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Schumer calls for expediting dredge permit

Sen. Charles Schumer has renewed a call to the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to fast-track a permit application for much-needed dredging of a Greenport Village harbor.

In a letter dated Thursday, Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked that the two agencies "work expeditiously to review and approve this permit request," submitted by the village.

Stirling Harbor is a federal channel used by commercial fishermen and recreational boaters. Sand has been moving off Sandy Beach into the opening of the harbor, where two busy marinas are located, and Eastern Long Island Hospital recently built a dock to bring in patients via boat.

The harbor has been on the federal government's list to be dredged for several years, but budget cuts have delayed the work. In that time, the channel has narrowed and become shallower, said Greenport Village Mayor David Nyce, making navigation more difficult as time goes by.

"We're funding it," Nyce said. "The Army Corps is not going to do the job, not in the time frame we need it done."

But now, the village and legislators are asking the federal agency, as well as the state DEC, to accelerate the permit process. The village is asking for a maintenance dredging permit, so that it can do the work in stages, lowering the cost.

It is not clear how much the job will cost initially. Residents have stepped forward offering their services, perhaps at discounted prices. Once the permits are in place, the village can ask for bids.

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Legis. Edward P. Romaine (R-Center Moriches) have asked the federal government to establish a regular maintenance plan, and both Schumer and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) petitioned the federal agency late last year to dredge the outlet.

It is not clear whether the permit will be in place for this dredging season, which ends in a few weeks, depending on environmental factors such as fish spawning. A DEC representative said the agency is working with the village to advance the permitting process. Information from the Army Corps of Engineers, whose officials could not be reached Thursday, was not available.


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