Environment & Nature

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Purple lunaria flowers. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

One of the reasons I really like perennial plants is because it’s the “plant once, enjoy for many years” form of gardening. Perennials, provided they are adapted to your growing conditions (hardiness zone, fertilizer, soil pH, amount of water, etc.) will return year after year.

But, there is another way of planting once and enjoying for many years — by growing plants that are known for self-seeding. They put out seeds in the late summer and fall, the seeds survive your winter conditions and germinate the next year. Some of these are biennials, which means that the individual plant will grow back a second year in addition to scattering seeds. Some are annuals, with the original plant dying and only the seeds surviving the next year.

If you do decide to plant self-seeding plants, make sure you know what the seedlings look like. While in some cases the seedling looks very much like the mature plant’s leaf, in other cases, it’s hard to tell. You don’t want to accidently pull out a desired plant thinking it’s a weed.

There’s another caution with self-seeders. Because they produce so many seeds, they can become invasive with your flower bed looking very messy. So, you need to be careful in planting them and not be hesitant to “rip out” what grows where you don’t want it.

One of the best self-seeding plants is lunaria (pennies, honesty, money plant). The name comes from Latin, meaning moon-like, which refers to the oval, silvery seedpods that are produced on the plant toward the end of the growing season. While some are annuals or perennials, most commonly found in seed catalogues are biennials.

The flowers are beautiful — white or purple — and appear in spring with seed pods the second year after sowing. They are easy to naturalize if you have a wooded or partly wooded area where the seedlings won’t be disturbed. A mass of these is stunning even from a distance away. The flowers can also be collected and dried for arrangements. Make sure you leave some flower go to seed for next year. Foxglove is another biennial that self-seeds.

Another self-seeder (which is also a perennial) is Echinacea, that is, coneflowers. These beautiful flowers attract birds, which love the seeds. Leave the seed heads on the plants in fall. What’s not eaten will fall to the ground and come spring, more plants will grow.

Other self-seeding annuals include New England asters, coreopsis, feverfew, violets, sweet peas and blue woodruff.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

Program makes it easier for residents to save money

An infrared temperature gun measures the surface temperature of a home. Photo from Neal Lewis

It just got easier for homeowners on Long Island to monitor their energy costs.

The not-for-profit Long Island Green Homes Initiative is a public-private partnership that launched Nov. 10 with the goal of setting up homeowners with a professional energy audit at no cost. The program links residents with the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority to generate savings, stimulate jobs, boost economic development and promote sustainability, organizers said.

The initiative is headquartered at the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College and is partnered with three non-profits: Community Development Corporation of LI, LI Green and United Way of Long Island. A state program that offers similar services has been in effect for several years, but some said it wasn’t getting its message across to enough people.

Neal Lewis, executive director of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy, said some residents argued that the state government website was too confusing to use.

“The conclusion was that the key way to get more participation was to provide resources to homeowners to help navigate the process,” Lewis said.

That was how the Green Homes Initiative was born.

It started with the goal of providing an easy-to-use website coupled with energy navigators who help answer any questions a homeowner has. Lewis said the energy navigators then schedule a free home energy assessment that provides an in-depth analysis of a home’s energy efficiency for each homeowner.

It was crafted after similar programs in neighboring municipalities, but has tweaked pieces of the process with hopes of making it better, supporters said. In an earlier version of this program started in 2008 in Babylon, an average homeowner saved about $1,000 each year in energy costs, according to a press release.

LIGH has also partnered with five towns, including Huntington and Smithtown along the North Shore, to further encourage residents of those towns to take advantage of this program.

“I am proud this newest LI Green Homes Initiative is kicking off in Huntington Station,” Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in a statement. “This is a prime example where much of the housing stock dates before the first energy conservation codes were adopted in the 1970s and can benefit dramatically by upgrading insulation and heating systems that are at or near their useful life expectancy.”

Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said this program incurs few out-of-pocket expenses for homeowners.

Many improvements that require homeowner investment are eligible for cost reductions of up to 50 percent, depending upon household income, according to Cuthbertson.

In an interview, Lewis said the only contractors providing the free home energy assessments were licensed, local, insured, and certified by Building Performance Institute. The contractors test a house’s insulation, heating and hot water systems, ventilation and more.

