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$1.36 million drainage, dredging project aims to clean up Setauket Pond

From left, George Hoffman, president of the Three Village Civic Association, Laurie Vetere, chairwoman of the Setauket Harbor Task Force and Jonathan Kornreich, Brookhaven councilman, at the Setauket Pond on Monday. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Posted on September 16, 2021

Setauket Pond — part of an estuary with such a rich history that it is featured in a mural in Brookhaven Town Hall — will soon undergo a drainage improvement project that is expected to remove nonnative plants that damage the pond’s ecosystem and block what could be a spectacular view, town officials said.

The two-part project, set to start later this month, also will replace rotting Shore Road bulkheading and install a new drainage system that will help clear sediment that has built up around the pond in recent decades, officials said.

The project, estimated to cost about $1.36 million, already had been in the works, but the remnants of Hurricane Ida and other storms this summer reinforced the need to shore up storm drains that were woefully inadequate, town officials and civic leaders said.

“When there’s a rainstorm … all the rain water on the east and west of [state Route] 25A goes into the pond,” Three Village Civic Association president George Hoffman said. “It carries huge amounts of material,” such as mud and motor oil.

Brookhaven Councilman Jonathan Kornreich said that during Ida, “A year’s worth of sediment washed in there in one night.”

The first part of the project, replacing bulkheading, is expected to start later this month and cost $660,000, Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said. Bids for the second part — dredging the pond, installing stormwater filters, removing invasive plants such as phragmites and planting new vegetation — are scheduled to be opened on Oct. 14, he said.

The second half is estimated to cost about $700,000, Losquadro said, adding that work should be completed by next spring.

The pond — an old marsh on the coastline of Setauket Harbor — was converted into a stormwater basin sometime in the 1950s when Route 25A was built, Losquadro said. Excess sediment in the pond spills into the harbor, harming its ecology and recreation such as kayaking, officials said.

The new drainage system will capture and divert sediment away from the pond, Losquadro said. The muck will be sucked up by a vacuum truck and taken to the town landfill, he said.

Officials hope the new system — combined with the removal of phragmites, a tall grass that grows in marshy areas — will help to restore the harbor and pond to a place of prominence in Setauket.

“We really should, even in the heaviest of rain events, [be able] to prevent anything from getting out into the harbor up there,” Losquadro said.

Kornreich said a town hall mural depicting significant events in Brookhaven history shows early European settlers landing in the harbor area.

“You used to be able to be there in downtown Setauket and look across the water,” Kornreich said. “Now it’s covered by phragmites that we’re looking to remove and manage. … From a cultural standpoint, we want to make some improvements and improve downtown Setauket.”

Kornreich said he hoped the improvements would help the North Shore withstand future storms “as weather patterns change [and] sea levels rise.

“We live on an island,” he said, “so these expensive things are going to be part of our future.”

The Price Tag

Cost breakdown and construction schedule for the Town of Brookhaven’s Setauket Pond drainage improvement project:

Phase 1 (Shore Road pier bulkhead replacement)

Cost: $660,000

Schedule: To begin late September 2021; completion by Dec. 31

Phase 2 (storm drain improvements, invasive plant removal, planting of new vegetation)

Cost (estimated): $700,000

Schedule: Start late fall 2021; completion in spring 2022

Total project cost (estimated): $1.36 million

State grant: $1 million

Total cost to town (estimated): About $360,000


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