Wastewater Debate Overflows

    Consultants to East Hampton Town will discuss the development of a wastewater management plan at a public presentation on Monday at 1 p.m. at Town Hall.

    Pio Lombardo of Lombardo Associates and Kevin Phillips and Stephanie Davis of the FPM Group will address the three components of the plan: wastewater management, scavenger waste management, and water-quality monitoring.

    According to an announcement, they will focus on “the project’s science-based methodology” that will define “the corrective actions needed to achieve environmental and economic sustainability, to restore the impaired waters in East Hampton, and to protect the town’s valuable aquatic resources.”

    The consultants are expected to produce an action plan in the next six to eight months, with public participation through the appointment of an advisory committee that would hold monthly public meetings. A Web site, EHWaterRestore.com, will provide information and an opportunity for members of the public to communicate with the consultants.

    A town board majority voted on April 4 to hire the consultants, a consortium including Lombardo, FPM, and the Woods Hole Group, to develop the comprehensive plan at a cost not to exceed $197,989. East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley had fought against developing the plan; Mr. Wilkinson was absent from the April vote, while Ms. Quigley voted no.

    At a board work session on Tuesday, Ms. Quigley took issue with the circulation, by Mr. Lombardo, of an e-mail announcement about Monday’s public meeting. Reading a list of the recipients — elected regional officials, environmental leaders, several private citizens, and a Montauk businessman — she said that “these people, in my mind, are all of a persuasion. Other than Paul Monte, these are all government people and special interest-group people.” The problem is, she said, that the notice was sent “to a bunch of environmental groups, and one businessman.”

    “Why are we limiting the invitation list? Where is Joe Public?” the councilwoman asked. According to town policy, Ms. Quigley said, the members of any appointed advisory committee must represent different points of view.

    News of the meeting, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Sylvia Overby told her, was to be disseminated to the public through the media. The e-mails, said Mr. Van Scoyoc, were an additional notice to people “both in the community and within the region” who are “prominent people” who have expressed an interest in seeing the wastewater management plan move forward. It was “prudent,” he said, “to contact people in leadership positions that would inform other people” of the meeting.

    The members of the advisory committee are to be selected by the town board in a separate process.

    Mr. Wilkinson, too, objected to Mr. Lombardo’s having taken the initiative to publicize the meeting. But Councilman Dominick Stanzione, a strong proponent of the long-term planning effort, said he had “no problem with the initial invitation list. I’m excited for the project to get started.”

    “Sure, give [Mr. Lombardo] whatever responsibility you want to,” Mr. Wilkinson said to Mr. Stanzione, calling the process “laissez-faire management.”

    By phone later on Tuesday, Mr. Lombardo said that during the first few months of the project the consultants would identify the issues affecting water quality, such as bacterial contamination (an excess of nutrients). By late November, he said, the goal is to “zoom in on solutions and alternative solutions” and to lay out options and budget estimates for the town board.