Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman pledged to work to make sure all the town’s electrical energy generation comes from renewable sources by 2025 and committed the town to do more to provide affordable housing in his State of the Town Address Tuesday evening.
“That may seem ambitious, but it’s a very possible goal,” said Mr. Schneiderman of the renewable energy pledge, adding that he plans to unveil a bill soon to commit the town to 100 percent renewable energy.
Southampton’s pledge is not without precedent — East Hampton Town committed to producing all its electrical energy from renewable sources by 2020 back in 2014.
Mr. Schneiderman acknowledged that the promise of the Long Island Power Authority’s approval of the South Fork Wind Farm off the coast of Montauk in January helped pave the way to make these pledges attainable.
The wind farm is currently slated to come online in 2022, providing 90 megawatts of power to East Hampton’s transmission substation, with capability for input to other areas of the grid if the wind farm is expanded.
Mr. Schneiderman added that the New York State Energy Research & Development Agency, or NYSERDA, has named the town a Clean Energy Community.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Clean Energy Communities initiative in August of 2016, as part of his Reforming the Energy Vision strategy to help the state meet its goal of producing 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030.
Mr. Scheiderman said he’s also excited to bring Diana Weir, who is currently serving as the chair of Brookhaven Town’s office of Housing and Community Development, in to serve in the same role in Southampton, which would be a new position for the town.
“I’ve know Diana for many years. She serves on the East Hampton planning and LTV boards,” said Mr. Schneiderman. “She’s been very involved with housing initiatives.”
Mr. Schneiderman said he’d like to see the town commit to building more affordable rentals, and thanked the community of Speonk for supporting a new 38-unit rental project on North Phillips Avenue, which received a zone change in late March allowing the project to proceed with site plan review.
Mr. Schneiderman said he wants to make it easier for homeowners to build affordable accessory apartments, especially in areas with high land values east of the Shinnecock Canal.
“It would put workers closer to where they work, save traffic, and give a homeowner additional revenue,” he said. “I think it’s going to be an exciting new program.”
Mr. Schneiderman said constituents often come to him looking for help finding a place to live, and he recently sat down to talk with a single mother, who’s taking care of her child and grandchild and works in a local school, who lost her housing and can’t find a place to live.
“Her story is not dissimilar to others,” he said. “They’re part of the fabric of our community, part of who we are…. Our quality of life is deteriorating by the fact that we are not able to house our workforce in reasonable conditions.”
Mr. Schneiderman added that the town’s new Tiana Bay Marine Education Center is due to come online this spring, offering aquaculture programs through Cornell Cooperative Extension.
He also has tasked Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman John Bouvier with putting together a committee to develop and vet projects to improve water quality using newly granted Community Preservation Fund money for water quality projects.
Voters overwhelmingly supported the initiative in a public referendum on last November’s ballot, which would allow the five East End towns to use up to 20 percent of their CPF revenue for water quality projects.
Mr. Schneiderman also said he is hopeful that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ updated Fire Island To Montauk Point Reformulation Study will include money to elevate Dune Road from Hampton Bays to East Quogue.
“We’re waiting for the federal government to put together the final touches,” he said. “It’s very exciting in terms of how its going to protect the shoreline.”