Town Grants CPF Revenues for Sag Harbor Water Quality Projects

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Southampton Town Hall

The Harbor Committee of Sag Harbor celebrated the news this week that the Southampton Town Board has agreed to grant $264,000 in town Community Preservation Funds (CPF) for seven water quality projects in the village designed to reduce storm water runoff and pollution in the Peconic Bay system.

At the committee’s regular meeting Tuesday evening, planning consultant Charles Voorhis congratulated committee members for their efforts to seek funding for the projects, which include drainage retrofits, drywells, rain gardens, tree trenches and leaching systems to reduce runoff. Member John Parker and former chairman John Shaka, who is now on the Planning Board, led the panel’s lobbying efforts.

“This committee’s involvement has been instrumental” in seeing the projects funded, Mr. Voorhis said. “They approved everything we asked for.” He called the effort “a real success story” and “a real home run.”

The money from Southampton Town’s CPF, approved by the town board at a meeting on October 9, will be granted directly to Sag Harbor. Town officials had announced earlier this month they would grant a total of $3.5 million in CPF money for water quality projects throughout the town.

Earlier this year, East Hampton Town pledged about $169,000 in its CPF revenues for projects proposed by Sag Harbor on the east side of the town line that divides the village. They include rain gardens on Terry Drive and Cadmus Road in the Azurest community and at Marine Park and the nearby village parking lot off Bay Street.

When the East Hampton grants were announced in February, Mr. Shaka said that either he or Mr. Parker had been attending meetings of the East Hampton Town Water Quality Technical Advisory Committee for the previous six months to lobby for the projects.

Mr. Parker on Tuesday said that two of the seven projects to be funded through Southampton Town’s CPF are “shovel ready” to install rain gardens and filtration systems at the ends of Amherst and Cove Roads, which both dead end on Sag Harbor Cove.

In addition to those two projects, which the village told the town could be completed in 2019, CPF funding was also approved to complete the engineering studies for projects the village expects to be able to complete in 2020. They are drainage control at the road ends at Long Island Avenue, Glover Street, and White Street off Oakland Avenue; the wetland on Spring Street, for which a storm water wetland basin is planned in order to retain runoff; and a nitrogen-removal project using “bioretention and pervious pavement” at the parking lot at Meadow and Nassau streets.

All the projects are listed in a 2016 “Water Quality Improvement Project Plan” that was prepared for the village by Mr. Voorhis’s firm,Nelson, Pope & Voorhis, in 2016. It was completed about two months before voters in each town went to the polls to decide whether or not up to 20 percent of each town’s CPF revenues should be used to address water quality issues in the five East End towns. Voters approved the concept by wide margins.

The 2016 plan included 10 projects In the Town of East Hampton and 16 in the Town of Southampton. The seven for which Southampton Town approved funding were identified by the village as the most likely to be completed by 2020.

Rain gardens are low areas planted with a variety of perennial plants that collect the first surge of rainwater, and in the process, filter out pollutants. The Azurest project, which is expected to cost $30,000, would involve the placement of five of the structures uphill from a pipe that drains road runoff onto the beach below.

Three separate projects are being planned for Bay Street, where flooding is common following heavy rains. Two more rain gardens costing $8,640, would be installed on either side of Marine Park. Installing drainage systems with permeable pavement in the street along the south side of Marine Park would cost an estimated $78,400 and a similar system down the block would cost $52,260.

The Town of Southampton on October 9 also agreed to spend $187,000 in CPF money for its own water quality project just outside the village limits affecting Round Pond, which is part of the Long Pond Greenbelt system that begins on the western edge of the village. That plan includes both stormwater runoff mitigation and habitat restoration, including the installation of birdhouses to host a purple martin colony aimed at combating mosquito populations. Vegetative rain gardens and bioswales will replace the bulkhead at the end of Round Pond Lane, which will be sloped, with canoe access created for residents. Emergency service access, in the event officials need to access the pond, will also be improved under the plan.

Other projects approved by town officials under this water quality funding include over $270,000 for trustees to manage the water quality of Mecox Bay in Water Mill, creating a monitoring system to help inform the body when it needs to open the cut, or inlet, to the Atlantic Ocean to flush the bay with fresh salt water.

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Peter Boody is news editor of The Sag Harbor Express. Previously he was the editor of the Southampton Press for many years and also edited several other papers, including the Shelter Island Reporter and the East Hampton Press, of which he was founding editor. He was a regular correspondent for the New York Times Long Island section and wrote the novel “Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me.”