Utilities claimed the attention of Greenport Village Board members at Monday night’s work session as they learned that they need to apply for extensions on funding for the wastewater treatment plant project, that the long-delayed electric plant upgrade is finally poised to begin and that the village can’t yet seek a hike in sewer rates.
Despite previous assertions that he saw no need for more time on federal funding of the wastewater treatment plant project, utilities director Jack Naylor acknowledged Monday that extensions are now being sought. When contracts were signed in July 2007, the project was to be completed within four years to guarantee the more than $4 million coming from the federal government. The project was to be completed by September. That work, which is now galloping along, was delayed by foul weather and lack of coordination among various contractors on the $9 million project, according to Mr. Naylor.
At the electric department, the village resolicited bids to find a company to calibrate instrumentation, controls and protective relays for outdoor switch gear. New bids are expected this week and that work could get under way next week.
Meanwhile, a planned hearing to discuss an increase in sewer rates was put on hold because board members and the public still haven’t seen the information supporting a hike. The hearing would have occurred on Monday, May 23, but has been postponed at least until June, according to Mr. Nyce.
PUT ASSETS TO WORK
Trustee Chris Kempner wants the board to issue requests for proposals to lease the part of Clark’s Beach the village still owns and to move forward as soon as possible on finding a use for the former scavenger waste plant site. She also called for seeking grant money to expand McCann Campgrounds and suggested trying to rent out the space previously used by the harbormaster for events.
All could result in more revenue flowing to village coffers, Ms. Kempner said, adding that she believes it’s likely Gov. Andrew Cuomo will succeed in passing a 2 percent tax hike cap for next year. That could make it difficult for the village to meet its debt obligations without service cuts, unless there’s a means of bringing in more money, she said.
Mr. Nyce said he’s awaiting a letter from Southold Town acknowledging that the scavenger waste site is now clean and able to be used for other purposes. The village is also negotiating with the town over some back rent Southold reportedly owes, he said.
THIS TIME, THEY MEAN BUSINESS
Memorial Day weekend will bring enforcement of new parking regulations and parking meters to downtown village streets. The the cost of buying the meters, changing signs and re-striping parking spots is being financed as a capital project. In addition to the debt service costs, the village must also pay for a traffic control officer assigned by Southold Police to enforce the regulations.
Drivers might also notice new signs at Webb Street that prohibit vehicles from traveling east between Second and First Streets.
Too many accidents resulting from the convergence of traffic at the intersection of Webb, First and Main streets led the board to change the traffic flow. The signs went up this week.
Fire Chief Kenny White requested a reversal of the change Monday night, but was told that emergency vehicles with flashing lights can always ignore such restrictions when responding to a call. It’s usual to post personnel at such spots to direct traffic when emergency vehicles need to be given the right of way.
Mr. Nyce is coordinating with Peconic Land Trust on plans for the Exxon-Mobil property at the end of Fourth Street to be covered in natural plantings that the PLT would initially maintain. Exxon-Mobil would like that to happen, since it no longer uses the site for business, the mayor said. The mayor said he hopes to work out an agreement for payments in lieu of taxes with Exxon-Mobil, which currently pays about $12,000 in village taxes, and a possible deal with Southold Town that could result in access to community preservation program funds available for long-term site stewardship.
MARITIME FESTIVAL FOOD
Village Board members are wondering how to accommodate vendors at September’s annual Maritime Festival, the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation’s primary fundraiser, without commercializing Mitchell Park or angering local merchants. Trustee Mary Bess Phillips wants to limit vendors in the park to those who have a specific maritime connection. But Mr. Nyce wants to allow food vendors in the park and take them off Front and Main streets so they’re not competing with local restaurants. Ms. Phillips questioned the need for food vendors since there’s plenty of food and drink available from established village businesses.
Trustee George Hubbard suggested keeping food vendors on the streets, but moving them away from restaurants. Trustee Chris Kempner said Oyster Bay has specific rules for its festivals about what types of vendors can participate and where they can be located. The mayor agreed to reach out to that community for some guidance and to continue to coordinate efforts with museum board members. Museum board chairman Ted Webb has said he needs the vendors because they provide financial support for the festival, but he’s willing to work with the village to limit the use of Mitchell Park and do what he can to cooperate with local merchants.
SCHOOL’S ALMOST OPEN
On June 17, the village plans to celebrate for the opening of the old schoolhouse on Front Street opposite First Street. Details haven’t yet been made public. June 29 marks the 10th anniversary of the dedication of Mitchell Park.
NO MONEY FOR SHAKESPEARE
Mr. Nyce’s plea to provide funding for a Northeast Stage production of “Romeo and Juliet” in Mitchell Park this summer fell on deaf ears. As the village cuts spending, the board has providing financial help to that group and other nonprofits. The mayor’s call to give the company $2,000 drew no support.