Romaine: Greenport could be step closer to Stirling Harbor dredge

JULIE LANE PHOTO | County Legislator Ed Romaine

With a push from Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine to enlist support from Sen. Charles Schumer, Greenport could be a step closer to what Mayor David Nyce has called the critical dredging of Stirling Harbor.

After a letter Mr. Romaine sent to the Army Corps of Engineers about the project went unanswered, he turned to Mr. Schumer, asking the Senator to intercede on behalf of the village. Mr. Schumer has agreed to try to push for the necessary permits to get the job done now, Mr. Romaine said.

Mr. Romaine was following up on a November 2011 press conference Mr. Nyce held at Sandy Beach overlooking Stirling Harbor in which the mayor asked that the feds to either do the job or get out of the way and let the village arrange the dredging.

“The small and mighty Village of Greenport will do it for them,” Mr. Nyce said at that press conference, indicating he has an offer on the table by an undisclosed source to tackle the job if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can’t move on the project this year.

“Please get out of the way and let us do it,” the mayor said.

Mr. Romaine followed up with his letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, but told Mr. Schumer he was disappointed it went unanswered.

In his latest communication with Mr. Schumer, Mr. Romaine said he hoped the senator would “make every effort to approve the dredging with all due haste.”

Mr. Schumer’s office did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Not only is Stirling Harbor used by fishing boats and pleasure craft, but it’s also the entryway to the emergency dock at Eastern Long Island Hospital, Mr. Romaine told Mr. Schumer. He noted that five commercial fishing businesses rely on access to Stirling Harbor.

“The dredging of Stirling Harbor is a priority and should be expedited,” Mr. Romaine said. “Our commercial fishing industry and those lives that may be saved by the hospital cannot afford any further delay.”

The last notice village officials got about the dredging was that there isn’t enough commercial use of Stirling Harbor to merit moving the project forward until at least the winter of 2013.

“That made me mad,” Mr. Nyce said. Stirling Harbor may be small potatoes to the federal government, but it’s vital to the village, he said. Everyone is waiting six or seven years for dredging, Mr. Nyce said.

“We don’t have time to wait,” he said.

[email protected]