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Harbor

Lisa Gaines, mother of 7-year-old Victoria Gaines, who was killed in a July 4th boating tragedy in 2012 joined town and maritime community leaders at the Harbormaster’s office, where officials announced plans to increase enforcement against unsafe, intoxicated and speeding boaters in Huntington’s waterways during the 4th of July holiday week.  They also announced a joint initiative between Neptune Sail and Power Squadron and the town to provide advanced boating safety training under Huntington’s newly renamed Victoria Gaines Boating Safety Program.

Gaines offered words of caution, including safety tips.

“You are responsible for the wake you leave behind,” and cautioned boat passengers not to assume the boat operator has taken all safety precautions, encouraging  passengers to “ask questions.”

On the evening of Thursday, July 4th, from 8:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., the Town will be enforcing a temporary 5 mph boating speed limit in the certain zones as identified on a map, which is available on the town’s website HuntingtonNY.gov and its social media pages.

“The Town implements these temporary speed zones due to the overwhelming number of boats in Huntington’s waters–from 800 to 1,000 boats–for the Fourth of July celebration and the danger that a wake from a speeding boat creates, potentially destabilizing a smaller or overcrowded boat,” said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R). “Sadly, this exact scenario tragically played out in 2012. Seven years ago, Lisa Gaines lost her daughter, Victoria, who was just days shy of her 8th birthday, when the boat they were on capsized in Oyster Bay after a Fourth of July fireworks display.”

Bay Constables will patrol the waters from 7:00 a.m. until 2 o’clock in the morning every day and will be on call 24/7.

“They [bay constables] will continue to support the Suffolk County Marine Bureau to crack down on speeders, intoxicated boaters, conducting boat stops and ensuring boats are operating safely to prevent unnecessary tragedies,” Lupinacci said.

Dom Spada, Acting Director of Maritime Services cautioned boaters planning to enter Huntington’s waterways for the 4th of July fireworks displays about tidal conditions.

“Later in the evening, around 10:30 p.m. on July 4, we will be experiencing mid-tide,” he said. “Rocks and jetties are barely covered by the water during mid-tide, so they may not be visible to boaters, but please stay in the channels and don’t cut your turns short.”

Senior Harbormaster Fred Uvena added that boaters can call the Harbormaster’s office on Channel 9 when their boats’ waste tanks are getting full.

“Please don’t dump your waste water into the harbor; these waterways are a precious natural resource‑we’ll send a pump out boat to you, just call us on Channel 9.”

The town’s map also lists eight boating emergency pickup locations: Powles Dock; Lloyd Neck Bath Club; Huntington Town Dock; Huntington Bay Club; Huntington Beach Community Association Dock; Northport Yacht Club; Soundview Boat Ramp; and Eaton’s Neck Coast Guard Station.

Uvena also advised boaters of the potential destruction a wake can create – even outside of the 5 mph zone – when hundreds of boats are in the water in close proximity. He gave additional safety tips and warned against BWI, boating while intoxicated.

“We will stop you, we will check you, we will bring you to shore, where we’ll do a field sobriety test, and you will be arrested.”

Supervisor Lupinacci also announced the launch of new advanced boating safety training courses offered at Town Hall to help boaters and passengers avoid tragedies on the water: “Under the banner of the Town’s Victoria Gaines Boating Safety Program, I am pleased to announce that the Town is now offering advanced boating safety courses presented by Neptune Sail and Power Squadron, which address planning for and troubleshooting boating emergencies – information that can save lives.”

Philip Quarles, Education Commander for Neptune Sail and Power Squadron, stated: “The Neptune Sail and Power Squadron was founded in 1938 and has been serving Town of Huntington for 83 years teaching boating safety and advanced boating courses. We are honored to be partnering with the Town of Huntington offering classes to residents. “Emergencies on Board” will be offered on August 12. You can learn more by visiting www.neptuneboatingclub.com.”

Gaines said she hopes boaters of all ages and levels of experience continue to educate themselves about boat safety.  She believes the new laws on the horizon will ultimately save lives.

“One never thinks this could happen to them and it absolutely can,” she said. “Have a fun and very safe holiday and summer to all.”

Setauket Harbor Day is an annual event on the North Shore. Photo by Susan Risoli

By Susan Risoli

The Setauket Harbor Task Force will host its second annual Harbor Day for the community, on Saturday, June 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The free event will take place on Shore Road, at the Setauket Harbor dock and beach. This year’s theme is “celebrate the magic of the natural harbor.”

