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Huntington seeks funding for blueway trail along coastline

Carl Cascone, of Northport, kayaks out of Centerport

Carl Cascone, of Northport, kayaks out of Centerport Beach on Tuesday, Aug 2, 2016. Cascone says he's excited about Huntington's proposed blueway. Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Huntington officials are pursuing a $76,000 grant to establish a water-based trail system known as a blueway along the town’s shoreline, offering new access for small boaters to dock and explore local historic and cultural points of interest.

The Huntington Blueway trail would span the entire 61 miles of the town’s coastline, stretching from the head of Cold Spring Harbor, through the Huntington-Northport Bay complex, and ending at the mouth of Fresh Pond in Smithtown Bay.

If they win the grant, town officials would like to coordinate with the Town of Oyster Bay, which created the Theodore Roosevelt Blueway along its north shoreline, Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said. The Huntington trail also could connect with other blueways, should more Long Island municipalities create their own, he said.

“Wouldn’t it be a great thing if someone could start at the edge of Queens and make their way all around Long Island?” said Cuthbertson, who sponsored the legislation authorizing the town to pursue the grant in partnership with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County Marine Program.

The project would create an app that would guide users to access points to explore. The app would include a variety of information on the user’s immediate surroundings.

For example, at Hobart Beach in Eatons Neck, the app would tell users about amenities at the beach, identify nearby fishing spots, provide the history of Steers Sand & Gravel Co., which mined the area, and information on the tern colony at the Sarah Ruppert Water Bird Park Preserve.

Carl Cascone, 67, of Northport, said he’s excited about where Huntington’s blueway could take him.

“Every day is an opportunity to learn something — and what better way to learn than to get out on the water?” said Cascone, a member of Huntington’s Senior Kayak Club. “I just find it enthralling that we just have this natural beauty all around us. I’m not satiated with where I kayak now.”

The Cornell Cooperative Extension would provide technical expertise to manage the project, field research, education and marine habitat restoration, said Carolyn Sukowski, a resource educator with the extension in Huntington.

The project also would establish the Huntington Blueway Plan, a guide for future development and protection of the coastline, Sukowski said. It also would develop environmentally sound infrastructure to help manage storm water runoff and protect sensitive habitats.

“This project ultimately is educational, but we also have storm water specialists and habitat specialists” working on the effort, Sukowski said.

The town is seeking the grant through the New York Department of State Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. Recipients are expected to be announced in the fall, Sukowski said.

If the town wins, the three-year project would begin in the spring and be slated for completion by spring 2020. Cuthbertson said that if Huntington doesn’t get the grant, officials would look into other financing opportunities and consider funding the project in the town budget.

Huntington Blueway proposal at a glance

  • Phase 1: Development of trails, identification of points of natural and historic interest, and assessment of the best routes for paddlers and other nonmotorized water boats to explore areas along the trail. spring 2017 — spring 2018.
  • Phase 2: Officials would develop content for mobile app giving boaters educational information through text, audio, photo and video content. Completion targeted for spring 2019.
  • Phase 3: Technical development of the app, including a video tour and final blueway plan and map. To be completed in spring 2020.

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