Vote to Join Estuary Coalition

    In a split vote last Thursday, the East Hampton Town Board agreed to join a coalition of municipalities surrounding the Peconic Estuary, in order to work together on water-quality goals.

    The proposed inter-municipal agreement had been a matter of contention for several weeks, as Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Sylvia Overby pressed for East Hampton to join in, while Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said the proposal had not yet been thoroughly vetted, and raised questions about details of the agreement.

    “I oppose the process,” said Ms. Quigley before voting against joining the multi-town group last Thursday. “Open government demands discussion in public.”

    After expressing a similar view last month, Ms. Quigley arranged for a presentation at the board’s July 30 meeting by those organizing the regional coalition, Alison Branco of the Peconic Estuary Program and Eileen Keenan of New York Sea Grant. Once the group is formed, they said, the participants — towns, villages, the county, and the New York State Department of Transportation have been approached — would set annual goals and parameters.

    Ms. Quigley protested last week that only two other municipalities had signed on. Others, Ms. Branco had told the board, are in the process of deciding.

    East Hampton’s “process started in April of 2011,” said Ms. Overby, referring to early discussions of a potential coalition. “I am embarrassed that we did not lead the pack — that we are number three to sign on. We should have been number one,” she said. “We should have been helping the Peconic Estuary Program to get other municipalities to sign on.”

    With Supervisor Wilkinson absent, the resolution authorizing East Hampton’s participation was passed by Ms. Overby, Mr. Van Scoyoc, and Councilman Dominick Stanzione.

    The joint efforts envisioned include remediation of impaired water bodies, and prevention of further pollution from road runoff, as required by federal and state Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) regulations.