On Oct. 5, Suffolk County Legis. Anthony Piccirillo laid a resolution to amend the 2021 capital budget and program to appropriate funds in connection with the dredging of county waters on the table of the legislature. The funds will affect the plan to dredge Sayville’s Browns River, which was last dredged in 2004-2005.
Piccirillo said the funds from the county are to prep the county-owned land for the spoils to be dumped on. Spoils are the sediment that is taken up from the dredging.
“The county’s responsibility is to set the spoil space for where they’re going to dump all of the spoils once they actually do the work with the dredging,” Piccirillo said.”
The dredging of Browns River is vital, as waterways are usually dredged every eight to 10 years.
“It’s a federal navigable channel and it’s an emergency route for Sayville ferries and the fire departments if there’s ever an issue on Fire Island,” Piccirillo said of Browns River.
For the dredging itself, the Army Corps of Engineers actually does the work, but a spoil space needed to be set beforehand. The spoil site is located just east of Browns River in Bayport.
In late July, State Sen. Alexis Weik held a press conference calling for an “emergency dredge” of Browns River.
“The main issue when dredging the river bottom are the spoils,” Weik said at the press conference. “They need to be deposited onto land. There is a large spoil site owned mostly by Suffolk County and partially by the Town of Islip located just east of the river in Bayport. Unfortunately, it has to be cleared or another viable spoil site is needed in order to house the dredge materials. It’s not good if we dredge if you have no place to put the spoils.”
The issue of dredging Brown’s River is very important to boaters and businesses in Sayville who rely on the waterway daily. At the press conference in July, Sayville Ferries president Ken Stein noted how the lack of dredging was affecting the service.
“Every captain here at Sayville Ferry will tell you that they’ve experienced the bottom of Browns River regularly,” Stein said, “whether hitting it or getting slowed down trying to drag themselves through the mud.”
Picirillo said that the county is setting up the site for the spoils now and that by next year, the dredging should begin.
“I want to assure you that we are committed to getting this project done,” Town of Islip councilwoman Mary Kate Mullen said at the summer press conference. “We’ve been working on it and as the senator mentioned, the issue is with the spoils. We’re very close to the finish line. We understand and know how important this is to the community of Sayville and the whole town of Islip.”
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