Exxon Mobil, Peconic Land Trust close on deal

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | A view of Exxon Mobil’s property in Greenport Village.

The Peconic Land Trust announced today it closed on a land preservation deal with Exxon Mobil, Inc. for a Greenport waterfront property earlier this month.

The parcel, located on the southeastern corner of Fourth and Clark streets, is a former bulk fuel storage terminal dating to the 1920s. The site on the western shore of Greenport Harbor closed in the mid-1980s and all structures were demolished in the 1990s.

The property has about 1.5 acres of lowland vegetation along the coast and about half an acre of undeveloped beachfront, which trust officials said provides habitat for sea grass and several species of birds and animals. The surplus land, valued at $1.4 million, will be left untouched for passive recreation under the new deal.

Peconic Land Trust president John Halsey said in a press release that he hopes more companies follow Exxon Mobil’s example of donating environmentally sensitive lands for preservation efforts.

“Exxon Mobil’s decision to conserve this property recognizes the strong desire by the local community to protect valuable natural resources, such as wetlands and shorelines, for the public benefit,” he said.

In June, the Village Board agreed to participate in Exxon Mobil’s conservation easement application, which prevents future development. The village’s role in the deal will be to make sure land restrictions are enforced.

The board had decided to partner with Southold in handling the conservation easement application because Greenport doesn’t have those types of laws on its books, officials said. The Southold Town Board unanimously approved the application in March.

Trust officials said the oil company completed an environmental remediation project at site in 2003, which included “excavation and removal of petroleum-impacted soils and subsequent backfilling with clean soil.”

The State Department of Environmental Conservation began an environmental investigation of the property in 1990 when the oil company removed an underground tank. The DEC’s environmental investigation ultimately determined that any traces of oil products remaining would break down naturally. Trust officials said Exxon Mobil received a “no further action” letter from the DEC in 2004 stating that the required remediation activities were completed “to applicable state standards.”

In April, Exxon Mobil secured permits from the DEC and the village to remove metal sheeting on the beach that became exposed during last winter’s storms. Officials said the work has since been completed.

The Peconic Land Trust is now tasked with developing a site restoration plan for the site.

Stephen Searl, the trust’s project manager, said restoring the property over the next five years will include removing invasive plant species and planting maritime grasses and native shrubs. Peconic Land Trust also plans to develop passive recreation uses on the property through a walking path giving public access to the water.

“The trust is committed to a public engagement process that will consider input from Greenport residents and others interested in the future of the property,” Mr. Searl said.

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