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Environmentalists applaud landslide victory for CPF extension

CPF press conference

Local environmentalists are thanking voters for their overwhelming approval of the Community Preservation Fund, a proposition that was approved Tuesday by wide margins in each of the five East End towns.

Residents approved the proposal to extend the life of the voter-approved 2-percent real estate transfer tax from its current 2030 expiration date to 2050.

Money raised through the tax goes into the CPF and can be used to purchase open space or farmland development rights. Towns will now be able to use up to 20 percent of the money raised to immediately fund water-quality improvement projects.

The CPF extension is expected to raise $700 million for such initiatives.

“However you might feel about yesterday’s election, you have to feel great about the lopsided support for extension and expansion of the Community Preservation Fund,” Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, said in a statement. “The East End is a very special place.”

Polls show that 75 percent of voters in Riverhead, 80 percent in Southold and 70 percent in Shelter Island voted in favor of the CPF extension, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the Clean Water & Community Preservation Committee. Additionally, the committee stated, the proposition was approved by 80 percent of voters in Southampton and and 78 percent in East Hampton.

“I am very happy to see that Riverhead residents continue to support our rich heritage of agriculture and the preservation of our natural resources by voting for the extension of the Community Preservation Fund,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said in a statement. “This is not only a win for our environment, it’s a win for our economy.”

Shelter Island Supervisor Jim Dougherty echoed those sentiments.

“I am delighted that my fellow Shelter Islanders once again rose to the occasion and approved this critically important initiative to assist in the all-important task of ensuring adequate amounts of high-quality water on our island for generations to come,” he said.

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File photo: A number of elected officials, environmental groups and civic leaders urged approval of the CPF extension this fall at a press conference in September. (Credit: Tim Gannon)