Once the tests are completed, the homeowner is given a comprehensive report that includes where and how their home can save energy, a fixed cost for each recommended improvement, and projected dollar savings on their utility bills for each recommended improvement.

If a homeowner decides to go ahead with those suggestions, the program would then assign them a performance specialist to do the work on their property.

The LIGH program can pay the entire cost of the improvements, and under a contract with the homeowner, the town sets up a monthly payment plan, Lewis said.

LIGH also structures the payment so that your savings cover your monthly bill. If a homeowner saves $100 a month on energy costs, they only owe the town $90 a month.

“We’re trying to get people to test their homes and make them more energy efficient,” Cuthbertson said.

The Initiative is funded for three years by a Cleaner, Greener Communities competitive grant award from NYSERDA of $2.3 million, and a supplemental grant from the Rauch Foundation in Garden City.

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Large canna leaves are topped with beautiful bright red flowers. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

As you plan your next garden, you might want to consider planting tender bulbs in the spring that will produce beautiful flowers in mid to late summer, a time when there are fewer flowers in bloom. Tender bulbs include gladiolas, calla lilies, caladium, dahlias and cannas.

Some are bulbs, some rhizomes, some tubers and some corms (see my columns of last Jan. 25 and Feb. 5 for details on the botanical differences). What the glads, dahlias etc. all have in common is that they are geophytes, that is, plants with underground storage units, and all need protection from Long Island’s cold winters. The easiest way to do this is to lift them from the garden in the fall, dry them and store them in an unheated shed or garage and then replant them in spring. You could also treat them as annuals, buying new each spring. That’s up to each gardener.

If you find that any of your summer flowering bulbs are affected by disease, such as a fungal disease, it’s best to discard the bulbs and start from scratch next year, unless you have a very special plant you wish to save (use a fungicide then). Do not put diseased plants in your compost pile as you are just saving the disease pathogens for next year.

Large canna leaves are topped with beautiful bright red flowers. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Large canna leaves are topped with beautiful bright red flowers. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Remember that the first year you plant any of the above, they should do extremely well, as they are producing leaves and flowers based on last year’s care, that is, the grower’s care. To make sure that the bulbs, rhizomes etc. do well in future years, you need to water them adequately and provide fertilizer the current growing season. Then next year your bulbs should continue to thrive as well. Mulching them during the summer will help to keep the soil from drying out during periods of little or no rain.

Calla lilies are not true lilies at all. The tender variety are sold in the spring as rhizomes or potted plants. They are natives of South Africa and come in a rainbow of colors. Canna lilies have a very unique shaped flower, which is almost modernist.

They do best in well-drained soil (ideal for Long Island’s sandy soil) and full sun. Store the rhizomes in peat moss over winter. Calla lilies can be grown as houseplants but do need a period of dormancy, so don’t panic if the leaves die down. Let them rest a few months and they should be ready to grow again.

Caladium consists of many hundreds of varieties, including elephant ears. There are many cultivars that have arrowhead-shaped leaves that are six to 18 inches long and filled with stunning colors (green, white, pink and red) and patterns. They are native to the Americas (Central and South America). The wild plants go dormant in the dry season but are only hardy in zone 10. Since they prefer partial shade, they bring color to the shade garden.

Cannas are tropical plants that grow from rhizomes. They are native to the southern part of the United States and through Central and into South America. They’re grown not only for their large showy leaves but also for their beautiful flowers

While the most common varieties of cannas have green or red leaves with bright red flowers, there are other flower colors as well, including pink (‘City of Portland’), yellow (‘King City Gold’ and ‘Yellow Futurity’), coral (‘Tropical Sunrise’) and orange (‘Orange Beauty’ and ‘Wyoming’) to name just a few.

Cannas do best in full sun and in a well-drained soil. Long Island’s sandy soil is just fine, but do remember to water them during periods of drought, like we had this past summer. You can try growing them from seeds, but some varieties are sterile. Canna rhizomes are sold in the spring or you can sometimes find potted plants. While some cannas can be quite large —up to five feet — there are dwarf varieties.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

The PFAS Action Act of 2019 (H.R. 535) would regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and assist local communities in cleaning up water contamination. File 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.”

