Southold Town will soon have a new public waterway access on Peconic Bay, after the state DEC announced this week that it has purchased the former Old Barge restaurant site just off of Route 25 in Southold.
The 3.2-acre waterfront property will be used for public fishing and recreational boating access to the bay, according to a press release from the DEC Tuesday. It will be the DEC’s only public access site on the bay. The DEC also owns a public boat ramp area on Mattituck Inlet near the entrance to Long Island Sound.
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 Mattituck family that had been the previous owner of the property. No state money was used to purchase the property.
The DEC estimated the fair market value of the property at $2 million.
Carol Denson, who was managing the property for her family, said in the release that “the sale to the state aligns well with our parents’ core values. The creation of a site on the Peconic Bay which makes our precious natural resources accessible to the public, captures the longstanding marine culture of this community.”
The Densons, a commercial fishing family, bought the property in 1938. The barge on the site was a World War II ammunition barge, which later became a popular seafood restaurant.
“Our family was inspired by DEC’s boat ramp at Mattituck,” added Ms. Denson. “It’s a beautiful facility providing access to the Sound. A deciding factor to move ahead with the sale to the state was my brother’s impression of the Mattituck facility.”
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell is also excited about the transfer.
“The Town of Southold is very pleased that New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had the vision to purchase the Old Barge site from the REiter family, enabling Southold residents and visitors public fishing and recreational boating access to the Peconic Bay,” he said.