East Setauket Pond Park project continues to move forward

East Setauket Pond Park project continues to move forward

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Recently, trucks could be seen dredging the pond at East Setauket Pond Park. Photo from George Hoffman

While delays due to COVID-19 stalled plans to improve East Setauket Pond Park, during the last few weeks residents have witnessed work is underway near and in the pond on Route 25A. 

The work is a result of a $1 million clean water grant for the Town of Brookhaven that former state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) secured in 2016. The funds for the water quality improvement project for the pond, which lies on the western side of Se-Port Delicatessen, were tied up by the state during the pandemic.

In addition to the wait, due to rising material costs, the Town of Brookhaven, which was originally slated to add $500,000 to the project, contributed an additional $120,000, for a grand total of $620,000, according to the town’s Highway Department.

The project has included the dredging of the pond for sediment and the repair of the failing bulkhead at the Shore Road park. The stormwater conveying system has been redesigned and is being installed.

The new system will catch contaminated sediments and floatables before they enter the pond. George Hoffman, co-founder of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, said due to the former water treatment structure being faulty, sediment would build up in the water. Stormwater from Route 25A and Gnarled Hollow Road regularly washes into the pond and travels into Setauket Harbor. Sediment can include sand that’s put down on the roads, pet waste, car oils and items that fall off trucks and cars.

Hoffman said the redesign will prevent the stormwater from being drained directly into the pond. The new system will redirect the drainage into underground catchment basins.

“They’re like big cement tombs, and they’ll collect all the sediment, so the sediment shouldn’t go into the pond anymore, it should go into the catchment basins and then there will be periodic cleaning of the catchment bays,” he said. “We think that that’ll have some marked improvement in terms of water quality.”

In turn, he said there will be less floatables such as plastic bags, and an argument could be made that bacteria will decrease in the harbor.

Hoffman said the task force is grateful for the funds from the state and town. He said they are also grateful for the Town of Brookhaven Highway Department.

Hoffman added with the pruning of invasive trees at the park, one day it will be possible for people to see the harbor from the road.

“We have big plans for that park,” he said. “We really see it as the anchor for the improvement of the downtown area.”

The harbor task force has another hope for the future. After clam digging being illegal in most of the harbor for more than 20 years, the members see the possibility that some areas may see the return of clamming one day.