Mayor says he’d prefer to extend sewer service on North Fork, not Shelter Island

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Greenport Mayor David Nyce (left) and North Fork Environmental Council president Bill Toedter found themselves in agreement Monday night on a proposed sewer pipeline between the village and Shelter Island Heights. Both prefer to extend sewer service to North Fork communities on the mainland.

Greenport Mayor David Nyce told members of the North Fork Environmental Council Monday night that he shares their views on the need to extend sewer service to other North Fork communities rather than construct a pipeline to enable Shelter Island Heights residents to tap into the village’s sewer system.

At the same time, he cautioned that he is only one of a five-member Village Board. Trustee Mary Bess Phillips, who attended Monday night’s NFEC board meeting at Floyd Memorial Library, had previously expressed concerns about the safety of a pipeline she feared could leak and pollute local waters.

For the second time in about 10 years, the Shelter Island Heights Property Corporation had approached village officials in December about the possibility of tapping into the village sewer system. Last time, the HPOC withdrew its proposal, citing high costs.

That cost has since increased, according to NFEC president Bill Toedter who said Monday morning, “It was a bad idea under the previous administration and is still a bad idea.” The NFEC’s concern is that any leak in the pipeline could go undetected for a long time, posing a “ridiculously high” chance of serious water pollution, Mr. Toedter said.

At Monday night’s meeting, the Mr. Nyce said he recognizes there are areas on the North Fork where  a rising sea level and aging home septic systems pose an environmental threat. He said he’d prefer to look to those communities in Southold Town for new customers, he said. Following a recently completed upgrade to the village’s waste water treatment plant, the Greenport sewer system is now running at less than half its capacity, he said.

HPOC general manager Julie Ben-Susan wasn’t at Monday night’s meeting, but said earlier in the day that the organization’s exploration of a pipeline to Greenport was in a very preliminary stage and isn’t the only alternative for handling the area’s sewage.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell also spoke with the NFEC board Monday night, outlining preliminary efforts to comply with federal and state mandates pertaining to keeping storm water runoff from polluting Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound.

The town spent $2 million on mitigation efforts in the past year, he said, but is looking to better assess the problem before spending more money.

For more on Monday night’s meeting pick up a copy of Thursday’s issue of The Suffolk Times.

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