05/26/15 6:00am
05/26/2015 6:00 AM
Nick Krupski working on a pollutant project along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon while a graduate student at Long Island University-C.W. Post. (Credit: COurtesy photo)

Nick Krupski working on a pollutant project along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon while a graduate student at Long Island University-C.W. Post. (Credit: COurtesy photo)

Thirty years after Al Krupski was first elected to the Southold Town Board of Trustees, his son is looking to follow in his footsteps.

Nick Krupski, 26, has screened with the Southold Town Democratic Committee to run for an open seat on the board and he appears likely to receive a nomination tonight.  (more…)

03/12/15 12:00pm
03/12/2015 12:00 PM
The historically cold winter, and the freezing and refreezing that came with it, have broken and splintered dozen, if not hundreds, of docks that line creeks and other Southold Town waterways. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

The historically cold winter, and the freezing and refreezing that came with it, have broken and splintered dozen, if not hundreds, of docks that line creeks and other Southold Town waterways. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

“It looks like a war zone.”

That’s how town Board of Trustees president John Bredemeyer described the damaged docks that now line Southold’s creeks and bays. The historically cold winter, and the freezing and re-freezing that has come with it, has broken and splintered dozens, if not hundreds, of the wooden structures.

From Mattituck to Orient, the freeze has popped pilings out of area waters like turkey timers.  (more…)

06/19/14 12:12pm
06/19/2014 12:12 PM
John Bredemeyer, a Southold Town Trustee and chairman of the shellfish advisory committee, takes a water sample for DNA analysis from the Cutchogue creek complex last year. (Credit: Carrie Miller file)

John Bredemeyer, a Southold Town Trustee and chairman of the shellfish advisory committee, takes a water sample for DNA analysis from the Cutchogue creek complex last year. (Credit: Carrie Miller file)

It has now been 10 years since the Cutchogue creek complex was closed to shellfishing by the DEC due to water quality concerns. The long closure has become a source of frustration for Southold Town’s shellfish advisory committee, which recently conducted a series of water quality tests to track the source of contaminants entering the creek system.  (more…)

09/22/13 12:00pm
09/22/2013 12:00 PM

T

The significant issues surrounding Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic have led me to question the process of analysis and decision-making that has been in use to this point. I believe that if the community can focus on and accept the dynamic of a formal decision-making process rather than on the tactics of possible solutions, it will be able to arrive at a decision regarding the future of the inlet. Accordingly, this column is not about the various positions in this debate. My hope is that the community will be able to unlock the current impasse, because the heart of this issue is that the pond is dying.

I count maybe seven or more possible solutions for the pond: build a second jetty, shorten the existing jetty, eliminate the jetty, lengthen the jetty, do nothing, only address all natural and unnatural pollutants and various dredging solutions. And there are many permutations of these options. Therefore, the pros and cons of the variables must be parsed, and they fall into two categories: physical and biological.

Some of the physical variables are tide cycles and jetty effect, the characteristics of how the pond flushes, the depth of the pond, salinity and upland drainage and/or runoff. In addition the effects of storms, climate change and dredging must be added to this mix.

The biological variables are pathogen levels and both natural and unnatural pollutants. According to DEC records, the inlet generally has high coliform bacteria levels. However the records also state that insufficient data are available to determine the exact cause and effect of each point and non-point pollution source.

And that’s a problem. Insufficient data lead us to speculation — of which there is no shortage. For example, information on the possible impact of invasive plants, most alarming being the mile-a-minutes vine on Autumn Lake, lead residents to draw conclusions about how the vine threatens the inlet.

The third dimension of this decision matrix is the combination of human preferences and biases. The preferences of homeowners and the public run strong. Some residents and members of the public have concerns about the future of beach recreation, and of course the human danger presented by polluted waters. Others believe that nature should be left to take its course, and therefore to them, concerns about cost containment and tax hikes are moot.

