The town is taking steps to protect Mill Pond after Centerport residents complained that renovation of a restaurant and other development in the area could jeopardize wildlife in the area.
Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said Monday that the town would install a soft boom, a sponge-like device to protect the pond, although he said that inspections had shown that there was no contamination from the reconstruction or tidal wetlands violations.
“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,” Lupinacci said.
Of particular concern to residents was the well-being of a pair of bald eagles that nested near the pond last year and produced two hatchlings. Hundreds of people, from around the area and the world, have come to the area to photograph the eagles as they nest, fly around the neighborhood and dive into the water to snatch fish or eels for food.
Rob Schwartz, who founded a Facebook page devoted to the eagles, said, “I’m super-really happy that town is concerned and I don’t want them to lose sight of the bigger picture of all the construction in the area, not just the pond. I reached to Waters Edge, we all have to be good neighbors. and they responded positively.” Water’s Edge is the new owner of the old Thatched Cottage, which had fallen into complete disrepair after its owner declared bankruptcy and eventually was sentenced to prison for abusing his workers.
“The whole thing is turning more positive, it can’t just be words, has to be action,” Schwartz said. “This is positive, but not the end, it’s the beginning of something. We have the town’s attention, that of property owners; Waters Edge and other residents and businesses are paying attention.”
Lupinacci and other town officials met Friday with Schwartz and Tom Knight, co-president of the Centerport Harbor Civic Association, Jill Weigold, whose photos are among many that have won a big following on the Bald Eagles of Centerport Facebook
page, and Debra Amoruso, secretary of the civic group to discuss concerns, including what to residents appeared to be an oil slick on the water.
The Town said that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Suffolk County Department of Health have produced test results confirming zero water contamination. The town also detailed some of the measures the contractor has taken to prevent any contamination.
Knight said, “While we are pleased that the Town is taking action to more closely monitor the construction site on Mill Pond, we are concerned that the sea wall may still have breaks at each end of the property where construction site run off may enter the pond. The meeting on Friday was only a first step.
“We have yet to see a written report from the Town, the DEC, or the EPA verifying that there is/was ‘NO SPILL’ as the (town) press release heading stated. The release is the only indication.
“However, the photos and video taken at the site don’t lie. We question whether any expert can ‘see’ carcinogens, microscopic particles of asbestos, lead paint, heavy metals, and petroleum products by looking during a cursory inspection of the water, ground, and air. We asked in Friday’s meeting to see copies of any tests/inspections the Town conducted. We have yet to see any official report. We now ask that the Town set up a schedule of unannounced visits to do follow-up tests at the site and release those reports. We thank Legislator Spencer who also initiated water tests at the site. He indicated that the results would take up to four weeks.”
Of equal concern to many in Centerport is the state of a proposed 7-Eleven store on the corner of Route 25A and Little Neck Road; residents are concerned about an increase of traffic at the intersection.
The two groups came out Saturday to protest development in the area.
View of Route 25A and Little Neck Road from the east. Centerport Fire Department is near center of map.
Remnants of the Thatched Cottage.