It’s easy to understand why some residents of Fifth Street in Greenport want the Village Board to say no to PSEG-Long Island’s plan to run an electric cable under their road and across the bay to Shelter Island.
The project, as originally proposed, is meant to improve electric reliability on Shelter Island and not the North Fork.
It also should be noted that a similar project in Southold, proposed by PSEG’s predecessor, ended badly in 2013 when construction failed after residents of Pipes Cove had endured months of noise and debris generated by the work.
It’s that latter inconvenience that has Fifth Street residents particularly concerned about how they’ll be affected by the new proposal.
But with any negotiation, it’s all about striking the balance between the good and the bad. While it once appeared Greenport would see too little benefit from the project, leaving this newspaper to argue against the project in September, the village has since negotiated a better deal.
Board members said the proposal now includes a $1.3 million cash payment from PSEG, as well as road paving work and free installation of an electrical switch that could shorten village power outages.
The switch is expected to prevent the lengthy blackouts that have shut down village businesses and left residents without power several times in recent years. The cash payment, meanwhile, represents a 30 percent increase over what was initially presented to the public.
While negotiations still have to be completed — mostly with regard to construction logistics — it appears the village is on the right track with a proposal that will inconvenience some homeowners but ultimately serve the greater good of the village.
This is no longer about improving reliability on Shelter Island, but in Greenport, too. And the funds can be put to good use in a village that desperately needs infrastructure upgrades.
While some residents feel the board should have held out for more money, there’s no evidence to suggest any cash was left on the table.
There will always be some dissent when navigating complicated issues, but on this particular project, it appears the village saw to it that the rewards outweighed the disadvantages.
Photo credit: Paul Squire