A flotilla of nearly two dozen kayakers, accompanied by the Long Island Soundkeeper, took to the waters of Mattituck Inlet on Saturday morning, July 16, in a protest highlighting the potential environmental damage that could be done by the construction of two football field-sized yacht storage buildings proposed at Strong’s Yacht Center on the inlet.

The buildings are designed to accommodate off-season storage of yachts up to 80 feet long and would require that 130,000 cubic yards of sand be excavated out of the side of a hill between the inlet and the Mill Road Preserve.

Strong’s submitted a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project to the Southold Planning Board in December of 2021, which has been deemed incomplete and could be resubmitted.

The protest was organized by Save Mattituck Inlet, in coordination with Save the Sound and its Soundkeeper program, which is a part of the nationwide Waterkeeper Alliance.

“The location is terrible. This is a farming neighborhood,” said Marge McDonnell, who helped organize the flotilla, which put in at the DEC Mattituck Creek Waterway Access Site just south of the mouth of the inlet, and paddled the length of the inlet down to Route 48 and back north again. “This will have an impact on the community character, the water and will compromise the integrity of the inlet.”

She added that Southold Town has been looking for years to protect Mattituck Inlet, which is designated as a high priority area in the town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

“We want to give the planning board all the support they can get in their environmental review,” said Save the Sound’s New York Natural Areas Coordinator, Louise Harrison. “We came in separately and joined forces to bring our environmental and community organizing expertise. It’s a bad place for this project. We’re supportive of the environmental review process, and we’re always encouraging community input in environmental review.”

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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