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Just Because You Can Do Something, It Doesn’t Always Mean You Should Do Something!

October 23, 2018

I know this is going to be a long Editorial, but hang in there. The Village Board may be about to permanently ruin the Marina/Dock, so it’s important!

Question: Does the Village Board spend our money simply because they can? Some have said that’s what they did with the pavilion at Ho Hum Beach when FEMA money became available. For $15,000 or so, the Village Board could have built a perfectly good fabric sun blocking structure at the end of the boardwalk at Ho Hum, but instead, they spent around $650,000 seemingly because FEMA money was available. I base this on the fact that a perfectly good, 30’x40’ fabric, sun blocking structure was recently built in Arizona for about $12,000 including the labor for installation. And by the way, a fabric covered structure could have been moved when Mother Nature played her little joke on the Village Board.

Now, before you say, “The pavilion didn’t cost us anything because in the end, the government picked up the entire tab including the 10% we were supposed to pay and even the interest on the loan the Village had to take out to cover the work.” At least that’s what the Village Board claims. Where do you think the money came from? It came from you and me out of the taxes we pay. “If we don’t take it, some other municipality will take it.” Does that make it right? How about the people who lost their homes in Sandy? Wouldn’t it have been better if that money had been used to help the home owners in Brookhaven Hamlet whose homes were severely damaged by Sandy?

Well, the Village Board is at it again. They’re going to spend 2.5 million of our tax dollars, because the Federal Government made the money available, to fix the damage that, it’s claimed, was done by Sandy, to the Village dock area. You and I are going to have to personally come up with $250,000 of that money.

The reason I say, “it’s claimed,” is because I still remember, I believe it was Frank Datri, coming to Village Board meeting after Village Board meeting telling the Village Board that the cladding pieces that were being installed on the vertical faces of the dock area weren’t being installed properly. He said the cladding pieces weren’t long enough and didn’t go deep enough so water was going to be able to wash behind the cladding at the bottom resulting in the dock slowly being washed away behind the cladding. I don’t know if he was right, but that’s the problem we now have. The dock is washing away behind the cladding causing sink holes to appear. Maybe it’s marine borers, maybe it’s not, but we do have a problem.

Editorial

On Tuesday, October 23, 2018, the Village Board held a Public Meeting to discuss the “Main Pier Project” in the Community Center on Bell Street. Present at the meeting, starting at the rear, from left to right, were: Trustee Gagliano, Mayor Fell, Adon Austin (representative from “Rising Tide,” the company which will do the work), Eric Everitt (representing the Bellport Yacht Club), and committee members Charles Swift, Rona McKechnie (Chairperson), Mike Ferrigno (Village Trustee), and Fred Hall. Trustees Rosenberg and Mackin were absent. If you would like to listen to the presentation by Adon Austin, we recorded it for you and you can listen to it by Clicking Here. We have been unable to find a Legal Notice announcing the meeting so we don’t know if one was ever issued. There isn’t a notice on the Village’s website.

In the order they were discussed, here are the major issues that were brought up at the meeting...

• Our 10% of the proposed project, $250,000, isn’t fixed. It may go up because the cost of the project may go up.
• They will use vinyl rather than wood cladding. How long will vinyl last?
• The design will allow for our being able to “loop” the dock as we have in the past.
• The project calls for 42” high fencing or railing around the very perimeter of the dock with some kind of slats that will not allow a 4” diameter ball to pass through. Again, this is at the very edge of the dock with no way to pass through the railing or stand on the water side of the railing.
• New lighting, much brighter than we now have, will have to be installed. If the lighting is reduced or turned off, the dock has to be closed to the public.
• The “stick docks” are exclusively for boaters and some kind of gate will have to be installed so that the general public will no longer have access to the stick docks. Only boaters will be allowed through.
• The south end of the dock, in front of the Yacht club, will be raised 18”. It’s claimed that the grade from the boat hoist to the pad for dry sailed boats will remain the same. This remains to be seen and will mean that the dock will pitch down from east to west rather than being level.
• It was mentioned that Brookhaven Town docks that have had work done don’t now have railings installed.
• We are a “Dark Skies” community. There is concern regarding light pollution from the dock.
• What about the Yacht Club’s sanitary system?
• If we close the entire dock area to vehicular traffic, do we need the railings. No. Closing the dock to cars would allow us to call the dock a dock and docks don’t need railings.
• The aesthetics of the project were questioned by Roger Thomas.
• Trustee Gagliano questioned the railings, lighting, and safety of the project.
• Susan DeRosa questioned the ecological impact of the project and asked what the Village’s Attorney had to say about the project from a legal point of view.
• Can we change the Village Codes to prevent some of these requirements?
• What kind of bolt heads will be used to hold the vinyl cladding in place? We need a smooth surface to prevent damage to boats.
• As the committee members had not spoken and only Eric Everitt questioned anything, Cheryl Felice asked if the committee members could tell the audience what their feelings were about the project. Rona McKechnie, Chairperson, started to, but Mayor Fell took over. He said the project would start in late November or early December and be finished by May 1st of 2019. Although work will begin in about a month and continue through the winter months, nothing is firm about the project at this point.

Here’s my take on all of this. We’ve already spent $16,000 on this project just for the preparatory work. One way or the other, we’re going to spend another $250,000 on the proposed project. No one has told us what could be done with that $250,000 if we turned down the government money and did the work ourselves as a repair rather than a rebuilding of the dock. There are onerous considerations like railings, lighting, pitching of the parking lot, access to the stick docks, being able to sit on a bench and look at the bay rather than a 42” high fence, being able to fish and crab from the dock, being able to board a boat from the dock... The list just goes on and on.

This project has clearly not hatched yet and nothing should be done until a workable plan that doesn’t tear apart everything we know and love about Bellport Village and the dock in particular is finalized. Just because the money is there, it doesn’t mean we have to take it. If a solution isn’t found by next summer, so what? We all want to be able to “loop” the dock, but if we can’t drive around the Yacht Club next summer, it’s no big deal compared to ripping apart everything we’ve known and taking it away from everyone visiting or living in Bellport Village in the future. Somehow, this Board has found money for a golf course that almost no one in town has any contact with. Surely, they can come up with a financial solution for a marina in which everyone comes in contact. How many funeral processions have you seen loop the golf course before someone who loved Bellport Village is laid to rest? I’ve seen plenty “loop the dock!”




If you have a comment and would like to respond to any of the above, we'd be glad to consider printing your response. Please send your comments to larry@bellport.com. You can read the comments we receive on our Letters To The Editor page.


Sincerely, 

Larry Sribnick
Larry Sribnick
Editor/Publisher, Bellport.com, LLC