Town Set to Correct Funding Error for Harbor Water Quality Project

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman gives his annual State of the Town message before the May 28 Town Board meeting. Peter Boody photo

The Southampton Town Board seemed ready on Tuesday to correct a $22,000 funding error made late last year when it awarded the Village of Sag Harbor $264,000 in Community Preservation Funds for a water quality improvement project proposed by the village’s Harbor Committee and Board of Trustees.

The plan calls for drainage retrofits, drywells, rain gardens, tree trenches and leaching systems at seven locations around the village to reduce the volume of polluted storm water runoff that reaches the bay system and local surface waters.

There was a simple addition error in the estimated price tag last year when Sag Harbor submitted its proposal to the town, Assistant Town Planning Director Janice Scherer told the Town Board. She said on Tuesday that “they missed it and we missed it.” The proposal was back before the board for the shortfall, bringing its total cost to $286,000.

Last year, the town awarded about $3.5 million in CPF funding for water quality improvement project across the town. At a public hearing on the first round of CPF water quality funding for 2019, four proposals were presented, including the one for Sag Harbor Village.

The others were a carp removal and control plan for Mill Pond in Water Mill proposed by the Mill Pond Association; a Southampton Village plan to install dry wells in the drainage infrastructure near the train station to reduce runoff reaching Lake Agawam; and a Southampton Town Trustees plan to acquire more water quality sensors for Mecox Bay as a part of a system it is developing to help officials decide when to open the “cut” from the bay to the ocean to improve water quality and reduce flooding.

No one spoke in opposition to any of the proposals and board members appeared set to grant a total of $344,482 in funding. But when Councilman John Bouvier and other board members looked through their agendas, they found no resolution on which to vote. “It probably will be on at the next board meeting” Mr. Bouvier told spectators in the audience eager to know their projects had been funded.

State of the Town

Supervisor Jay Schneiderman started off Tuesday’s meeting with a glowing State of the Town report, calling the “state of the town excellent.” He said its financial management practices and policies have gotten “the highest ratings and recognition from outside agencies.” He noted that there were no “reportable deficiencies” listed in the town’s most recent state audit and “not even any recommendations for improvement.”

The town has seen 80 affordable housing units built in five projects, most of them rentals, he said; and he noted it recently eased the lot-size requirement for adding an affordable accessory rental apartment to existing houses. He said two have already been approved and 12 are in the application process.

A “massive renovation” of the Ponquogue Beach pavilion in Hampton Bays was completed in time for Memorial Day weekend, the supervisor noted, and the town is restoring Tiana Life Saving Station — more recently Neptune’s nightclub — to become a museum.

Mr. Schneiderman hailed the replacement of all streetlighting in the town system with far more efficient, cheaper-to-operate LED fixtures; the town’s acquisition of the Hampton Bays Senior Center, which it has been leasing; and its acquisition from the county of the Shinnecock Commercial Fishing Dock.

The town’s efforts to improve water quality are having an impact, he said, including an absence of brown tide in Shinnecock Bay for the first time in 12 years last summer. “I think what we’re doing is working,” he said.

Other Business

Also on Tuesday, among other actions, the Town Board:

  • Authorized an additional $4 million in funding in addition to the $5 million bond previously authorized to purchase and renovate the Hampton Bays Senior Center.
  • Approved a neighborhood request to ban parking on both sides of Meadowlark Lane in Bridgehampton from Ocean Road to Surfside Drive and to add a stop sign on Meadowlark at Surfside Drive. Irving Shafran thanked the board and praised town engineer Christine Fetten and her staff for their help in developing the plan.