The Brightwaters Village Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $2 million bond project Monday, Jan. 4, which will replace the bulkhead located on Concourse East.
The project, which will address roughly 1,400 feet of bulkhead along Brightwaters Canal, is projected to cost between $1.4–$1.5 million, mayor John Valdini said at the meeting. The new bulkhead will be constructed roughly 8 to 10 feet higher than the previous, and the bond will be paid back over 20 years.
Renting fees for boaters in the Village will increase to cover the majority of the bond total. Valdini said in a separate interview that he estimated an increase of $10 per-foot for boaters, but that number could vary based on final cost breakdowns.
“Most of the people who use the canal will be paying for it,” Valdini said at the meeting.
Village attorney Charles Casolaro, who outlined the procedural steps of the village, said the bond is subject to a referendum.
Residents have until Feb. 4 to rebut the resolution, Casolaro said. To do so, residents must create a petition that consists of 20 percent of the total number of registered voters within the village and present the petition to the village clerk. If the petition satisfies legal requirements, the bond will be put out for a village-wide vote, and the community will decide if the bond will pass.
After the 30 days have expired and a petition has not been received, residents then have 20 days to file an Article 78 application with the Suffolk County Supreme Court, challenging the bond, Casolaro said.
There are currently 240 boat slips, or parking spaces for vessels, on the canal. Last year, 180 of those spaces were used – one of the highest numbers the village has seen in recent years, Valdini said.
Valdini said trustees aimed to postpone work on the bulkhead until next year. But by early December 2020, officials noticed the bulkhead had sustained major damages, dangerous to potential boaters.
David Tanner, founder of financial consultant company Liberty Municipal, said interest rates are looming below 2 percent, a “historic low.”
Later in the meeting, trustee Patrick Fawcett said it’s financially responsible to approve the resolution now rather than waiting because interest rates are so low.
Tanner, who has helped serve the village with Liberty since 2016, said he does not believe the project will have a negative impact on the village’s credit rating.
Residents chimed in to the meeting prior to the vote on the resolution.
Resident Robert Fischer said he was “surprised” that the village took out a bond for a fairly small project. The canal is “a priority that must be addressed,” he said, but taking out a bond may not be the best way to fix the problem.
Former trustee Carmine Chiappetta said officials have known that the east side of the canal needed to be refurbished. He argued that the village could have earmarked funds each year in anticipation for the project. Since they did not do so, he said, officials were forced to take out the bond. Chiappetta said that during his time on the board, residents were given more notice about projects of this kind.
The community was given plenty of notice, Valdini responded, and said village reps were unable to put away money for projects simply because they haven’t had the funding. Fawcett added that the prior village board’s fund borrowing has dictated what can and cannot be done now.
Richard Dahab suggested security cameras and electrical outlets be placed around the canal, which Valdini said he would consider.
Resident Marc Saglioca said he appreciates the work that the board has completed. He said they’re addressing issues that have been neglected.
“This is our home,” he said. “…We can’t keep placing Band-Aids over these things.”
Another resident, Christian Sullivan, expressed support for the resolution.
“I really do believe that you need to make this investment now… You need to take advantage of the inexpensive money,” Sullivan said, referencing the low interest rate.
Last year, the canal offered the village a surplus of roughly $60,000, Valdini said. Brightwaters received about $224,000 for the canal’s use last year. From that, an existing bond taken out five years ago costs the village about $130,000. The village used roughly $30,000 for additional needs.
The project is expected to go out to bid this month. Responses from potential bidders are due to the village by Jan. 27. Then, officials will select a bidder and work can begin on the project.