By Kathryn G. Menu
North Haven Village has become the eighth municipality on the East End to sign an inter-municipal agreement with the Peconic Estuary Program. With that move, the village joins a growing list of local governments committed to helping fund the program’s work in aiding a critical natural resource and economic driver.
The village board passed a unanimous resolution Tuesday night to sign the agreement. North Haven Village will provide the program with $1,000 in funding for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 31, according to Mayor Jeff Sander. Sander committed to finding $3,000 to fund the program in the 2014-2015 budget, which the board will start to workshop next month.
While the combined funding from participating municipalities is critical to the program’s success, at root in the agreement is the concept of East End governments working collaboratively through the program to improve water quality by sharing research, resources, coordinating regulation and enforcement and launching education initiatives aimed at teaching the public how they can have a hand in protecting the Peconic Estuary. Looking at improving septic system technology, enhancing tidal wetlands and looking at legislation to protect water quality are some of the larger goals of the coalition.
Once fully formed, the coalition will work together through a committee of representatives. The towns of Brookhaven, East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold have already passed resolutions agreeing to join the coalition, as has the Village of Greenport. The program also hopes to count the villages of Sag Harbor and Dering Harbor as coalition members, although neither municipality has formally agreed to fund the program as of yet.
The program was originally funded through Suffolk County, which will also be a coalition member, as will the State of New York.
“Out here on the East End, we live and die by the bays and personally I don’t think we can spend enough to make sure that it is taken care of,” said Sander.
“I think we couldn’t spend our money any better way than protecting our waters,” agreed North Haven Deputy Mayor Diane Skilbred.