PATCHOGUE, NY — Ground was broken on the $3 million Shorefront Park Living Shoreline project, including the replacement of a deteriorated 1,300-foot bulkhead along Great South Bay, in Patchogue Village on Tuesday.
The village plans the replacement of the bulkhead with an innovative shoreline that uses natural and nature-based features to reduce the impacts of erosion and flooding to coastal communities so that there is more adaptability to rising sea levels, state officials said. The features also help with water quality improvement, as well as the restoration of habitats, according to officials.
The bulkhead will include a rock sill, new marsh habitat, stormwater improvements, and the restoration of Little Creek and its tidal connection to the bay. The project will also improve public access with a new walking trail, replaced pedestrian bridges, and improved amenities in the park.
The Department of State’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program provided about $2.4 million in funding to Patchogue for its project. There were also contributions of $315,000 from the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, as well as $45,000 from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, and $275,000 from Suffolk County.
Several Long Island communities have embraced living shorelines and other natural and nature-based resiliency projects both during and after Superstorm Sandy’s recovery efforts, officials said.
Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said that through “the generosity of a private donor” and the foresight of the state, “this living shoreline will change the entire dynamic of Shorefront Park.”
“In light of climate change, the goal of this project is to protect the community and increase resiliency while improving water quality,” he said. “These parks were built 50, 60 years ago and this will take us into the next 50 years.”
Advocate executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Adrienne Esposito, who lives in Patchogue, noted how the area’s water quality will improve because stormwater runoff will be filtered.
“Replacing the old bulkheads at Shore Park in Patchogue is an ideal location to implement this effective technique,” she said. “As a resident of Patchogue, I can tell you that Shorefront Park is the gem of Patchogue.”
She noted how the popular park is widely used for its playgrounds, walking path, benches, and ballfields, not to mention the many functions at its band shell.
“The dock space is abundantly used for fishing and crabbing. Improving water quality in this location will have environmental and societal benefits,” she said. “We congratulate the NY Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez and the Village of Patchogue for their work and vision to improve water quality and protect our shoreline.”
Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez, who attended the ground-breaking ceremony, said that improving Long Island’s coastline resiliency is “critical to the safety and vibrancy” of South Shore communities like Patchogue.
“This innovative project in Shorefront Park is one of the largest living shoreline projects in the state and will serve as a model for other communities seeking natural solutions to enhance their climate resiliency,” he said. “We thank our state and local partners for their support in this collaborative effort.”
The Shorefront Park project supports climate resiliency goals outlined in the 2022 South Shore Estuary Reserve Comprehensive Management Plan, which was announced by Governor Hochul in September 2022, according to state officials. The management plan includes a chapter on climate resiliency to help manage, protect, and restore the South Shore’s resources, as well as the estuary’s economy, officials said.
The South Shore Estuary Reserve Council, which is chaired by Rodriguez, is developing a Comprehensive Management Plan to mark the 30th anniversary of the law that created both the program and the council.
County Executive Steve Bellone said the county “worked cooperatively” with all the stakeholders.
“As a result of this successful collaboration, the Village of Patchogue and Suffolk County will be the home of the largest example of a living shoreline ever completed in New York State,” he said. “This historic project will defend the shoreline against flooding and erosion, increase climate resiliency, and ensure that this beautiful park remains an important community amenity for future generations.”
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos credited Hochul’s leadership, saying, “New York is prioritizing restoration of marine ecosystems and the critical habitats they support, which benefits our economically important marine species while also protecting shoreline communities from the impact of climate change.”
“[The] DEC is proud to work with our partners at the state and local level to advance coastal restoration projects and are especially appreciative of the village of Patchogue officials and residents who saw the need to protect this great island-wide resource,” he said.
State Office of Parks, Recreations and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said his office is “pleased” to support the project.
“Through the assistance of the Environmental Protection Fund, New York State is helping to enhance parks and outdoor recreation, while improving the resiliency and sustainability of these public spaces,” he said.
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