Commuting to the job, the Island way


JULIE LANE PHOTO | Russell Wirth canoes to Taylor’s Island weekdays to work on reconstruction at the Smith-Taylor Cabin.

Strada Baxter Design Build, LLC of Amagansett, the company tackling the reconstruction work on the Smith-Taylor Cabin at Taylor’s Island, is determined that the tides won’t interfere with the ability to work on site.

The only road to Taylor’s Island is a narrow spate of land that is only accessible at low tide, so construction worker Russell Wirth, opting not to be dependent on the tides, canoes over with his tools on a daily basis, sometimes ferrying other workers.

Some days winds make for a more difficult trip, but when it’s calm, Mr. Wirth said he prefers the boat ride to lugging tools and hiking across to the cabin. He also likes the freedom of knowing he can work a full shift with no concern about the tide table, he said.

But when the winds are high, he admitted it’s more of a workout to get himself to work.

At the end of July, the Town Board authorized a contract with the company for carpentry work, wall restoration, window restoration and a new roof, approving  payment of $80,516.87, about half the total cost of the work the firm will perform. But work didn’t get under way until recently because of a snag when the relatively young firm couldn’t arrange for a performance bond. That was worked finally out with a letter of credit.

The Island took a walloping when Hurricane Sandy arrived, but thanks to a new seawall and plantings that were done in May to shore up the water’s edge, the cabin remained intact, according to P.A.T. Hunt, who leads the effort to restore the property.