12/03/14 2:00pm
12/03/2014 2:00 PM
Small planes parked at the New Suffolk Avenue airbase. (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

Small planes parked at the New Suffolk Avenue airbase. (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has removed Mattituck Airbase from New York’s Superfund site program.

The department notified the public of its intent to remove the New Suffolk Avenue site in August, saying it no longer poses a threat to public health or the environment.

(more…)

11/01/13 7:00pm
11/01/2013 7:00 PM

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has closed several acres of Southold Town waters from shellfishing.

Due to increased levels of fecal coliform bacteria, about three acres of Gull Pond will now be closed year-round and is considered “uncertified to the harvest of shellfish.”

Approximately 75 acres in Great Peconic Bay’s Deep Hole Creek will be closed seasonally during from May 1 through Nov. 30.

The closures come days before the opening of the scalloping season — which starts at sunrise Monday, but area baymen should not be impacted by the closures, said Southold Town Trustee John Bredemeyer.

“Those areas are not considered waters rich in scallops,” Mr. Bredemeyer said.

He said the impacts are relatively minimal, but that any closure in town waters is not ideal.

“It only takes an area the size of a bayman’s boat to get a days living out of it,” Mr. Bredemeyer said. “We’ll be looking at some of these areas in the future to see when they can be moved out of the closed classification. These areas will fluctuate over time — particularly because the town has done some drainage improvements.”

DEC continues to monitor water quality throughout New York’s marine region as part of its participation in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

cmiller@timesreview.com

09/30/13 1:20pm
09/30/2013 1:20 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo stood at Orient Point State Park Monday urging the federal government to clean up Plum Island before it is sold.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling on the federal government to require a comprehensive environmental cleanup plan for Plum Island and to give the state final review of the Island’s conditions before it is put up for sale.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and General Services Administration hope to close the research laboratory at Plum Island and use the profits from the island’s sale to cover the cost of constructing a new, $1.1 billion animal disease research laboratory in Manhattan, Kan.

During a press conference at Orient Beach State Park Monday morning the governor said DHS and GSA have dismissed environmental concerns raised by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in its recently issued Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision.

In 2010, the DEC identified a number of concerns related to landfills, buildings and other areas on the site and possible contamination of groundwater.

Subsequent DEC site inspections revealed the lab failed to properly manage and dispose of its solid waste and adhere to appropriate quality control and testing procedures for laboratory waste, Mr. Cuomo said.

In a letter dated Friday addressed to the DHS and GSA, the governor demanded the federal government conduct a full investigation on possible contamination issues that could potentially cause health, environmental and economic risks.

“Over the past three years, New York State has raised the issue of potentially serious environmental issues at the federal government’s Animal Disease Center on Plum Island that have not been fully addressed,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “Before the sale of Plum Island can continue, Washington must step up and sign a legally binding consent order spelling out its full plan for cleaning up the Island and giving the State oversight authority to make sure the work has been done properly.”

Mr. Cuomo is not the only one who believes the federal government hasn’t done its due diligence. Other elected leaders have taken issue with the sale and taken steps to prevent development at the land after the government’s final environmental study suggested up to 500 homes could be built on the island.

Southold Town approved new zoning laws last month that would prevent any significant development of the island.

County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), who spearheaded the zoning proposal when he was a member of the Town Board, said he supports Mr. Cuomo efforts.

“The Federal Government must be held accountable for environmental degradation that has occurred over the years and it is their responsibility to remediate; they should not be allowed to pass the buck,” Mr. Krupski said in a statement.

A GSA spokesperson previously said the agency is working with other agencies to address environmental concerns.

“Addressing all environmental concerns surrounding the sale of the island is a top priority for the federal government,” GSA spokeman Patrick Sclafani said in a prepared statement last month. “GSA and DHS will continue to work closely with [the Environmental Protection Agency], congressional and local officials to ensure all environmental concerns are reviewed and considered.”

The Governor’s letter can be viewed below.

Cuomo urges Plum Island environment study

06/24/13 5:32pm
06/24/2013 5:32 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | DEC Regional Director Peter Scully announces state funding for the waterway access project. He’s shown with County Legislator Al Krupski, Supervisor Scott Russell and Town Trustees Bob Ghosio, Dave Bergen and Jimmy King.

Plans to open a new public waterway access on Peconic Bay in Southold are moving forward, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Monday.

The announcement came six months after the DEC announced the purchase of the former Old Barge restaurant site just off of Route 25 in Southold. The 3.2-acre property fronting Southold Bay will be the DEC’s first and only public access site on the bay. Designed for use for fishing and recreational boating, the site will include a boat ramp, wash down station, a canoe and kayak launch and picnic tables. The property will also be American Disabilities Act accessible.

For the project to move forward the now defunct Old Barge restaurant will likely be demolished, said DEC Regional Director Peter Scully.

The DEC said the purchase was made possible through a federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a generous charitable donation from the Carl Denson and Helen Reiter family, the Southold family that had been the previous owner of the property. No state money was used.

The DEC estimated the property’s fair market value at $2 million.

The push to move forward with the site comes on the heels of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement of more than $950,000 in funding for recreation improvement projects. Approximately $200,000 of that will go toward the design of Southold boat ramp.

