Setauket Harbor and its surrounding area will be a bit cleaner due to a grant secured by a state senator.
“Long Islanders are fortunate to have access to natural resources like the Setauket Harbor and we must continually fight to preserve them.”
— Sen. John Flanagan
Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) secured a $1 million grant from the state for the Town of Brookhaven in 2016 to be used to improve water quality in Setauket Harbor, which will also help clean out the pond slightly west of Se-Port Delicatessen on Route 25A and fix the dock on Shore Road. While the grant was secured two years ago, the contract period began Oct. 1.
“Long Islanders are fortunate to have access to natural resources like the Setauket Harbor and we must continually fight to preserve them,” Flanagan said in a statement. “That is why projects like this are so important, and it is my pleasure to work with the Setauket Harbor Task Force as well as the Town of Brookhaven to ensure that this beautiful natural resource is protected. These fragile ecosystems are so critical to every facet of life for the people who live, work and play in our region, and it is imperative that we continually join together to make sure they are available to future generations of Long Islanders.”
Veronica King, the town’s stormwater manager, explained how the money would be put to use.
“The project has three distinct components — repair the failing bulkhead at the Shore Road park, remove sediment from the retention pond at [East] Setauket Pond Park, and implement stormwater improvements to mitigate stormwater inputs into the harbor,” she said.
King said the work will take approximately three years to complete and a professional engineering firm will be hired to assist with design, permitting and construction.
“If we don’t fix the pond, we’re just kind of spitting into the wind in terms of all the other stuff we do.”
— George Hoffman
Members of Setauket Harbor Task Force, an organization created with the goal to improve water quality in the harbor, have been consulting with the town about the project, according to task force co-founder George Hoffman.
He said the largest source of pathogens in the harbor are most likely from stormwater from the pond.
“If we don’t fix the pond, we’re just kind of spitting into the wind in terms of all the other stuff we do,” he said.
Hoffman said the pond near the delicatessen serves as an inlet to Setauket Harbor, and stormwater from Route 25A — from around the fire station northeast to the water — washes into it. Hoffman said the pond’s old, faulty water treatment structure is allowing sediment to build up and currently stormwater is going straight into the harbor. He said sediment can include sand that’s been put down on the roads in the winter, items that fall off trucks and cars and pet waste.
“The town has a strong commitment to protecting our natural environment.”
— Veronica King
Hoffman said the goal is to dredge the pond and remove 10 feet of sediment. He said the reconstruction of the stormwater inputs would enable the sediment to go into a catch basin that’s specifically designed to capture it. The sediment will settle and then only water would go into the harbor.
King said the town will contribute $500,000 worth of capital funds, bringing the total allocation to the project to $1.5 million.
“The town has a strong commitment to protecting our natural environment,” she said. “It makes it so much easier when we have the community’s support for projects such as the Setauket Harbor project.”
The town will also need to get approval from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation before removing the sediment, which is standard DEC procedure as at times it may contain toxins. King said it shouldn’t be a problem as the town recently did a grain size analysis and found a high percentage of coarse sand material, and she doesn’t expect any surprises as far as chemical compounds.
Hoffman said he looks forward to the improvements as many people attending the Route 25A Visioning meetings in 2017 pointed to the area around the harbor as having potential.
“We see it as the first phase,” he said. “I think we have some plans to make it the centerpiece of downtown East Setauket.”