Clark’s Beach inches closer to becoming an energy park

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Tonight's Greenport Village Board work session is at 6 p.m.
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Greenport Village Board gave a verbal go-ahead to pursue an eco-friendly park at Clark’s Beach.

Clark’s Beach on Long Island Sound is a tiny step closer to becoming an eco-friendly energy park.

Although it did not take a vote, the Greenport Village Board on Monday gave Mayor David Nyce a verbal go-ahead to pursue transforming the 8.7 Soundfront acres from an off-the-beaten-path beach to the site of a two- to four-megawatt electric generating facility using solar and wind energy.

The mayor’s first task is to generate public support before seeking grant funds for the project he suggested last year.

During its regular meeting the board heard a 45-minute presentation from the Riverhead-based Studio A/B Architects, which started designing a concept for the eco-park in September. At that time the board authorized funds to prepare a mock-up.

The preliminary proposal suggests the project could make the village energy independent and even help stabilize residents’ electric bills.

To meet those energy goals, alternative power sources would be established at both Clark’s Beach and the village sewage treatment plant on Moore’s Lane. The plan calls for a wind turbine of about one-megawatt capacity at each site and solar arrays generating roughly 2 to 3 megawatts of solar power. Most of the solar energy — two megawatts — would be generated at the sewage plant.

In addition to providing alternative energy, Clark’s Beach could also be developed as a public park with trails, camping facilities, an educational facility and a conference center.

The buildings’ themes would revolve around concepts related to the sun, earth, wind and water. A community garden and composting area, solar charging station for electric vehicles and a boardwalk are all included in the concept, as well as up to twenty cabins or campsites that would be available to the public for overnight accommodations. Studio AB Architects depicted the cabins with sundials, green roofs and natural ventilation.

Southold resident Lillian Ball, who assisted Studio A/B in presenting the design concept, said education would be the driving force behind the project.

“We’re talking about making something an energy park, but there’s other elements that make people care about it and want to maintain it,” she said.

“It adds yet another aspect of coming out here,” said Glynis Berry, a partner in Studio A/B and an Orient resident. “We already have agritourism, and adding ecotourism to this mix is a natural combination. We think this will benefit businesses and showcase what people can do.”

For the eco-park to become a reality, the site would need to undergo a host of improvements. Previous farming, sand mining and illegal dumping has damaged much of the area. Removing debris and invasive species are among the initial hurdles.

Upfront costs for the project were not addressed during the meeting, but the mayor said construction would depend on grant availability and financing scenarios.

“Either the funds will work or they won’t,” he said. “We have to wait for the grant process. I think the numbers will work out.”

Mr. Nyce emphasized that the project is in its very early stages. The next step, he said, is soliciting support from the public and county, state and federal officials before applying for grants.

“This can’t be done with one entity,” Ms. Berry said. “There need to be partners.”

See below for the full Clark’s Beach proposal.

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Greenport Village’s Eco Energy Park presentation, March 25, 2013