Brookhaven Town is one step closer to restoring the Wading River duck ponds now that an access agreement was reached last week between the town and Wading River Congregational Church.
The agreement approved last Tuesday by the Town Board grants access to the ponds, as well as the storing of heavy equipment at the church while restoration work takes place.
Work is expected to start this fall, town officials said.
Sid Bail, first vice president of the Wading River Civic Association, said many residents at last Sunday’s annual Duck Pond Day asked him about the project’s status.
“I’ve had to explain how it’s a work in progress,” Mr. Bail said of the nearly four-year process. “We’re in total support of the project and are glad the town is coordinating it with the church.”
The twin ponds fall in both Brookhaven and Riverhead townships.
Part of the Wading River Creek waterway that flows to the Long Island Sound near the nuclear power plant, the ponds on North Country Road have in the past overflowed and flooded the area during heavy storms.
The two municipalities had planned to start the project together. But Brookhaven, which is responsible for about 90 percent of the ponds is moving forward with its restoration plans while Riverhead re-applies for its own state grant, which had been rejected this year due to an application error.
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said that while he believes the work is needed, the town isn’t currently able to address the drainage problem on its end.
“The town really isn’t in a financial situation to do this right now,” he said. Mr. Walter estimated costs for drainage and the installation of bulkheads range from $400,000 to $500,000.
While only 10 percent of the twin ponds are located within the Riverhead border, that town is responsible for the majority of drainage remediation because that’s where the stormwater runoff problem begins.
In order to alleviate the flooding problem, Brookhaven Town plans to dredge the pond and complete other restoration work. The state has approved a grant to pay for half of the $340,000 project.
Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner said she’s pleased the town is moving forward on its end.
“The pond is very important to the people of Wading River — it’s their identity,” she said.