Task Force trustee George Hoffman said the all-volunteer, not-for-profit group works for cleaner water in the harbor. The organization grew out of shared concerns that the area was starting to degrade, Hoffman said, and because local people thought “it looked like the harbor was struggling.”

There will be free boat rides every half-hour as part of the event, Hoffman said. Visitors will be invited to experience touch tanks full of clams, hermit crabs and snails.

There will be kayak exhibits, talks about shoreline vegetation and marine animals and lessons on how to render the local environment with watercolors. Live music and food will be on hand.

The past year has been a busy one for the Setauket Harbor Task Force, Hoffman said, and now “we’ve become the go-to group for information about the water quality and marine environment in Setauket.” Members speak at meetings of local civic organizations, “telling people things they can do to keep the harbor clean.” The Task Force has been working with Brookhaven Town to reduce stormwater runoff from surrounding roads into the harbor, he said.

Hoffman said the Task Force applied in May, together with the town, for a $35,000 federal grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue the harbor cleanup. The funds would also be used to make the water and its shoreline more accessible for recreational use. Hoffman said word will come in August as to whether or not the grant application is approved. “We know the town is strapped for resources,” Hoffman said. “So we try to come up with some resources, by partnering with them on grants.” The Task Force works closely with Brookhaven Town, Hoffman said, and “[Town] Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Valerie Cartwright are partners with us.”

The Task Force plans to work with the town, Hoffman said, to unclog Setauket Pond, the body of water next to the Se-Port Deli on Route 25A, so that the pond can do a better job of straining pollutants out of stormwater runoff. “That drainage basin is so important to the health of the harbor,” he said. “The town of Brookhaven will dredge the pond and clean it, so that it can catch heavy metals and prevent them from going into the harbor.” And when invasive vegetation and dead brush is cleared from the pond, it will help make the harbor more visible to passers-by, Hoffman said.

In the past year, the Setauket Harbor Task Force was registered as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and was appointed to the Long Island Sound Study, an environmental research and restoration collaboration between the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the states of New York and Connecticut and concerned citizens.

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A Long Island kayaker drifts along. File photo by Talia Amorosano
A Long Island kayaker drifts along. File photo by Talia Amorosano
A Long Island kayaker drifts along. File photo by Talia Amorosano

By Elana Glowatz

Applications will soon be available for Port Jefferson residents who want to use one of the village’s kayak racks in the coming season.

Those interested will be able to pick up applications at Village Hall through the month of March. They are due by the end of that month.

Once the application period ends, the village will hold a lottery that will be open to the public, on April 1.

The village has racks in two locations: Centennial Park, which is located on Port Jefferson Harbor near the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, formerly known as the Setauket Yacht Club; and at the beach at the end of Crystal Brook Hollow Road, on Mount Sinai Harbor. Each rack has slots for six boats on it.

Village Clerk Bob Juliano said on Wednesday that there are at least five racks available for a total of 30 slots. With the village’s efforts to add to its storage space for resident kayaks, he said there are possibly six more slots than that, but he had yet to hammer down a final inventory number.

According to Juliano, officials will choose the winners at random, and determine at which location they can store their boats based upon what the applicants wrote in as their first and second choices and, as the lottery goes on, upon remaining availability.

There is a limit to one boat per household. After paying a $10 administrative fee, winners will get stickers to put on their boats to note their permitted use of the racks.

Above, Richard Boziwick smiles with his wife. Photo from Boziwick

One Northport man has helped bring the spark back into the village’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Richard Boziwick, owner of R. P. Luce & Company Inc. on Scudder Avenue in Northport, helped Northport Harbor ring in the new year by organizing a fireworks show. He said the Centerport Yacht Club used to have an annual fireworks display that was suspended about seven years ago. He used to look forward to watching them from the Northport Yacht Club every year and wanted to bring that celebration back for everyone in Northport to experience.

“It was great to bring this back for the village,” Boziwick said in a phone interview. “It’s neat to have something on the off-season and I think it’s something we needed.”

Boziwick has lived in the village since 1983 and is known to be deeply active within the community. He first got involved with the community’s coveted annual Cow Harbor race in 1985 as a runner, became a volunteer soon after, and was eventually appointed director for the race. He has also spent years on the Northport Planning Board and now serves as chairman.

