12/19/13 2:30pm
12/19/2013 2:30 PM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A drainage pipe from the preserve? in the front lawn of a home on Sound Shore Road in Northville.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A drainage pipe from the preserve in the front lawn of a home on Sound Shore Road in Northville.

After years of poking and prodding public officials to do something about periodic flooding on Sound Shore Road in Northville — flooding that includes contaminated water, tests have shown — residents in the area will get their wish for an overhaul of an outdated culvert system, courtesy of Suffolk County.

A series of underground pipes directs groundwater from the North Fork Preserve to Northville Beach and, for years, debate has raged over who — if anyone — would be responsible for updating the damaged system, which is believed to have been installed in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration. The damaged pipes run underneath Sound Shore Road and through properties on its north side before reaching the beach.

The 307-acre preserve, previously two separate lots, was purchased in 2011 for $18 million. Suffolk County chipped in the lion’s share of the cost to construct a park, with Riverhead Town using $500,000 in Community Preservation Fund money. Now, with the responsibility of owning the land, Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said that updating the sub-par culverts falls to Suffolk, even if the cash-strapped county has to borrow $850,000 to do the work. County legislators approved a measure Tuesday to do just that.

“We’ve inherited quite a problem over there,” said Mr. Krupski. “But now it’s the county’s liability to fix.”

Mr. Krupski said that work to fix the problem, which started to emerge over a decade ago, could begin as soon as this winter, .

According to a 2009 Riverhead News-Review article, a November 2007 report from the Suffolk County Health Department found that during the summer months, fecal contamination was evident in the culvert system, which could be attributable to shallow groundwater, surface water runoff, animal waste “and, potentially, leaching from on-site disposal systems.”

That same county report recommended that people not swim near areas where culverts from the property discharge.

Independent testing completed a year later by the Northville Beach Civic Association, led by former civic president Kerry Moran, found extremely high counts of fecal matter in samples leaching from the culverts, some of which drain directly onto Long Island Sound beaches. One test revealed a fecal coliform number five times the level that would have closed a public beach. Mr. Moran died in 2011 of injuries sustained after being struck by an automobile the year before.

Mr. Krupski said the cost to construct a sump on the preserve originally came in at nearly $1.5 million. However, further discussion led to the current plan, which will still discharge groundwater into Long Island Sound, a plan for which, he said, the county had permission from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Mr. Krupski added that the only contaminants in the groundwater after the pipes are repaired should be animal waste.

John Cullen, president of the civic group for the past three years, said that Northville homeowners affected by the substandard pipe system “were hoping, and still are hoping, that things will be fixed with the water coming off the preserve.”

In recent months, Mr. Cullen said, several meetings with the county Department of Public Works have led to a sense of optimism in that regard.

“The DPW has been very helpful,” he said. “We’re just hoping this can be over and done with.”

01/28/13 5:48pm
01/28/2013 5:48 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County envisions turning the North Fork Preserve in Northville into Suffolk’s last great county park.

The Suffolk County Legislature will take up the purchase of the final three acres of the North Fork Preserve at its Feb. 5 meeting,  where newly elected North Fork Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) has submitted a bill to acquire the land for $702,000.

The bulk of the property, two parcels totaling 314 acres, were purchased by the county in 2011 for $18.3 million. The county plans to create a public park on the land, with the 133-acre northern section being left undeveloped for use as passive recreation like hiking or horseback riding, and the southern portion being used for more active recreation like camping, tennis and basketball.

The three acres still to be acquired contain three existing structures on them, which will be used by the Suffolk County Parks Department for a caretaker residence and check-in station, a barn for parks maintenance equipment and a garage for park maintenance equipment and a with a small office area for parks personnel, according to Mr. Krupski, who co-sponsoring the bill with County Executive Steve Bellone (D-Babylon).

“The North Fork Preserve property is a critical open space acquisition for Riverhead, the North Fork and all of Suffolk County,” Mr. Krupski said in a press release. “The North Fork Preserve has been called ‘Suffolk’s last great park’ and I agree with that description. The park, with fishing, hiking, camping and more, will be a highlight of the entire Suffolk County park system.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

01/28/12 2:11pm
01/28/2012 2:11 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Auctioneer Jim McBurnie of Riverhead hawks a set of socket wrenches.

Auctioneer Jim McBurnie held an auction of farm, nursery, skeet shooting and catering equipment at the North Fork Preserve on Sound Avenue in Northville Saturday morning.

The 307-acre North Fork Preserve property was purchased by the town and county for $18.3 million last year.

North Fork Preserve was a private hunting and fishing club established in 1984.

There were many familiar faces of Riverhead old timers, local farmers, farm workers and bargain hunters in the crowd. The owners of other nurseries on the North Fork came out looking for usable equipment for their businesses.

John Reeve of Aquebogue said he had his eyes set on new tires stored in a barn that he wanted to use for his backhoe.

McBurnie’s auction company of Riverhead is a family run business of 30 years. They have done many farm equipment auctions and even did the produce auction at Long Island Cauliflower Association in Riverhead.

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