Tags Posts tagged with "Mount Sinai Harbor"

Mount Sinai Harbor

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker. File photo from Anker's office
By Samantha Rutt

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) recently organized a local history initiative to help tell the story of historic Mount Sinai.

Initially, “I want to try to bring together the local community and the historians to document the history of the Chandler Estate, Mount Sinai Congregational Church, Sea View Cemetery and Mount Sinai Harbor,” Anker said. “There’s a lot of fascinating history. I’ve spoken to a number of folks that are in their 80s and 90s, and they have really amazing stories.” 

Through this undertaking, Anker said she hopes to enhance the existing historical archives by adding documentation, stories, photos and maps collected from the surrounding area. 

The event will feature a round-table discussion of around 25 participants, including key members of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society, Brookhaven Town historians and other local advocates who will contribute to the documentation process. 

“We’re meeting to talk about what information can be identified, and move forward hoping to open it up to anyone who has additional information,” the county legislator explained. “The meeting on Friday will be mainly focusing on the historians and how the process works and what information they have.”

For nearly 30 years, Anker has lived in the Mount Sinai community. Shortly after settling in, she came across the Mount Sinai Civic Association in a local newspaper. There on the cover stood a group of people from the civic association standing in front of bulldozers fighting to preserve the Chandler Estate as it was set to be a site for new development. 

     As a result Anker decided to get involved, becoming a member of the organization. 

“When I saw that article, that picture sparked my interest because it’s near where I live,” she said. “I like that they’re getting involved with their community and doing good things. … And that’s when I became a member.”

The local history project will touch upon the Chandler Estate, originally an upscale resort that overlooked Mount Sinai Harbor. Years after closing, the resort caught fire, leaving minimal remains that have since been taken over by a great deal of brush.

Residents now use the land for leisure. “I grew up right by there,” said Noreen Guilfoyle, a Mount Sinai resident of the once-luxurious estate. “The land used to be a big fancy mansion. … It burnt down though. There’s a trail there now, it’s a really pretty trail. But there are a lot of old foundations from buildings that are no longer there.” 

Anker has plans to open up the forum, pending the initial meeting’s success. 

“Following that [initial meeting], in another month or two we could open it up … and see if folks want to come to sign up or send us [something in] writing,” she said. “Then we can add it to the information that we have.”

To help on the complex history project, Anker is partnering with Ann Becker, a local historian and librarian. Becker is an established author with her book, “Mount Sinai,” centered around the hamlet’s fabled history.

The project is set to include input from the Suffolk County Historical Society, Mount Sinai-Miller Place Historical Society and Stony Brook University Library Archives’ special collection.

“There are so many of our local folks that have the stories, but we’re going to lose their stories and information about their experiences if we don’t document them now,” Anker said. 

PJCA president Ana Hozyainova, center. Photo by Raymond Janis

The general meeting of the Port Jefferson Civic Association on April 12 was briefly delayed due to a lack of chairs as over three dozen people filled the Meeting Room at the Port Jefferson Free Library.

The body approached an array of local issues, from the East Beach bluff to flooding to green space preservation, among others. With village elections along the horizon and plenty of business on the local agenda, the civic has quickly emerged as a forum for the many interests and stakeholders of the community.

East Beach bluff

Former Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Mike Lee made a presentation on historical and environmental developments at East Beach, which has eroded considerably in recent years, now endangering the Port Jefferson Country Club restaurant and catering facility from falling off the cliff.

During his administration, Lee said an engineer had advised him that a problem with the jetty system at Mount Sinai Harbor was contributing to the erosion, placing village officials in a difficult bind.

“The village was aware of [the jetty problem], but it’s not our property that we can work on,” Lee said. “We don’t have anything to do with the inlet,” which the Town of Brookhaven maintains.

Given how coastal erosion spans across municipal boundaries, Lee suggested bluff stabilization would not yield a long-term resolution. “Stabilizing, it’s going to be a never-ending battle,” the former mayor said.

Ray Calabrese, a former Brookhaven Town councilman and Port Jefferson Planning Board member, conveyed to the body engineering advice he received in the 1970s.

