An argument erupted when an agreement with the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee came up for a vote by the East Hampton Town Board on Thursday night, July 18. The resolution failed to get the votes it needed to pass—with Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the swing vote, deciding to abstain.
The agreement would be shared with the towns of Brookhaven, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton, Southold, the villages of Dering Harbor, Greenport, North Haven and Sag Harbor and the State Department of Transportation. It would facilitate efforts to benefit the Peconic Estuary by improving water quality, restoring tidal wetlands, reducing pollution, ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations, and coordinating local coastal regulations to better protect the estuary.
Essentially, the towns’ efforts would help the program obtain grant funding. Each town would contribute dues of anywhere from $7,500 to $10,000.
Councilwoman Theresa Quigley, the town’s natural resources liaison, deleted the measure from Thursday’s agenda because, she said, she had not had a chance to review it before the meeting. She was incredulous when she saw it had returned to the Town Board agenda with a different sponsor—Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc.
The two council members took jabs at one another.
“Just because she is the liaison doesn’t mean she can keep the resolution from coming to the floor,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said, adding that the agreement had been discussed at a previous work session.
Ms. Quigley begged to differ and said that it had never been discussed in detail.
“The reality is, you have no idea what is in my head—when you said I pulled it off the agenda because I disagreed with it, you couldn’t be more wrong,” she said. “For all I know, I will be the cheerleader for it. As the liaison to natural resources, this is a subject I’m supposed to be familiar with. I know nothing. It’s because I want discussion on it, and that’s my right and the public’s right, to understand exactly what is going on.”
Mr. Stanzione said that while he supports the agreement, he would abstain from the vote as a courtesy to his colleague who was asking for more time and discussion. “I clearly stated that I plan to vote in favor of the resolution, but procedurally we needed to get past this moment,” he said on Tuesday. “It was in the best interest of everyone.”
Mr. Stanzione said the resolution was slated to be back on the agenda at Tuesday’s work session.