Will $40,000 plug leak?

07/22/2010 12:00 AM |

Greenport Village Board members approved a change order Monday night for the wastewater treatment plant project that could cost up to $40,000.

The money will be spent to fix a leak in the berm between two lagoon areas, where wastewater is aerated and stabilized. The repair calls for the installation of a drainage and pump system to capture water that is now leaching through the berm.

On the advice of the engineer of record, the contractor and utilities chief Jack Naylor, Mayor David Nyce asked board members to approve spending up to $40,000 for the work.

Just a month ago, board members weren’t sure there was such a leak, but tests have since confirmed it.

Former utilities chief Bill Swiskey, speaking from the audience, argued against the installation, insisting at Monday’s meeting that the solution won’t work. He predicted that when contractors start drilling in the area to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant, the berm will start leaching water again despite the drain.

While the vote to spend the money was unanimous, Trustee Michael Osinski complained about being asked to approve the expenditure when he had only minutes to review it. But without immediate approval, the mayor argued, the village might have had to take responsibility for delaying the project, which could increase its costs.

Contractors were forced to stop work at the end of last week until the berm is repaired, he said. He estimated the leak at about 2,500 gallons a day through the berm from the operational south lagoon into the north lagoon, which has been emptied and is not in use.

“To make a decision of this magnitude is difficult,” Mayor David Nyce acknowledged. But he said that’s why the village relies on the advice of its engineers.

On another issue, Mr. Naylor told board members that the reason for a battery failure at the village’s electrical substation was that the batteries had been subjected to excessive heat in a poorly ventilated area.

Mr. Swiskey wasn’t buying that explanation either. He told board members that the batteries were allowed to run out of water.

“They failed because of human negligence,” Mr. Swiskey charged. “Who’s head’s going to roll?” he asked.

He got no answer. The board accepted Mr. Naylor’s explanation and the utilities director said steps are being taken to improve ventilation so new batteries won’t have the same kind of damage.


Trustee Chris Kempner declined to withdraw her controversial proposal to ban basement apartments for safety reasons, but she acknowledged the votes weren’t there to pass it when it appears on next Monday’s agenda. She pointed to the need for better code enforcement to assure that residents are living in safe conditions.

Also on Monday, Trustee Mary Bess Phillips proposed the hiring of a part-time code enforcement officer who would work one day a week, backing up the enforcement efforts of building inspector Eileen Wingate and village administrator David Abatelli. The money would come from salary being saved since the resignation of recreation director Linda Ortiz, who also functioned as a part-time code enforcement officer.

Ms. Phillips also wants to require that neighbors be notified when individuals file site plan proposals with the Planning Board. Under current code, neighbors get notice when there is an application for a zoning variance. But when site plan approval involves no change of zoning, neighbors aren’t notified.

The matter became an issue in recent months over a proposed convenience store on the southeast corner of Front and Fourth streets. Neighbors complained that they should have been notified, arguing that while the use was permitted, it represented what they viewed as an intensification of activity on the site. That application was initially approved and then permission was withdrawn pending resolution of some legal issues.


The ever-popular Clark’s Beach — the 8.9 acres of village beach remaining after Suffolk County purchased 6.3 acres — may have to be gated, limiting access to those who obtain special permission to use the site. That was the warning Monday from Mr. Nyce, who said the village can’t afford to maintain the beach and people are using it as a dumping site. The only way to stop it is to gate the area, he said.

The Village Board has been expected to seek a buyer for the remaining beach acreage, but the issue has been put on a back burner in recent months.


The village may condemn a house on Second Street, one of two in the block between Webb and Broad streets that sustained major damage in an August 2008 fire. One of the houses was totally destroyed and the site was cleared to make way for a replacement. But North Fork Housing Authority, owner of both properties, has been delayed in getting money and permission to rebuild the remaining structure.

After two years of waiting, Mr. Nyce said neighbors are fed up and he’s concerned about safety. He suggested the board consider giving NFHA a deadline by which it must either start repairs or demolish the house. He said he wasn’t blaming local NFHA officials, but couldn’t wait much longer.


Mr. Nyce has asked village attorney Joseph Prokop for a legal opinion on when a group needs to obtain a mass assembly permit. At issue was last weekend’s festival at Sts. Anargyroi, Taxiarhis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church on Main Street. Ms. Phillips and others in the audience complained about three days of loud music; she also said vendors were on the edge of the sidewalk, blocking pedestrians.


Mr. Nyce said he wanted to know who was taking water from village fire hydrants. He asked that anyone who sees non-village personnel opening hydrants to call Southold Police and notify village officials.

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