Over the past three years, our concerns about contaminated water in our private wells became all too real. Testing by the Suffolk County Health Department revealed 15-20% of our wells are contaminated with perfluorinated compounds. Additionally, up to 30% showed contamination of volatile organic compounds.
Since contamination was identified, various levels of government became involved in our fight for clean water. Congressman Zeldin and Senator Schumer have been instrumental in working for the residents and securing $3.5 million from the federal government for the project, and the community is grateful. However, the question remains – Where does the remainder of needed funding come from?
The relationship with Riverhead Town has been rocky. However, the Town Board and employees worked with residents to seek grant funding from the state and enter into a cooperative agreement with Suffolk County Water Authority to ensure the extension of clean, public water can be completed.
New York State touts that there is big money available for clean water; however, in November our community received another crushing blow — we were denied, not one, but two, grant applications for clean water. This denial follows another grant rejection from 2021. We are concerned and nervous. Each day that passes exposes us to further contamination. Manorville keeps getting passed over for funding; and the exposure to toxic chemicals continues every day.
So, who is speaking up for Manorville at the state level? Where are our state representatives who were elected to advocate for Manorville in Albany? The Manorville residents would surely appreciate clear answers to these questions. Moreover, they deserve answers. In April we reached out to both of you and penned a letter asking you for help. We received no response from either of you. Therefore, your silence was our answer.
Last week, we held a press conference. It was well attended by concerned residents and multiple news outlets. Many residents even took the day off from work to participate. We know you saw the press conference and felt the aftermath of the questioning from the media. We also know that it was not comfortable for you. To be entirely truthful, contaminated water is not comfortable for us. Additionally, your comments following the press conference make us apprehensive also.
Senator Palumbo: The first comment we witnessed from you included, “It’s the Hunger Games… people don’t get every single grant they are requesting, of course.” We don’t expect every single grant requested; however, we deserve a grant that allows us access to clean water. (We would also like to point out that in Hunger Games, most of the characters actually die a brutal death.)
This community is made up of good, decent, hardworking people, but you will have to take our word for that since you have not taken time to communicate with us. Clean water is not a topic proper for political rhetoric or disagreements among political parties or entities. Earlier this week, on a radio show, you stated that “there’s the general red tape between who’s going to do the hookup; whether it’s going to be SCWA or Riverhead or whomever it may be.” This is no longer true. It has been three months since Riverhead and SCWA approved an agreement as to how both would work together on our behalf.
In addition, you referenced our press conference in your radio interview with clear disdain for those participating. You stated we wanted to be “the star of the show” and “there are some folks looking for the spotlight”. These comments are not the expected speech of a diligent, concerned elected official. No one here wants to be a star…we just want clean water. We would much prefer turning on the faucet safely rather than turning a spotlight on negligent elected officials.
Assemblywoman Giglio: You have known about these issues since your time on the Riverhead Town Board. Do you remember providing a few dozen cases of bottled water to the community when you were running for the State Assembly? You have even attended a few Navy meetings. You met us, sat in the seats among us, and pledged your support to us, and then abandoned us. You ran to Albany and we went back to our position as the ‘little forgotten section of Riverhead Town’.
Last week in your interview with Newsday, you said, “One home with contaminated water is enough for me to go to bat.” We wonder who lives in that one home. It clearly isn’t any one of the 64 in our neighborhood.
Both of you have claimed you are focused and working on the issue. You said you sent letters earlier in the year. To whom? What did the letter request? Why didn’t the residents see these letters? You stated that just this week you had a meeting about this. With whom? What was discussed?
Residents are losing their patience, but worse than losing our patience, we could possibly be losing more in terms of health. The most important role of any elected official is to protect the health and safety of their constituents. When you took the oath of office, you promised to do just that. That promise does not exclude the folks in these 64 homes. The residents are now calling upon you to act. We need help! It’s the year 2022 and your constituents need clean water. We would like to invite you to our community to meet with us, answer our questions, and respond to our concerns. We are requesting to hear what your plan is, step by step, to ensure that we receive funding from the state.
Kelly and Peter McClinchy, Ronald Martz, Bill and Betty Ebert, Ken Kneski, Clare Bennett, Marc Rogovin, Kristin and Patrick Lennon, Roseanne and Robert Smith, Rosemary Horton, Brian and Jessica Lachow, Ray and Jane Kreiger, Toni and Tom Pawson, Allan Horton, Bernadette and Neil Eyre, Mark Masi, Robert Boehm, Tamara and John Stoddard, Anthony and Marie Panarello
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