Gurney's Inn
January 03, 2018

Van Scoyoc Talks Of Challenges

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc cited improving water quality, energy efficiency, and preservation as some of the challenges faced by officials and residents in 2018 during his state of the town address Tuesday morning at Town Hall.

The challenge foremost on Van Scoyoc's mind is that of protecting the town's water quality, he said, citing recent revelations of elevated levels of perfluorinated chemicals in private water wells in Wainscott. The town will continue to work with outside agencies to determine the source of contamination and "above all ensure that the public has access to safe drinking water," he said. "The water that we depend on is under foot," he said. "We must tread lightly and be mindful of the fact that what we do on the land can have a direct and significant impact on the quality of our water."

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To prevent nitrogen from leaching into the town's aquifers and surface waters, which feed into resident's drinking water, the town is now requiring the installation of low nitrogen systems for all new construction and substantial renovation projects. It is also offering septic rebates of up to $16,000 per property to replace waste treatment systems with alternative low-nitrogen septic systems.

Habitat restoration and open space acquisition will also continue to be an integral part of the town's water quality improvement plan. "Using community preservation funds, qualifying projects such as building oyster reefs or growing macro algae, will help restore our water bodies natural ability to process nitrogen and other contaminates," Van Scoyoc said.

On a larger scale, Van Scoyoc noted the continuing Coastal Assessment and Resiliency Planning study will go a long way to developing strategies to combat coastal erosion and sea level rise, with phase two of the study mapping out how the town to be more responsive in addressing the impact. He said town officials will continue to press the federal government to deliver on "their promise of a major, sand-only beach replenishment project in downtown Montauk under the Fire Island to Montauk Point reformulation study," which will allow them the time they need to implement the strategic planning effort of their study. 

The town will continue working toward its 100-percent renewable energy goal by supporting offshore wind power and will pursue solar energy production on its properties, incorporating solar panels on its buildings wherever possible to improve energy efficiency in 2018. The town will also invest in technology to retrofit downtown Montauk street lights with LED fixtures, and will begin the transition to electric-powered vehicles by replacing a portion of the town's fleet, installing more electric vehicle charging stations, and lighting upgrades. "With these changes, we will further reduce energy consumption, reduce toxic emissions, and lower costs," Van Scoyoc said.

Preserving the town's historic properties and scenic character is also a priority for the town in the coming year with plans to move forward with preserving Second House in Montauk, the George Fowler House on Springs Fireplace Road, legislation protecting historic homes from demolition, and land acquisition.

In terms of newer housing and its affordability, Van Scoyoc noted a total of 60 housing units are in the works for the coming year including a 12-unit development known as the Manor House Project, which is expected to be completed by the end of summer. A second development for 48 units is expected to start construction by year's end.

As far as town functions are concerned, Van Scoyoc said officials plan to improve services and replace antiquated infrastructures by building a new senior center on Springs Fireplace Road and moving the town's offices from 300 Pantigo Place to Town Hall to make way for more efficient services. In response to residents' ongoing noise complaints about the town-operated airport, officials have hired outside counsel and are engaging additional professional consultants to assist in preparing the Part 161 Study to examine the issue.

Another challenge the town faces is finding ways to safeguard its young people from the "ever-growing threat of opioid addiction," Van Scoyoc said. "We will make a concerted effort working with our schools and other community groups, to provide additional youth services to combat the opioid epidemic," he said.

Van Scoyoc said he is confident that town officials and residents can "rise to meet any challenge and reach any goal," but they must "remain open to new ideas and be tolerant of our differences."

"We must engage in constructive and civil dialogue, while respecting each other's views," he said. "We must care for the most vulnerable among us, and work constructively in the best interests of all. As the supervisor of the Town of East Hampton I look forward to working with all of our residents in serving East Hampton, a place like no other I know."

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