Numerous topics were discussed at Saturday morning’s Southold Voice meeting, but the one that ignited the most passionate discussion was the future of Goldsmith Inlet.
Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski spoke about the current state of the inlet and options for its future.
“I think everyone here is interested in the inlet and the fate of the jetty and the history and everything,” he said. “It is such a complicated issue.”
Among the problems the inlet faces, Mr. Krupski said, is longtime deterioration of the jetty, which has led to the accumulation of sand at its mouth. This has also interrupted water flow and led to a decline in water quality.
Mr. Krupski said restoration of the inlet requires cooperation from many partners, including the local community, the state, the Southold Town Trustees and Town Board, Suffolk County (which built the first jetty there and then years ago abandoned building a second), New York’s departments of state and environmental conservation, the Army Corps of Engineers, federal Fish and Wildlife,and Mother Nature, which he called the most important partner.
Mr. Krupski said his office is working on a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which said at a meeting at Southold Town Hall earlier this month that it needs to receive a formal letter of request before it can partner on the restoration project. Mr. Krupski said his office is working on a draft and hoped to have it completed Monday.
Officials said the jetty, built in 1964, contributes to capturing sand that ends up choking off the inlet, which has negatively impacted the waterway and its marine life.
He fielded many questions and comments from residents, who filled nearly every seat at the Southold American Legion.
Many people asked when action would be taken, reminding Mr. Krupski that the topic is one many people are passionate about and don’t often agree on, and reminded the legislator about the poor condition of the inlet.
One audience member told Mr. Krupski that he organizes two annual beach cleanups at Goldsmith, where they gather tons of plastic, poles and more each time, because the interrupted water flow keeps the garbage there.
Jim O’Malley of Peconic said the inlet smells and is polluted and recommended that a six-foot-high fence be erected around the area and signs be posted advising people not to swim there. Additionally, he asked that the water be continuously dredged and a second jetty built.
Opinions were so strong, in fact, that after Congressman Lee Zeldin spoke about flood insurance and helicopter routes and opened the floor for questions, the only ones he was asked concerned Goldsmith Inlet.
Residents asked if Mr. Zeldin could help them secure support from the Army Corps to research options to help restore the inlet.
Mr. Zeldin said he would advocate for whatever option or options the community desires.
“I do not believe that anyone who lives anywhere else, other than Goldsmith, should be telling you what is in your best interest,” he said. “You should be telling me what is in your best interest and then I’ll fight for it.”