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Source: Massapequa Patch

Hearing on Future of Massapequa Creek

Town Board puts forward plan to protect and clean up key south shore water source.


Posted: June 25, 2010
Originally Published: June 21, 2010

After five years of work, the Town of Oyster Bay is set to unveil its plan to keep the Massapequa Creek clean.

The town board will hold a hearing on the proposed Massapequa Creek Watershed Management and Corridor Restoration Plan Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

The plan is designed to protect Massapequa Creek and its surrounding corridor, within the Massapequa Preserve, an area that contains coastal streams, ponds, lakes, and reservoirs, freshwater and tidal wetlands, and woods which support an array of vegetation and wildlife.

The creek plan is a key component of a larger state effort called the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve Comprehensive Management Plan. That plan was adopted in April 2001, to combat the threat of over-development, pollution related to the area's growth, potentially poor land use and resource management.

The town will listen to comment on the 136-page document, which explains how it will use an $88,000 grant it received through the state's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. It also outlines the steps it will take to safeguard the creek, which empties into the South Shore Estuary and influences water quality and biological systems.

In an effort to protect the creek and the watershed, a 6.67-square mile land mass that spans the south-central portion of the the town, the document proposes several measures.

Among them are:

* Coordination of watershed protection strategies with other municipalities and agencies.
* Continued monitoring of watershed conditions.
* Construction or upgrade of storm-water runoff controls that keep pollutants from being carried into the creek and estuary after rainfall.
* Maintenance of existing storm-water control facilities.
* Remediation of hazardous sites or contaminated areas.
* Restoring and enhancing habitats.

The town met with a committee of government and environmental organizations while putting together the proposals. Among those involved, were Friends of Massapequa Preserve, the Long Island Sierra Club and The Citizens Campaign For The Environment.

Though the final plan is the only one she has seen since reviewing a first draft back in March 2005, Maureen Dolan Murphy of Citizens Campaign For The Environment said she is pleased with the updated version.

"The implementation portion of the Town of Oyster Bay's proposal is must stronger than the initial draft that we saw five years ago," she said. "It implemented a lot of the recommendations that we had made, particularly one suggesting that the Town of Oyster Bay, Village of Massapequa Park and Village of Farmingdale each play an active role within the Creek's preservation, which we thought was important since the watershed cuts through each of their jurisdictions."

Jane Fasullo of the Sierra Club also praised the team approach. "We like that the Town of Oyster Bay's plan includes a large network of organizations, government and environmentalists who are working together for a common, very positive and important goal," she said.

While Fasullo said the club had not been involved in any of the town's planning beyond the initial stages she said the group intends to reach out to the town as things move forward.

"Massapequa Creek was once a rich, clean and healthy environment but it has gotten so out of balance over the years," she said. "We'd like to see bits and pieces of it restored to what it once was and what it always should be – a clean and healthy environment filled with native species and a breeding ground for various types of aquatic life."

Friends of Massapequa Preserve President Richard Shary said the town's plans match what his organization is trying to do.

"Every single one of the goals highlighted in the Town of Oyster Bay's Plan has already been and continues to be addressed by Friends of Massapequa Preserve," said Shary. "The plan clearly supports the actions that members of Friends of Massapequa Preserve take on a regular basis to protect the Preserve as well as its watershed. It will essentially allow the Town of Oyster Bay to supports us in our mission while also allowing us to the opportunity to support its mission."

Town spokeswoman Phyllis Barry said she couldn't talk about the plan because of a policy prohibiting them from speaking in advance of public hearings.

One resident is hopeful.

Jeff Koeppicus of Massapequa Park has lived in the area for more than 50 years and has fond memories of the creek during the 1950s when it served as a neighborhood swimming hole. He watched it deteriorate over time.

"I've seen Massapequa Creek go from its cleanest state where it was often a favorite pastime for children and families to it becoming polluted in the 1960s from detergents that were coming from drywells of homes bordering Massapequa Preserve," he said.

"I am glad that the Town of Oyster Bay has plans in the works for improving Massapequa Creek. It is the one thing that gives the Massapequas that homey and country feel in the midst of all of our commercial development. If we don't do our part in protecting it, it will eventually fall apart and we will all lose out on this community treasure."