Suffolk County Department of Public Works submitted five applications for funding through the county’s Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program, and DPW representatives indicated to the committee that the application for removal of invasives at Great Patchogue Lake was the most shovel-ready.
The annual funding program allows for up to $1.5 million for projects that promote water quality within the county. The 21 applications from across Suffolk County were discussed by the WQPRP committee on Jan. 22, and the committee is scheduled to meet on Thursday, Feb. 13, to announce selections for funding.
The application relevant to Great Patchogue Lake requests $250,000 to improve aquatic habitat, which involves the installation of erosion and sediment control, clearing and grubbing, and the excavation of invasive species as per guidelines set by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Additionally, the application listing indicates that native topsoil and wetland plantings will serve as replacements.
Phragmites have been a concern here, among other non-native plant species that also appear on the state’s list of invasive plant species.
The Village of Patchogue owns the area of the lake south of West Roe Boulevard, while the Town of Brookhaven owns the northern portion. Both entities purchased two aerators that are beneficial to the aquatic inhabitants.
“[The aerators] re-oxygenate the lake,” said Patchogue Village Trustee Joseph Keyes. “We want to get the flow moving and get the life back in the water.”
Keyes, who is the village liaison for the Protecting the Environment in Patchogue Committee, said the aerators are planned to be installed in spring of this year. He said a sustainability group at St. Joseph’s College has worked alongside the PEP Committee and even advised which aerators the village should purchase.
“This group were the ones who started to get work done on the lake and created the initial push for [the village] to get involved,” Keyes said.
This invasives removal is supplementary to a separate project to improve Holbrook Road, County Route 19, just south of the lake and just north of Blue Point Brewing Company. The road project involves the construction of a second roundabout in order for easier navigation heading westbound toward Waverly Avenue.
The traffic circle will enable motorists traveling west on East Street to essentially turn left and head south on West Avenue, just before the brewery. More so, the road changeup will allow for emergency vehicles, particularly fire trucks, to navigate more efficiently to locations in southwestern Patchogue, considering the firehouse’s location at the intersection of Lake Street and Jennings Avenue.
“We hope that the project will alleviate traffic congestion in and out of the village, especially during the various events hosted by the [Greater Patchogue] Chamber [of Commerce] and Village,” said Nick Greco, chief of the Patchogue Fire Department. “However, we just won’t know until the project is completed.”
The project also will compromise the grassy median on CR 19 just north of the brewery. The westbound road will be pulled southward to meet the eastbound lane, which creates a more open space between the road and the edge of the lake. That increased area, said county Legis. Rob Calarco, will be repurposed for multiple recreational uses.
Calarco also mentioned that the project will create a park atmosphere along the lake with a walking/bike path.