Digging of cable sparks opposition from residents

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Long Island Power Authority workers dig test holes Tuesday at the intersection of Bay Shore Road and Island View Lane in Greenport.

The digging has begun.

The Long Island Power Authority is in the early stages of a six-week project to update a faulty distribution cable that runs from the North Fork to Shelter Island.

The more than 20-year-old cable, which failed soon after Hurricane Sandy hit, presents a greater potential for power outages on Shelter Island, especially in the coming summer months when usage spikes, said Nick Lizanich, vice president of transmission and distribution operations for LIPA.

The project, which is expected to cost somewhere between $5 million and $10 million, requires drilling a nearly mile-long underwater hole between Shelter Island and Greenport, ending at the intersection of Bay Shore Road and Island View Lane. LIPA will then insert a pipe into the hole and run the cable through it, Mr. Lizanich said.

The old cable was buried in the sand and exposed to the elements.

LIPA plans to complete the work by May 24, in time for power usage increases on Shelter Island, Mr. Lizanich said.

To meet the swiftly approaching deadline, LIPA employees will be working on the project 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

The anticipated noise, traffic and the overall disturbance the project will bring is alarming to homeowners on Bay Shore Road and Island View Lane.

“It’s literally outside my door,” said Celia Swing, whose living room and kitchen windows overlook the project area. “We will not be able to use at least half of our house based on the noise and all the activity.”

A majority of the work being done is just to the south of her waterfront home.

Jessica Kerr, who lives across the street from Ms. Swing, is one of many homeowners in the area still repairing damage from Hurricane Sandy.

“Our house was damaged by Sandy,” she said. “We had over one foot of water inside the house and everything was destroyed. Can’t they give us time to repair the damage?”

Ms. Kerr said she is concerned about access to her driveway, as trucks were already beginning to park in front of the entrance Tuesday.

Down the road, Irene Barkin said she came home to find markings in red spray paint across the front of her property. She said she is more concerned about the lack of communication with LIPA and does not know what to expect from the project.

“I’m concerned about my property and I can’t get an answer about what they are planning to do,” Ms. Barkin said. “They sent a letter, that’s it. I just don’t want my property destroyed.“

The homeowners are each asking that work hours be limited to Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Ms. Swing said. Many have reached out to Southold Town to try and have the project pushed back.

As a public authority, however, LIPA is not subject to local codes, ordinances or any other relevant statutes administered by the town, said Supervisor Scott Russell. So there is little he can do.

The cable is one of two that carry power to Shelter Island. The other runs from Sag Harbor on the South Fork.

The updated cable will improve reliability for all of the East End.

“The value of having a tie from Greenport to Shelter Island to Sag Harbor, is that will assure there is a backup supply for all of the [communities],” Mr. Lizanich said. “If there is a failure on the North Fork, I will have the ability to feed from the South Fork [or the other way around].”

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