Brookhaven looks to overhaul Wading River duck ponds

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The duck ponds in Wading River

Brookhaven Town is seeking $540,000 in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help finance an overhaul of the Wading River duck ponds, which straddle Brookhaven and Riverhead towns. But Brookhaven will only undertake the project if Riverhead officials guarantee that Brookhaven will not be left with the entire bill should the grant money fall through after work has been started. (Work on the project could start once Brookhaven receives a letter from FEMA that the grant will be awarded.)

Town deputy attorney Dan McCormick informed the Riverhead Town Board of Brookhaven’s request at Riverhead’s weekly work session last Thursday. At its meeting Tuesday, the board formally agreed to the guarantee.

“[Brookhaven] just wants to make sure they don’t get stuck with [any] work that’s been done in Riverhead,” Mr. McCormick said. Work has not yet begun on the project.

The $1 million project will include dredging of the ponds, bulkhead and drainage repair and installation of culvert systems. It will include some cosmetic improvements as well. Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner said the project will most likely be funded in part by the FEMA grant, a $170,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and a $12,000 match from Brookhaven. She said Brookhaven officials were optimistic that the FEMA funds would be granted.

“It’s taken a year of very hard work from my office and our planning department,” said Ms. Bonner, whose district encompasses the duck ponds.
New York State will officially make the application for the FEMA funds and Brookhaven Town will be the sub-applicant.
Brookhaven will be responsible for putting the contract, which includes any work done in Riverhead, out to bid. Mr. McCormick said it could take several months before the FEMA application is reviewed and approved or denied.

He said the work that will be performed in Riverhead Town is mostly drainage remediation and could cost up to $400,000.
It was not immediately clear how the remaining $278,000 of the project would be financed. Brookhaven Town attorneys did not return calls seeking comment.
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said during last week’s work session that the work is long overdue. “It has to be done,” he said, adding that runoff from the ponds causes flooding in the surrounding areas.

“It’d be nice to give Wading River something besides massive amounts of shopping centers,” he said, referring to an increase in proposals for development along the Route 25A corridor.

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