Long overdue dredging project may soon get under way

Cases Creek in April. (Credit: Viola Hansen courtesy)
Cases Creek in April. (Credit: Viola Hansen courtesy)

Cases Creek in Aqueobogue may finally be dredged next year, according to Riverhead Town officials. 

The creek hasn’t been dredged in about nine years, and officials from Suffolk County, which is in charge of dredging East End creeks, have been reluctant to do so for liability reasons, since the bulkhead at the adjacent Dreamers Cove was in disrepair and both town and county officials feared it might collapse during the dredging.

In 2012, the Dreamers Cove motel was sold and Town Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz said the new owners, led by the Kontakosta family of Greenport, have now obtained a state Department of Environmental Conservation permit to fix the bulkhead, which the county has said must happen first in order for the dredging to occur.

Owner Michael Kontakosta, who renamed the motel Cove Place Inn, indicated when he bought the property that he intended to repair the bulkhead. He could not be reached for comment this week.

Bill Hillman, the chief engineer for the county Department of Public Works, told the Town Board in January that DPW does intend to dredge Cases Creek once the bulkhead is repaired.

“The creek continues to shoal up and is becoming a problem,” Mr. Kozakiewicz said at Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session.

Neighbors said the creek hasn’t been dredged since 2005 and the mouth has filled in, making it difficult to get boats out into the bay. They say the shoaling is also causing the wetlands that connect to the north of the creek to dry up and become a haven for mosquitoes. 

“I could get my boat out in high tide, but I tore my propeller up,” said Jack Hansen who lives adjacent to the creek and has a boat there. “I look forward to them dredging it and then maintaining it every three years.”

Supervisor Sean Walter joked that conditions have gotten so bad there it’s “practically Gilligan’s Island.”

The DEC permit was issued in January of 2013 and runs through 2018. Cove Place Inn also received approval from the town’s Conservation Advisory Council in March of 2013 for the project.

Mr. Kozakiewicz said he spoke with Mr. Kontakosta recently and was told he was hoping to begin the work before the end of this year.

Mr. Kozakiewiccz said Mr. Kontakosta was willing to sign a release indicating he would not sue the county if the bulkhead is damaged during the dredging, but Mr. Kozakiewicz said that if the bulkhead work is completed first, that might not be necessary.

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