Southampton Receives, Gives Funds

Desirée Keegan
Alewife fish travel through Alewife Creek into Big Fresh Pond, where they spawn. Independent/Desirée Keegan
Southampton Town received $410,000 for an Alewife Creek culvert right sizing project. The creek, which flows under Noyac Road at North Sea Road, is a place of passage for alewife fish. Independent/Desirée Keegan

As part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council’s initiative, Southampton Town has been awarded close to $800,000 to help fund two major projects that have long been under consideration.

Of that total, $387,484 will help the town proceed with design plans and construction funding for the Riverside Park along the Peconic River, which will advance the town’s Coastal Resources and Water Protection Plan by improving access to the riverfront with walking trails, removing invasive species and vegetation, protecting natural resources, and supporting downtown revitalization.

“The grant could not come at a more perfect time, as we are ready to issue RFP’s for design plans for Riverside Park after months of planning with the community,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said.

Southampton will also receive $410,000 for an Alewife Creek culvert project. The culvert is located under Noyac Road at North Sea Road. The project could take one of several different paths, which will restore proper water flow through the creek to allow passage of additional water during storms and as sea level rises, while also allowing for migration of alewives, according to Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor.

“Right now, the water only goes up to the opening at high tide, and it’s one of the most productive runs in the State of New York — the alewives travel to Big Fresh Pond to spawn,” Gregor said. “We were looking to build a new culvert and return the natural stream bed, but there’s concerns about depth of water in that. To completely replace it would also be an $800,000 project. We’re also trying to put in a storm water component to intercept water coming off North Sea and Noyac Road to create artificial wetlands and might keep the structure, but make a fish ladder on the bay side.”

While the town was given money, it’s also sending out money. At a December 20 meeting, the board reallocated $100,000 in highway reserve funds for winter-related purchases. While Gregor said he will use the money to replace plows dating to the 1960s and ’70s and purchase a hot box to provide hot asphalt, which performs better than cold patches, to fill potholes, he said he was shocked to receive half of what he’d asked for.

“I’m very surprised after my nice budget request that I wasn’t asked of the necessity of these items,” he said. “I gave a list of items I’d purchase with my asked for $200,000, as a formality, and there’s still a lack of funds. These weren’t just snow storm-related items but for storms in general, be it rain or anything else, but we’re going to do the best we can to keep the roads open and safe.”

The board also approved at the December 20 meeting a resolution to amend a Community Preservation Fund water quality improvement grant to the Village of Westhampton Beach for its drainage improvement project.

In October, the village was awarded $1,238,922 to improve drains in the Main Street commercial district to go along with burying utility lines and adding sidewalks and two traffic circles. The CPF-funded portion of the project includes installing two hydrodynamic separators to filter out impurities before storm water empties into Moniebogue Bay and replacing an underground brick culvert in an alleyway.

To replace the culvert, both buildings need to be supported structurally and a dry space needs to be created. While the project was originally expected to cost $459,025, the lowest bid, which was submitted by Wading River-based Excav Services Inc., came in at $1,220,560.

“I view this as the project that we approved, the cost just came in higher, and it happens,” Schneiderman said. “It’s happened to us with many of our town projects. One minor component was left out and maybe actual cost will come in lower.”

The village was awarded an additional $828,535, $71,643 less than the requested $900,178, because board members did not find it necessary to cover administrative costs with CPF revenue.

Westhampton Beach, in total, received more than $3 million in the allocation of funds. This also includes $1.13 million to be put toward the village’s new sewer district.

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