New Bonding Will Boost Town Projects

The East Hampton Town Board decided to issue $2.7 million in bonds

   After approving a three-year capital spending plan last Thursday, which includes projects totaling $12.4 million, the East Hampton Town Board decided to issue $2.7 million in bonds to kick-start a number of projects.
    They include the purchase of computer servers, new trucks and a snowplow, mowers, new boilers, videocameras for police vehicles, a wood grinder for the Sanitation Department, and a vault and a generator for Town Hall. The money will also fund road and sidewalk reconstruction, improvements to the town-owned East Hampton RECenter building, the installation of waste treatment pumps at town docks, and an access ramp at the Montauk Playhouse.
    Six other projects, with a combined price tag of $2.2 million, are undergoing environmental review, and the board is expected to approve borrowing for them at an upcoming meeting.
    The bond issues approved did not include a proposed $300,000 bond to pay consultants to prepare a comprehensive town wastewater management plan. A three-member board majority — Councilmen Peter Van Scoyoc and Dominick Stanzione, with Councilwoman Sylvia Overby — recently approved a bid by a consulting firm, over the objections of Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, but four votes are needed before a bond can be issued.
    Ms. Quigley said she objected because the cost of the work was to be $200,000, not $300,000. But both she and Mr. Wilkinson also voted against a subsequent resolution offered by Ms. Overby to borrow $200,000 for the work.
    Ever since the other board members failed to approve a sale of the town’s wastewater treatment plant to a private operator last year, the supervisor and Ms. Quigley have declined to entertain other courses of action, and opposed the creation of a long-range comprehensive wastewater management plan.
    Ms. Overby said Tuesday that she would discuss the situation with Mr. Stanzione, with whom she had worked to craft an action plan for dealing with septic waste issues. Mr. Stanzione said this week that the money for the plan could be taken from a town operating fund surplus, and noted that only three votes are needed to modify the budget so as to place the sum in the proper line.
    Also last Thursday, the board passed a resolution expressing its “desires to entertain options for an engineered beach” in the Montauk downtown area, which suffered severe erosion after recent storms.
    The town is seeking to be included in beach reconstruction projects to be done by the Army Corps of Engineers and paid for with federal funds. During recent discussions about whether rocks or hard structures might be installed along the shore, the board could not reach consensus on Mr. Wilkinson’s request to issue a blanket approval of whatever the Army Corps might propose.
    Instead, Mr. Van Scoyoc offered to draft a resolution that could be supported unanimously, underscoring the town’s commitment to obtaining federal assistance. Some had suggested that lack of accord on beach rebuilding could hurt the town’s bid for federal dollars.
    After some disagreement on the wording of Mr. Van Scoyoc’s resolution, a slightly amended resolution was adopted unanimously. It reads, in part, that “the Town of East Hampton respectfully supports federal funding and attendant coastal engineering resources from the Army Corps of Engineers for an engineered beach.”
    Both Mr. Van Scoyoc and Ms. Overby would like to engage an independent coastal engineer to advise the town on what to do along the shore, as a consortium of environmentalists urged last week. Ms. Overby said Tuesday that “it is distressing to see that other board members think that they are the professionals to tell us what we should do, without professional help.” The supervisor and Ms. Quigley’s stance on both the wastewater plan and on coastal erosion issues show a “lack of leadership,” she said. “To have the town board impose its will without the professional advice to back it up, I think is a dangerous precedent,” said Ms. Overby.
    Also last Thursday, the board approved, for the second time, revised laws regulating taxicabs and their operators. A previous vote pushed through by Ms. Quigley at a work session, after revisions had been made to an earlier draft, had to be rescinded, as it is unlawful to adopt a law without first reviewing a written draft.
    After public hearings at which no one spoke, the board approved the purchase of several properties. Lots on Copeces Lane and Springs-Fireplace Road in Springs, owned by Kenneth Austin, will be purchased for $1.8 million from the community preservation fund, for open space.
    Approximately three acres on Old Stone Highway, also in Springs, will be purchased from Beverly Kassner for $450,000, also from the community preservation fund. It is adjacent to wetlands and almost eight acres of open space owned by the Nature Conservancy and the town.