Taylor’s Island project hits snag due to red tape

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Members of Shelter Island Girl Scout Troop 1711 at a sleep-over on Taylor’s Island in 2009.

Major renovations at the cabin on town-owned Taylor’s Island have hit a snag because the contractor who was awarded the bid cannot secure a performance bond as required by his contract with the town. The bond would guarantee the town funding to finish the job if the contractor failed to complete it.

The Town Board authorized a contract on July 31 with Strada Baxter Design Build, LLC of Amagansett for renovations at the Taylor’s Island cabin including carpentry work, log wall restoration, windows restoration and a new roof. The board approved a payment of $80,516.87, about half the total cost of the work the firm would perform.

The contract requires the firm to post a performance bond in the amount of $157,000 but Robert Strada has advised P.A.T. Hunt of the town’s Taylor’s Island Preservation and Management Committee that his business partnership with Richard Ward Baxter was formed too recently to have established the necessary credit rating to secure the bond.

Discussing the problem with the Town Board at its work session on Tuesday, Ms. Hunt said one alternative could be a letter of credit that the Bridgehampton National Bank would issue the town in the amount of $36,000 after the town pays the firm that amount as a deposit to start work. She also said funding from the fund left by previous owner S. Gregory Taylor for the town to use to maintain the cabin could be used to cover the deposit.

Councilman Peter Reich worried that the other two firms that bid on the job would cry foul if the winning bidder were not required to meet the terms of the contract. He asked if each partner in the Strada Baxter firm could obtain a performance bond in their own names for half the required amount.

Ms. Hunt said that might be possible but that the private funds or the letter of credit were alternatives. But Councilman Paul Shepherd, noting that a performance bond provides all the funds necessary to complete the job, asked “what would be our reason for going with less than that.”

“I’d rather go with Peter’s suggestion,” Supervisor Jim Dougherty said, and Town Attorney Laury Dowd said she thought the contract could be modified to allow for two bonds, one from each partner.

Ms. Hunt agreed to the board’s preference with Mr. Strada.

Mr. Taylor left the island and its cabin to the town in his will and the town has spent years deciding what to do with it. Under the leadership of Ms. Hunt, then-Supervisor Alfred Kilb and other volunteers, the town has moved ahead with a restoration plan and won a matching grant in the amount of $110,600 from the State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Mr. Taylor’s fund and work provided by volunteers and the town will provide the match for a total project cost of about $220,000.

The work to be performed by Strada Baxter does not include masonry and new windows, which the town and the volunteers will perform.


A town application for a $200,000 state grant to pay for a sorely needed new public bathroom at Crescent Beach won’t be granted until the town adopts a parks master plan that lists the project, Town Attorney Laury Dowd has told the Town Board.

“It’s a horrible facility,” Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. said of the bathrooms at Tuesday’s work session, when the board continued a discussion it started at an earlier meeting on Ms. Dowd’s suggestion that it adopt a revised version of an old parks master plan at its next formal meeting on August 10.

The old plan automatically expired at the end of 2011. There would be no substantive changes in the plan, which included new bathrooms at Crescent Beach among its goals.

There was a long discussion about setting priorities in the plan: Councilman Ed Brown wanted to make completing Legion Hall renovations and repairs the top priority in the plan followed by Shell Beach erosion protection and finally the bathrooms. But board members led by Councilwoman Chris Lewis agreed it was important to list the bathrooms as a top priority because of the pending grant application; they felt it would send the wrong signal to the state to make the project less than a top priority. Ms. Lewis noted that board members could always change the plan and its priority list in the future.

As for the bathroom project itself, Mr. Card told the board the County Department of Health Services had rejected his plan to use a container tank for the septic system even though the state Department of Environmental Conservation had approved it. The county’s objection involved a requirement for a hand-washing sink, he said.

Board members asked for assurances from Mr. Card that the county was not making an enforcement issue of the bathrooms. He said he had put in a filtration system at the facility “and that was the issue for the Department of Health” for the time being.


The board on Tuesday heard Mr. Card, as highway superintendent, request approval to buy a used aerial lift for $40,000 to do tree maintenance work not associated with utility line maintenance, which the Highway Department is not authorized to do and is the utilities’ job; a used fork lift for $10,000 to replace the skid steer highway crews now use to move material at the Recycling Center, which wears out its expensive tires quickly and also damages the asphalt surface there; a small utility vehicle, at a cost of $12,000 new, to allow men at the Recycling Center to easily move about the 13-acre area; and a line paint machine, at a cost of $15,000 new, so the town could take over the job of repainting street lines it now hires a contractor to do for about $15,000.

During a long discussion, Supervisor Dougherty noted that Cashin Associates, the Long Island engineering firm planning erosion control work on the Second Causeway for the town, has asked for fees $60,000 over the budgeted amount and that Mr. Card was “trying to set up a meeting to find out what happened.”

He went on to say that he figured “we are in hock for about $320,000” when planning the 2013 budget because of Cashin’s unexpected $60,000 bill; the estimated $100,000 cost of budgeting to fund the town’s new Length of Service Award Program for the ambulance squad in 2013; the operating budget of the town ambulance department, which became town-owned this year; and Mr. Card’s request for equipment.

“We have to be careful,” Mr. Dougherty said. Of taxpayers who ask for services but then recent tax increases, he quoted the late Arkansas Senator Dale Bumpers as having said, “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.”

Later during the session, Mr. Dougherty said current spending under the 2012 budget appeared to be on track after both “positive and negative variances” were taken into account.

Seeking this year to avoid the last-minute push to finalize a 2013 preliminary budget by the end of September, he said he’d already asked department heads to submit their requests and that he will begin meeting with them on August 20. Mr. Dougherty’s submission of a preliminary budget to the Town Board will start the clock on a budget review process that must end with the adoption of a final budget by late November. “After Labor Day, we’ll hit the ground running,” Mr. Dougherty said.