As director of the Cow Harbor race and chairman of the planning board, Boziwick said he has been able to develop relationships with countless people throughout the village.

“I am in positions that have high visibility within multiple municipalities, so I meet a lot of different people,” he said.

He has been a member of the Northport Yacht Club for the past 20 years and is the rear commodore there, so his reach expands to the nautical community. A rear commodore assists the commodore in his or her duties to maintain the yacht club.

Through these relationships, Boziwick was able to reach out and hear not only that other residents wanted the fireworks back, but that they were willing to contribute to the costs.

The event was almost entirely funded by Northport businesses and organizations. The three major contributors were Northport Yacht Club, Centerport Yacht Club and the Great Cow Harbor 10k. Other smaller community sponsors included Northport Copy, Tim’s Shipwreck Diner, the Northport Historical Society and Jones Drug Store.

Boziwick said this first year of fireworks was quite a success, with more than 500 people coming to view the fireworks in Northport while sipping on hot chocolate and eating cookies supplied by Tim’s Shipwreck Diner.

He said that plans have already been solidified for next year’s fireworks, which he hopes will expand the show in terms of the types of pyrotechnics.

“I just love fireworks and I think it’s unique to have them on New Year’s, since so many towns and villages usually have them on the Fourth of July,” he said. “It’s been great to bring this back to the village because, in the end, it’s got to be something for the village.”

He also said he feels this is a chance for the Cow Harbor race to give back to the community and say thanks for allowing them to use the village every year to host this race.

“This event is meant for the people of Northport and their friends,” he said.

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Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive

It was 44 years ago this week that a tank barge split in half in Port Jefferson Harbor, prompting a U.S. Coast Guard investigation.

The barge I.O.S. 3301 — which was connected to the towing vessel Martha R. Ingram and functioning as one with that vessel — had just finished off-loading more than 100,000 barrels of gasoline and almost 50,000 barrels of furnace oil in the incident on Monday, Jan. 10, 1972, according to a Coast Guard report. It went to turn around in the “shallow harbor” that morning but “as the last mooring line was being released, the vessel suddenly broke almost completely in half, and the two ends sank to the bottom. The barge was less than 1 year old.”

Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive
Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive

That crack in the middle of the ship went all the way across the main deck, down both the barge’s starboard and port sides and across almost half of its bottom. The forward and aft sections of the ship formed a 21-degree angle with the sea, the Coast Guard reported.

The vessel had arrived at the Consolidated Fuel Oil Company terminal in Port Jefferson Harbor the day before the sinking, after taking off from the Houston area on New Year’s Day and making a stop in Bridgeport, Conn. The Coast Guard reported that no one was injured in the sinking, but the barge was significantly damaged and the Martha R. Ingram, the adjacent pier and a tug on the scene sustained some damage.

In addition, “Residue of the ruptured tanks on the barge and piping on the pier caused some minor petroleum pollution to the harbor.”

Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive
Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive

The Coast Guard cited deficiencies in the barge’s steel as factors in the damage to the ship, but also said its primary cause was “uneven distribution of cargo and ballast at the extremities of the vessel.”

The crew members were able to get off the ship safely despite crew at the bow being cut off from lifesaving equipment, which was located at the stern.

Although the sea was calm that day, water temperatures were close to freezing — according to the Coast Guard, the air temperature was 46 degrees Fahrenheit but it was 40 degrees in the water.

The 584-foot barge “split in a manner which has occurred many times at ambient temperatures in structures fabricated from mild- and low-alloy steels.”

The Town of Brookhaven and Highway Department are examining the sources of Setauket Harbor’s poor water quality through an extensive study by Cornell Cooperative Extension. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said it’s time to wake up when it comes to Long Island’s water.

Up until 10 years ago, Brookhaven residents could gather clams and oysters from bodies of water like the Setauket Harbor. But that’s not the case now, according to the Supervisor, who remarked on the closing of Mount Sinai Harbor for shell fishing.

“If that isn’t a wake up call, I don’t know what is,” Romaine said.

In light of Brookhaven’s declining water quality, on Tuesday, Oct. 27, the supervisor announced that the Town of Brookhaven would take on a study that will help officials pinpoint the sources of water contamination, starting with the Setauket Harbor. Romaine said the harbor was small enough for the town to examine and clean once they receive the results next year.

