From blah spot to ahhh! nature area
Back in the 1990s, car batteries, medical waste and piles of Budweiser beer cans marred what had the potential to be a beautiful, peaceful site at the end of Beaver Dam Road. There was also drug dealing.
“My husband installed trash cans and would keep it clean,” said Ellen Clyne, of the early efforts. “And there’s always been a stormwater remediation issue.” Garbage and undesirable items would gather in puddles and wash into the Carmans River.
Her husband “Reiny” Schuhmann was vigilant about keeping the spot maintained, along with Brookhaven Village Association members. A nice number of residents would turn out for the seasonal cleanups. Clyne kept at it with Brookhaven Town, and former Councilwoman Connie Kepert prompted an arrangement with the town’s parks department for maintenance, removing trash and mowing. In addition, $100,000 in funding was obtained by then-Assemb. Ed Hennesey (D-Mastic Beach), which was given to the town for stormwater mitigation and a redesign.
Plans to transform this spot into an ahhh! location — where residents and nature lovers can amble, catch a fish and admire the glistening swath of the Carmans River straight ahead, as well as the greenery from the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge that borders this approximately 60-by-30-foot area next to Squassux Landing — are ready to go once DEC approval is given.
“It’s a nice little area that’s beat up right now,” said Republican Councilman Michael Loguercio, who has picked up the cause. “We’ll set up swales and rain gardens to absorb the nitrogen and a beautiful walkway with permeable pavers, a fishing station and a kayak ramp and trash cans. We’ll go in and clear out the invasive species, then we’ll put in beautiful plants.”
Loguercio said there would be 15 different types of plants in the mix for the landscaping design. An Eagle Scout project for a fish-cleaning area is in the works.
Plans have been submitted to the DEC, but the permits haven’t been approved yet.
According to DEC spokesman Bill Fonda in an email: “On June 22, 2016, the DEC issued the town of Brookhaven a permit to construct a 4-foot-by-20-foot ramp and an 8-foot-by-20-foot float at this location [for a canoe and kayak ramp and float]. The DEC is currently reviewing the town’s application to remove an existing bio-retention area.”
Right now, the plan includes two swales, but that could change, Loguercio said.
Once the project begins, “waste management will go in first and bring the current overgrown weeds and pavement down to ground, parks [department] will put in fill and pavers on the walkway that sweeps around, as well as flowers and benches, and the highway department will eventually pave it to the small barrier there,” he said.
Nelson, Pope and Voorhees has created the design and submitted plans to the DEC.
Loguercio said that the overall project cost $150,000. “That [$100,000 secured by former Assemb. Ed Hennessey] did come from the state and it did go to [town] parks,” he said. “But I did talk to the other council members and stayed on it so it would go to this project and also added $50,000.”
The low-lying flowers indigenous to the area and chosen so that visitors can see straight to the Carmans River include bayberry, black chokeberry, rose mallow and slender blue flag iris, and cost $20,000, he said.
Right now, the project is called the Beaver Dam Road Street End Project, he said.
Town spokesperson Jack Krieger commented on Loguercio’s efforts. “When he got into office the people wanted this project and he got the ball rolling,” Krieger said.
The proposed transformation is a long time coming and has had its twists and turns.
“We were able to get the town to build a catch basin,” explained Tom Williams, vice president of the Post Morrow Foundation and a Beaver Dam Road resident, of a 2002 improvement. That was the initial effort of the stormwater runoff remediation.
A Bellport High School student installed plants that absorbed toxins in a swale design.
But the swale, a kind of marshy depression in the soil, started to fill in with dirt.
“The original project remediated a lot of the stormwater issues,” Williams said.
But then, Clyne added, a lot of factors eventually crowded in and made the current system overmatched.
Williams said that the money Hennessey gave to the town was to involve community input. The BVA and Post Morrow would become the stewards. Kepert also was able to get funds for the new ramp and kept pushing for the project, Clyne said, adding she got $20,000 in funding for a new kayak ramp.
Lillian Ball, owner of Lillian Ball Studio/Waterwash, who has tackled stormwater remediation and environmental projects in the Bronx River and in Nepal, was also involved, Williams said. “She was down there with the fishermen, crabbers, Spanish-speaking families and asked what they’d like to see here, what they didn’t like,” Clyne said. Ball was involved with selecting the plants to be used and the landscaping, Williams said.
Last September, 60 people came to the Post Morrow Annex Building to discuss the project. Loguercio was there with Supervisor Ed Romaine.
On Tuesday, when Loguercio looked over the area, he spoke with Marshall Kilthau, who lives nearby and was fishing for white perch with two friends. Kilthau asked about the project’s progress. He came often, he said, and appreciated the local beauty. “No one really knows this place is here,” he said, admiring the sunny landscape and wetlands in front of him.
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