Superstorm Sandy in 2012 flooded homes in Mastic Beach.

Superstorm Sandy in 2012 flooded homes in Mastic Beach. Credit: Amanda Voisard

Brookhaven Town expects to receive more than $1 million in state grants for infrastructure improvements and environmental protection projects, including $375,000 to raze abandoned houses in Mastic Beach.

The grants — including $988,401 from the Regional Economic Development Council and $27,347 from the Department of Environmental Conservation — also will be used for a nitrogen removal system in Davis Park, a vacuum truck to remove sediment from storm sewers, and for a project to plant a forest at a vacated East Moriches farm.

“Our bays, beaches and waterways are environmentally fragile and important to our local economy," Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said in a statement. "We must do everything we can to protect and preserve them for future generations."

The Mastic Beach project involves removing vacant homes and antiquated infrastructure from tidal wetlands, many of which were devastated in October 2012 by superstorm Sandy. Town and Suffolk County officials in recent years have purchased several such Mastic Beach properties for the purpose of blocking future development on them.

Town officials plan to rebuild the wetlands and restore natural floodplains, which are expected to absorb the impact of future storms. 

The regional economic development grant also includes $313,401 to build a permeable barrier at the Davis Park marina on Fire Island. Officials said the barrier will reduce nitrogen entering coastal waters, such as Great South Bay. Elevated concentrations of nitrogen can cause eutrophication, hypoxia and algal blooms that harm marine life.

The town also plans to spend $300,000 from the grant to buy a vacuum truck to extract sediment and other pollutants that could enter ponds and streams through storm drains.

The DEC “Trees for Tribs” grant will enable the town to reforest the former Smith farm at Bay Avenue and Montauk Highway in East Moriches. Now owned by the town, the property includes a tributary called the Terrel River that runs through the farm from Mill Pond, north of Montauk Highway, and empties into Moriches Bay.

Romaine's statement said the river is "an environmentally sensitive waterway that needs to be protected and preserved."

The grant will help pay to prepare the property for new growth and remove invasive plants, town officials said, adding community volunteers are expected to plant the trees.

Trees slow erosion, help absorb pollutants, and create habitat for wildlife, officials said. 

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