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Babylon Village to restore Argyle Lake’s crumbling shoreline

Babylon Mayor Ralph Scordino points out problems at

Babylon Mayor Ralph Scordino points out problems at Argyle Lake in the village on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. He said the village has won a $365,083 state grant to restore the deteriorating shoreline. Credit: Ed Betz

Babylon Village has won a $365,083 state grant for its efforts to restore the deteriorating shoreline of Argyle Lake, where stepped waterfalls and a white stone terrace have become icons of the South Shore village.

“It’s probably one of our most historical and landmark areas that we have in the village,” said Mayor Ralph Scordino.

The restoration will include tearing out aluminum sheeting and other materials previously installed to secure the shoreline. They have failed over time and will be replaced with stabilizing features topped with vegetation.

The grant money will come from an environmental protection fund administered by the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.

“The project advances the agency’s mission of improving access to outdoor recreation while promoting good stewardship of natural resources,” Randy Simons, a spokesman for the parks department, wrote in an email.

The matching state grant will cover as much as half of the project’s expenses, Simons wrote. Scordino said he expected the village to use the entirety of the grant, bringing the total project cost to around $730,000.

Charles “Skip” Gardner, the village’s superintendent of public works, said municipal employees will carry out the work, which he will oversee. He said that he hoped construction will begin later this winter and conclude by the fall.

The shoreline of the small lake has been eroding for years under the force of the surrounding parkland, Gardner said.

“A lot of it had fallen into disrepair,” he said.

The erosion has destabilized some of the surrounding paths that are used by visitors, which Gardner said number in the hundreds each day. It’s also made it harder for ducks, frogs, and other animals to traverse the water’s edge.

To solve the problem, the village will remove the existing reinforcements and embed hundreds of gabion baskets — large mesh cages filled with stones — into the shoreline. It will also install woven coconut husks known as coir logs and boulders in places as well.

Gardner said his workers will cover the gabion baskets with topsoil and plant beach grass, junipers and other vegetation.

“Anything they’re going to do to restore some natural shoreline there would be beneficial,” said Enrico Nardone, the executive director of the Seatuck Environmental Association, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Islip.

Frequent park visitor Reyna Saravia, 42, of Hempstead, said she noticed in recent months that the paths surrounding the lake were deteriorating, creating hazards for pedestrians.

“You’ve got to be so careful,” she said on a recent night as she walked near the lake on her way from the Stop & Shop store on Montauk Highway, where she works, to the Babylon LIRR station. The shoreline repair project “will help,” she said.

Argyle Lake facts

  • Located between Railroad Avenue and Route 27A in Babylon Village.
  • Created along the Carlls River by a dam installed at its southern end more than a century ago.
  • Measures 4 feet deep, with a surface area of around 25 acres.
  • Wildlife in the area include ducks, cormorants, ospreys, turtles, alewives, carp, perch and bass.

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