Hardy Plumbing
December 21, 2011

Steve Lynch: Leaves It To The People



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If it doesn't snow this winter, "it wouldn't hurt my feelings," Highway Superintendent-elect Steve Lynch said with a grin last Friday.

If it does, he's ready, with a couple of new strategies he's eager to try out. "We'll be in good shape," Lynch predicted, reporting he's put together a list of snowplow drivers that includes subcontractors who have traditionally plowed, as well as workers in other town departments eager to expand their resumes. "This year we may use other drivers in other departments that have the CDL licenses." Union officials, Lynch said, support the idea, because "these guys want to work."

Removing the white stuff may have a green component under Lynch. He's studied the use of a salt brine and beet juice mixture that could replace the traditional salt used to limit snowfall on roadways. Popular in high snowfall areas like upstate and out west, the mixture's freezing temperature is much lower than salt's, meaning hardpack is eliminated. It won't blow off the roads, doesn't stain and is totally safe. "It's green. You could drink it, but I'm not gonna do it; I don't think it tastes too good," he said.

Looking ahead to next spring, Lynch plans to work with experts in the town's planning department when it comes to roadside maintenance. For years, some residents complained about prior highway superintendents who directed staff to mow roadsides, often obliterating pretty beds of wildflowers. "I want to work with the planning department so we know which areas to save. I'll work with them and we won't cut down the wildflowers as long as they're not blocking the line of sight. I don't see why we should, everybody likes them."

When it comes to fall cleanups, Lynch wants to take the leaf program question to the people. During his campaign for office, he broke with the Republican ticket helmed by Supervisor Bill Wilkinson who shut down the leaf pickup program for budgetary reasons. Political opponents swore they'd reinstate the program if elected. Rather than endorse the end of the program, or promise its reinstatement, Lynch favored letting voters decide for themselves. He envisions putting a proposition on November's ballot.

But before such a move can be taken, the supe-elect wants to see a full and true accounting of the cost of the program. "The first thing to do is figure out the real cost to the town," he said. Lynch wants to see not just the cost to the highway department, but also the expenses incurred at the recycling center where leaves are handled and sometimes trucked off site.

During a previous administration Lynch's predecessor Scott King was the first to complain of the cost of the leaf pickup program. He favored a bag program and even handed out some of the paper receptacles for a pilot project. The project never took off. As financial scandal gripped East Hampton, it was one of many initiatives that fell by the wayside.

Over the ensuing years, a variety of so-called reports detailed the cost of the leaf pickup program – detailed vastly different costs, that is, depending on the political climate. Lynch is hoping to get the 411 on the true cost. "All the numbers I saw, I don't know if it was creative accounting," he said.

He doesn't know yet if anything else creative awaits his formal installation in the office. King has not provided any transition assistance and according to town hall sources, hasn't been to work since he lost to Lynch by over 1000 votes.

kmerrill@indyeastend.com

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