“Leave that bluff alone,” he said. “Nature is doing its thing. It’s replenishing that beach. Frustrate it, and you lose the beach.” He concluded, “Don’t build near bluffs.”

Civic president Ana Hozyainova noted that among other reasons, PJCA was formed to offer residents a louder voice in decision-making over the bluff.

“One of the animating reasons why we got together as a civic association was the bluff and the fact that we didn’t have a vote and a public discussion about what needs to be done with it,” she said.

Flooding

Lee also touched upon ongoing flooding concerns within Port Jefferson, which was originally called Drowned Meadow due to the phenomenon. Though stormwater infrastructure installed decades ago may have been satisfactory for its time, Lee said, the flood load has increased considerably, aggravating these historic challenges.

“We have an inadequate stormwater system,” he said. “When it was built, it was adequate for then, but we have just too much to deal with. It just floods and backs up, and the bad part about it is that it invades the sanitary system.”

PJCA member Michael Mart expressed alarm over the long-term prospects of the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s fire station on Maple Place, which in a recent climate resilience meeting was noted for heightened risk of flooding. [For more on this village meeting, see story, “As Port Jeff braces for heightened flooding,” The Port Times Record, April 13.]

“My question is this: Does the fire department or the village have the right of eminent domain for properties that we desperately need?” Mart said. “If we do have that, aren’t we obligated for the long run to pursue that as far as we can?”

Land use

Much discussion centered on potential code changes to protect trees, preserve open space and limit clearing of woodlands. With a village public hearing scheduled for May 1 on the future development of the Maryhaven property, the body discussed whether new development is environmentally optimal.

Civic vice president Holly Fils-Aime tied the issues of flooding and land development, stating that additional paved surfaces could exacerbate concerns over stormwater runoff.

“Everybody is seeing the flooding — the roads become rivers — and it actually ends up in the harbor,” Fils-Aime said. “None of this is really filtered in any way, and the more development we have obviously adds more stress on all of these systems.”

Citing a 2016 report from the New York State Comptroller’s Office, the vice president added that preserving existing green spaces and creating new ones serves a wide array of fruitful purposes.

The report mentions open spaces can protect water quality, protect biodiversity and promote outdoor recreation, among other public benefits.

“My real worry is that the more development we have, the less our village is going to be viable in terms of drinking water,” Fils-Aime said.

PJCA will meet next on Wednesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. in the Port Jefferson Free Library. Candidates for village offices have been invited to present to the body.

Developing Story:

TBR News Media has learned of a remarkable rescue mission of four Mount Sinai-based sailors earlier this month.

Reports indicate that on Sunday, May 8, the sailors aboard the 40-foot C&C  sailboat “Calypso,” owned by local resident and member of the Mount Sinai Sailing Association Bob Ellinger, were approximately 80 miles offshore battling against 16-17 foot waves when the boat was hit by a rogue wave estimated at 30 feet in height.

This blow had destroyed the mast, rendering the ship inoperable. While much of the equipment onboard was beyond disrepair, the crew managed to send out an emergency distress signal.

The U.S. Coast Guard responded to the mayday and members of the Air Station Cape Cod MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew located the shipwreck. In a daring effort, battling high seas and strong winds, the helicopter crew successfully rescued all four sailors.

The sailors were later hospitalized and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

If you have any information regarding this rescue mission, please email [email protected]. Tune into tbrnewsmedia.com for more updates to this developing story.

Port Jefferson’s East Beach after the sand dredging was completed this week. Photo by Gerard Romano

The decade-long, multimillion-dollar project to spruce up Mount Sinai Harbor and its jetties is finally looking more complete, as the dredging project was finalized this past week.

In November of last year, the Town of Brookhaven permitted Suffolk County to complete the dredging at a total cost of $2 million with close to 80,000 cubic yards of sand.

A shot from the dredging process last month. Photo by Gerard Romano

“This is just another project where the layers and layers and layers of government all the way up to the federal level worked together,” said Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant. 

