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Town Board notes: Southold discusses septic sewer upgrades


A Southold trail that was left half-finished years ago has been officially set aside for horse riders.

The Southold Town Board approved the creation of the trails at the Forestbrook property just off North Bayview Road at its meeting Tuesday evening.

The property was bought more than a decade ago to be used as open space, and while the town began work on a series of trails in 2007, the plan was later abandoned. The trails will be the first set available for Southold Town residents; other trails exist farther west in Riverhead Town.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said the town will also consider making hiking trails in the property.

• The Southold Town Board has adopted its preliminary budget — with a few changes.

The preliminary budget, totaling just over $43 million, was unanimously approved Tuesday evening.

The budget is largely identical to the supervisor’s initial proposal, with a .56 percent reduction in spending compared to this year. The tax levy — the total amount the town can collect from taxpayers — is due to stay under the state-mandated cap with a 1.36 percent increase.

While the state tax cap would normally be lower, Southold will remain within the legal increase because of Suffolk County settlements that factor into the calculation, Mr. Russell said.

There were about 30 changes made to the initial budget released early this month. Among them, the town added $5,000 to pay for audio-visual equipment to record town meetings.

The town also expects $157,000 less revenue from the zoning board and the solid waste facility.

The board will now host a pair of public hearings to hear residents’ opinions on the budget on Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. About a week before then, Mr. Russell will give a budget presentation on Oct. 27.

• Suffolk County could allow homeowners to install new septic systems that conservationists say will be more environmentally friendly.

The alternative systems — which haven’t been approved for use by the county’s health department — may be allowed as early as next spring, said Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue).

Nitrogen from old septic systems and stormwater runoff fueled a series of algal blooms this summer, indirectly causing the die off of thousands of fish and turtles, experts said.

Mr. Krupski hailed the move as a necessary step to make the county’s waters cleaner.

“We need to get ahead of this on every level,” Mr. Krupski told the Southold Town Board during a work session meeting Tuesday morning. But while the septic systems are greener, they also require annual maintenance and inspection, he said.

Mr. Krupski said the five East End towns should band together to come up with a “comprehensive” plan to deal with septic system water quality concerns.

“We really want the east end to kind of work together,” he said.

Councilwoman Jill Doherty said the town was feeling the repercussions of decades of bad policy. For years, she said, septic systems were installed near the watershed; the water, theoretically, would have filtered the waste.

That thinking was dead wrong, she said.

“We have to get away from that,” Ms. Doherty added.

Mr. Russell said the towns could work together to find funding to pay for inspections and other costs related to the new septic systems.

“When we get this up and running, we can identify sources of money,” he said, “because this could be a costly proposition for everybody.”

Photo credit: Paul Squire