Romaine said the town planned on looking at the pipes leading to the harbor, road runoff, and all drains that run to the harbor. In response to this, the town hired Cornell Cooperative Extension to conduct this study and to use DNA testing to help identify the sources of water pollution.

While high levels of nitrogen were identified in the water, Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) said nitrogen could come from various sources, including leaching from underground septic systems, wild and domesticated animal feces and fertilizers, among other sources.

Last year, Losquadro said his department finished reconstructing the sea wall along Shore Road in Setauket by removing the concrete slabs that were used in the past to construct the wall. He added that the concrete released chemicals into the water, which further affected the water quality.

Town officials said they intended to continue the study across multiple seasons, especially in the winter months, when people use fewer fertilizers and when less wild and domestic animals are out and about.

Setauket Harbor and Mount Sinai Harbor, which includes Cedar Beach, are two of several impacted waterways on the Island. According to Romaine, Moriches Bay and the Great South Bay are also impacted.

“I’m greatly concerned because each year the waterways surrounding Brookhaven Town and Long Island have been declining,” Romaine said. “Many of our harbors and parts of out tributaries are considered impaired.”

Neither the town nor the highway department will know how much cleaning Setauket Harbor’s waters will cost until after Cornell Cooperative Extension conducts its study, Romaine said. The hope is that they will identify the sources of contamination before the town’s 2017 budget is approved.

The town isn’t only working with Losquadro, but also with members of the Setauket Harbor Task force led by George Hoffman, Moriches Bay Project and Friends of Bellport Bay.

Romaine also added that those who settled on the Island would not be impressed with Long Island’s declining water quality.

“The town was founded in 1655 [and] it was Setauket Harbor that the settlers … came to start the first European settlement in Brookhaven Town,” Romaine said. “I’m sure if they were here today, they would weep at the fact that the waters are so impaired — you can’t eat any of the shellfish from the water.”

Local shellfish, like oysters and clams, are harvested on the North Shore. File photo

Citing recent bacteriological surveys, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced emergency regulations to change the designation of underwater shellfish lands in Suffolk county. Shellfish harvesting will be closed or limited to particular months in approximately 1,844 acres of bays and harbors in Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip, Smithtown, Riverhead, Southampton, Southold, East Hampton and Oyster Bay, to comply with state and national standards to protect public health.

Through the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, states are required to conduct routine water quality sampling in shellfish harvesting areas. Failure by a state to comply with these national water quality-monitoring protocols could lead to a prohibition of the sale of shellfish products in interstate commerce.

The DEC’s analyses of water quality in these areas showed increased levels of fecal coliform bacteria. The increased bacteria indicates that shellfish harvested from these areas have the potential to cause human illness if consumed.

Bacteria can enter the waters from a variety of human, animal, cesspool and storm water sources. The DEC is working with local governments in Suffolk County on major projects to improve water quality in the region, an effort that will reduce discharges of bacteria and nitrogen. The DEC will work with partners to track down the bacteria sources and oversee mandated local efforts to address illicit discharges of sewage into storm sewer systems, while also continuing to evaluate sources of bacteria in an effort to resolve the issue.

The DEC’s emergency regulations will change the designation of the affected shellfish areas to “uncertified,” or closed, for the harvest of clams, mussels, oysters and scallops, either year-round or seasonally.

In Mount Sinai Harbor in Brookhaven Town, approximately 200 acres will be reclassified as closed for the harvest of shellfish during the period May 1 to Oct. 31.

In Stony Brook Harbor, approximately 300 acres shall be reclassified as closed from May 15 through Oct. 31, to closed instead from May 1 through Dec. 31, for the harvest of shellfish.

In Cold Spring Harbor, approximately 99 acres shall be designated as closed during from May 1 through Oct. 15, for the harvest of shellfish.

For more information about shellfish safety and New York’s role in the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, visit the DEC’s website. The emergency regulations adopting the changes are effective immediately. Additional information may also be obtained by contacting the DEC’s Shellfisheries office at (631) 444-0492.

Old Mill Creek and its banks have been cleaned up. Photo by Elana Glowatz

By Elana Glowatz

Old Mill Creek is almost back to its old self.

