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Lupinacci Offers Proactive Measure to Protect Mill Pond, Bald Eagles During Friday Meeting with Centerport Residents

LongIsland.com

"Soft Boom" to be installed despite DEC, County, Town test results confirming zero contamination.

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Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci announced that steps are being taken to protect water quality and the safety of local bald eagles at Mill Pond in Centerport.

Photo by: skeeze

Huntington, NY - February 12, 2019 - On Friday, February 8, Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci, key Town Departments and staff met with concerned Centerport residents regarding construction at the site of the old Thatched Cottage, new Water’s Edge property on Mill Pond in Centerport, to provide assurances of test results confirming zero water contamination and offer a proactive, preventive measure to help allay concerns the residents have for local water quality and the safety of local bald eagles.
 
“In a meeting with several concerned Centerport residents on Friday, the Town was able to assure all in attendance that while all testing has returned zero evidence of contamination, we will be taking an extra, proactive step to ensure our water stays its cleanest and our winged friends can safely enjoy the beautiful habitat in which they have taken up residence,” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci.
 
Supervisor Lupinacci; members of the Supervisor’s staff; Dom Spada, Deputy Director, Maritime Services; Fred Uvena, Senior Harbormaster; and Steve Kiewra, Building Permits Coordinator, met with several Centerport-area residents regarding their concerns about renovations at the construction site on Mill Pond in Centerport. Residents meeting with Supervisor Lupinacci and his team on Friday included Rob Schwartz, administrator for the Bald Eagles of Centerport, NY group on Facebook; Jill Weigold; Tom Knight, Co-President of the Centerport Harbor Civic Association (CHCA); and Debra Amoruso, Secretary of the CHCA. Among the issues discussed were concerns about the construction site and how it may be affecting water quality in Mill Pond and possible effects on the bald eagles that have taken residence near the pond.
 
The Town provided assurances to the residents in attendance at the Friday meeting that the Town has found no evidence of water contamination and the contractor has been fully cooperative with the Town, and that Maritime Services and the Building Department have been monitoring the situation since the original inquiry by Mr. Schwartz regarding the possible appearance of contaminants in the water at Mill Pond on January 24. The Town also informed the residents that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Suffolk County Department of Health have produced test results confirming zero water contamination. The Town also relayed some of the confirmed measures the contractor has taken to prevent any contamination of the water.
 
The Town also advised the residents of multiple factors contributing to any visible sheen in the water: sediment, oil and other substances entering the pond from the harbor as the tide comes in and out twice per day; storm water runoff from Route 25A; and overflowing runoff from the land to the south, east and west of Mill Pond emptying into the pond.
 
Despite confirmation from the DEC and the County of zero water contamination and the natural contributing factors of a visible sheen in the pond water, the Town offered to implement a proactive, preventive measure to protect the water near the construction site.
 
It was agreed by all parties that the residents in attendance would help relay this information to their members and assure the public that the placement of a soft boom near the seawall at the construction site would not be in response to any type of spill or contamination, as there is no evidence of such, but would simply be a proactive, preventive measure to allay concerns the residents have for our local water quality and the safety of the bald eagles. Spada informed all in attendance that it would take several days to pull together the resources to install the boom, which the Town expects to have in place before Friday, February 15. The Town is closed for the observance of Lincoln’s Birthday on Tuesday, February 12.
 
The boom, a sponge-like material, is expected to soak up any residue in the water, including the sediment, oil and other substances brought in from the harbor with the tide, storm water runoff from Route 25A, and runoff from the land surrounding the pond. Residents should expect – and not be alarmed – to see these naturally-occurring substances on the boom.
 
While the construction site is properly secured with hay bales and silt fencing, the contractor has taken extra precautions to secure the site, and the DEC has confirmed there are no tidal wetlands violations. In the unlikely chance that there are any contaminants entering the pond from the construction site, Maritime Services assured all in attendance at Friday’s meeting that it would be easy for Maritime Services staff to identify any obvious construction-related contaminants on the boom, if present, apart from the naturally-occurring contributors from the harbor and road storm-water runoff.
 
