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Riverhead board OKs signs for duck pond

The small scenic pools that make up the duck pond along Route 25A in Wading River are a place where people take wedding pictures or just stop to feed the fowl.

Like the hamlet, it is split between the towns of Brookhaven and Riverhead, so tasks such as dealing with pollution or big projects such as dredging the sediment that accumulates in the waters often require inter-municipal maneuvering.

On Tuesday, the effort at cooperation strained the Riverhead Town Board, as it debated at length a request from Brookhaven Town officials who want to put up four small signs by the ponds -- signs reading "please don't feed the ducks."

"Are those the white ducks?" asked Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter. "People are putting those white Pekin ducks there all the time. They don't even know how to eat on their own. People feed them," he said.

And, the town board agreed, that only attracts more ducks.

One councilman wondered if there were any teeth in the bill. He was told there would be no law on the books setting a fine for feeding the ducks in Riverhead, just a request to hold down the food, which ends up rotting and polluting the water.

The board eventually voted 5-0 to give Brookhaven permission to put up four 18-by-24-inch signs advising people not to feed ducks, but not before Councilman James Wooten exclaimed, "So this is the duck bill!"

In another matter, the town board voted 4-1 to request proposals from firms interested in handling billing and seeking reimbursement for ambulance service for the town-owned Riverhead Ambulance District.

While the ambulance service is run by volunteers, the town board owns the ambulances and other equipment, and town taxes generate its $1.4 million annual budget. Town officials have been looking at getting reimbursement from insurance carriers for ambulance service.

There were no cost figures included in the town request for proposals, which must be submitted to the Riverhead Town Clerk by Sept. 6.The town board members who voted to seek bids said it was not a commitment to charge for ambulance service, only to see what interest there is by companies in the proposal.

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