Old Mill Creek and its banks have been cleaned up, enticing a duck to swim in it Tuesday. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Old Mill Creek and its banks have been cleaned up, enticing a duck to swim in it Tuesday. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Restoration work on the troubled waterway in downtown Port Jefferson is nearing completion, and its look has drastically changed. Previously choked with vegetation, the sloped banks of Old Mill Creek have been cleared out and replaced with native freshwater plants, and Holbrook-based contractor G & M Earth Moving Inc. has added rock supports.

“These are the exact type of plants that belong along a freshwater stream like this,” village Trustee Bruce D’Abramo said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s going to be very interesting to see what it looks like next spring.”

The project, which began earlier this year, is geared toward improving water quality in the creek, which discharges into Port Jefferson Harbor. Work included removing built-up sediment that was impeding water flow; installing water filters; and repairing a blocked pipe that channels the creek underneath Barnum Avenue but in recent years had caused flooding during high tides and storms.

Old Mill Creek has been polluted and dirty for a long time. Photo from Steve Velazquez
Old Mill Creek has been polluted and dirty for a long time. Photo from Steve Velazquez

Water quality is important at Old Mill Creek because it affects the health of the harbor. But over the years the creek has been battered by invasive plants, flooding and pollution. The former Lawrence Aviation Industries, an aircraft-parts manufacturer in Port Jefferson Station, was the site of illegal dumping for many years and the hazardous chemicals traveled down-gradient through the soil and groundwater, with some of it seeping into Old Mill Creek.

The village’s restoration project includes filtration, and D’Abramo said one of the final steps to completing the work is installing a catch basin along Barnum Avenue to collect stormwater runoff before it rushes into the waterway.

Old Mill Creek starts on the west side of the village, near Longfellow Lane and Brook Road, passes the Caroline Avenue ball field and streams under Barnum. When it emerges on the other side, it goes past Village Hall and turns north, running under West Broadway and into the harbor.

D’Abramo expects the restoration to be completed before the end of this year. In addition to installing the catch basin, the contractor is also replacing a brick walkway along the side of the creek.

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Two people embrace at a lights of Hope event two years ago. File photo by Heather Khalifa

In honor of September’s National Recovery Month and the upcoming National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in October, a Long Island group is hosting a candlelighting event to support struggling or recovering addicts and families who have lost loved ones to addiction.

Dan’s Foundation For Recovery, a nonprofit Stony Brook resident Dori Scofield recently formed, is holding its second annual Lights of Hope event at Port Jefferson Harbor on Sunday, Sept. 20. The event, from 7 to 9 p.m., will take place at the memorial park on West Broadway across from Village Hall and will include a candlelighting ceremony, fundraising raffles, live music, refreshments and guest speakers. The New York chapter of support group The Addict’s Mom is co-hosting the event.

Scofield, also an animal advocate known in the Port Jefferson Station area as the founder and president of Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center, started Dan’s Foundation in honor of her late son, who died at age 25 from a heroin overdose. The organization aims to connect people struggling with addiction and parents with local resources, and to raise awareness of drug abuse on Long Island.

For more information about the group, visit www.dansfoundation.org.

The Setauket Harbor Task Force is looking to inspire the North Shore to join its cause. Photo by Susan Risoli

By Susan Risoli

The Setauket Harbor Task Force will host its first Setauket Harbor Day Saturday, Sept. 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The free event will be held at the Shore Road dock and beach. It will include live music, food, boat tours of the harbor, kayak and paddleboard demonstrations, marine environmental education and presentations about sea captains and boat builders from bygone eras.

Task force members hope the festivities will inspire the community to join them in their efforts to clean and preserve Setauket Harbor, co-founder George Hoffman said. In a phone interview Monday, Hoffman said the group would need volunteers to help with ongoing water quality monitoring and seasonal beach cleanups. Hoffman also said Harbor Day is intended to increase recognition of how important the local coastline is to community life.

“The history of the harbor is intertwined with the history of Setauket,” he said.

Hoffman said Setauket Harbor Task Force members met this summer with Brookhaven Town officials, who said, “They will come up with a plan to dredge the pond in Setauket Harbor Park.
It is clogged with sediment.”

Hoffman also said the task force has applied for 501c3 designation as a nonprofit, and that the application will be approved in a month or two.

The task force will then apply for federal and state grants to fund harbor cleanup, he said.