Editorial: Shelter Island needs to solve its own problems

PSEG cable project

In the past month we’ve heard a lot of different reasons the Village of Greenport should reject PSEG-Long Island’s plan to run a cable underneath Fifth Street and the nearby bay to Shelter Island. Some village residents have called the project, which aims to improve the reliability of electric service on the small island, a burden on their community.

Construction noise would be a disruption and hinder the quality of life for residents around Fifth Street in Greenport, they say. Health and safety concerns about the installation of the underground electromagnetic cables have also been raised.

Others in the village say the roughly $1 million the utility would pay Greenport is simply not enough.

These are all concerns that, depending whom you ask, have varying degrees of credibility.

But there is one very obvious reason the Greenport Village Board should tell PSEG to find some other way to improve electric service on Shelter Island: recent history.

It’s been just three years since the Long Island Power Authority, predecessor to PSEG, attempted a similar project at the end of Island View Lane in Greenport, which is just outside the village on the western side of Pipes Cove.

That failed project stands as a great example of bureaucratic incompetence. After five months of work on the $9 million project, which required drilling a nearly mile-long tunnel underneath the bay, work was stopped when a piece of the drill rig broke off in the pipeline. Furious residents living nearby were left scrambling for answers about next steps.

Nearly a year passed before the road was repaired and the remnants of construction were cleaned up.

Now we’re back to square one, with residents in a different section of Greenport facing the possibility of months of disruption to solve a problem that isn’t theirs to begin with.

The Shelter Island Town Board, meanwhile, passed a resolution in May 2015 banning all substations on the island. So the burden of improving reliability there is likely to fall on another community. Let it not be Greenport.

If the power fails on Shelter Island, where the powers that be refuse to permit construction of a substation, perhaps PSEG can provide its residents with another solution by delivering a ferryload of matches and candles to light their way.

File photo: Equipment rusting at Crescent Beach in the wake of LIPA’s failed tunnel dig in 2013. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy)