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An 8-year wait to get a permit

The April 21st 2010 Trustee’s meeting agenda had 6 administrative permits, all granted; 14 extensions/transfers/amendments, all granted; 8 moorings/duck blinds permits, all granted except the duck blind request where the Bay Constable thought the distance from the blind to neighboring properties was too close.  In the Wetland Permits portion of the meeting, the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund, Inc. applied for repairs and expansion of the Galley Ho docks and marina, but as the LWRP requires a “pumpout” facility for any new or expanded marina, they got their repairs, but not the expansion requested.

It was interesting to hear the story of an applicant who appeared for the work session to find out how the stake and pulley permits are granted.  It is the reason I wanted to start this organization that would be able to help people facing bureaucratic delays in the issuance of permits, that oft times when finally granted, the applicant is infirm or deceased, and the whole reason for the application is rendered moot.   His story broke my heart:

EIGHT YEARS AGO, he applied for a stake and pulley for a small boat in Goose Creek.  That was 2002. Do you remember the summer of 2002, when he wanted to use his boat?  Neither do I….  No matter how old you are, 8 years is a long time.  If you are in your 20’s & 30’s you think it’s the best time of your life.  If you have a child in 5th grade, and the child wants to go boating when he can get his license at age 10, 8 years later he is in college with no boating or fishing with his dad.  If you bought your retirement place in Southold Town at 65, you think it’s the best time of your life,  and want to put a boat in the creek, 8 years later, hopefully, you are still a young 73 and still ready and able to enjoy boating.  My belabored point is that no one is the same person they were 8 years ago.   Now I have no problem with a lottery system where you have to wait your turn and it administered fairly and honestly.  If you can’t wait, you go to a marina.  But, this applicant told the board that there are a slew of stakes and pulleys where he is waiting for his.  Many have been unused for years.  Some have numbers, some do not.

His question was, “What am I waiting for? What has to happen, for me to use one of these stakes after 8 years? ”

THE ANSWER:  The board said that they are working on creating an inventory of moorings and stake and pulleys town wide, and want to do it right.  The Bay Constable staff was shorthanded last year and we hope this year when there are 3 constables, they will be able to make some progress but they can only do this when they are not busy, in their spare time.

“Realistically, it is a project that will not be completed for 2 maybe 3 years.” Jill said matter-of-fact.

I think I was the only one in the room that almost fell out of my chair.  Maybe, I was the only one, because I have heard the same story about moorings, the same story about stakes in Hallocks Bay, and have seen enough to believe the system is corrupt and unfair.  By that, I mean there are “connected” people who have what they want when they want it, while others are told their name has not come up yet on the list.

Am  I the only person to feel outraged by this?

While I may be critical of the process, I want to be constructive.  The solution is not complicated if there is a will to solve the problem.  I for one, and I am sure there are lots of others, would be happy to count and identify stakes and moorings, complete a worksheet form to inventory what’s out there.  My guess is that just identifying the owners of moorings and stakes who are DEAD, will go a long way to cut the wait time for applicants.  Does it really take a Bay Constable to do this?  Couldn’t an Eagle Scout, a student, a kayaker, rower, shore-walker, birdwatcher, boater, property owner, USPS or USCG Auxiliary member, any willing body with a hand-held GPS, complete a one page form in English showing location, and if it appears to be in current use.

Or, fixing the problem at the office end, couldn’t any helpful volunteer, put the exiting permits in a search-able order so that the Trustees know what is permitted and call the owner to see if it is used?  I would love to hear from anyone with a mooring/stake permit story.

Back to our Goose Creek applicant: his name came up for a mooring.  While being grateful, after 8 years, he said “I wasn’t planning on trailering a boat to get to my 17′ boat … but if I can swap for a stake when it becomes available, I’ll take it.”  I don’t know who he is, but he was very nice.  I think I’ll call him Job.

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