The seven-year effort to eradicate phragmites from Marion Lake has had one unusual side effect. Removal of the invasive reeds has made the cracks in the Bay Avenue bridge, long hidden behind dense vegetation, painfully obvious.
A resident pointed out the large cracks in the bridge’s stone foundation to Southold Town earlier this month, after which town engineer James Richter recommended that the town seek the opinion of county engineers on whether the small bridge is stable enough for the traffic that it handles.
If the prognosis isn’t good, Southold could quickly get into hot water with several dozen residents of Bay Avenue and two private roads south of the bridge, who can only access their homes by traveling over the bridge.
“Is it in immediate need of restorative action? It’s definitely an issue that can become a very big project,” Supervisor Scott Russell said this week. Mr. Russell said the town is waiting for a report from the county before determining how to proceed with bridge repairs. He said the effort could be quite costly and the town has not yet determined how to pay for the work.
In the meantime, the town plans to reinstall 6,000-pound weight limit signs that should have been in place on either side of the bridge.
While the fate of the bridge is in limbo, the Marion Lake Restoration Committee plans to hold an informational meeting at the East Marion firehouse at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, to discuss replanting native vegetation on the lake to keep the phragmites from returning.
A biologist will discuss the best plants for neighbors of the lake to use. In addition, residents will be provided with a list of plants that have been approved by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and local dealers will make those plants available at wholesale prices.
Lakeside neighbors Walter and Lynn Gaipa have volunteered to acquire and nurture plants for other neighboring property owners.