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Town Signs Off on Beach Lane Cable Site

Thu, 12/03/2020 - 10:28

The Town of East Hampton has finalized an agreement with Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind and Eversource, the developers of the proposed 15-turbine South Fork Wind project, that grants the companies easements to land the installation's export cable and bury it on a path to the Long Island Power Authority substation in East Hampton in exchange for a nearly $29 million community benefits package.

"I would like to release those documents to the public in the next couple of days so the public can have the opportunity to better understand what it is that we agreed to," Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc announced at a board meeting on Tuesday. "I'm confident they will find that we've been very considerate of all the potential impacts within the easement area."

In July 2018, the board granted an access and utility easement in exchange for the community benefits package, and it has previously made it clear that it considered the ocean beach at the end of Beach Lane in Wainscott to be the most suitable location for the export cable's landfall.

Mr. Van Scoyoc's announcement came after several members of the public, including Judith Hope and Michael Hansen of the Win With Wind citizens group, which supports the project, said the delay in finalizing the easement had not only allowed misinformation about the wind farm to proliferate but further held up access to an alternative energy source. "I'm hopeful to see a turbine in operation sometime in my lifetime," said Ms. Hope. "Do whatever has to be done to complete negotiations and bring the easement issue to a public hearing." The board will hold a special meeting on the agreement shortly after the release of the documents, Mr. Van Scoyoc said.

Tom Ruhle, director of the town's Office of Housing and Community Development, told the board that, as part of a pandemic relief program, Suffolk County is to receive nearly $2 million in federal grant money to be used to help low and medium-income residents. The county will allocate money to a consortium of the five East End towns -- East Hampton, Southampton, Shelter Island, Southold, and RiverheadΓ plus Smithtown — and the town will likely receive $150,000 of those funds.

The county also plans to provide $1 million to restaurant owners as part of a job-retention program, Mr. Ruhle said. He recommended that the town use the funds to pay for the cost of operating the Department of Human Services' meal delivery program for those over 60.

Mr. Van Scoyoc said he would seek to negotiate for a larger share of the funds, because "as wealthy a community as we are, we still rank number one in Suffolk County for poverty per capita." He asked Mr. Ruhle to find out whether the money could be used to provide alternate housing for residents who test positive for Covid-19 and live in crowded households in which the virus can easily spread. "If someone in one of those households becomes positive it's hard to quarantine," he said.

The federal government has asked the town for permission to test the water quality in wells at Camp Hero in Montauk, the site of a decommissioned military base. "They're asking to gain access to . . . some former Suffolk County Water Authority wells to test the groundwater in the upper glacial aquifer" to make sure there aren't any contaminants, Mr. Van Scoyoc explained. The government has already tested the groundwater in areas surrounding the camp, he said, and "turned up no contaminants of concern."

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