Tag Archive | "Peconic Bay"

Ferry Debate Continues

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By Kathryn G. Menu

While no formal plans have been filed with the Village of Sag Harbor, according to Mayor Brian Gilbride, the debate over a passenger ferry service to the village continued at Monday’s Harbor Committee meeting where two members disagreed on whether or not it will benefit the village.

Earlier this year, the Riverhead-based firm Response Marina sent informal proposals to several villages and towns on the East End looking to create the Peconic Bay Passenger Shuttle Service. The ferry service would be year round, and in its first phase would connect Sag Harbor and Greenport via one, 40-person shuttle. A second phase would add seasonal ferry service to places like Riverhead and East Hampton.

According to the proposal, the number of shuttles and destinations, could increase depending on demand.

On Monday, Harbor Committee Chairman Bruce Tait said the village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) says ferries should be considered, however, only if upland support to address issues like parking is in place.

“No one has addressed upland support on this thing and it is really, really, really important because it becomes a quality of life issue,” said Tait.

He added he was concerned about the precedent that could be set by allowing a private ferry service in Sag Harbor.

“People have been looking at trying to get a ferry service to the South Fork for a long time,” he noted, later adding he was unsure what benefit the ferry service would offer Sag Harbor residents.

Committee member Dr. Tom Halton said he thought it was a wonderful way to get people to the village without cars, adding he expects there would be plans unveiled to handle parking.

“I have worked on boats my whole life,” said Dr. Halton. “It is wonderful to get people from point A to point B by a boat.”

“I also am in favor of a ferry being an alternative for traffic as long as it works for our community,” said Tait. “We are not a commercial port and we are an extremely congested small village. Anything that increases that congestion is a problem.”

In other Harbor Committee news, Glover Street resident David Epstein expressed concerns about Steven Gambrel’s proposal to construct a dock on his property. The four by 57-foot catwalk-dock would connect to a three by 12-foot ramp leading to a six by 20-foot perpendicular float at Gambrel’s 53 Glover Street home.

The proposal was before the Harbor Committee for a wetlands permit and has already been approved by the NYSDEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conversation), Southampton Trustees and the Army Corps. of Engineers.

While Tait said the structure was typical of docks that have been approved for wetlands permits and there were no navigation issues, he encouraged Epstein to share his concerns with the board.

Epstein, who added that other neighbors were concerned with the dock as well, noted that Gambrel has been “a problematic neighbor.” He pointed out that it was Gambrel’s house which was rented for a Lionel Richie concert in 2008 over Fourth of July weekend — a concert village officials scrambled to halt and which eventually inspired the board of trustees to require permits for anyone hosting events with more than 75 people.

Epstein said he wanted to ensure there was no electric or sound system connected to the dock, which Billy Mack of the marine construction firm First Coastal assured was not a part of the plans.

Epstein remained concerned, particularly with the size of the dock.

“It’s going to be a party, but that is not your concern,” he said.

Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren noted that Southampton Town Trustees limit the number of vessels, including jet skis, to two per dock with Tait adding the water depth would prevent a boat larger than 30-feet from docking.

A wetlands permit is expected next month.

The Harbor Committee also signed off on the John Jermain Memorial Library’s plans to expand its Main Street facility, one of the last approvals the library needs before it can apply for a building permit to start construction.

“I think it is a great project,” said Tait, and the committee agreed it was consistent with the LWRP.

Lastly, Philip Alston was granted a wetlands permit to demolish an existing house and construct a new, two-story home on his 1 Harding Terrace property. Howard Druckman was also granted a wetlands permit to construct a dock into Sag Harbor Cove from his 192 Redwood Road house.

Sag Harbor ARB Approves Sixth Solar Panel Project

After very little discussion, last Thursday the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board approved the sixth solar panel project in the historic village, agreeing to allow Brian Halweil to mount a solar electric system consisting of 24, 230-watt panels on his 132 Glover Street home.

“It is on a flat roof and is not visible from anywhere on the street,” said Sag Harbor ARB Chairman Cee Scott Brown. “It was pretty much a slam dunk.”

In other ARB news, the board also approved Kristina Johnson for her “Beach Bungalow” sign at 26 Main Street, as well as Linda Pazera’s sign for “Upholstery Fabrics” for her Long Wharf shop. The Bond No. 9 New York company was also approved to place its company logo on its 45 Main Street location.

