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Feb 2, 2010 7:37 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Three Mile Harbor dredging nixed this winter

Feb 2, 2010 7:37 PM

A proposed comprehensive dredging of Three Mile Harbor scheduled for this winter has been postponed by East Hampton Town and Suffolk County, due to a change in plans that would have allowed the southern portion of the channel to be dredged to a depth 2 feet deeper than originally proposed.

East Hampton Town Waterways Manager Bill Taylor said that the plan was stalled after the East Hampton Town Trustees asked for a last-minute change that would make the southern portion of the harbor more accessible to larger boats. The New York State Department of Conservation did not approve the revised plans before a crucial date, January 15, after which dredging is prohibited due to the winter flounder spawning season. The flounder spawning season ends May 1, but dredging cannot be done after April 1 because of the beginning of the piping plover nesting season on beaches where dredged sand would be placed.

The dredging project would have dug more than 125,000 cubic yards of sand from the bottom of the 3-mile-long channel, which was scheduled to be placed on the Gardiner’s Bay side of Sammy’s Beach and on a dredge spoil site on Marina Lane on the southeast side of the harbor.

“The county and the DEC are having problems with going 2 feet deeper at the head of the harbor. The last I heard it was 99 percent resolved,” said Mr. Taylor. “But the earliest possible time we could do any dredging again would be October 1. The town’s objective right now has got to be to have a dredge sitting waiting to go on the first of October.”

Three Mile Harbor is just one of seven of East Hampton’s waterways that have become clogged with sand in recent years. The situation at Accabonac Harbor was near a state of emergency before Bistrian Materials did an excavation of the channel late in 2009, but their method, which involves using a land-based Traxcavator to remove sand from the channel, is only a stopgap until the county can bring a dredge on a barge to the site to thoroughly scrape out the channel.

Last spring, many baymen who regularly use Accabonac Harbor signed a petition stating that the lack of tidal flow into the harbor, which hasn’t been dredged in about 10 years, will likely lead to an ecological disaster for the sensitive estuary. Three Mile Harbor, as well, has not been dredged since 1999.

Mr. Taylor said that he is in negotiations with Suffolk County to have the county dredge moved to Accabonac Harbor after the extensive dredging of Three Mile Harbor is finished next year.

“Accabonac desperately needs to be done with the county dredge,” he said.

East Hampton Natural Resources Director Larry Penny was somewhat more skeptical of why the Three Mile Harbor dredging project has been delayed yet again.

“It’s supposed to have been done two years ago. They were going to use the money they’re using from the County Road 58 widening” in Riverhead, said Mr. Penny. “I guess [former Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil] Cardinale 
complained bitterly. I don’t see any action.”

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The EH Town Trustees did not request the dredging to 8 feet as a “last minute change”. In fact, the Trustees made the request over a year and a half ago, in two separate letters. The first letter was sent on April 10th, 2008, to Commissioner Anderson of the Suffolk County Dept. of Public Works, with copies sent to the EH Town Board, the NYS DEC, the EH Dept. of Natural Resources, and the EH Dept. of Harbors and Docks. A second letter was send July 15th, 2008, to the NYS DEC requesting that the ...more
By Peter Mendelman (2), East Hampton on Feb 8, 10 8:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
The blaming of the Trustees by Bill Taylor is just another attempt by him to cover his own do nothing butt. One permit issued in over two years is not a job done well, as a matter of fact its pretty poor. Its time this political hack is either fired or retired. Our natural resources are too important to leave in the hands of a lazy lout!
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Feb 10, 10 11:41 AM