By David Luces
The Town of Smithtown has received nearly $100,000 in grant funding it will use for critical infrastructural projects to improve the area’s water quality and revitalize downtown business districts.
Smithtown officials received notice at the end of December 2018 it received $97,375 from the Regional Economic Development Council of Long Island. The majority of the funding will be used for a stormwater management plan to protect Stony Brook Harbor and approximately one quarter will be used to further the town’s revitalization plans for St. James.
“”We’re excited to begin implementing these studies and we couldn’t be more grateful for the many ways this funding will benefit our residents.”
— Ed Wehrheim
The bulk of the grant, $72,375, will be used to undertake a stormwater management feasibility study for the town-owned Cordwood Park off Harbor Road in Smithtown. Working together with the villages of Head of the Harbor and Nissequogue, the town looks to continue the preservation of the water quality in Stony Brook Harbor by creating and then implementing new stormwater and erosion control plans.
Russell Barnett, the town’s environmental protection director, said stormwater runoff has always been a concern because of the high likelihood of contaminants in the water.
“Stormwater carries everything with it,” he said. “It’s important to protect the quality of water in the harbor.”
Barnett said Stony Brook Harbor is the cleanest harbor on the North Shore of Long Island and many people use it for boating, fishing and bird watching. As part of the study, he hopes to capture stormwater for testing, accurately map stormwater routes, improve drainage infrastructure and look to protect the natural river bed from further erosion.
“This has been an issue for quite some time,” Barnett said. “We have the funds now to study the situation and hopefully fix the problem.”
“This is an opportunity for residents to have voices heard on how they would want their communities to look like in the future.”
— Nicole Garguilo
The town also received a $25,000 grant for its St. James Visioning Study, whose aim is to economically and visually revitalize the business district and restore its place as a cultural and social hub of the community.
“We’re excited to begin implementing these studies and we couldn’t be more grateful for the many ways this funding will benefit our residents,” Supervisor Edward Wehrheim (R) said in a press release.
In conjunction with the visioning study, the town is making plans for community outreach that include input on the modernizing of town and hamlet zoning maps. The future plans intend to shape the physical, social, environmental and economic future of these communities.
Town spokesperson Nicole Garguilo said the Smithtown council members are looking for help from the community.
“This is an opportunity for residents to have voices heard on how they would want their communities to look like in the future,” Garguilo said. “This is their chance to have the ultimate say.”
In addition to these projects, the town hopes to organize community engagement meetings this spring where residents will be encouraged to voice their opinions on various topics including changing zoning, modernizing master plans for each hamlet and future town development.