The East Hampton Town Board, at its July 18 meeting, voted on measures to bring its proposed combined shellfish hatchery, nursery, and education center at the end of Gann Road in Springs closer to fruition.
First, the board accepted the town’s Planning Department’s recommendation for a negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, meaning that the project will not have a negative effect on the environment or neighbors.
Second, the town board passed a measure committing to the funding of the project to the tune of $2.65 million, plus engineering costs, which could vary.
The money for the project will come from surplus funds, with the board’s measure indicated are above $11 million.
Of that $2.65 million price tag, $400,000 is being funded by a grant from the Empire State Development Program, for the design and engineering portion of the project. This action was key to the second vote the board took July 18.
The town board also agreed to apply for a second grant from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, for up to 75 percent of the total cost.
As East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc explained on Monday July 22, the first vote, committing the town financially to the project, is essential to the application the board approved in the second vote being accepted by the state. The state wants to see, he said, that the town is truly dedicated to a project before it will commit the funds requested. The supervisor said the town has gotten positive feedback from the state on the project.
The board voted 4-0 to approve both measures, with Jeffrey Bragman abstaining from each vote.
The site plan for the project will be reviewed by the East Hampton Town Planning Board, and a public hearing will be held.
The town purchased the property for the project, 36 Gann Road, in 2018, for $2.1 million using Community Preservation Funds. The property is adjacent to the East Hampton Harbor Master’s facility on Three Mile Harbor. The town already has a shellfish nursery in the area, but the town will be consolidating the hatchery and nursery operation into one facility. Currently, the operation is split among three different sites. The new facility would be called GREEN, an acronym for Gann Road Environmental Education and Nature Center. Local schools would be encouraged to participate in various programs and classes.
On July 16, there was much discussion about the hatchery plans during the public portion of that night’s town board meeting, with most of the speakers strongly in favor of the project. There have been some speakers in opposition, however. Ira Barocas, who lives on Babes Lane, adjacent to the site, has told the board that he believes it is moving much too quickly on the project.
“The town’s shellfish hatchery and nursery consolidation project supports a long list of our stated goals and good planning practices,” Van Scoyoc said. “It will be good for the environment, the town’s economy, and will provide an excellent educational resource for the future leaders of East Hampton,” he said.