SAYVILLE

DEC looks to remove spoil 12 years after Browns River dredge

Randall Waszynski
Posted 2/27/20

The Browns River estuary has been no stranger to dredge spoil deposits, and the Town of Islip has acknowledged that addressing the issues here is “a top priority.”

“We are …

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SAYVILLE

DEC looks to remove spoil 12 years after Browns River dredge

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The Browns River estuary has been no stranger to dredge spoil deposits, and the Town of Islip has acknowledged that addressing the issues here is “a top priority.”

“We are working closely with the New York State [Department of Environmental Conservation] to identify appropriate dredge material disposal sites,” a Town of Islip spokesperson said.

The DEC works with municipalities and contractors to determine where dredge spoil can be disposed of to be protective of human health and the environment. Several samples must be taken to determine the appropriate disposal of this material.

Chemical and physical components are tested to determine if the material can be reused as aggregate or for other secondary uses. Otherwise, material must be taken to an appropriate on-Island or off-Island disposal site, dependent on any contaminant levels, according to a spokesperson from the regional DEC.

“[The] DEC is working with the Town of Islip regarding sampling and future locations of the material,” the spokesperson continued.

The spoil has caused concerns at marinas, as several boat slips have been compromised because of the spoil deposits. This draws an economic concern atop the environmental one.

In addition to the spoil concern, several in the community are calling for a dredge in the estuary, the meeting point with the Great South Bay. The last dredge done here was 12 years ago. There is increasing concern that ferries traversing the estuary are nearing scraping the bottom.

Jamie Atkinson of Sayville Community Ambulance Company pointed out that Fire Island is reliant on mainland firefighting and ambulance services. Atkinson said the hamlet of Cherry Grove has actually utilized the SCAC the last eight years.

“From the safety aspect, [dredging] gets the ferry over more during the year,” Atkinson said, adding that a dredge would increase the accessibility for evacuations, if need be.

James Bertsch, a Sayville resident and an active member of Save the Great South Bay, commented on the vein of tourism and economy.

“Fire Island is a vital commercial corridor,” Bertsch said. “The Fire Island Pines is the biggest community on Fire Island. Five thousand seasonal residents live in the Pines and Cherry Grove. All pass through Browns River, spending money, creating jobs and giving our local economy a real boost. Just as tourism is Long Island’s largest industry, the largest industry in the Greater Sayville area is Fire Island.

“Browns River is now almost too shallow for the ferries,” he added. “We really need to dredge now. Are tourists willing to put up with only traveling at certain times of day? Or will they simply leave and take their money with them to the Hamptons? That is a very real and a very scary possibility. The Pines and Grove bring so much money into the greater Sayville area.” n

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