By Kathryn G. Menu
When it comes to Havens Beach, Peconic BayKeeper Kevin MacAllister has not always had the kindest of words for the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees over the last two decades.
But all that changed Tuesday night after the board approved a bid to complete a remediation project for a drainage dreen leading to Sag Harbor’s only bathing beach which MacAllister has been an advocate for years.
On Tuesday, March 12 after some 27 years of discussion, the village board awarded Keith Grimes, Inc. a $373,967.98 bid to complete a remediation of the Havens Beach drainage ditch.
The project, conceived by Inter-Science Research Associates of Southampton, involves dredging muck and silt out of the ditch, re-grading the dreen and filling it with clean sand and native vegetation. The project, when completed, will create a wetland, which will provide bio-filtration for any stormwater runoff funneled to the ditch from the 138-acre watershed.
The second component of the plan is to install one AbTech Smart Sponge Plus filtration vault at the end of the ditch closest to the discharge point into Sag Harbor Bay. Originally the proposal contained two vaults — with a first vault at the beginning of the ditch near Hempstead Street, but the plan was scaled back as it was formalized.
The Smart Sponge Plus filters actually absorb bacteria, providing an extra layer of protection from stormwater runoff contaminants after the water has washed through the wetlands.
Two catch basins have already been installed at the Hempstead Street entrance to the ditch as a part of the plan.
A total of six bids were received for the project, ranging from Grimes — the lowest bid — to a bid by A.G.L. Constructing for $584,879.11.
According to a memo filed with the board by P.W. Grosser Consulting, the village’s engineers, Grimes supplies trustees with a list of 10 local references of similar and recent projects. Six of the 10 references were able to be contacted and reported they were pleased with the results of their projects, according to Grosser’s memo, with each stating they would be happy to work with the firm in the future.
“I just want to applaud the board,” said MacAllister, prior to the trustee’s official vote on awarding the bid, which passed unanimously.
He credited Mayor Brian Gilbride and the rest of the board with having the wherewithal to bring this project to fruition.
MacAllister has been a staunch advocate for the remediation of the stormwater runoff ditch that leads to Havens Beach. While the beach is closed to shellfishing — and to swimming after heavy rainfall events as a precaution by the Suffolk County Department of Health, the ditch has on a number of occasions shown a spike in the acceptable level of fecal coliforms by health department standards over the course of the last decade.
MacAllister said he was pleased, after working with the village’s grant writer himself, to see the project will receive county and state funding.
According to Gilbride, New York State has offered the village a $149,000 grant to complete the work and Suffolk County has offered a matching grant with Sag Harbor Village not to exceed $147,500. That being said, on Tuesday night, Gilbride vowed to pay for the project with village repair funds immediately while waiting for the receipt of that funding.
“We are going to go ahead and hopefully have it done before the beginning of the bathing season,” he said.
“In all sincerity, I really applaud the board for getting it done,” said MacAllister. “We have a lot of pollution issues and anyone dismissing water pollution is mistaken. We saw the red tide come to the [Sag Harbor] coves this summer.”
MacAllister urged the board, which approved his annual stand up paddle board race for Saturday, March 18 on Tuesday night, to attend that event and use it as a way to celebrate the steps forward at Havens Beach.
“You have such a jewel there, so thank you,” he said.
In other village news, the board introduced a new local law to limit 24-hour parking in municipal lots. Under the new law, no vehicle will be allowed to be parked for more than three consecutive days in one of Sag Harbor’s scant 24-hour parking lots.
According to trustee Robbie Stein, the proposed law is to prevent people from parking for multiple days at a time in the municipal lots. Some of that parking is derived from commuters spending a significant amount of time in Manhattan each week.
“We have enough trouble finding parking in these lots,” said Stein, adding as this is just newly introduced he welcomed input on the proposed time frame for enforcement, which is June 15 to September 15.