The Harbormaster’s office also provided insight on the current quality of the water in Centerport Harbor, noting that the tidal gates have allowed the water to flush out of the pond for two tide cycles daily for the past month and the monthly testing the Town, County and DEC does has confirmed the water is the cleanest it has been in nearly a decade, opening Centerport Harbor for shellfish harvesting this winter, the first time in nearly a decade.
 
The residents also asked for the Town to contact Suffolk County to request soil testing on the construction site, as the residents claimed they were unable to receive a response from the County themselves. The Town offered to reach out to the County for this request.
 
Town Timeline/Activities Regarding Resident Inquiries on Mill Pond
 
In response to Mr. Schwartz’s inquiry on January 24th, the day of a heavy rainstorm, the Town Maritime Services Department inspected the location and notified the DEC of the resident’s complaint regarding an “oil slick” in storm water runoff near the construction on the site.
 
  • The Town inspected the site and found no oil spill.
  • On the same day, the DEC found no Tidal Wetland Violations from the construction site in the morning and nothing again in the afternoon.
  • The Town re-inspected the site again at 4:00 PM and found nothing.
  • On Friday, January 25, the Town and NYS Environmental Conservation Police confirmed there was no spill in the Mill Pond area in Centerport.
  • The DEC has been called back since the initial inquiry, inspecting the area and they continue to find nothing, no oil spill, and no Tidal Wetlands Violations.
  • Senior Bay Constable Jeffrey Kropp inspected the area Thursday, February 7, for any runoff from the night of Wednesday, February 6’s rain storm. No violations were noted.
The Town Building Department is aware of the renovations on the site and has stated the contractor has been very responsive to the Town’s requests.
 
  • The Building Department contacted the property owner on Friday, January 25, regarding a complaint received from residents that their security fence gate was left open; the gate was then secured.
  • Hay bales are present on site and are installed properly against the inboard side of the required silt fencing. The DEC required the contractor to use both. The purpose of the hay bales is to stop water weight from pooling and to protect the silt fencing from damage. The silt fencing will allow water to pass through but will retain suspended solids to prevent suspended solids from entering the pond.
  • The Town also observed that the required silt fencing/curtain along the bulkhead, while present, was improperly installed and had to be corrected.  The contractor informed the Town that the ground was still too hard (frozen) to fix the silt fencing but it would be reinstalled at the earliest opportunity.
  • The contractor has moved oils, solvents and paints into job boxes to ensure there is nothing on site that would contribute to storm water run-off pollution.
The Building Department received an email on Friday, February 1st from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, Office of Ecology. The complaint was that asbestos runoff was entering the pond.
 
  • In a phone call that afternoon (Friday, February 1st) the county advised the Town that they tested the water and found no evidence of asbestos contamination.
  • Our Building Department then contacted the Crest Group and they advised that there was no asbestos removed or found in the building.
  • The DEC received a complaint on February 5th about illegal dumping and possible illegal asbestos abatement. The DEC’s environmental police inspected the site on the 5th and found everything in good order, so no action was taken.
Maritime Services has been monitoring the situation and they continue to find no evidence of contamination. They will continue to make routine inspections regarding storm water control measures and any improper discharges into Mill Pond.
 
  • All storm water run-off from local streets and Route 25A discharge into two ponds that ultimately lead to the Centerport Mill Pond. The sheen the complainant has seen is non-point source pollution that enters the Mill Pond from multiple sources.
  • The appearance of an “oil slick” on the exposed seabed at low tide or on the surface-water in the pond also includes the mix of sediment, oil, and waterfowl/marine excrement brought in from the outer harbor during high tide. This is naturally occurring and exacerbated with the tidal gates chained in the open position for the past month.
  • In the summer, the tidal gates are usually opened every few days to “flush” the water out of the pond to keep the water clean and prevent algae growth.
  • The gates are open now because the contractor cannot do the necessary repair work on the footing of the structure’s foundation when the pond is full of water. They can only do this work when the tide goes out due to surface water migration.