DEC moves forward with Southold waterway access

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | DEC Regional Director Peter Scully announces state funding for the waterway access project. He’s shown with County Legislator Al Krupski, Supervisor Scott Russell and Town Trustees Bob Ghosio, Dave Bergen and Jimmy King.

Plans to open a new public waterway access on Peconic Bay in Southold are moving forward, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Monday.

The announcement came six months after the DEC announced the purchase of the former Old Barge restaurant site just off of Route 25 in Southold. The 3.2-acre property fronting Southold Bay will be the DEC’s first and only public access site on the bay. Designed for use for fishing and recreational boating, the site will include a boat ramp, wash down station, a canoe and kayak launch and picnic tables. The property will also be American Disabilities Act accessible.

For the project to move forward the now defunct Old Barge restaurant will likely be demolished, said DEC Regional Director Peter Scully.

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 Southold family that had been the previous owner of the property. No state money was used.

The DEC estimated the property’s fair market value at $2 million.

The push to move forward with the site comes on the heels of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement of more than $950,000 in funding for recreation improvement projects. Approximately $200,000 of that will go toward the design of Southold boat ramp.

Carol Denson, who managed the property for her family, said they were inspired by DEC’s boat ramp on Mattituck Inlet and wished to see the Southold property follow that model.

“We believe that this action by the state will sustain the importance of this community’s marine heritage,” Ms. Denson said. “We are glad to be a part of it.”

CYNDI MURRAY | The DEC’s Sound-front waterway access site in Mattituck will be the model for the Southold site, according to officials.

Local officials applauded the state’s efforts and the generosity of the Reiters and Denson family.

“This is going to be a great asset to Southold,” Supervisor Scott Russell said.

The DEC said it would continue to work with the town to develop a formal site plan. Construction could begin as early as next year, Mr. Scully said.