By Connor Beach
Huntington officials said Monday they are taking steps to protect Mill Pond in Centerport after residents raised concerns about the environmental impacts from run off at a construction site in the area.
The construction site is near where a pair of bald eagles are nesting.
Huntington spokeswoman Lauren Lembo said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and staff from the Maritime Services and Building Departments met with “concerned residents” to discuss how construction at the site of the old Thatched Cottage may be affecting water quality in Mill Pond and possible negative effects on the bald eagles living near the pond.
Town officials said on Jan. 24 residents first reported seeing an oil slick in storm water runoff near the site where the Port Jefferson-based Crest Group are constructing a new catering venue called Water’s Edge.
Lembo said town Maritime Services, Suffolk Department of Health and state DEC officials all inspected the site, and test results showed “zero evidence of contamination.”
“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,” Lupinacci said in a statement Monday.
Though no evidence was found of hazardous material entering Mill Pond, town officials installed a boom near the seawall at the construction site as a preventive measure to protect the habitat. The boom was described as “a sponge-like material designed 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.”
Dom Spada, deputy director of Maritime Services, told residents the boom should be in place by Friday.
Tom Knight, co-president of the Centerport Harbor Civic Association, attended Monday’s meeting with town officials, and said in an interview Wednesday residents were still awaiting the instillation of the boom and written reports of the town’s inspections.
“We all love the eagles, and we’d hate to see anything happen to them especially because of any run off from a construction site,” Knight said.
Around 50 members of the CHCA rallied Saturday on Route 25A in Centerport. Knight said the group hoped to raise awareness of “our concerns that the Water’s Edge construction site needed to be monitored closely by Town of Huntington officials” and “the overdevelopment in Centerport along the 25A corridor.”
Knight said the group’s members were also concerned about the proposed construction of a 7-Eleven on Little Neck Road and increasing traffic in the area.
Christina Whitehurst, Director of Sales, Catering and Marketing for Water’s Edge, said the new venue benefits “if the environment and the community thrive along with our business.”
“We are working to rebuild a beautiful waterfront events facility so we have no intention of polluting the lovely water or environment that surrounds it,” Whitehurst said. “The DEC report speaks for itself in regards to the unfounded claims of abuse to the environment.”