Featured Letter: Time for village to focus on sewers

To the editor:

From Peconic Landing to Brewer Yacht Yard to County Executive Bellone’s initiatives on reducing nitrogen pollution in our waters, it seems everybody around here except Greenport’s current Village Board has heard the message: Sewers have never been more important to our economy and environment. 

We don’t know what the future holds, but should somebody build a major industrial operation, or should Eastern Long Island Hospital expand, the village needs to have sewer capacity to support it. Meanwhile, the demand for our sewer is at an all-time high and the supply is low: Greenport is the only game in town.

Greenport is under no legal obligation to offer sewer hookups outside the incorporated village, and the price it charges is not subject to regulation. Any price we offer outsiders must factor in the need to recoup the lost revenue for, say, 50 years of housing units taking up sewer capacity while paying taxes outside the village. The formula the trustees used to come up with the low-ball price for the Peconic Landing expansion was based on a faulty assumption that we are obliged to provide sewer hookups outside the village and a fundamental misunderstanding of the village’s relative bargaining position.

No trustee asked Peconic Landing to consider building its own sewer system. No trustee explored cutting a deal with Southold Town to share revenue on the tax dollars we helped the town earn. No trustee pushed for the village to get a better price. More importantly, none stood up to defend Greenport’s future by protecting our plant’s capacity. The Peconic Landing deal was announced at a work session — a meeting at which the board bans public comment — and then fast-tracked for a vote at the following public meeting, at which the board once again threatened to call the police on villagers who expressed dismay.

We were told Peconic Landing was eager to see the deal signed. I would be too if I were them. Greenport has a chance to elect leaders on Wednesday, March 18, who understand the laws of supply and demand, and those who want to do business with Greenport starting in April may find it more difficult to push us around.

Doug Roberts
Mr. Roberts is a candidate for village trustee.