Sewer numbers causes uproar at Greenport meeting

Greenport Mayor David Nyce calls for order at Monday night's Village Board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)
Greenport Mayor David Nyce calls for order at Monday night’s Village Board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

What started as a discussion about a sewer hookup agreement with Peconic Landing at a Greenport Village Board meeting Monday night ended in arguments between current Greenport Mayor David Nyce and trustee candidate William Swiskey.

The dispute escalated further when an audience member — local property owner Perry Angelson — called out questions about the sewer deal during the meeting.

Mr. Angelson was furious the board had voted on the agreement at a work session meeting, saying the meeting had been “private” and that the public was not aware of the deal.

After an exchange between the two, in which Mr. Nyce said Mr. Angelson was out of order, Mr. Nyce asked a clerk to call the police to have Mr. Angelson escorted out. Mr. Angelson left on his own accord.

At issue was a roughly $720,000 deal reached between the village and Peconic Landing that set a sewer hook-up fee for the assisted living facility’s expansion. The deal was approved last week and ratified unanimously at Monday’s meeting.

Mr. Swiskey said Peconic Landing gave the village too little money. He cited a quote from village administrator Paul Pallas in that described the expansion as having 78 units. Mr. Swiskey said the village should have pulled in more than $1 million through the deal.

The story in question makes no mention of a “78 unit” figure, quoting Mr. Pallas as saying the expansion was 48 units.

Village officials also said that the quote Mr. Swiskey cited was incorrect. The expansion was not 78 units, they said, but 78 beds, with multiple beds to each unit.

Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said technically only three buildings are being hooked up to the sewer treatment system through the Peconic Landing expansion, but noted that the village code gives the board leeway to increase fees charged for sewer hookups, which the village did in this case.

The village calculated the total sewage capacity of the expansion and then divided that capacity by the 300 gallon per day “unit” it charges businesses who need sewer services from the village, Mr. Nyce said.

Deputy Mayor and mayoral candidate George Hubbard said Peconic Landing was now paying more per unit than it paid when it was first built.

For his part, Mr. Swiskey told a Suffolk Times reporter Tuesday that Mr. Pallas changed his story about the number of units “just to keep Hubbard and the mayor and everybody from looking bad.”

He also said it was improper to sum up the capacity for all the rooms, adding that the 300 gallon per day figure was higher than the figure he used as utilities director in the early 90s.

At a meeting last week ,several days before Tuesday’s argument, Mr. Pallas told a Suffolk Times reporter that the Peconic Landing expansion deal was based on the total capacity of the expansion divided by the 300 gallon per day “unit” the village sells — and not the number of beds.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story stated William Swiskey was running for Greenport Mayor. He is running for a Greenport Village Trustee seat.