The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday, February 23 once again tabled adoption of its Water Protection Plan for another month, until March 22. Newly elected Councilman John Bouvier asked for the latest adjournment to give him and Councilwoman Christine Scalera the opportunity to make some final tweaks to the document, which the board has been working on for several years.
Originally, the plan, sponsored by former Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, was supposed to be the town’s own version of a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, a document that would give the town broad authority over waterfront issues, but Ms. Fleming was unable to generate the support needed to adopt that plan, and the board settled on a streamlined version that offers a dozen broad polices for dealing with protection of the town’s water resources.
Kevin McAllister, the director of the organization Defend H2O, questioned why the document did not contain language addressing the possibility the town would need to consider “the notion of coastal retreat” in the face of the expected rise in sea level as global warming continues. “It’s going to require special management,” he said, noting that plans such as a proposed $10 million project to raise the height of Dune Road could go for naught if sea level rise continues at its current pace. “They’re profound, the changes we can expect,” he said.
The only other speaker, Ann Reisman of North Sea, urged the board to adopt the plan, noting that it had been working on the current version of the scaled back plan for a year and a half already and that water quality issues were becoming the town’s top priority. – Stephen J. Kotz