East Hampton Town Board Clashes Over Wastewater Kick-Off Meeting

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A discussion on Tuesday about a recent wastewater management plan presentation by consultants sparked strong emotions among East Hampton Town Board members during their work session, with Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley leading the criticism.

Mr. Wilkinson said he was personally disappointed in the presentation held by the environmental engineering firm, Lombardo Associates, on Monday, August 26, in which its president, Pio Lombardo, laid out preliminary plans to address how the town should handle sewage and what it should do with its aging and costly scavenger waste plant.

“As far as I was concerned, I sense obfuscation of the issues and the costs,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “I just really wanted to know what was going on and don’t feel the residents were getting the answers.”

Fellow Republican Ms. Quigley agreed with him and went even further, calling the consultant “slippery,” and firing off a laundry list of concerns, such as Mr. Lombardo’s reference to multiple studies, each with untold costs, and her impression that the residents who would be most impacted are those who can least afford it. She also questioned how a $600 million fix, mentioned in the study, would involve only septic systems without addressing two critical aspects: the scavenger waste facility and groundwater.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, a Democrat, called Ms. Quigley’s concerns “leaps in logic” and said that calling it slippery was putting an unnecessary spin on things. She noted that the meeting was intended to be a kick-off and that she felt it was professional. She did, however, accuse Republican Councilman Dominick Stanzione, who spearheaded the initiative, of having the consultant remove certain slides from the presentation. Mr. Stanzione replied that he did not remember doing such a thing.

Ms. Quigley launched the fiercest attack, demanding that Democratic Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc explain whether the town could require new systems based on Lombardo Associates’ recommendations, and if not, why the town is doing the study in the first place.

Mr. Van Scoyoc spoke of the recent rust tides and algae blooms believed to be caused in part by nitrogen loading and said that the town’s value as a resort community could be in jeopardy. He said the town does not have an option to avoid fixing the problem and that he will await the results of the study.

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