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Shelter Island Town engineer calls for delay on wastewater project

Following a recent broad discussion with Suffolk County Water Authority Deputy CEO Joe Pokorny, the Town Board has asked for next steps in ways to provide fresh drinking water to Center residents.

There is no commitment to create wells in Sachem’s Woods, even if ongoing tests indicate there is fresh water in sufficient quantity available there, Town Engineer Joe Finora said at Tuesday’s work session. He called this step a “feasibility” stage.

Mr. Finora also suggested the Town Board slow down its effort on the Center wastewater project since Shelter Island School has opted to drop out of the area-wide project and install commercial I/A systems on its own.

To accommodate the school, the Town Board was trying to move faster to meet the Board of Education’s concerns. Now it would be appropriate, Mr. Finora said, to re-examine the proposal to determine if the decline in the flow from the school to a treatment facility on Manwaring Road would be considerably less.

Mr. Finora acknowledged new numbers would likely show less flow to the treatment system, but the possibility of the Board of Education later wanting to tap into an area-wide wastewater system could increase the outflow.

That’s an option the Board of Education left open, while maintaining it was now necessary to move ahead with its independent project, because waiting longer with its aged septics in place was something the school district didn’t want to chance.

Accordingly, pushing ahead with a State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) environmental study has to await potentially new information, so SEQRA will be delayed on the advice of Town Attorney Stephen Kiely.

Mr. Finora said the Town Hall complex is under a Suffolk County Department of Health Services mandate to improve its water, since the building is public, so delays can’t last indefinitely.