Petitioners call on town to pursue dredging of Reeves Creek

Despite a petition from residents urging the dredging of Reeves Creek in Aquebogue for the first time since 1964, Riverhead Town officials were not enthusiastic about the creek’s changes following a discussion at last Thursday’s Town Board work session.

The petition was initiated by Connor Burke, the president of Eastern Bays Oyster Company. It had 37 signatures, most of whom were residents of White’s Lane in Aquebogue. 

“I depend on safe passage through Reeves Creek to access my oyster beds in the Peconic Bay,” Mr. Burke wrote in the petition. “If the creek is not dredged soon, I will be forced to time all of my workdays to the tides to ensure I am able to access my oyster beds without fear of running aground due to the silt and sand buildup, where my barge is docked, as the creek has not been dredged by Suffolk County in over 40 years.”

He said he may be forced to move his barge to another dock if the creek is not dredged. 

The petition specifically asked the town to submit the necessary application to the Suffolk County Dredge Screening Committee for Reeves’s Bay, since the county does the dredging projects in the town. 

Riverhead Town Engineer Drew Dillingham said residents applied to have Reeve’s Creek dredged in 1985 and 1996, but was rejected both times because the county said there was minimal to “no public benefit” to doing so. 

The county has traditionally dredged East Creek, Hawk’s Creek, Miamogue Creek, Cases Creek and Baywoods Cove in Riverhead Town, according to Mr. Dillingham. 

He said it would cost $75,000 for soil sampling and for a hydrographic survey. 

The town also would need to find a location to dispose of the dredged sand.

“There’s 24,000 cubic yards that have to be dredged from Reeves Creek channel and there’s not a lot of area to place the spoils,” Mr. Dillingham said. 

He said he has spoken at length to the county Department of Public Works’ division of waterways, which heads up the dredging program for the county and he’s also spoken to the town Bay Constable and former Bay Constable. 

None of them have seen any increased improvement in public benefit since 1996, Mr. Dillingham said. 

There is no shellfishing there, no beach, boat ramp, food or public parking, he said. 

There is still time.

The dredging window doesn’t open until September, according to County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue), who spoke in an interview. 

Mark Woolley, a representative of Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), said the Congressman’s office will try to locate funding to offset the town’s costs.