With the aid of $100,000 in earmarked state funds, damaged roads on Fishers Island could start undergoing repairs by next year.
At the Southold Town Board’s annual Fishers Island meeting on Aug. 9, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell announced that State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) would try to secure money to fix the roads, which residents have complained have been in disrepair for years.
Residents at the meeting met the announcement with applause.
Town officials said the roads had gradually eroded over time due to snow and ice, wear and tear, and a combination of other natural causes.
“Our roads [and sidewalks] have been in a state of disrepair for some time,” Town Councilwoman Louisa Evans, who also lives on the island, said Wednesday. “The residents of the island are grateful to Senator LaValle for the funds toward repairing some of our roads.”
LaValle told Newsday that he had seen the damage to the roads when he attended this year’s annual meeting on Fishers Island Aug. 9, adding that he had not visited there in several years.
“There’s nothing like seeing things firsthand,” LaValle said, describing the roads as rough and in need of work.
LaValle said he has already begun seeking the earmarked funding and hopes to have it secured by next year.
Both Russell and Town Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando said paving on Fishers Island tends to be difficult and often expensive due to the island’s distance from the mainland and the costs related to transporting workers and materials back and forth there.
Fishers Island, at the eastern entrance to Long Island Sound, is 9 miles long and is accessible only by ferry.
Though the island’s road work is still being evaluated, Orlando said it was likely the earmarks would pay for about a half-mile of paving on town-owned island roads. The highway department would seek to add some of its own funds to that amount to get at least another mile paved next year, Orlando added.
Orlando said the department last year paved about 2 miles, or roughly 16 percent, of the 12 miles of road the town owns on Fishers Island, which he said was “extremely significant” compared to the 2 percent of more than 200 miles of road in mainland Southold that were paved in that time.
Orlando added that he is eager to repair Peninsula Boulevard and Crescent Avenue, both of which he said are usually in “pretty bad shape” and would be among the first roads the town would plan to fix.
“I could keep going [about the roads that need repair], but those two really need some attention,” he said.