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County funds to aid stormwater projects in Greenport

Four road ends in Greenport are slated to receive county funding for stormwater mitigation projects, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Monday.

Joined by local officials on Fourth Street, Mr. Bellone pledged $237,000 in county funding to complete the project.

In a 50/50 match, the Village of Greenport also committed funds and labor towards remediating drainage on Fourth Street, Clark Street, Brown Street and Flint Street, expected to cost $474,000.

“This is an ambitious green infrastructure project,” Mr. Bellone said before signing legislation to appropriate the funds on Monday. “The project will reduce the amount of stormwater pollution runoff that is discharged into Greenport Harbor and Shelter Island Sound north. When you factor in the Village of Greenport’s share of the cost, we’re talking about a nearly half-million dollar investment.”

According to Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard Jr., two road end drainage projects have already been completed on Fifth Street and Manor Place. The completion of the next four roads marks a major milestone for the village, Mr. Hubbard said. “That only leaves us three other road ends in the village that don’t have some kind of bioretention to stop stormwater runoff,” he said.

When Clark, Brown and Flint streets were repaved four years ago, Mr. Hubbard said they intentionally left out the road ends. “We knew we had to do something, and we weren’t sure how we were going to afford to do it,” he said.

At Fourth, Clark and Brown streets, village crews will remove impervious road end surface, replacing it with a pervious bioretention swale and catch basins.

A new “riprap” seawall and rock spillway is planned for Clark and Brown Streets. At Flint Street, an existing catch basin will be replaced with a new leaching field, including an outfall leading to a new bioretention swale at the end of the road. A new walking path and bench will also be installed.

An existing concrete seawall at Fourth Street will be retained and a new walking path leading to Fourth Street Beach is planned. Native plants and trees will be installed at all road ends with informational signs, officials said.

Former Greenport mayor and Fourth Street resident Dave Kapell is pleased to see beach access preserved. “The neighborhood is characterized by these road ends and the public access they offer to the water,” Mr. Kapell said Monday.

He’s hoping that these stormwater projects will help further improve water quality in the bay. “When I first came out here, every other house in Greenport had somebody making a part-time living catching scallops. It was a major piece of the local economy, so to work towards restoring that economy is very important,” he said.

With the shellfishing industry making a comeback — several oyster farms are located on road ends in the village — the current mayor views water quality as a top issue. “Oysters are coming back strong, they’re flourishing. This will help protect their [the growers’] investment,” Mr. Hubbard said.

Stormwater runoff is a major source of pollution into the Peconic Bay, picking up chemicals and bacteria along the way. “Just because of the way engineering used to be, [stormwater] drained to the lowest point,” explained Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, an environmental advocacy group. “By creating a bioswale, you give that water time to slow down, the solids an opportunity to drop out, the bacteria an opportunity to die off,” Mr. DeLuca said, resulting in much cleaner water entering the waterways.

After heavy rain over the weekend, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) views the project with a sense of urgency. “You can look all the way down Fourth Street and see how long of a run it is and how all of that water must have rushed directly into the bay,” Mr. Krupski said during Monday’s announcement. “It’s really going to have an effect on the water quality of the whole Peconic Bay system.”

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Photo caption: Joined by local officials on Fourth Street, Steve Bellone pledged $237,000 in county funding to complete the project. (Tara Smith photo)