When nearly 3000 citizens sign a petition in Montauk in the middle of the winter, politicians tend to take notice.
The issue is a new PSEG substation, which the utility wants to build on a Flamingo Road property it is
negotiating to buy.
At a public hearing before the East Hampton Town Board on Thursday, February 7, speaker after speaker delivered a singular message: “We don’t want this thing built here.”
Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc promised the town board would take a hard look at its options, limited as they may be. “We need a substation; we want PSEG to put it someplace that is reasonable,” he said at the end of the hearing.
One speaker, Tom Bogdan referred to the ever-growing petition: “We have never seen a mandate this large.”
A prior plan, to build the facility on utility-owned land on Shore Road, has apparently been abandoned by PSEG. There were concerns the property was in a flood zone and a neighbor filed suit; the town and PSEG then targeted a site at the Montauk dump. That, too, was deemed inadequate. From that point on, PSEG moved aggressively, targeting the 6.7-acre Macchio property, which is nearly six times larger than the Shore Road site, leaving skeptics like Bogdan to wonder if the scope of the project is expanding in light of the Deepwater merger this week.
Shawn De Jesus, who owns adjacent property, pointed out the town has always wanted to buy the Flamingo Road parcel for preservation. “This will alter the face of Montauk,” he said. PSEG had advanced “two bad options.”
“I’ve heard we have to do it quickly,” said Bonnie Brady, “but there is no rush.”
According to a 2018 LIPA report, despite the dire predictions in play, the overloads caused by operating the system at peak times are few and far between. Another recent LIPA study predicted peak usage would continue to decline on the South Fork.
Other speakers included Tom Ciccariello, who pointed out Montauk is comprised of “60 percent parkland” — suggesting a PSEG substation could be placed nearer to vacant land. Stacy Brosnan urged PSEG “to do the right thing.”
“Montauk is a very special place. Fight for us,” Anthony Testa urged the board.
PSEG plans to hold another meeting about the matter in the coming month.
Wainscott Test Boring
Town board members again clashed over the South Fork Wind Farm. Deepwater Wind, which wants to land a cable in Wainscott from its wind generators off the coast, needs to conduct “geotechnical and archeological samplings” to support the permitting and design process; this entails test boring for archeological significant findings.
DWW is asking to town to approve “hand excavated shovel pits, dug every 50 to 100 feet to a depth of four feet, as well as two test borings and a percolation test on Beach Lane.
Jeff Bragman and David Lys opposed the request, stating Deepwater hasn’t completed an application with the state yet. Bragman pointed out since Deepwater had identified Hither Hills as a potential landing that both sites should be tested simultaneously so the board didn’t give the appearance it favored one over the other. “Why should we give a head start to Wainscott?” he asked.
Instead, Bragman, an attorney, said the town should let the Public Service Commission review the DWW application and decide when the work should be done, if at all. “I don’t even think we have the authority to do this,” he said. The 3-2 vote in favor stood nonetheless.