It’s been nearly seven years since Cases Creek in Aquebogue was last dredged, and the Suffolk County Department of Public Works has refused to do it because it’s afraid dredging might cause a dilapidated bulkhead on the adjacent Dreamers Cove motel property to fall apart, county officials said.
And now the situation has been further complicated by the fact that the Dreamers Cove property went into foreclosure last year, having been taken over by Flushing Savings Bank on Nov. 28.
“It’s going to turn into mosquito haven this summer if something isn’t done,” said Jack Hansen, who lives by the creek. “The county won’t touch it because they are concerned about the bulkhead caving in or the utility building falling in.”
“I have a boat in there but I can’t get it out into the water,” said resident Hank Bucher. “The inlet is closed up. My boat has been out of the water for four years now.
“We’re trying to get the county to dredge it, but it seems like all they’ve been doing is stall tactics.”
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said county officials told him that because of concern about the bulkhead, they won’t dredge the creek unless the town assumes the liability should anything happen. Mr. Walter said the town is not going to do that and has asked county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) to write and ask Flushing Savings Bank to repair the bulkhead.
Mr. Walter said the bulkhead is in danger of falling apart even without dredging.
“If that happens, a lot of properties over there are going to be flooded,” he said.
Mr. Romaine said he has written to the bank and received a potentially promising reply from Francis Korzekwinski, an executive vice president and chief of Real Estate Lending at Flushing Savings Bank.
Mr. Korzekwinski wrote in a March 7 letter to Mr. Romaine: “Your concerns regarding the bulkhead at the subject property may have a valid concern. We have instructed our managing agent to immediately inspect the bulkhead to provide FSB Properties with a written report. It is our intention to immediately assess the situation and if necessary, retain the appropriate services of experienced professionals to properly assess any damage and identify any remedial and/or corrective actions that may be required.”
Mr. Korzekwinski could not immediately be reached by a reporter for comment.
Mr. Romaine said the town could also send a letter to the bank deeming the bulkhead unsafe and indicating that if the bank doesn’t fix it, the town will — and attach the cost to the tax bill, as it often does this with unsafe buildings.
At a Town Board work session last year, town officials discussed doing just that but opted not to in case the work didn’t go so well.
“This is building a structure on someone’s property that’s supporting the hotel, and if we fail, and that hotel collapses, we’re on the hook,” Mr. Walter said at the time.
Officials estimated the work would cost about $90,000.
Mr. Bucher said the creek’s closing up has had environmental consequences too, as the still waters have led to the dying off of oysters and fish and to the increase of mosquitoes.
“I’d like to use my boat one of these years,” he added. “That’s the reason we bought the property.”
Mr. Hansen said his boat, too, is in his driveway.
“We’re being held hostage by the bank and the previous owner and the owner before that, because they are not fixing the bulkhead,” he said.
Mr. Bucher said there’s only about four homes on the creek, which is why he thinks nothing has happened.
“There’s not enough bang for the buck for anybody to do anything,” he said.