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East Williston and Williston Park reach water agreement

Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar is shown on

Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar is shown on Jan. 5, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

Officials in East Williston and Williston Park have signed an exclusive water sale contract which effectively ends a divisive decade-old dispute involving three lawsuits.

Though the two village boards reached preliminary terms in December 2015, negotiations over the past few months were not without issues. East Williston considered building its own well, an idea which was struck down by its board last month.

East Williston’s board approved the latest iteration of the contract last week, and Williston Park’s board followed suit with a unanimous vote at a trustees meeting on Tuesday evening.

“It’s been a long time in coming. I believe the water agreement serves both villages very well, and I think it will continue to do so for the next 25 years,” said Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar. “It’s a done deal.”

The contract is for the continued sale of water from Williston Park to East Williston, and establishes a 25-year agreement which regulates rate hikes.

Williston Park currently charges East Williston $4.33 per thousand gallons, and will maintain this rate for two years, until June 2018. Future rate increases would retain the ratio between the commercial rate East Williston is charged and the rate Williston Park residents pay.

Williston Park residents pay $3.92 per thousand gallons, and then $4.09 beyond 100,000 gallons.

East Williston residents pay $5.47 per thousand gallons up to 100,000 gallons, and $5.72 beyond this threshold.

The latest revision to the contract was to categorize it not as an “intermunicipal agreement” which expires in five years, but as a “water supply agreement”, which can have up to a 40 year timeline, Ehrbar said.

As part of the agreement, Williston Park will continue water chlorination for both villages and also provide emergency chlorination for East Williston up to state standards.

To date, the longest agreements were decadelong contracts which terminated in the ’90s, current East Williston trustee and former Mayor Anthony Casella said.

Casella said he ran for election in March primarily to see a water agreement through and added that the spat’s conclusion is “just terrific.”

“After 90 years of working together, we’ll work for another 25 years,” Casella said. “Let’s move on to other issues.”

East Williston Mayor David Tanner previously told Newsday that a public referendum for a $7.5 million well project would have been the most “democratic” action. In a phone interview Tuesday, he added that he was “looking forward to a cordial business relationship” with Williston Park.

During negotiation, the $300,000 East Williston owes in late penalties was reduced to $100,000. The penalties, a subject of pending litigation, are still outstanding. Ehrbar said it is likely the payment will be issued by the end of this week. Tanner said that a check will be sent upon completion of paperwork.

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