Exxon Mobil plans to donate land in Greenport Village to Peconic Land Trust

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The Peconic Land Trust has agreed to accept a donation from Exxon Mobil of 2.6 acres fronting Greenport Harbor. The land is valued at $1.4 million.

Another week and another major waterfront property preserved?

Absolutely. This is not a repeat of last week’s report on the Peconic Land Trust and Oysterponds Historical Society partnership to protect 13 acres on Dam Pond in East Marion.

This time the property is in Greenport — but it does involve the Peconic Land Trust.

The trust has agreed to accept a donation from Exxon Mobil of 2.6 acres fronting Greenport Harbor. The land, valued at $1.4 million, will be left untouched for passive recreation.

Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Maggie Brown told The Suffolk Times the deal is part of the company’s effort to determine the future use of its surplus land worldwide. The company is also evaluating its unused property in Cold Spring Harbor.

The Peconic Land Trust was chosen to take title of the Greenport site because of its commitment to environmental conservation, Ms. Brown said.

“Putting the land into a conservation easement is a good opportunity for Exxon Mobil to contribute to open space and environmental efforts,” she said. “The company has looked at a variety of future uses and this is what makes the most sense for the community.”

The parcel, located at the end of Fourth Street, is a former bulk fuel storage terminal that first became operational in the 1920s. All the structures were demolished in the 1990s. Since then, homeless people have been known to live in tents there.

If the deal is approved, the property will no longer be on the tax roll because the Peconic Land Trust is a not-for-profit group. Annually, the village would lose nearly $3,000 and Southold Town’s tax income would drop about $3,300, officials said.

Greenport Mayor David Nyce declined to comment on the deal but did say the village has decided to partner with Southold in handling the oil company’s conservation easement application since the village doesn’t have those types of laws on its books. A conservation easement would preserve the land as open space and disallow development.

During it’s meeting Tuesday the Town Board unanimously approved the conservation easement application. The village is expected to address the matter soon.

Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said at the meeting that the land trust is conducting a thorough environmental review of the property and any cleanup would be paid for by Exxon Mobil.

State Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Bill Fonda said the department began an environmental investigation of the property in 1990 when the oil company removed an underground tank. Twenty-five cubic yards of soil were removed at that time, he said.

In addition, a sub-soil water cleanup system was in operation on the site from November 1992 until June 1997. The system involves placing a hose down a well just above the water table and vacuuming off any petroleum contaminants separated from the soil.

The DEC’s environmental investigation ended after the site was officially closed in July 2010, said Mr. Fonda. The agency determined that any traces of oil products remaining would break down naturally. He added that tests of wells on adjacent properties showed no traces of petroleum-related compounds.

Peconic Land Trust spokesman Stephen Searl said his group will work with the community to flesh out passive-use and property management plans, including creating a trail through a restored maritime grassland.

“I think this is a great opportunity,” he said. “Overall, I think this represents a real win-win.”
Once the village and town sign off on the deal, Exxon Mobil will review it for final approval.

Beth Young contributed to this story