Memorial Day Greetings!

May 17, 2024

Dear Quogue Residents,

Memorial Day is around the corner and summer preparations are in full swing.  Notwithstanding the continuing cool weather, we are busy getting the Village Beach ready for opening day on Saturday, May 25th.  More on the beach below.

Today’s safety message comes from the Quogue Police Department who have asked me to alert our residents that there is a national “Click it or Ticket” high-visibility seat belt enforcement effort running from May 20th to June 2nd, coinciding with the Memorial Day holiday.  A few statistics: the national seat belt use rate in 2023 was 91.9%.  While that sounds pretty good, keep in mind that approximately 50% of traffic fatalities are of “unrestrained” passengers. Since 2020, the obligation to wear a seat belt extends to all passengers, including those in the back seat. Seat belts save lives.

Our Police Department recently completed the renewal process to qualify for another five years as an accredited police department in the State of New York.  Putting this in perspective, less than 30% of the NYS police departments have received this accreditation status.  Sergeant Bennett and Officer Trotta  managed the accreditation process and they, as well as all of our officers led by Chief Isola, should be congratulated for their hard work and professionalism.

With respect to the FIMP project, I have learned from the Town that progress continues to be made on securing the necessary easements and rights of way to allow for beach restoration construction to occur in the fall of 2025. The Town is in the process of engaging individual appraisers who will conduct the required appraisals, which are anticipated to begin in mid-June. The purpose of the appraisals is to determine the economic impact of the beach nourishment to each individual property. The Town anticipates that this process will continue throughout the summer as there are a total of 99 properties to be appraised, of which 49 are located in the Village. If you have any questions or would like additional information please contact Kelly Doyle, Assistant Town Attorney at KDoyle@SouthamptonTownNY.gov

With the arrival of the summer season, a reminder to enroll in the Town of Southampton’s automated “Notify Me” system to receive email alerts of emergency or hazardous situations. To enroll, please go to the Town of Southampton website (https://www.southamptontownny.gov/) and click on the “Notify Me” icon on the home page.  Then follow the instructions to be added to their notification system.  You will need to scroll down to the “Alert Center” heading to elect to receive notifications relating to “Village of Quogue Residents” and “Dune Road Closures/Emergencies”.  It is also possible to receive text messages through the Suffolk County Alert Portal, which is tied into the “Smart911” system.  To sign up, please go to their website: https://www.smart911.com/smart911/ref/reg.action?pa=NotifySuffolk

An unpleasant reminder that the second installment of the Town’s property taxes is payable without penalty by May 31st.  The Village’s property tax bills will be mailed on June 1st (and posted on the Village website on that day).  They are payable without penalty by July 1st.

And now for some upcoming events:

This Saturday, May 18th, at 2:00 pm, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge is organizing a celebration for the annual World Turtle Day. Participants will learn all about Long Island’s turtles and what you can do to help our local species.  The next full moon hike is on Wednesday, May 22nd from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Register for these events at www.quoguewildliferefuge.org.
Both the Quogue School and Quogue Library annual budgets are up for vote on Tuesday, May 21st, from 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm, at the Quogue School at 10 Edgewood Road.  More information can be obtained by consulting the school and library websites.

The excitement is mounting for the Hampton Theatre Company’s 2023-2024 season finale: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, music and lyrics by Steven Sondheim.  Performances begin next Thursday, May 23rd and run through June 9th.  This promises to be an epic show! Tickets can be purchased at www.hamptontheatre.org.

On Saturday, May 25th, at 10:00 am, I will be giving the State of the Village address.  The event will be held in front of the Quogue Fire Department.

Saturday, May 25th, also marks the official opening of the Village Beach’s summer season.  The hours are 10:00 am until 6:00 pm.  The beach will only be open on weekends until June 27th when it opens seven days a week. The beach concession also opens Memorial Day weekend and will be run again this summer by Beth’s Café. As of May 15th, beach permits are now required – last year’s permits remain valid through May 31st.  With the summer season’s arrival, dogs are no longer allowed on the Village Beach.

The Library Gallery’s current exhibit is “The Art of Inspiration: The Design Spirit of an American Fashion Artist” with works by Audrey Schilt, on display through June 11th, with an Artist Reception on Saturday, May 25th from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The Gallery’s next exhibit opens on June 15th with works by longtime Quogue resident Pieter Greeff. The next session of this season’s Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions discussion program will be held on Saturday, June 15th, at 5:00 pm on the topic of Climate Technology & Competition.  Participants can join by zoom or attend in person.   As always, consult the Library’s well-packed calendar to sign up for their rich offering of movies and programs of all types: https://quogue.librarycalendar.com.

The annual Memorial Day Ceremony is scheduled for 10:00 am on Monday, May 27th, in front of the Fire Department. I encourage you to attend as we honor all of our service members for their past and ongoing sacrifices for our security and freedom.

