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GC Signs On To Harbor Protection Committee

An inter-municipal agreement to protect the Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor watersheds was finalized

Last week, an agreement was signed to establish a harbor protection committee by various municipalities at Theodore Roosevelt Park in Oyster Bay in an effort to protect and preserve the Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor watersheds.

Elected officials representing 14 municipalities formally established the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee by signing an inter-municipal agreement, which codifies the relationship between them. These municipalities have been meeting since January 2010 at the recommendation of Friends of the Bay, a local environmental advocacy organization.

Speakers at the event included Congressman Steve Israel, Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Town of Oyster Bay Councilman Chris Coschignano, City of Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi and Bayville Mayor Doug Watson. All stressed the need for inter-municipal cooperation and the benefits that working together will have on the two harbors.

“As Friends of the Bay developed its Watershed Action Plan, it became apparent that the many local governments within the watershed were in the best position and sometimes the only ones that could implement many of the recommendations to protect and preserve these two magnificent water bodies. Working together as part of a protection committee enables this to happen efficiently,” said Barry Lamb, president of Friends of the Bay. “The formation of the Protection Committee became one of the top 10 priority actions of the Watershed Action Plan.”

The mission of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee is to improve the health of Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor by coordinating the efforts of all municipalities in the watershed and engaging the public. This will be accomplished by: sharing information, technology and ideas; developing and implementing best management practices, developing and adopting model ordinances, actively pursuing grants, partnerships and other sources of support for the watershed; and, enhancing awareness through educational outreach and stewardship.

“Part of the City of Glen Cove is contained within the watershed area of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection watershed area.  As such we recognize and are committed to maintaining the health of our waters, wetlands and tributaries that will protect and ensure a healthy and diverse marine ecosystem, while balancing and maintaining sustainable recreational and commercial uses for ourselves and future generations. It is significant that so many municipalities have joined together in a coordinated effort to protect and enhance this most precious resource. As mayor of Glen Cove I am proud to be part of this historic agreement,” Mayor Suozzi told the Record Pilot.

Inter-municipal partnerships like the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee have effectively enhanced conservation efforts across the country. Two successful local examples are the neighboring Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee formed in 1995 and the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee created in 1998. Working together the municipalities identified priority sources of pollution and implemented solutions that dramatically improved water quality with the support of numerous grants.

“As demonstrated in neighboring Hempstead Harbor, the power of local governments working together cannot be over-emphasized. Even before being officially formed, the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee has already gotten to work by partnering on a successful grant application to increase awareness of onsite waste water treatment (septic/cesspool) systems and to conduct outreach efforts through its website and public events,” stated Eric Swenson, chair of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee, executive director of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee and superintendent of environmental control for the Town of Oyster Bay.

Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton told the Record Pilot she was happy to see so many municipalities coming together to show support for environmental efforts. “We are so lucky here on Long Island to have both protection committees working hard to preserve our water,” she said.

The 14 municipalities that have agreed to sign the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Inter-municipal Agreement are: Nassau County; Towns of Oyster Bay and Huntington; City of Glen Cove; and the Villages of Bayville, Centre Island, Cove Neck, Laurel Hollow, Lloyd Harbor, Mill Neck, Lattingtown, Muttontown, Oyster Bay Cove and Upper Brookville.

“We are excited to have 14 of the 18 municipalities in the watershed officially joining the protection committee at this time and we appreciate the cooperation of the four municipalities (villages of Brookville, Matinecock, Old Brookville and Suffolk County) who support the committee’s efforts but chose not to join at this time. Provisions in the agreement enable them to join in the future when they are ready,” said Rob Crafa, coordinator of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee.

To learn more about the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee visit: www.oysterbaycoldspringharbor.org.