The Town Board of East Hampton passed a 3-1 decision this past Thursday to enter into a intermunicipal agreement to oversee the protection and health of the Peconic Estuary.
As of yet, the committee has not been formed, East Hampton is the third of a total of 12 towns and villages that share the Peconic Estuary to sign on to protect it, and more need to sign on before launch so that each groups economic contribution is fully understood. According to Newsday, Brookhaven, the first town to sign on to support the Estuary, has offered up $10,000 so far, with Southold also having previously signed on in support. According to the Newsday article, the "estuary also reaches the Hamptons, the North Fork and the tiny village of Dering Harbor on Shelter Island."
"We're number three . . . we should have been number one," East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby told Newsday after the vote.
Alison Branco, Program Director for the Peconic Estuary Program, said, “There are a few intermunicipal protection committees around Long Island, like in Cold Spring Harbor or Brookville, the idea is that all the municipalities that share a water body are in agreement and cooperating with each other. The hope is that each will pay in dues to hire a coordinator to over see the project as a whole.”
Though the effects of storm water was the initial environmental concern prompting the formation of the committee, the other impetuses are the restoration and protection of tidal wetlands, as well as over seeing compliance with State and Federal wetland conservation regulations.
“Because everyone shares the water,” Branco said, “what everyone’s doing effects everyone else. The project is making sure what one town is doing doesn’t cause problems for another, as well as opening conversation and greater access to grant opportunities.”
Describing the importance of the Peconic Estuary, Branco said, “I think that some people would call it the ‘jewel of the east end’, both the economy and the quality of the east end are tied to the estuary, a lot of the tourism industry is tied to it and we’d like to keep it that way.”
With regards to the ongoing effort to raise support for the program, she added that, though East Hampton’s support is a worthy step toward the committee coming together, “We’d like to see all of the towns join on,” both to share the effort and the financial burden.
For more information visit the Peconic Estuary Program website at Peconicestuary.org