But the project is more than baskets of sand returning to the local shorelines. After many years of planning, both the east and west jetties in Mount Sinai Harbor were repaired in May 2020. For 10 years, both have been largely submerged at high tide, with water and sand leaking through breaks in the stones and settling into the mouth of the harbor. 

Garant added that after about 60 days, “basketfuls of sand” were brought back to Port Jefferson’s East Beach, which included sand from the postponed Stony Brook Harbor dredging project, to replenish the erosion caused throughout the years. 

“We’re just so thrilled to have our beach back,” she said. 

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the completion of the project was a long time coming.

She said there were numerous issues with the jetties, the inlet and the harbor itself. 

“We rebuilt the fishing pier that has been subjected to numerous nor’easters, built two new jetties and a complete dredge of the beaches,” Bonner said. “I’m hopeful it lasts a long time.”

The same spot in 2018. Photo by Gerard Romano

In November, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers designated that most of the sand be primarily brought to the Port Jefferson side of the harbor. While Bonner admitted she hoped for an equitable split of sand, she’s happy that the goals of keeping recreational boaters and fishermen safe, while enhancing the North Shore’s water quality, have been achieved. 

“All levels of government have put a lot of money and resources into this project,” Bonner said. “It’s a win-win.”

It’s not completely done, though. Garant said the next phase is to repair the retaining wall going down the hill and revegetate the bluff. 

“It’s just an ongoing process of protecting our shoreline,” she said. 

by -
0 1026
Volunteers help the Coastal Steward clean up Centennial Beach Oct. 10. Photo by Kyle Barr

At regular beach cleanups hosted at both Centennial Beach and the Port Jeff side of Mount Sinai Harbor over the past two weeks, volunteers picked up over 4,000 pounds of trash and debris. 

The Coastal Steward, based in Mount Sinai, has for years hosted beach cleanups in Port Jefferson and many other parts of Long Island. Pat Kuchicki, who heads up the Steward’s beach cleanup efforts, said the 1347 pounds from Centennial and 2,720 pounds from the edge of Mount Sinai harbor is actually a moderate number compared to some previous years.

Normally, the Coastal Steward hosts their beach cleanups after winter, to get all the debris washed up by fall and winter storms, but because of the pandemic the dates were pushed back. 

The reason why there were less this year than last could be because of COVID-19, less people were going down to the beach or taking out their boats with friends and family, but Kuchicki said she thinks it may be more people are simply better aware of the need to keep beaches clean. In the intervening months, more people could have been stopping to pick up trash.

“I know definitely in Port Jeff the people are very good up there wanting to keep the beach clean,” she said.

Kuchicki said they saw a total of 60 volunteers come down to both cleanups. Both young and old, locals and people from miles away came down to lend a hand. Bill Negra, a volunteer with the Coastal Steward, said there were even a number of young women from a Hofstra University sorority who came down for one of the early October cleanups. 

The Steward doesn’t just pick up loose straws and bottle caps, but anything not natural, including treated lumber or other construction debris. 

The Village of Port Jefferson unanimously voted at its Sept. 8 meeting to pay the Coastal Steward $1,000 each for the costs of the beach cleanups at both the Port Jeff side of Mount Sinai harbor and at Centennial Beach.

MESSAGES OF HOPE

Fred Drewes of Mount Sinai came upon this colorful scene on July 10. He writes, ‘The pilings at Satterly Landing on Shore Road in Mt. Sinai Harbor have been decorated with interesting and pleasing art work. Each conveys a hopeful message and hope for the future.’

East Beach in Port Jefferson is getting smaller due to erosion, according to a consulting firm contracted by the village. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Town of Brookhaven has finally accepted a bid for the Mount Sinai Jetty restoration project, setting the town up to start reconstruction on the damaged jetty at the mouth of Mount Sinai Harbor.

Bay Shore-based H&L Contracting won the bid at a total of just over $7.4 million. The next lowest bid came in from SumCo Eco-Contracting of Massachusetts at almost $8 million.

“Quite frankly this was the hardest part.”

— Jane Bonner

Issues with the jetties have been on the town’s radar from way back. “It’s been 11 long years,” said Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point). “But good things come to those who wait.”

