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Aug 22, 2012 1:30 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Without East Hampton Town's Help, Three Mile Harbor Mobile Home Park Will Pay To Renovate Failing Septic System

Aug 28, 2012 4:04 PM

Residents of the Three Mile Harbor Mobile Home Park in East Hampton have taken out a $390,000 loan to repair a failing septic system on their property and began repairs earlier this month.

The overhaul, which should be completed within several weeks, follows the rejection earlier this year by the East Hampton Town Board of a proposed $600,000 capital project to replace the system.

The park has been in dire need of some kind of septic system repair for years, park residents have argued because septage often rises from a defective leaching field and floods the community’s streets during heavy rains.

“It needs to be fixed,” said Mae Bushman, the president of the board of directors of the Three Mile Harbor Mobile Home Park, last week. “We can’t wait for the town to do anything. We’ve had conversations and nobody’s gotten back to us. It has to be fixed. We can’t wait for the town. They’ve been promising us for the last 10 years to fix it and nothing’s been done.”

The park has a building permit to install an upgraded septic system, according to a copy obtained from the town’s Building Department. The permit was issued on January 31, 2012. Ms. Bushman said the park also secured approvals from Suffolk County and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to go forward with the work.

But despite that, some East Hampton Town Board members said they did not know about the project. Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who along with Councilmen Dominick Stanzione and Peter Van Scoyoc voted to hold off on seeking financing for the project, said she wished residents of the park had talked to the town about their plans, considering “the town was working with them on a $600,000 septic for them, so I’m curious as to the difference in the amount.”

“What concerns me the most is that there was no guarantee this was going to solve their problem,” Ms. Overby said on August 22. “So I think they’re taking a risk in doing this that they might not otherwise have to take. I’m concerned for their health and safety and the health of the bodies of water that are affected by the septic runoff.”

Mr. Stanzione said he didn’t know about the project. While he said he remained concerned about “the environmental conditions affecting groundwater at the park,” he also said that he has sympathy for the residents and their urgency to complete the project. “I hope whatever they’re doing works,” he said.

The town sold the land to the park in 2001, said Ms. Bushman and Stephen Agudo, the secretary of the corporation. Three months after the purchase, the septic system, which had been installed by the town before the sale, failed, they said. For the last three years or so, the park’s septic system has required regular weekly pumping that has amounted to almost $50,000 a year—a cost that is especially painful to bear for the low-to-moderate income families at the park, they said.

The septic situation got to the point “where we either had to fix it or basically close the park down,” Mr. Agudo said.

“It’s been a 10-year fight,” Mr. Agudo said. “We’ve been through, what, six or seven [Town] boards.”

The park is comprised of 16 units, with 15 families—one unit is unoccupied. All told, there are about 30 residents of the park, said Ms. Bushman.

Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said she supported the long overdue septic upgrade.

“I’m glad that the problem will be solved,” Ms. Quigley said. “It needed to be solved and this is a good a way as any, and maybe even a better way. The circumstances there were unsustainable.”

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Welcome to EH Town's method of balancing the budget.

Avoid responsibility for a decade for what is in part a public problem, and dump the financial burden On the shoulders of those who can ill-afford it!

This is real "trickle-down" economics, and if you wonder just where the trickle-down part is, just look on the ground near the old septic "system" after a heavy rain!

Yup the you-know-what just trickled down and hit the fan, er, groundwater.

Some "trick" to ...more
By Nero (301), Sag Harbor on Aug 22, 12 2:20 PM
Sounds like a variation of the old saw "The rich get the prunes and the poor get the trots."
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 22, 12 3:56 PM
Such a shame. The Town has been promising help for 10 years. They promised they would fix the septic when they SOLD the park to the tenants. How long should people have to deal with septic problems before they take matters into their own hands. Thank you Town of East Hampton for standing by your promise... NOT. I hope they can recoup the money they had to lay out, for a broken septic that was the Town's responsibility in the first place.
By marybmary (54), east hampton on Aug 22, 12 4:41 PM
It's time for the town to write the $400,000 check and the thank you note for saving the other $200,000. The alternative is to fight it in court, lose, and end up paying both sides' legal bills, the actual cost, and punitive damages.
By VOS (1238), WHB on Aug 22, 12 11:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
You mean the taxpayers correct? You realize they are one and the same. Congrats to the people of the mobile Park home for stepping to the plate and solving the problem themselves
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Aug 23, 12 8:23 AM
Actually if you read the original stories on this one Nero you will see that the two people who HAVE balanced the budget - Wilkinson and Quigley - are the two Town Board members that believed it was the town's responsibility to fix the system and pay for it. It was the other three Board members who voted against the capital project to be funded by the town. Wilkinson and Quigley understand what is the responsibility of the town and what is not and how to fund it in a way that works financially. ...more
By hohum123 (91), springs on Aug 23, 12 10:18 PM
Since the Town has represented for ten years that they would be responsible to correct the sewage problems but has failed to do so, the people of the park who have paid for the permits and work will sue the Town for nonperformance of that contract and will win. Why should these people be paying for the obligations of the town? Simply submitting a bill will not be effective, a lawsuit will. I wonder what the expense would have been ten years ago when the Town first assumed the reponsibility.
By VOS (1238), WHB on Aug 23, 12 11:42 PM
VOS, Maybe you know more than everyone else. Was their a signed contract by the town to do the work? Are the people of the mobile home leasing land from the town and if so who is responsible for capital improvements? Do you have proof that they will sue and more importantly do you have proof that they will win? Is it a fact that the town has an obligation to install the septic system. Are you a lawyer with inside knowledge or are you Nostradamus? I admitedly dont know but seeing that you are from ...more
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Aug 24, 12 7:58 AM
How did the town represent that they would be responsible to correct anything? Unless the Town Board passed a resolution making such a commitment from the town then were is the legal obligation? Town law is very clear that no one member of the Town Board can obligate a town to do anything. If that were the case can you imagine the mess most towns would be in with bid mouthed, unthinking, glad handing politicians promising everything? I'm not saying the town should not be doing something in this ...more
By hohum123 (91), springs on Aug 24, 12 6:25 PM
“What concerns me the most is that there was no guarantee this was going to solve their problem,” Ms. Overby said on August 22. “So I think they’re taking a risk in doing this that they might not otherwise have to take. I’m concerned for their health and safety and the health of the bodies of water that are affected by the septic runoff.” What a load of you-know-what!! Ms. Overby, who voted against helping these people, is NOW concerned?? Not only that, does ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Sep 2, 12 8:43 AM