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Dec 21, 2010 4:06 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Foul Floods Threaten East Hampton Park

Dec 21, 2010 4:06 PM

Without fail, the rain sends a stench wafting through the Three Mile Harbor Mobile Home Park in East Hampton, as sewage rises up from a defective leaching field and floods the community’s pebble roads, residents say.

The problem has escalated over the last eight years, as the shallow town-built septic system went unrepaired. Now the cost of constantly pumping out the sewage threatens to bankrupt the 16-unit park, according to the chairwoman of its board of directors, Mae Bushman.

“These people can’t afford it,” Ms. Bushman said. “They’ll lose their homes.”

Residents of the park paid $41,000 to pump out the sewage so far this year, sometimes calling in a company twice in a single day, according to Ms. Bushman. The cost estimate for next year is $47,000 and the board of residents that manages the park is considering raising its fee by $150 to pay for the service, she said. Residents currently pay $585 per month to the park, with the fee going toward mortgage payments and maintenance.

Meanwhile, the odorous outbursts prevent some residents from opening their windows and having guests, and the fetid floods have raised concerns over the environmental implications to the nearby harbor, Ms. Bushman said. She said the Suffolk County Department of Health Services inspects the site on a monthly basis, but has so far refrained from fining the park.

“Oh my God, it’s flooding,” said an exasperated Geraldine Field, a resident who also sits on the park’s board. “You can’t even walk outside it’s so much water.”

The residents of the park incorporated and purchased their 2-acre parcel from East Hampton Town around 2001, according to Ms. Bushman; the town held onto an acre that abuts the harbor. Around that time, she said, the municipality paid for a septic system to be installed at the mobile home park, to replace the individual cesspools that were hooked up to the homes there.

But the leaching field that contractors built on behalf of the town sits on a dense layer of clay that prevents the sewage from being leached slowly into the ground, Ms. Bushman said, and the system began to flood just nine months after it was installed. She said the town has attempted to fix the problem by dumping more earth on top of the field, but that has failed to hold back the waters.

The mounting costs brought Ms. Bushman before the Town Board last Thursday, where she asked officials to waive fees at the East Hampton scavenger waste center at the town’s Recycling Center on Springs-Fireplace Road, the facility where the pumped sewage is transported and treated. She said freedom from the fees would likely mean lower rates from the contractors who pump the sewage.

Town Board members indicated they would entertain the idea for the meantime. Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said a final fix might have to wait, because the town has stopped all capital projects while it attempts to dig itself out of a $28 million deficit.

This week, Ms. Quigley said the beleaguered park is at the top of her priority list for the time when the town turns “the spigot back on” and begins thinking about capital projects again. She said a past estimate put the cost of the repairs at about $600,000, although Ms. Bushman said an estimate she received put the cost at about $365,000.

“I think what it comes down to is I’m pushing for it because I feel this is 16 families of our population that are in danger of being driven out of town by virtue of a situation that is unsanitary and untenable and, in fact, from what I understand from the history, the town is somewhat responsible,” Ms. Quigley said. “And I’m not talking legally, I’m talking morally.”

During an interview at her home last week, Ms. Field, who said she lives on Social Security payments, said the rising fees could drive her out.

“If they keep going up and going up, how am I going to live here?” she said.

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This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Spelling Cop (22), Southampton on Dec 28, 10 8:52 AM
why don't she do like they do here in quogue and hang bags of oyster spat in those nitrogen rich waters and grown them out?
By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Dec 29, 10 5:25 PM