Rocks have collapsed, submerging the seaward ends of the jetties at high tide, while the elevation of the jetty stones above the water at high tide was less than 4 feet in some places. Holes in the jetty had also allowed sand to run through, causing further erosion to surrounding bluffs and beachfronts. The western jetty has been of particular concern to neighboring Port Jefferson village and its beaches.

At the June 6 meeting, town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) thanked Bonner for her work on acquiring the funds for the jetty repairs.

“It will benefit all those who use the harbor,” he said.

In September 2016, the town received $3 million in a Dormitory Authority of the State of New York grant, originally secured through New York state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson). An additional $5.6 million for the project is coming from the town, partially out of a bond.

Bonner said there is another follow-up meeting required before the date can be set when the repairs will take place, though she suspects construction should begin in either fall or winter of this year or the start of next year, well after the summer season has ended. 

Further meetings will be held to determine where and when the project will begin, though the councilwoman said she hopes construction will last only one season, but it’s dependent on how mild the following winter will be.

Mount Sinai Harbor. File photo by Alex Petroski

“Quite frankly this was the hardest part,” Bonner said about coming up with funds for the project. “We’re very pleased with the bid, and then we roll it out.”

The town is hoping Suffolk County will complete their annual dredging after the jetties are fully repaired.

Meanwhile, officials in the Village of Port Jefferson relished the news of the bids being awarded for the dredging project. Trustees have held off on several major renovations to East Beach surrounding the country club because of those damaged jetties. 

Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant said the village is in contact with the county about getting that sand back for East Beach once the harbor is dredged.

The news about the finalized bid was met with pleasant surprise at the village’s June 3 meeting. Garant said the village hopes they will receive a permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to start construction of a retaining wall on the bluffs outside of the Port Jefferson Country Club. She said the DEC approved the village’s plans May 15. 

Officials said they may wait until after the county finishes their dredging to get their sand back before starting on repairs to the bluff.

Brookhaven’s current pump-out boats are showing signs of wear and will be replaced. Photo by Kyle Barr

If you’ve ever seen a boat with a built-in toilet, the next question is inevitable: Where does that waste inevitably go?

Either the waste goes straight into the Long Island Sound or surrounding harbors or boaters call the Town of Brookhaven’s pump-out boats, a service provided by the town for free, to suck out the waste, according to Karl Guyer, a senior bay constable for Brookhaven.

At Brookhaven town’s Sept. 13 meeting the board voted unanimously to purchase two new pump-out boats — one for Mount Sinai Harbor and one for Port Jefferson Harbor. The total cost for both boats is $92,500 with $60,000 of that amount coming from state aid in grant funding from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation. The town is supplying $32,500 in matching funds from serial bonds, according to town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point).

The town operates four pump-out boats, including two on the South Shore and two on the North Shore, which are located in Port Jeff and Mount Sinai harbors. All these boats were purchased in 2006, and Guyer said it was time all of them were replaced. The two on the South Shore were replaced this year, and the North Shore boats will be replaced early in 2019, according to Guyer.

“They’ve been in service for quite a number of years and they’re at the end of their life span,” Guyer said.

The pump-out boat in Port Jeff Harbor is showing signs of long use. The paint on the boat’s deck has been worn down by years of work, and there are cracks showing in some of the plastic hatches around the boat. William Demorest, the bay constable for Port Jeff Harbor, said the new boats will be made from aluminum, which should give them a longer life span.

The pump-out boat service is widely used by the boaters in both harbors, and on a busy day town employees operating the boats can service hundreds of boats in a single day. People can call for a pump out by radioing the constable’s office on channel 73.

There is a manual boat waste pump in a barge inside Port Jeff Harbor, though the constable said 75 percent of the over 700 boats that come to port on summer weekends use the pump-out boat service. After the pump-out boats are docked for the winter, all North Shore boaters are required to manually pump out their own waste.

Bonner said these boats do a major service in cleaning out the tanks of many boaters, because dumping the waste into the coastal waters only adds to the islands growing water pollution problem.

