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Changes envisioned in preservation purchases

Shelter Island’s community preservation acquisition plan is out of date. That’s according to State legislation that created the Community Housing Fund (CPF) back in 1998 that requires East End towns to revisit their acquisition plans every five years.

The last review for Shelter Island took place in 2014, Supervisor Gerry Siller told the Town Board at the Jan. 24 work session.

In the past year, Mr. Siller recognized there was a need to include a public hearing in the process before CPF money could be spent on any acquisition and the Town Board implemented that process.

There has also been the creation of a Water Quality Improvement Advisory Board to structure how up to 20% of CPF money could be spent on projects to improve water quality.

Money for the CPF comes from a 2% tax that buyers pay when purchasing East End properties and is used in turn to purchase open space for preservation and fund water protection programs.

The State legislation lists water quality and maintenance of community character as two of the major issues that need to be addressed with each acquisition considered. But there are other provisions of the legislation authored by Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor)  that could need to be applied to the process. Mr. Thiele recognized that circumstances could change over time and he incorporated a need for the towns to revisit the process of funding acquisitions every five years.

Among the requirements is creation of a prioritized list of possible CPF acquisitions. It has existed before in a more informal ways, but not in line with what the legislation requires.

The Town Board will begin its work, revisiting the requirements of the CPF legislation and work with the CPF Advisory Board to ensure the Town is adhering to the requirements of the legislation, Mr. Siller said.

Grant funding

The Town has received a $100,000 grant from Suffolk County for the next three years to address the opioid addiction problem. The application called for $70,000 to be used for the Town’s work with the East End Drug Force and the balance to augment funding for a town social worker.

Suffolk County has begun distributing funds from multi-million dollar settlement agreements New York State reached with major opioid distributors and retail pharmacies.

The state provided funding through the county to applicants from municipalities heavily impacted by the opioid crisis.

Cozy Lane house

The house at 9 Cozy Lane, which is not just an eyesore but a danger for neighbors as it has deteriorated, has been inspected by a structural engineer who declared its structural integrity has been compromised.

Town Engineer Joe Finora will also file a report on his similar findings, Mr. Siller said. A letter will go out to the owner of record, William R. Conroy, but the last time a letter about the house was sent, Mr. Conroy refused to accept it.

A new letter will inform Mr. Conroy of a date to be set for a hearing so that he or his representative can speak. But it will fall to the Town Board to decide to either board up and secure the house or demolish it.

Councilman Jim Colligan said he didn’t think Silver Beach neighbors would be happy with anything but removal of the house.

He said a garage on the property appears to house items the owner could claim, but if they aren’t claimed, they could be sold with the money used to offset the cost of work done on the property.

Mr. Conroy would be responsible for costs associated with the action the Town Board takes, but if there was a failure to pay, a lien would be put on the property.