Pre-council updates on budget, bridges and ferries


Several weeks into continuing budget talks, and just a week before the City Council is scheduled to adopt a final plan for 2019, the mayor and council members still lack a clear understanding of the city attorney’s expenditures.

At a pre-council meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Tim Tenke said that he would be meeting with City Attorney Charles McQuair to get a handle on the finances of his department. The meeting followed a contentious pre-council meeting two weeks earlier in which Tenke suggested restructuring McQuair’s department, bringing it “in-house” instead of contracting with him independently, as the city currently does.

Councilwoman Marsha Silverman raised complaints about a document that city Controller Sandra Clarson had provided the council earlier this year, which apparently didn’t coincide with tax forms that McQuair had filed. Clarson said that the tax forms showed the most accurate information, and the previous document that had been sent to the council was intended to answer a different set of questions than the ones being addressed at the pre-council meeting. Silverman disagreed, saying that she had sought the same information previously as what was being sought at the meeting.

East Island Bridge

In addition to the final budget vote, the council will decide next Tuesday whether to work with engineering firm Lockwood, Kessler, Bartlett, Inc., to satisfy a grant obtained by the Community Development Agency to rehabilitate Dosoris Pond and the East Island Bridge tidal gates.

Frequent flooding from Dosoris Pond has been one of the key obstacles in finding a permanent solution to the dangerous driving conditions that earlier this year, forced officials to close East Beach Road, one of two entry-points to Prybil Beach.

Ann Fangmann, executive director of the Community Development Agency, which oversees the grants, told the Herald Gazette earlier this year that fixing the tidal gates could help solve “a whole slew of problems,” including flooding and shoreline erosion, which affect the pond’s ecosystem and surrounding infrastructure.

The grant will pay for a number of other measures, including repairs to the wing-walls on either side of the East Island bridge, installing plant-life on the shoreline to stabilize it, and assisting with drainage.

Fangmann said she expected construction to begin in 2020, with an end date sometime in 2021. During the work, it’s likely that East Island Bridge will need to be closed, which would redirect traffic off of the island via an alternate route, through the Pryibil Beach parking lot.

Council woman Pamela Panzenbeck asked whether getting construction equipment to the site from that direction would be a problem. Fangmann said that one of the reasons that LKB was chosen for the project was that it had done a similar project on the bridge in 2005, and were familiar with the unique issues the geography posed.

Ferry update

Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos also mentioned that the city had submitted a “ferry plan” to state officials in support of its request for a deadline extension by which time they were supposed to have secured a ferry operator, or else risk having to recoup a $16 million grant.

Tenke told the Herald Gazette earlier this year that ferry operators are looking for subsidies that would reduce their financial risk. Operators are concerned, he said, because there is no way to predict whether a sufficient number of Glen Cove commuters would use a ferry. New York City subsidizes almost all of the ferries that use its ports, Tenke explained, adding that he couldn’t imagine that a Glen Cove ferry could operate any differently.