The property is adjacent to Cordwood Landing County Park off of Landing Road in Miller Place. Photo by Erika Karp

Acquiring land for open space preservation is usually straightforward, but that wasn’t the case for a piece of property adjacent to Cordwood Landing County Park in Miller Place.

What started as a simple purchase of the land and a quest to preserve it, ended with bad blood between a legislator and those involved with the property, after Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) accused developer Mark Baisch and Friends of Cordwood Landing of colluding together to defraud the county. The accusation, which Baisch and Tom Cramer, president of Friends of Cordwood, said is not true, was enough to discourage Baisch from following through with his initial plan to sell the property for open space preservation.

“I’m not interested in selling the property … not after I’ve been accused with stuff like this,” Baisch said. “Who in their right mind would go ahead and keep negotiating further?”

Baisch acquired the property in September 2014 for $750,000 from the original owner. When asked why Anker accused him and Friends of Cordwood Landing of conspiring together, Baisch was unsure where the accusation came from.

Anker said she thought Baisch and Friends of Cordwood Landing were conspiring together after receiving an email from Cramer that criticized Anker’s efforts regarding the property, and added he thought Baisch’s asking price was reasonable.

The accusations did not stop there. According to a previous interview with Cramer, Anker did not do what she could to help purchase and preserve the land — a statement Anker refutes. The resolution for this property was Anker’s first piece of legislation when she was elected in 2011. According to Anker and Jon Schneider, deputy Suffolk County executive, Anker did what she could within the law to acquire the property. In 2011, before the original owner sold the property to Baisch, Anker said the land was appraised for $783,000 — the owner refused to sell the land to the county for an unknown reason.

After Baisch purchased the property from this owner, Cramer approached Baisch about selling the property for open space preservation. According to Baisch, once he agreed, Cramer put the steps in motion to get the land reappraised and encourage the county to purchase and preserve the land. Baisch said he would sell the eight parcels for $1.25 million. He said he offered the property for 24 percent more than the purchase price, knowing what he could get out of the 5.5-acre property.

According to Schneider, based upon as-of-right laws, the property yielded five one-acre parcels plus an additional parcel using Pine Barrens credits, which allows a developer to add parcels to the land according to their individual credits. Baisch explained that he had several Pine Barrens credits, which increased the number of possible parcels to eight.

After Anker issued another appraisal of the property, the county offered $930,000, despite Baisch’s selling price — they did this with the understanding that six parcels were permitted on the property, as Baisch must get approval to add the two additional parcels to his plan. While Baisch claims to have said “no” to the offer, Schneider said he did not respond to the offer, and it expired.

“We can only make an offer based on land as it sits,” Schneider said. “We can’t make an offer today as though he has eight lots. He doesn’t have eight lots he has six.”

While Cramer said Anker didn’t work hard enough to acquire the property, Schneider said there is little else the legislator could have done.

“All a legislator can do is set the process in motion,” he said, “Then we make an offer based on fair market value. At the end of the day, the goal is … we want to make the best use of taxpayer dollars.”

Anker said she can’t “break the law” and get involved in the negotiations regarding the property, and added the issue, including the rally Friends of Cordwood Landing organized on Oct. 15, was political. Steve Tricarico, who ran against Anker for Legislator of the 6th District, attended the rally, according to Anker. Anker was not invited to the event.

Although Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) attended the rally and promised to pay 30 to 35 percent of the property’s cost, Baisch is currently in the process of approving his eight-parcel plan for the property with the Town of Brookhaven.

He intends to build seven homes and one Workforce home. According to Baisch, the law states that if a developer intends to establish more than five parcels, they must provide at least one Workforce house, otherwise known as affordable housing. Baisch plans to market the affordable home to a returning veteran.

According to Cramer, the property is the last remaining tract adjacent to Cordwood Landing County Park. Despite the controversy surrounding the property, officials like Anker would like to see the property preserved.

“This parcel would make an excellent addition to Cordwood Landing County Park and the nearly 65 acres already preserved by Suffolk County,” Anker said. “I know Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Bonner share my desire to preserve this parcel, and I look forward to working with them in preserving this important piece of land.”