The Quogue Historical Society reminds us that the 1822 Schoolhouse has now reopened for the season during the Library’s regular hours with an exhibition on display: ”An 1868 School Day in Quogue with Schoolmistress Miss Lizabeth Griffing”. The Pond House Museum will be reopening on Saturday, June 1st, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. On June 7th, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, the QHS is organizing an Exhibition Opening and talk by Julie Greene, QHS Curator and Southampton Town Historian, on the theme: “Quogue Flourishes as a Summer Resort, 1880-1910.” Please consult the QHS website to learn more about their calendar of events and the history of Quogue: www.quoguehistory.org. You can also follow them on Instagram: @quoguehistory.

On Saturday, June 15th, at 7:30 pm, Quogue Chamber Music celebrates its 15th season at the Quogue Community Hall with pianist Simone Dinnerstein and Ensemble Baroklyn in an all-Bach program.  Tickets can be purchased online:  www.quoguechambermusic.org.

A few save the dates for events later this summer:  Village elections will take place on Friday, June 21st. Also on that date, the Quogue School is hosting their annual chicken dinner from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm to raise funds for the PTA. The third annual Concert on the Village Green will be held on Friday, June 28th; the annual Duck Race at the Village Dock will be on Friday, July 26th; and the annual Village Beach Party will be on Friday, August 23rd.  All of these events are organized by the Quogue Association and more details will follow.  The East End Hospice is holding their annual gala on Saturday, June 29th, and the Wildlife Refuge is celebrating their 90th anniversary on Saturday, July 13th with their Wild Night for Wildlife Summer Gala.

 

Wishing everyone a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Robert Treuhold
Mayor, Village of Quogue

Nitrogen Pollution: A Long Island Environmental Hazard that Begins In Your Backyard

Nitrogen Pollution: A Long Island Environmental Hazard that Begins In Your Backyard 

By Christopher Clapp

It has been 15 years since scientists and conservationists began making the link between nitrogen pollution and the loss of eelgrass, shellfish, and saltmarshes on the East End of Long Island.

Through their work, it has become clear that the biggest source of nitrogen pollution is our reliance on cesspools and outdated septic systems to dispose of our wastewater. These systems were never designed to remove substances such as nitrogen from the waste stream.

There are serious health impacts associated with conventional septic systems and cesspools. Many cesspools built prior to 1970 were built from concrete blocks and have far exceeded their structural life span. If left ignored these aging pieces of infrastructure can “catastrophically fail,” which often results in a large sewage filled sinkhole in the yard which people and pets can fall into.

There is also the risk of non-catastrophic or “hydraulic failures,” which can happen when the ground becomes saturated with sewage related materials, and wastewater begins to surface on a homeowner’s yard, or worse back up into their homes. Early signs of hydraulic failure are gurgling drains, a circle of lawn that is always soggy, and more green than the rest of the yard. In winter these areas may take longer for snow to accumulate as the warm wastewater just below the surface melts the falling snow. Hydraulic failures typically require the homeowner to pump their system several times per year.

The final health hazard related to cesspools is the contamination of our groundwaters and ultimately surface waters. While much of Quogue receives treated county water for use throughout the home, on-site well contamination has also occurred. For those homes closest to the water there may not be adequate filtration time in the sand to remove the pathogens from the wastewater, making surface waters unsafe for shell-fishing and swimming. Most of the waters around Quogue are not certified for the consumption of shellfish or swimming for this reason, according to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation.

This decline is particularly evident in our waters where the tidal exchange is minimal due to Quogue’s location near the midpoint between Shinnecock and Moriches inlets. This lack of water circulation creates warm stagnant conditions that can trap pollutants.  The accumulation of pollutants like nitrogen is what causes harmful algae blooms such as brown tide, which turns the waters a coffee-like color. These conditions are harmful to fish and shellfish and also create low oxygen conditions that further make the bays hostile to marine life. Degraded surface waters also negatively impact fishing, tourism, and ultimately our quality of life.

Chris Clapp is a marine scientist who spent his early career managing shellfish and eelgrass research and restoration projects in the waters around Long Island with The Nature Conservancy. More recently he has focused on achieving policy changes at the County, Town, and Village level to drive the nitrogen reduction needed to restore coastal marine habitat and improve public health. Chris serves on several local advisory committees and is the founder of Clean Water Advisors, which helps homeowners and municipalities navigate their way through these complex processes.

 

How to Upgrade Your Septic System to Combat Nitrogen Pollution and Protect Water Quality

Here in Quogue, water is all around us. Protecting these waterways is an investment in the health and well-being of the people and wildlife that make Quogue their home. Both are increasingly threatened by nitrogen pollution in our bays and waterways caused by outdated home septic systems.

That’s why the Quogue Village Board of Trustees is encouraging homeowners to consider replacing their outdated home septic tanks with state-of-the-art systems that remove up to 70 percent of the nitrogen that would otherwise leach into the ground underneath your home, eventually making its way through underground streams into our bays and creeks.

