properties acquired on the Island for preservation.

• Heard from resident and Stony Brook University fellow Maggie Murphy about her project to concentrate on the “hidden walks” around the Island created by the various acquisitions.