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Weeping willow trees are beautiful, graceful deciduous trees. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Many years ago, I had two absolutely beautiful weeping willow (Salix babylonica) trees. They easily topped my two story house, and then some. I really enjoyed walking underneath the branches, looking out at the world, sort of like looking out through a light green curtain. And they provided beautiful shade.

Then, a really nasty hurricane came along. Down went the first and then the second tree. This happened when other trees — maple, oak and pine — all survived.

What happened? The answer is that weeping willow trees (natives of Asia) are very shallow rooted. When the wind really picked up, the roots couldn’t hold the trees in the wet soil, so down they went. And mine weren’t the only ones I saw down.

Does that mean that you shouldn’t plant weeping willow trees? Not necessarily. If you have an area sheltered from the wind, like a hollow, this might be the ideal location.

There’s another problem with the weeping willow tree. It craves water, so if you really want to plant this fast growing, graceful tree, make sure it’s not near a cesspool, well or in-ground swimming pool, as the roots can head in that direction, doing damage to the concrete.

The weeping willow tree grows well in U.S. Dept. of Agriculture hardiness zones 6 to 8 (Long Island is right in the middle at zone 7). It particularly likes to grow near water, but while the hardiness zones are limited, it does tolerate a wide range of soil pH levels. It’s a great shade tree quickly reaching 30 to 40 feet tall, growing as wide as is tall. Give this one plenty of room.

Another willow, pussy willow, (S. discolor) is native to North America. The deciduous shrub first produces furry catkins (or cat’s feet) in early spring. Many people like to cut branches from this stage of the plant and use them in dried arrangements or to make wreaths. If you do cut branches, do not put them in water or they will progress to the next stage, flowers.

After flowering, this easy to grow plant then produces green leaves. It is definitely grown for the early catkins. Pussy willow grows well in zones 4 through 8 or 9 (depending on variety).

Although most pussy willow plants produce gray catkins, there’s a rare variety (‘Mt. Asama’) that has a burgundy ones. A weeping pussy willow (S. caprea ‘Pendula’) can be grown as a small ornamental tree reaching 6 to 8 feet tall. As most weeping plants, the latter is really nice in winter when snow and ice covers the weeping branches.

Another popular willow that does well on Long Island is the dappled willow (S. integra). Like many other willows, the shrub is fast growing and can easily reach 15 to 20 feet tall and wide. However, if you really like this shrub, it can be pruned to keep it much smaller. In fact, it’s the new branches in spring that have mottled leaves that make it really stand out in the garden.

The dappled willow does well in hardiness zones 4 to 9. It is a native of eastern Asia, including China, Japan and Korea. Like other willows, the flowers are catkins (a cylindrical flower with no obvious petals). The cultivar ‘Hakuro Nishiki’ comes out very pale pink in spring.

Are willows deer resistant? Good question. Some sources say yes and some no, so you’ll have to see what the deer in your area like. However, rabbits do like willows, so you should take whatever precautions you normally take to keep your plants safe from them. While willows, in general, like moist soil, some varieties are somewhat drought tolerant once established. In general they like sun but tolerate light shade, and do well in a wide variety of soil conditions.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

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.

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Flowering quince blooms before leaves appear. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

The gardening season is winding down. You’ve probably enjoyed your tomatoes and have started thinking about your herbs and how to preserve them for winter use (you can, of course, bring container grown herbs into the house in a sunny location).

So, it’s hard to think of spring flowers when we’re facing autumn’s mums and winter’s chill. However, it you want a gorgeous, early spring garden, there are certain things you must do now.

◆ Plant your spring flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, etc.). They can actually be planted as long as the ground is not frozen.

Fothergilla is a slow grower. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Fothergilla is a slow grower. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Plant your spring flowering trees. These include dogwood, magnolia, flowering cherry, flowering crab apple and redbud.

◆ Plant shrubs that bloom in early spring. If you already have some in the ground, do not, I repeat, do not, prune them in late autumn. You will be removing next spring’s flower buds. Rule of thumb, prune flowering shrubs immediately after they have bloomed so as not to interfere with their bloom cycle.