While the process can be disruptive and costly – to buy and install a current system currently costs between $25,000 and $40,000 — the good news is that significant funding is available to cover these costs.

The bad news is that money is just half the battle. Paperwork and diligence are also required, which is why the Village has created this guide to help homeowners tackle this challenge with as few headaches as possible.

The Village has also retained Chris Clapp of Clean Water Advisors to help guide you through the grant, permitting, and planning processes.  While you will have to retain your own contractors/experts to do the actual design and installation, Chris will be available to help jump start and explain the process.  He can be reached at chris@cleanwateradvisorsllc.com

 Does your septic system need replacing?

Today there are essentially three types of septic systems in use in our area: current nitrogen-reducing models, old septic tanks shaped like large cement donuts, and even older cesspools that collect waste that is released into the ground over time.

Since 2018, nitrogen-reducing septic systems have been required in the village for any newly built home or when a home undergoes a significant renovation.

Homes built on or near waterways with outdated septic systems or cesspools are most in need of replacing.

 Where septic refund money comes from

In 2015, Suffolk County became among the first municipalities in the nation to create a program to provide significant financial support to homeowners to upgrade to nitrogen-reducing septic systems.

Today, $20,000 in grant funds are available from Suffolk County’s Septic Improvement Program, which includes $10,000 from the county and another $10,000 in matching funds from New York State. Since 2016, Southampton Town also provides an additional $20,000 in rebate funds, which can be used to cover the cost of reinstalling landscaping and other costs incurred during installation.

Required Paperwork

To access these grants, homeowners need to compile documentation to support their application. It is important to remember that the paperwork needs to be submitted and approved prior to installation in order to be eligible for grant funds. Here is a checklist of necessary items:

  • Current deed
  • An original Certificate of Occupancy or “equivalent”
  • Proof of Insurance
  • Proof of property tax payment
  • Paperwork identifying incorporating members or beneficiaries to demonstrate who is legally responsible for your home if your property is owned by a Trust, LLC or Corporation.

Paperwork that will be necessary for designing the new system and applying for permits will include:

  • Property survey
  • A layout of your house that identifies all bedrooms
  • Any current or past NY DEC permits if your property is near coastline or wetlands

Septic failures receive priority

Any homeowner experiencing a septic failure, such as liquid waste coming to the surface or backing up inside a house, or who has what is known as a “block cesspool” (which are old systems made by hand from bricks or stone) receive priority in the application process if they can provide the following:

  • Septic pumping receipts if you pump to empty your septic system or cesspool 4 or more times per years
  • Photo of any sewer failure
  • Photo of block cesspool

Notes on Paperwork:

  1. The Quogue Village Building department has C of Os on file and can provide a copy on request.
  2. The county determines the size and capacity of the septic you require for your house based on the number of bedrooms, which it uses to determine the potential number of people who live or could live in your house.
  3. Your property survey must identify any underground utilities including gas, water and electric. In most cases the designer can utilize your current survey.
  4. Soil samples are required to determine the shape and placement of the new septic system to avoid contaminating local ground water and are generally handled by the engineer or architect you hire to design the system and its placement.

 Next steps for homeowners

Once paperwork has been assembled, homeowners are responsible for the following:

  • Hiring a “design professional” such as an engineer or architect to design the layout of the new system.
  • Hiring an installer approved by Suffolk County
  • Developing a plan to restore any landscaping disrupted by the new septic installation

The County has a list of installers and their baseline costs published on their website. You must use one of these county-approved installers to receive county funding and reimbursement.

If your application is approved, the County will pay your contractor to purchase and install your new septic system.

Once the installation is complete, the homeowner will have to pay for landscaping and irrigation to be restored. The cost to move water lines or other underground systems impacted by the install, as well as engineering, design, landscaping or other associated plumbing costs, are also eligible for rebates from the Town of Southampton of up to $20,000.

Timing:

Currently, the County grant processing period can take up to five months for non-failure upgrades.

If you have pumped your existing system more than 4 times in the last 12 months and can provide receipts that document your costs, you will get priority. If you have a “catastrophic failure” and a component of your existing system has collapsed creating a health and safety threat, you may be able to bypass most of the process and get a system installed immediately.

Once your Southampton permit is received you will also need a permit from the Village of Quogue, which typically takes a few days. The Board of Trustees has waived the fees associated with the issuance of permits for the voluntary upgrade of septic systems.

Installations of the septic system typically take no more than two days.

Links to funding applications

 Fill out a grant application, available at https://aca-prod.accela.com/SUFFOLKCO/Welcome.aspx

OTHER RESOURCES:

Suffolk County Septic Improvement Program

 

SepticDemo@SuffolkCountyNY.gov
(631) 852-5811

https://reclaimourwater.info/Septic-Improvement-Program