In residential applications, Lloyd and Elana Nathan were given approval to plant hedges on the street side of their 50 Bayview Avenue home, and the Sullivan One, LLC. was approved to build a 224-square-foot deck and stone walkway at 15 John Street.

Six Acres Preserved in Noyac

According to a press release issued on Monday by Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, at last week’s general meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, the body approved the acquisition of six acres located in the Noyac Greenbelt for preservation.

Schneiderman’s office said Suffolk County officials will work with the Peconic Land Trust, a non-for-profit conservation group, to buy the 6.6. acres of land, which is located between Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor and is part of the 100 acres of preserved land in the Great Swamp and the Noyac Greenbelt. The land includes low-lying wetlands and sloping woodlands and lies on top of the moraine, a ridge created from glaciers. Schneiderman’s office said the area is essential to the collection of fresh drinking water and will remain open space for aquifer protection. Schneiderman co-sponsored the resolution for acquisition under the Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program.

State Passes Law Allowing North Haven to Regulate Docks

On Monday, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced that legislation he sponsored related to the oversight of docks in the Village of North Haven has passed both the state senate and assembly. The legislation will enable the Village of North Haven to adopt, amend and enforce local regulations concerning the location and construction of boathouses, docks and moorings.

“I am pleased this legislation has passed the Assembly and that we could fulfill this request of the Village,” said Thiele in a release. “This legislation will allow for the proper local oversight of these shoreline structures.”

“This legislation allows and returns local control to the Village of North Haven with respect to the regulation of construction on and near its waters,” added New York State Senator Ken LaValle, who sponsored the senate version of the bill.

Red Tide Rears Its Head Again, Early

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web Red Tide_1

Red tide, an algae bloom toxic to shellfish and fin fish, is already rampant in the waters off the South Fork of Long Island, having reappeared for the sixth year in a row and over a month earlier than years past, according to Stony Brook Southampton professor Dr. Chris Gobler and Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister.

Already visible in the Shinnecock and Peconic bays, including Noyac Bay off Sag Harbor, according to Dr. Gobler the red tide first appeared around July 20, whereas previously the algae has bloomed in late August and early September.

“The organism has been present for some time, but we do not know why it has become so prominent in recent years,” said Dr. Gobler. “We believe the warmer-than-usual summer has been responsible for its early arrival.”

A harmful algal bloom, red tide is visible, usually presenting itself in rust-colored bands on surface water. While harmless to humans, Dr. Gobler noted the species is highly toxic to fish, shellfish, larvae, zooplankton and other algae.

“These properties prevent it from being consumed by predators and prevent it from needing to compete with other algae for resources such as nutrients,” explained Dr. Gobler. “Higher nitrogen levels lead to more intense blooms. We also know the blooms seem to be isolated to the Peconics and Northeastern Shinnecock Bay.”

The tide will remain until the water cools, reducing the number of available nutrients.

According to Dr. Gobler, quantifying the impacts of red tide is difficult, although he noted the smallest organisms, larvae, are the most vulnerable albeit the most difficult to track.

“Large fish in pound nets and at Stony Brook’s marine station have died during blooms,” said Dr. Gobler. “Fishermen have reported a decline in landings during and following the blooms. The Southampton Town Trustees reported a large scallop die-off in Noyac Bay following last year’s bloom. None of these things are good news for the ecosystem.”

McAllister agreed that areas where aquaculture is occurring are the most vulnerable, particularly if their growth is in cages, but that pound nets are equally vulnerable as when fish trapped in the nest can be exposed to the toxic algae for prolonged periods of time.

“I think the wild stock is also vulnerable if there is a persistent bloom,” he added.

Dr. Gobler, whose lab at Stony Brook Southampton is focused on water quality research and plankton ecology, said the occurrence of red tide is a sign of poor water quality, however while his lab has learned much about the species they are still studying why the blooms start and why they reoccur on such a consistent basis, as opposed to brown tide, which is more sporadic.

McAllister said he has seen literature referencing the occurrence of red tides dating back centuries, but that he believes an increase in nutrients like nitrogen in the water likely is due to human influence, specifically the result of aging wastewater treatment systems leeching into the groundwater and concurrently into streams and bays, as well as the use of some fertilizers in landscaping and lawn maintenance.

“It’s been around for a long time, but with that being said, we are seeing these harmful algae blooms more frequently and certainly along developed coastal communities,” said McAllister. “I don’t have the smoking gun, but I do believe there is a correlation between development and the strain on coastal marine life.”