Probably the earliest shrub to bloom in spring is witch hazel, with its delicate yellow flowers. In a mild winter it may even bloom in February, but March is more likely. Since it is blooming so early, the flowers come out long before the leaves. And, yes, this is the plant from which the astringent witch hazel is made.

Forsythia also blooms before the leaves appear with a mass of yellow flowers. You can even force the flowers in late winter if you see flower buds starting to form. Cut some branches, bring them indoors and put them in a vase with room temperature water. Soon, the vase will be filled with the cheery flowers. Forsythia plants make a great, easy to grow hedge. A fast grower, they can be cut back to make them the height you want.

Witch hazel with its yellow flowers is the earliest bloomer on Long Island. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Witch hazel with its yellow flowers is the earliest bloomer on Long Island. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Flowering quince produces gorgeous red, pink or orange flowers, again, before the leaves appear. The plant can easily reach up to six feet tall, but there are shorter cultivars. A native of China, it is usually grown here for its flowers, not its fruit. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Some varieties have thorns while others are thornless. Check the tag or research the cultivar if you either want (as a barrier) or don’t want (around kids) thorns.

The P.J.M. Rhododendron blooms in early spring, usually April, ahead of most rhodies, which tend to come out in May. The pinkish-purple blossoms are born on a relatively slow growing plant that reaches three to six feet in height. An evergreen, it does well in partial shade in hardiness zones 4 to 8. A row of them makes a lovely, relatively low hedge.

Pieris (andromeda) comes out quietly in spring. Most plants available have either white or pink flowers, but ‘Valentine’ has absolutely beautiful burgundy flowers. ‘Valentine’ blooms ahead of the other varieties, frequently before I’ve tidied up the garden in spring.

Fothergilla blooms with lovely white flowers. The slow-growing, deciduous shrub blooms in April to May after the leaves appear. The plant does well in zones 5 to 8.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. Send your gardening questions to [email protected] To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

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.

Photo by Wendy Mercier

The deer debate has hit Head of the Harbor.

Residents sounded off on the ongoing deer management discussion at Village Hall last Wednesday night, and after hearing residents’ concerns with the initial resolution proposed last month to allow more hunting, the board of trustees withdrew consideration.

The law was originally written to amend the village code to enable hunting of deer pursuant to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation authorization. But trustees said it was rescinded so as to allow more time for thought before action.

“We retracted that law and it is completely off the table,” trustee Judith C. Ogden said.

The board created an advisory committee that will consider and report to the board on a local deer management program. The committee is expected to give a report to the board by Dec. 31, Ogden said.

Mayor Douglas A. Dahlgrad said it is his hope that the committee will meet with other villages and towns to see how they are handling their deer issues, as well as with the DEC. Residents continued to voice their distress for how the board will handle this issue in the upcoming months.

George Kaloyanides, a Head of the Harbor resident, said this issue has garnered more interest than any other in the 30 years he’s lived here. He said he hopes that this issue is dealt with as transparently as possible as it goes forward.

“I hope you [the board] would consider expanding this charge to include polling residents of the village to see how many people see the deer as a problem,” Kaloyanides said. “In the intent of eliminating concerns, I think a majority vote of the proposed actions would help.”

John Lendino, a Head of the Harbor resident, questioned the board’s judgment for the handling of communications on this issue. He said that notices of the public hearing were hidden under several other documents on bulletin postings around the town.

“All these people tonight wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for me,” Lendino said.

Jeffrey Malkan, a Head of the Harbor resident, said that a vote should be included for this issue on this year’s ballot so voters can say if they approve.

“The final word should belong to the people,” Malkan said. “In the interest of avoiding controversy, it should go back to the residents as a referendum.”

Chairman Michael Utevsky will head the committee along with eight other members and trustee liaison Deputy Mayor Daniel White.

A public hearing was held in early September where residents were concerned not only with the proposal, but also the way village hall handled alerting citizens on the issue.

Julie Korneffel, a Head of the Harbor resident, was unhappy with how little notice she was given about this issue before it came to town hall.

“There is a big concern for transparency now,” Korneffel said. She also felt that the code written “seemed purposely vague.”