The scope of possible solutions and their variables, makes the constraints under which eDesign Dynamics conducted their assessment too narrow to serve as the dominant analysis on which to base a decision. The computer model, DYNLET is a powerful model for assessing coastal problems, yet it is obviously not designed to model all variables. Consequently eDesign answered many questions from the community by saying, “we simply don’t know”. Former trustee Peggy Dickerson questioned the wisdom of their modeling a “steady state” by pointing out that the term, “normal dynamic state” should rather be used.

My point is that, unless we can rely on a range of unbiased scientific facts and sociological data to support all possible solutions, positive and negative, we will fall back on coalition-building, analysis-paralysis, groupthink and mythology. In the meantime, the pond slowly dies.

So what are the biases that we need to understand in order to not fall under their influence? Here are some that I have heard:

• The “sunk-cost trap” will bias the decision to not change the jetty. This bias will support the argument for no change. Why throw good money after bad?

• Another bias is the “anchoring bias” — in this case it is the estimated $1.5 million cost of the second jetty. Now, anything less will sound cheap at the price.

• Similarly, a “confirmation bias” would show how the littoral drift and tidal cycles always build sand bars on the facing side of the jetty — and erode the beach on the other side. Yet the geography is never identical, so can that conclusion be drawn?

These and other biases need to be acknowledged as influencers and not discounted. Once all the possible solutions and their variables have been subjected to science and analysis, and the biases have been weighed, the community will need to decide to decide.

So here are my parameters for a decision road map:

• Assess multiple alternatives. In progress, check that.

• Test all assumptions. Put that on the “to do” list.

• Foster vigorous debate and constructive conflict. No problem there — they are alive and well.

• Do not defer too strictly to the experts — question them, hold them accountable.

• Make decisions with a team of equals. There’s work that has to be done here.

• Question whether well-established norms have reached a tipping point — is it time to think outside the box?

• Encourage devil’s advocacy.

• Finally, take a comprehensive perspective on the issue.

Following a decision road map will not only help unlock the impasse, but a similar template for decision-making can also be applied to future complex problems that will arise as the town rides the tides of change.

Geoffrey Wells is a Democratic candidate running for Southold Town Trustee.

08/03/13 10:00am
08/03/2013 10:00 AM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | The remains of bulkheading on Veterans Memorial Park beach in Mattituck are slated to be replaced this year.

The Southold Town Trustees want to require marine contractors to obtain a town-issued license before beginning construction on private bulkheads and docks.

During its work session Tuesday, Town Board members met with the Trustees to discuss that request.

The Trustees, who are charged with enforcing the town’s wetland code, said they have noticed an increase in “shoddy” workmanship on marine structures that required rebuilding post-Sandy. That board believes mandating marine contractors to apply for seasonal work licenses each year will protect homeowners from being slapped with code violations due to substandard construction and better ensure that the contractors abide by town policy.

While Suffolk County requires all contractors to hold home improvement licenses for household construction, including construction on marine structures, the suggested policy would separate the two, giving the town more control over building near the coastline.

Supervisor Scott Russell said creating such a license may required amending the town’s wetland code. He suggested a joint meeting of the Town Board, Trustees and building department before proceeding.

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11/07/12 1:19am
11/07/2012 1:19 AM

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | A poster board at Front Street Station in Greenport, where Southold Town Democrats were keeping count of local elections Tuesday night.

Nearly a year after he was appointed to the Southold Town Board of Trustees, Mike Domino has been elected to serve another year.

Mr. Domino of Southold secured 59 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Jeri Woodhouse of Orient. He received 5,826 votes to Ms. Woodhouse’s 4,083.

Mr. Domino, who was appointed to the seat in January, will serve the year remaining on former Trustee Jill Doherty’s term. She left the Trustees after a winning a seat on the Town Board last November.

Mr. Domino is a retired high school science teacher who owns a deli in Greenport. He also served as president of the North Fork Environmental Council.

To stay on the board, Mr. Domino must run again in 2013 for a full four-year term. The former high school teacher said he’ll run again “if they’ll have me.”

A Democrat in a Republican town, Ms. Woodhouse said the odds were stacked against her.

“It’s hard to make inroads in established voting patterns,” she said. “I think we ran a great campaign but there’s a lot of work to do.”

With reporting from Beth Young and Tim Kelly