The first unrestricted boat ramp access to the Peconic Estuary was officially dedicated on Arbor Day, April 29, with a ceremony hosted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation celebrating the former owners of the property, who were instrumental in helping it become a public access.
The Hashamomuck Marine Waterway Access — on Old Main Road, just off of Route 25 between Port of Egypt and the Peconic Bay Yacht Club between Southold and Greenport — had been opened to the public last season, but the DEC has been working this spring to regrade the boat ramps there.
In 2012 the DEC purchased the property from the Reiter-Denson family, which had owned the property for decades, at well below market value, thanks to the conservation mindset of the previous owners, with the help of a Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and funding from New York State.
Carl and Helen Reiter had owned the property since 1938, and not long afterward they dragged a munitions barge ashore and converted it to a fish market and seafood restaurant, first called Captain Reiter’s Munitions Barge and later called the Old Barge. Their children, Carol Denson, Dan Reiter and Joan Cochran, sold the property to the DEC.
On April 29, DEC, New York State Legislature and Southold Town representatives unveiled a plaque commemorating the Reiter-Denson family’s history at the site, and the Southold Town Tree Committee helped plant a red maple tree not far from the ramp.
The site also includes a canoe and kayak launch, a fishing pier, and pump-out and wash-down stations for boats, walking trails, picnic tables and a pair of nesting resident ospreys.
“This transformation is in alignment with the values held by our parents,” said Carol Denson. “They treasured, respected and nurtured the marine environment of this community. We know that this action by the state will sustain the importance of this community’s maritime heritage.”
“There can be no better day than Arbor Day to mark the environmental stewardship legacy of the Reiter Family,” said DEC Regional Director Cathy Haas. “This gift created a boating destination that offers New York boaters the opportunity to explore the waters of Peconic Bay, and a destination where anyone can sit and enjoy the beauty of the Peconic’s shoreline.”
The Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration program is funded by manufacturers’ excise taxes on sport fishing equipment, import duties on fishing tackle, yachts and pleasure boats and gasoline fuel taxes that are attributable to small engines and motorboats.
“This site is one of only five DEC state-owned and managed facilities that provide access to the waters around Long Island,” said U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services Lands and Waters Specialist Bill Perry. “These areas are critical access points for the public to be able to boat, fish and connect with nature.”
“The best way to protect water is to enlarge the group of people who really care” by providing them access to the water, said New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright, chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Conservation. “Thank you for your contribution and thoughtfulness.”