For many years, Southold Town worked to regularly dredge Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic, which drains out into the Long Island Sound, but in recent months the mouth to the inlet has completely shut and neighbors of the pond are worrying that it could completely change the ecosystem there.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said at the town board’s June 28 work session that he’s received many letters from people “who are alarmed and are saying the pond is dying.”
Prior to Southold taking over dredging duties at the inlet in 1992, it had been dredged by Suffolk County, said Town Engineer Jamie Richter, and the county’s current criteria for dredging put Goldsmith Inlet low on their list.
Inlets throughout the East End are dependent on one Suffolk County dredge, which must work within certain blocks of time to protect fish spawning areas, and which is also dependent on fluctuations in the county budget.
East Hampton has gone so far as to consider buying their own dredge, while Southold has recently been offering to pay county workers’ overtime in order to complete dredging within dredge windows.
“We’ve been trying to get the county back involved with dredging their inlet, and have them stop taking resources from the town to do their work for them,” explained Mr. Richter. “In 1992, we took over the (Suffolk County) DPW’s permit to dredge the inlet. We needed fill for the beaches and it was a very economical source at that time.”
Southold had dredged the inlet from the shore using heavy equipment including track excavators, but in the winter of 2013 did a more extensive dredging than in the past, leading to a great deal of outcry from community members who have been keeping an eye on the health of the inlet.
Mr. Richter and fellow town engineer Michael Collins have been in discussions with the county about returning the inlet to the county’s stewardship, but Mr. Collins said the county now has a dredging screening committee that evaluates the necessity of dredging different inlets based on several criteria — the most important of which involve navigation and human access to the water. Environmental concerns, he said, are “Dredge Criteria #11.”
Mr. Collins said he’s planning to appeal to the dredge committee on the grounds that the pond is a breeding ground for eels and crabs, which can’t make their way out to the open water without the inlet dredged.
After the Tuesday work session, the mouth to the inlet was completely closed, while at its mouth was stagnant water, thick with algae, while crabs and small bait fish packed the entrance and wading birds waited to pluck them from the water.
Dunn Engineering Lined Up for Love Lane Study
Southold Town is considering accepting a $21,990 proposal from Dunn Engineering to do an engineering evaluation of the intersection of the Main Road and Love Lane at the big curve in Mattituck.
The town had solicited proposals for the project after the Mattituck-Laurel Civic Association prepared an evaluation of the best alternatives for traffic calming at the site.
Supervisor Scott Russell said at Tuesday’s work session that he plans to discuss the proposal with State Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski to work out a cost-sharing plan before the town accepts the proposal. If work is done to improve the intersection, much of that work would be on the Main Road, which is a state highway.
MLCA President Emeritus Mary Eisenstein told the town board that she has an eight-hour video diary of the conditions at the intersection that may prove very useful to the engineers as they prepare their evaluation.
“The community is really excited. We’ve done a lot of work, and the video diary is smashing — no pun intended,” she said.
Mr. Russell said that, once the cost-sharing details are worked out, he will bring the proposal back to the town board for a vote.
Engineer Jamie Richter said that, once the evaluation is complete, the project will likely be deemed shovel-ready and will be in line for state grant funding.
“If we are taking the lead and trying to reconfigure this intersection, it will allow us to present a shovel-ready project,” he said. “If 90 percent of the work is on their road, it might also put us higher on their list.”
Beach Potty Time
Down in New Suffolk, there are a feisty bunch of local folks who have been having a bit of a problem with all the beachgoers and runners and boaters and such who rarely have access to the public restroom there.
It seems these recreators have been using much of the area surrounding the town beach and boat ramp as their private toilet, and have even taken to knocking on the doors of the locals to ask to use the toilets in their houses, even though the town has a (locked) public toilet right next door to the beach.
Southold Councilwoman Jill Doherty pitched a fix to the problem at Tuesday’s work session — hiring beach attendants to work for a couple hours opening and closing the restrooms at town-owned beaches throughout town on weekends in June and September.
“The beaches have been packed, and people are using other means to go to the bathroom, including knocking on peoples’ doors and going places where they shouldn’t,” said Ms. Doherty.
She added that the town had previously had the bathrooms closed due to vagaries in the Suffolk County Health Department code about whether a beach being “open” is defined as when the lifeguard is on duty. Town lifeguards don’t begin work until late June and finish their season in early September.
Town Attorney William Duffy said the town shouldn’t have any problems with opening the restrooms without a lifeguard on duty so long as the town posts signs saying that swimming is prohibited when no lifeguard is on duty.
Ms. Doherty said she will work with the parks department to identify beach attendants who can help keep the bathrooms open this September.