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Jul 9, 2019 3:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Amagansett Chimes In Against Hither Hills As Wind Farm Cable Landing Site

Montauk Highway in downtown Amagansett. Michael Wright
Jul 9, 2019 4:24 PM

Residents and business owners in Amagansett have joined the chorus objecting to consideration of Hither Hills State Park as a possible landing site for the South Fork Wind Farm power cable, saying it would be a “disaster” for everyone, from Amagansett School parents to businesses to those who simply must travel the Napeague Stretch daily.

With the disruptions to traffic along Montauk Highway between Hither Hills and East Hampton Village expected to stretch to 20 months, over two offseasons, as the power cable is buried beneath about 11 miles of roadway, those who travel, work and live along that corridor have bristled as the spotlight has been put on the possibility of a Montauk landing for the wind farm cable.

“It’s truly going to be a nightmare if they put it there,” said Michael Cinque, owner of Amagansett Wine & Spirits. “I have a hard enough time making a living in the offseason as it is—and they say it’s going to take 20 months. I’m a fireman for 33 years—it would be a nightmare. The school alone, with parents dropping off kids—there’s so many things that could be wrong with this.”

Representatives of Deepwater Wind, the corporation that has proposed building the 15-turbine wind farm in the ocean about 35 miles southeast of Montauk, have said that if the company were to land the power cable in Hither Hills, it would take about 20 months, split over two offseasons—with work suspended in the height of summer—to bury the cable beneath local roads between the proposed landing site at the state park and the LIPA electrical substation near East Hampton Village.

In its application to the New York State Public Service Commission, which will ultimately dictate where the landing site should be, Deepwater has said that its preferred landing site for the cable is in Wainscott, beneath Beach Lane. That proposal would require the cable to be buried beneath just two miles of lightly trafficked local roadways, and would require no construction on Montauk Highway, and just one offseason to complete.

But residents of Wainscott, led by a wealthy group of homeowners who live along Beach Lane and other roads that the cable would follow, have mounted a well-organized and well-funded campaign to convince the PSC that the cable should be brought ashore at the Hither Hills site instead.

In public comments to the PSC, both online and at a public hearing last month in East Hampton Village, dozens of Wainscott residents and attorneys hired by Wainscott homeowners logged their objections. In May, the president of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind, the Danish energy company that purchased Deepwater Wind last summer, wrote to Wainscott residents, telling them that the company was taking a closer look at its alternative landing site in Hither Hills and pleaded with them to support the project as a whole. Many obliged by stating their objections only to the Wainscott landing site.

Montauk and Amagansett residents have been slower to react to the renewed focus on the Hither Hills site, which had originally been proposed by Deepwater Wind as an alternative to the Wainscott landing site should East Hampton Town balk at granting permission to trench through town-owned roadways. The Hither Hills landing would require permission only from the state to use the park and Montauk Highway for the trenching of the cable.

But since the public hearing and the spotlight it put on the Hither Hills option, residents of the two easternmost hamlets have highlighted the extensive disruptions to far more residents that a route requiring five times more roadway to be dug up, along the region’s main travel corridor and through two business districts, would cause.

“There would be incredible inconvenience to so many residents for two years,” Vicki Littman, owner of Vicki’s Veggies farm stand east of downtown Amagansett, said. “For two years—at least two years, because you know how construction goes—it would inconvenience residents from Hither Hills to East Hampton. It would have a big impact on our community, whether you are a business or a homeowner.”

At Monday’s meeting of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee, members said that requiring the main corridor of roadway to be dug up through the downtown area would be an undue burden on the businesses in the stretch.

“What it’s going to be for the businesses that are open all year is a going-out-of-business model,” said Michael Jordan, during a presentation by representatives from Deepwater Wind and Ørsted.

Those representatives, though they said that the Wainscott landing site is still their preferred choice, sought to minimize the impacts the work would have. They noted that the roadwork would not impact the entirety of the route for the full 20 months, but just a migrating section. They said the work on the specific stretches that go through the downtown business districts would be done with the least disruption possible and as quickly as possible.

They noted that the project is also being partnered with Eversource, New England’s largest electrical supplier, which has brought extensive expertise in installing electrical infrastructure to the work plan.

“This kind of work goes on all the time in communities all over the country … and nobody goes out of business,” said Julia Prince, a former East Hampton Town councilwoman who now works for Ørsted. “I would just urge you to take a common sense look at it.”

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