With funds recently secured, Smithtown's town board plans a special meeting Thursday to grant approvals to begin dredging of the Nissequogue River, necessitated by sediment buildup from superstorm Sandy and the Nemo nor'easter.

County contractors are expected to begin mobilizing equipment on Saturday. Approvals are already in place from Brookhaven for a related dredging project in Stony Brook Harbor and Porpoise Channel, officials said.

"The prime purpose is to open up the channel for navigation, so boats can get in and out unhindered," said Gilbert Anderson, Suffolk County commissioner of public works.

The county is working with Brookhaven and Smithtown officials to begin the dredging projects ahead of schedule.

Nissequogue River was last dredged in 2009, and Stony Brook Harbor and Porpoise Channel in 2010, said Anderson, adding that the county plans maintenance dredging every five years. "Because these filled in, and because we were able to secure the funding, we did these this year," he said.

"The nor'easter that came through and superstorm Sandy filled in the navigable channel, and that's why we're going back."

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Nissequogue River dredging is expected to start Oct. 1; followed by Stony Brook Harbor and Porpoise Channel dredging. Both projects are to be completed by March 31.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said Suffolk County annually asks towns about the conditions of waterways. "Because of the deleterious effect of Hurricane Sandy, we informed them that the river and the harbor needed to be dredged," Vecchio said. "It's a public safety issue . . . what made it more dramatic is that in some areas there's only a foot to the ground."

Suffolk County awarded separate bids to the Port Jefferson-based Gibson & Cushman Contracting LLC for $2.09 million for the river dredging, and $1.365 million for the harbor and channel dredging.

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The Nissequogue River project involves dredging a 6- to 7-foot-deep channel that will extend between the Old Dock Bluff boat ramp and Smithtown Bay, Anderson said. It will yield about 80,000 to 95,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils that will "renourish" the neighboring Short Beach, he said.

The dredging of Stony Brook Harbor and Porpoise Channel extends from the town marina to the opening of the harbor, where it meets the Long Island Sound, with another portion extending from Stony Brook Yacht Club to the entrance of the harbor, said Anderson. About 50,000 to 55,000 cubic yards of spoils from both sites will be placed on Long Beach, he said.

Dennis Lynch, vice commodore of the Stony Brook Yacht Club and member of the Stony Brook Fire Department's marine rescue team, said people noticed the sediment buildup in November, the month after Sandy hit. "At low tide, the water is not deep enough to get boats in and out," he said. "You can't navigate the water . . . You hit bottom."

Lynch said the buildup could also hinder a rescue boat's response time. "If this channel closes in too much," he said, "it jeopardizes everything."

 

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Facts about the dredging projects

 

Nissequogue River to be dredged between Old Dock Bluff boat ramp and Smithtown Bay; about 80,000 to 95,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils to go to Short Beach

Stony Brook Harbor and Porpoise Channel to be dredged from town marina to opening of harbor where it meets Long Island Sound, as well as from the Stony Brook Yacht Club to entrance of harbor

About 50,000 to 55,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils from Stony Brook Harbor and Porpoise Channel dredging to go to Long Beach

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Nissequogue River last dredged in 2009; Stony Brook Harbor and Porpoise Channel last dredged in 2010

Nissequogue River dredging to start Oct. 1; Stony Brook Harbor and Porpoise Channel dredging after that. Both projects to be completed by March 31.

Suffolk County awarded two separate bids to Port Jefferson-based Gibson & Cushman Contracting LLC for $2.09 million for the river dredging, and $1.365 million for harbor and channel.

SOURCE: Gilbert Anderson, Suffolk County Commissioner of Public Works