Carol Denson, who managed the property for her family, said they were inspired by DEC’s boat ramp on Mattituck Inlet and wished to see the Southold property follow that model.

“We believe that this action by the state will sustain the importance of this community’s marine heritage,” Ms. Denson said. “We are glad to be a part of it.”

CYNDI MURRAY | The DEC’s Sound-front waterway access site in Mattituck will be the model for the Southold site, according to officials.

Local officials applauded the state’s efforts and the generosity of the Reiters and Denson family.

“This is going to be a great asset to Southold,” Supervisor Scott Russell said.

The DEC said it would continue to work with the town to develop a formal site plan. Construction could begin as early as next year, Mr. Scully said.

02/19/13 7:00am
02/19/2013 7:00 AM

Greenport fisherman Sidney Smith recently received a check from the government for more than $8,000 and he plans to cash it and leave town for awhile. But he’s not heading to a casino or Walt Disney World.

“I’m going to buy some fuel and go fishing,” Mr. Smith said.

It’s not a tax refund, it’s reimbursement for the money the State Department of Conservation seized after Mr. Smith sold his catch of scup, fluke and black sea bass in June 2011. At the time he was charged with two felonies for possessing more than 1,000 pounds of fluke over the state limit and scup 5,870 pounds over the limit. He was also hit with a misdemeanor regarding his sea bass catch.

Mr. Smith pleaded guilty to reduced charges in Southold Justice Court, but since the plea bargain did not include his forfeiting the proceeds of his catch, the DEC agreed in September to reimburse him. But he just got the check last week.

“Part of the lame excuse they gave me for not sending the check was my tax number didn’t match my name,” he said. “We discovered that they misspelled “vessel” as “wessel.”

As the captain of the 63-foot trawler Merit, Mr. Smith took part in the Research Set Aside program created by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service. Participating fishermen can increase their catch limits by obtaining a special permit costing just $10.

His attorney has said the basis of the DEC’s accusation that he violated the program’s procedures, and so standard catch limits apply, was based on his client’s forgetting to send a single email.

The attorney, Dad Rogers of Riverhead, said Mr. Smith had reported his plans to head out into the ocean for several days of fishing, but early on came across a shoal of squid, which he netted and brought in to Shinnecock before heading out again. His returning to sea was considered a new trip, which should have generated a new report.

“That was a very expensive missing email and it sent me out of state,” Mr. Smith said last year. He was stripped of his special permit to fish in New York waters and has since fished out of Newport, R.I. He said he’d like to return to Greenport’s rail road dock as soon as possible.

“It’s home,” he said. “And I already paid the rent.”

tkelly@timesreview.com

10/01/10 5:25pm
10/01/2010 5:25 PM

Residents of the Hashamomuck Cove neighborhood on Long Island Sound in Southold are up in arms over the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s failure to take steps to stop severe erosion that they believe will lead to a breach across Route 48 into Hashamomuck Pond.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a study of four major erosion areas on the Sound in Southold two years ago and identified Hashamomuck Cove as an area in need of erosion protection.

Both Southold Town and Suffolk County have been willing to move to the next phase of a process that could do something about the problem: a feasibility study that would cost $4.5 million. The problem is the state has not signed on.

Fifty percent of the cost of the study would be borne by the federal government, which has already committed to its share. Suffolk County has committed 15 percent of the money, in part because a breach of Route 48, which is a county road, would create major problems in the area. In addition to cutting off one of only two east-west roads on the North Fork, a breach could affect major gas and water lines under the road.

Residents who live in the 11 houses along the cove off Route 48 joined County Legislator Ed Romaine, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell and Town Trustee president Jill Doherty at a beach near Lynn Laskos’ house on the cove on the afternoon of Sept. 22 to publicly chastise the state for not signing on.

Mr. Romaine said that DEC officials had told him that morning that they wanted to prepare their own study before signing on to help pay for a feasibility study conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers.

A letter from DEC regional director Peter Scully to New York State Assemblyman Mark Alessi provided by the DEC confirmed the agency’s position.

“The department is engaged in development of the feasibility study for the storm damage reduction project for Hashamomuck Cove, which is the fastest available action having county support,” wrote Mr. Scully.

“That’s bureaucratic double-speak for foot dragging,” Mr. Russell said of the state’s position at the SEpt. 22 press conference. “We need to get this done. If that road flooded or washed out, it will create all types of problems.”

Hashamomuck is a natural cove, with no shore-hardening structures that contribute to the erosion problem. Its natural condition makes an effort to solve the erosion problem more complicated than just removing a jetty.

Ms. Laskos said that property owners want to see several temporary groins built inside the cove and sand added around them in order to rebuild the beach, which was as much as 50 feet wide when many of residents bought their houses. Now, it is non-existent during storms and at high tide.

Her own house is new but was built on the site of a house her parents had owned, which was washed away by a storm on Christmas Eve 1994.

Mr. Romaine believes that Ms. Laskos’ suggestion is a practical one. “We all know that, but I guess they need a study to come to that conclusion,” he said, adding that the $4.5 million covers only the cost of the study, not the cost of remedying the erosion.

byoung@timesreview.com