JULIE LANE PHOTO | Hoot Sherman, representing the contractor for repairs at St. Gabriel’s Retreat Center, at the Waterways Management Advisory Committee Monday night.
With cautionary words from Town Councilman Peter Reich about not going “down a slippery slope,” the Waterways Management Advisory Committee proposed a solution Monday night to deal with needed repairs to the seriously damaged St. Gabriel’s Retreat Center bulkhead.
Mr. Reich, who attended the meeting via speakerphone, was concerned about waiving the usual two-year period from the time of approval to complete a project and allowing the Passionist Fathers, who own the site, five years.
That could set a dangerous precedent for future applicants, Mr. Reich said, noting the length of the St. Gabriel’s bulkhead, about 1600 feet, is not unique. Camp Quinipet is going to be applying for bulkheading and Mr. Reich expects that project will be twice as long.
“I hope their application won’t be as wishy-washy as this,” Mr. Reich said, referring to what started as a very vague application on work intended for the St. Gabriel’s site. The original application suggested patch work that both the WMAC and Town Board thought was inadequate.
To avoid that “slippery slope” to which Mr. Reich referred, the WMAC will recommend that the Town Board approve two applications — one to deal with 1,300 feet of bulkheading and a second to deal with a remaining 300 feet. The initial application could be approved now and if the work isn’t finished within two years, the applicant could seek one-year extensions as work continued.
But another factor for the Passionist Fathers is the cost of repairs and a deadline that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has set for completing work by October 29, 2014, if the owners are to recover some money for the rebuilding.
Mr. Reich said he would recommend the town waive a fee for the second application, but it would be up to his Town Board colleagues to agree. The application also calls for stair repairs and a concrete walkway on the landward side of the bulkhead. Still pending is the Department of Environmental Conservation’s review of dock and ramp repairs.
“Can you handle this scenario?”WMAC hairman John Needham asked Hoot Sherman, who represents the property owners.
“At this point, I’ll handle any scenario,” Mr. Sherman replied.
The Town Board has a public hearing slated for Friday afternoon before it makes a decision on whether or not to approve the project.