JULIE LANE FILE PHOTO | Inventor Ken von der Heyden speaking with the Waterways Management Advisory Council in March.
The writing has been on the wall practically from the beginning, but at its Monday night meeting, the Waterways Management Advisory Council brought an end to its consideration of the proposal for the MoonCurrent tidal turbine system that, according to its inventor, would save Island residents money on electric bills. Inventor E.K. von der Heyden of Sag Harbor has been shuttling between the Town Board and WMAC trying to get permission to dock his invention in the South Ferry Channel, not far from where South Ferry launches its boats to North Haven.
Committee member James Eklund said he wouldn’t have objected to a short-term off-season docking and test, but Mr. von der Heyden has been emphatic about needing a long-term test in order to satisfy potential investors.
It’s a narrow channel that’s heavily used, especially in the summer, said WMAC Chairman John Needham. However, Mr. Needham also reported that Bill Clark of the South Ferry had voiced no objection to the turbine’s location.
But Peter Reich, a Town Board liaison to WMAC, voiced concern about the system’s electrical cable, which would be free-floating, not buried as other cables are. He saw anchoring the cable as a problem and believed there was a potential for it to snap.
“Electricity and water don’t mix,” he said.
WMAC member Bill Geraghty called it “a science project” that hadn’t been thought through.
“I don’t think he’s done his engineering work on it,” member George Zinger said. A strong westerly wind would drag the platform in front of the ferry slips, he predicted.
“I can’t believe we’re talking about it,” member Marc Wein commented. If a group like the Long Island Power Authority brought a plan with all the engineering in place, it would be different, he said.
At the end of the discussion, the board voted unanimously, 6-0 with Alfred Loreto absent, to recommend to the Town Board that it cancel any further consideration of the project.
Mr. von der Heyden, who wasn’t at Monday night’s meeting, said in a telephone interview Tuesday morning, he has been “gathering experts” and would still like an opportunity to present his plan to the people of Shelter Island and explain how it could lower their electric rates.
“It’s never been explained to anybody,” he said.
In other actions, WMAC is recommending to the Town Board:
• Approval of an application from Russell Ireland of 118 South Midway Road for a stake, mooring and pulley system in West Neck Harbor. Mr. Wein voted against the recommendation, saying he wouldn’t object to a mooring, but saw a stake pulley system setting a precedent in that area that could result in a string of “clotheslines” coming out from the shore. The others supported the application, but said if there’s a need to go more than 100 feet out from the mean high water mark, Mr. Ireland would have to come back for permission.
• Approval of an application from John and Tatem Fichthorn of 19 Montclair Avenue to replace 102 feet of bulkhead, install a new backing system; provide 10 feet of non-turf buffer landward of the bulkhead; revegetate the area with native plants; reconstruct 60 feet of the end of an offshore fixed dock; replace pilings, caps, stringers and decking; and install a new 32-foot by 2-foot seasonal ramp and a 6-foot by 20-foot floating dock secured by two-pile anchor dolphins.
• Approval of an applºication from James Corl of 5 Winthrop Road for a riparian mooring located 165 feet off the end of his dock in Dering Harbor, east of his waterfront property.
• Approval of an application from James Eklund of 59 South Midway Road for a private mooring that had been occupied by Doug Matz. Mr. Eklund recused himself from the vote.