MyRye.com received the following letter to the editor from Hen Island resident Ray Tartaglione in reaction the the recent New York Times story on problems plaguing this piece of paradise. The letter is printed in its entirety.
Letter to the editor:
The New York Times reporter missed the point. The Hen Island dispute definitely started out as a dispute between neighbors (as she reported), but as a result it has uncovered neglected health, safety and environmental issues, some of which threaten the lives of the residents and guests of Hen Island, as well as everyone that uses Milton and Mamaroneck Harbors.
Caitlin Kelly the reporter is a member of the Board of Directors for her Co-Op in Tarrytown. As a result, I believe she sympathized with the Hen Island Board of Directors. I was very surprised she wrote such an objective story. Although she like Commissioner Meyerson did not witness all that was wry on the island. (Caitlin was never shown and Commissioner Meyerson refused to look, and when he did he closed his eyes, as I believe he was instructed to do.) She did, however, make a few points that were incorrect. She stated, “I am insisting that the city and the county provide sewer and water and ensure there is no sewage leaking into the sound.” In actuality, I am asking the county to flow and dye test the sewage systems. I am also asking that the city require cottage owners that installed bathrooms and sewage pits illegally, to meet code, and the city be required to check and inspect all electrical and plumbing installations including propane storage and supply lines. The corrections necessary will and should be the responsibility of the cottage owners and the corporation that owns Hen Island not the city or the county. In short, I am not trying to develop the Island I am just trying to make it safe and non-polluting.
Westchester County removed lead investigator Ron Gatto and replaced him with Deputy Health Commissioner Lenny Meyerson after learning inspector Gatto was going to close down the Island until corrections were made on the illegal sewage hookups. View the complete story from the HealtheHarbor.com website. Today if you try to speak to Inspector Gatto with regard to Hen Island, he will tell you he has been directed by his superiors not to discuss the investigation. (According to Rye City records in 1989 there were 11 outhouses in use on Hen Island. Today it is home to the last remaining one in use in Westchester County.) There are no plans, permits or approvals on file in the city or the county for the ten new bathrooms and sewage systems installed after 1989. (That does not address the remaining 22 sewage pits also in use today.)
Commissioner Meyerson’s statement “There are definitely systems in place that in the modern world, scrutinized by an engineer, would not be acceptable,” My question is: Do we not live in the modern world? One more question for the Commissioner: What about the water and sewage systems that were allowed to be installed just this last June? Why did Rye and the County Health Department allow a new cottage to be built without compliance or any scrutiny?
“This is a private property, and you have to respect their private property rights,” he said. “It’s a balancing act.” I wonder how much balancing the commissioner would do if he had the offensively malodorous sewage pit with a rotten plywood cover, ten feet from his home? Would Mayor Otis, any of the city board members or city attorney Plunkett allow this type of pollution to continue in their back yards? Judge Bellantoni dismissed the litigation that is now in the appellate stages based on inaccurate and deceptive letters supplied to the court authored by Commissioner Meyerson.
I have personally requested meetings with Mayor Otis and the City Board in an effort for them to view what you have published in photos today.
The answers to why this is allowed are all revealed in my original statements to MyRye.com about Mayor Otis and Kevin Plunkett. Thank you MyRye.com for displaying and reporting the truth. “One picture is worth a thousand words.”