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Jun 12, 2012 2:27 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Plans For Septic Upgrade At Three Mile Harbor Mobile Home Park Put On Hold

Jun 12, 2012 5:24 PM

Residents of the Three Mile Harbor Mobile Home Park in East Hampton have grown accustomed to keeping their windows closed during the summer. They do so to keep out the stench of a failing septic system. They’ve also learned to walk and drive around puddles of sewage that seep to the surface in their community.

For at least a decade now, the residents have been waiting for East Hampton Town to upgrade the community’s septic system—and it looks like the project will once again be placed on hold, as Republicans and Democrats on the Town Board are at odds with each other over the plan.

The upgrade is badly needed, residents of the mobile home park say, because when it rains, sewage often rises up from a defective leaching field and floods the community’s streets. The park is currently home to 15 families, according to Mae Bushman, the chairwoman of its board of directors.

The residents purchased their 2-acre property from the town more than a decade ago. Around that time, the town paid for a septic system to be installed at the park to replace individual cesspools.

The upgrade project, which the Town Board included in its capital budget this year at a cost of $600,000, was discussed last week when town officials asked the board to consider applying to the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation for low-cost financing.

A resolution to apply to the state’s Environmental Facilities Corporation failed at a board meeting last Thursday, as Democratic Town Board members Sylvia Overby and Peter Van Scoyoc voted against it. Republicans Theresa Quigley and Supervisor Bill Wilkinson supported the measure. Councilman Dominick Stanzione, a Republican, was absent.

Ms. Overby and Mr. Van Scoyoc said they want to explore options other than upgrading the septic system, citing concerns that even an upgraded system could pollute nearby Three Mile Harbor. Board members said they want to consider other options, including moving the residents.

Ms. Quigley, who has spearheaded the project, rejected the idea of relocating the residents. She called the delay in approving the project “the height of insanity.”

“Here we go again,” said Ms. Quigley at a work session on June 5. “Backtracking. What I’m hearing, quite frankly, is we’re going backward in time and discussing it again.”

Mr. Van Scoyoc said he wanted to discuss “the implications of having a septic system at the head of the harbor,” pointing out that he has been on the board only since January. “This is the first time the board has discussed this issue since I’ve been on the board,” he said.

Town officials estimate that with the low-cost financing, the cost of the project over a 20-year period would be $635,518. The cost without that funding would be about $750,000.

The town is paying weekly to pump out the community’s septic system, according to Charlene Kagel, the town’s chief auditor, at an annual cost of about $65,000.

Ms. Overby said she wanted to balance the concerns of the environment and the need for the upgrade. “The dilemma here for me is not just thinking about the 16 families, which is heart-wrenching at best to think about what could happen to them,” Ms. Overby said. “But it’s also, if we start polluting our waters, then we affect a whole lot of other people as well, including the fishing industry ...

“It’s not something we can be cavalier about in any way,” she continued, “but we need to make sure that if we consider those 16 families, where they can and should go, what their property is worth, if we can afford to pay them what it’s worth, if that balances what we’re paying now...”

Relocating the residents is not an option, according to Ms. Bushman, who noted that nine of the 16 units cannot be moved, citing state law. She also pointed out that the park is home to low-income and senior citizens. “Where are they going to take us?” she said. “Where are they going to send us?”

Brian Midgett, one of the residents, said he’s especially concerned about the odor and its impacts on his 5-month-old daughter, Carly. “I just think it’s not fair we have to live like this,” he said. “But it’s the only place I live. It’s the only place I can afford to live.”

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Why, exactly, is this being put on hold?
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Jun 14, 12 2:57 PM
Because the Democrats on the board want senior citizens to live in 3rd world filth.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Jun 16, 12 9:36 PM
It's a shame. The Town promised to do something about this years ago. Why are these residents forgotten?
By marybmary (54), east hampton on Jun 14, 12 2:58 PM
Simple. Call Suffolk County Department of Health. They have to approve all systems in Suffolk County. That might get the ball rolling as youhave an obvious health hazard
By North Sea Citizen (564), North Sea on Jun 15, 12 6:23 AM
Why is the Town responsible for the upgrade ? Who collects the rent each month ?
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Jun 15, 12 8:27 AM
The Town is responsible bc the Town owns the underlying property, so the Town is the Landlord. If i recall, they properties are occuped by 99 yr leases, or something to that extent.
By tm (174), mtk on Jun 15, 12 3:05 PM
15 families on two acres? At the head of a critically sensitive wetlands??? where there is NO separation to groundwater? Let's call this one and just give all the families a big buyout from the CPF fund, make everyone happy and do a heck of a lot more good for the environment than spending millions on Keyes Island, which had one barely used house on way more land!! Trying to put a workable sanitary system in here is pouring money down the drain. literally. Better to do the right thing long ...more
By jperrier (53), Springs on Jun 17, 12 12:01 AM
How do you 'buyout' a family's home?
What would be a fair price to uproot someone and tell them to leave their home? There already is an existing sanitary system. It just needs to be updated so the overflow doesn't seep upwards. They are not asking for a sanitary system to be installed where there isn't one already there. And if I'm correct, the Town sold the property to the residents with the promise that they would one day fix the septic. How can they now say, "oh nevermind, ...more
By marybmary (54), east hampton on Jun 18, 12 8:26 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong .....
By marybmary (54), east hampton on Jun 18, 12 8:27 AM
Upgrading the system would have to be approved by SCHD ... I don't think that's the problem. And I don't think you're wrong marybmary .... but you "buy" someone out based on what they put into their homes and what it's worth. I wonder if anyone has ever asked these residents if they would relocate to other "affordable" sites within the Town at the Town's expense, not to exceed the upgrade cost? It seems CLEAR that something has to be done - why are some (Democrat?? if I'm reading this right ...) ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Jun 18, 12 3:39 PM
You are right Marybmary, looks like this ball is being dropped by the EH Town Board, big time. Maybe those running for board seats should do their homework in advance, so that every pending issue doesn't need to be discussed from scratch after they take office? Ms. Overby's 'concern' for the environment apparently overlooks the fact that sewage is already flowing out of the outdated septic system, which replaced individual septic tanks at the time the land was purchased by the residents. It would ...more
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Jun 19, 12 7:59 AM
If I was a resident of the park, I would certainly think about a lawsuit.
By marybmary (54), east hampton on Jun 19, 12 3:37 PM
OK, here's another way to go about it...go ahead and do the upgrade, but with the condition that the CPF Fund gets the right of first refusal to buy the trailers as they are sold, since some residents of the trailer park are so "attached" to their double wides, yet every year, one or two of them sell their trailer for $80 to $120K...just start having the CPF fund buy the ones for sale each year, and in 8 to 10 years, the environmental disaster that this overcrowded place is, IS GONE!
By jperrier (53), Springs on Jun 21, 12 10:04 PM
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