“Not only would there be waste in the water but the nitrogen load would be crazy,” Bonner said. “It would take several tides to flush that out.”

All the water from Conscience Bay through Port Jefferson Harbor as well as the entire Long Island Sound is within mandated U.S. Environmental Protection Agency No-Discharge Zones, meaning it is illegal to dump any boat waste into the surrounding waters.

While Demorest said he hasn’t seen people dumping their waste into the water himself, he has heard reports of it being done. He said he believed the vast majority use the free pump-out service.

“If we don’t see it, there’s nothing we can do about it,” he said.

Many areas of the North Shore are experiencing waves of hypoxia, an increase of nitrogen in the water that deprives sea life, both plants and animals, of oxygen. During a press conference Sept. 25, co-director of the Center for Clean Water Technology Christopher Gobler and other researchers from the Long Island Clean Water Partnership concluded there were cases of harmful algae blooms in harbors from Mount Sinai all the way to Huntington, another symptom of excess nitrogen in the water. Most of that nitrogen has come from cesspools and septic tanks from people’s homes slowly leaking into the surrounding waters.

The boats usually operate Friday, Saturday and Sunday mostly by high school and college-aged summer employees, according to Guyer. The pump-out boat service ends on Columbus Day, Oct. 8.

The failing jetties have been cited as a contributor to erosion at Port Jefferson Village's East Beach

Mount Sinai Harbor. File photo by Alex Petroski

Officials believe one of the few things that stands in the way of further erosion of Port Jefferson Village’s East Beach, which sits on the Long Island Sound at the end of Village Beach Road, are jetties, or rock pilings meant to protect the shoreline, at the mouth of Mount Sinai Harbor, just east of the Port Jeff beach. With the two town-owned structures in need of restoration, Brookhaven is looking for some additional funding.

The Brookhaven Town board voted unanimously at a July 12 meeting to submit grant applications to the New York State Green Innovations Grant Program and Local Waterfront Revitalization Program for additional money to work on the jetty reconstruction project.

The $8.6 million jetty project has been in the works for several years, but only truly got underway in 2016. The town is seeking reimbursement of about $1.3 million through the grants. The resulting $7.3 million net cost would be financed through an existing $3 million Dormitory Authority of the State of New York grant, originally provided through New York state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), and $4.3 million from a previous town bond resolution.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said the old east and west jetties have holes from rocks collapsing, which allows sand to stream through. Age has not been kind to either structure, and the seaward sides of both jetties remain submerged at high tide. Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy caused further damage to the jetties over subsequent years.

With the money the town already has along with these new grant bids, Bonner said she is optimistic reconstruction of the jetties will start some time in 2019.

“Those holes create a current at high tide that allows sand to get through,” Bonner said. “We are completely committed to taking all the necessary steps to make sure this gets done right.”

Brookhaven is the only Long Island municipality in charge of jetties, as the Army Corps of Engineers maintains all others, according to Bonner.

Brookhaven has also hired Melville-based Nelson & Pope Engineers & Land Surveyor, PLLC to at a cost of $151,800 for help in the Mount Sinai Harbor dredging project. The dredging will widen the inlet and relieve the pressure of the water hitting the jetties at high tide, according to Bonner. Widening the inlet will help flush out Mount Sinai Harbor, which would lead to cleaner water for both fish living in the harbor and the town’s shellfish at its mariculture facility.

The failing jetties have had an impact on the shoreline of Port Jeff Village. The bottom 15 feet of the bluff along East Beach had fallen 260 feet west of the rock revetment, according to a 2016 letter from Stony Brook-based GEI Consultants, a privately-owned consulting firm contracted by the village, to the village regarding its concerns about erosion. GEI also stated that repairs to the jetties should be the first step in alleviating erosion issues.

Bonner said some of the preliminary work already done has helped relieve the flow of water coming into the inlet and through the jetties, but until the real reconstruction starts the erosion of the local beach remains a problem.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said Mount Sinai Harbor contributes millions of dollars to community through tourism.

“It’s a very special harbor,” Anker said. “Repairing the channel should be a primary concern.”