Drainage project sparks concerns at North Fork Preserve

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RIVERHEAD -

Conservationists are worried that a drainage project in the North Fork Preserve could harm critical breeding areas for birds.

Suffolk County, which owns the 307-acre North Fork Preserve in Northville, is attempting to stop a decades-old problem. Every time it rains, homes on Sound Shore Road in the Riverhead hamlet are flooded from water flowing out of the preserve.

The county said it's fixing the problem by building three large sumps inside the preserve.

Eric Lamont, a neighbor to the preserve and president of the Long Island Botanical Society, said he has concerns about the heavy machinery in the area and how the digging of sumps could affect wetland vegetation.

“Our major concern is when the county comes in and attempts to alleviate these issues, that the environment is respected and that they don't bring heavy machinery into sensitive areas,” said Lamont.

After hearing residents’ concerns, Suffolk Legislator Al Krupski asked the county to reconsider some of the work being done.

“[Department of Public Works] and [the Parks Department] have agreed to take a look at how we are going to be environmentally sensitive on the way the stormwater is kept on the site,” said Krupski.

The $200,000 drainage project is expected to take about six months to complete.

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