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Apr 5, 2016 3:45 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Marine Education Center, Shellfish Nursery Could Be In The Works For Tiana Beach

Southampton Town Councilman John Bouvier. ALYSSA MELILLO
Apr 7, 2016 11:07 AM

A marine education and outreach center, coupled with a shellfish nursery, could be on its way to Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays.

Since last month, Southampton Town Councilman John Bouvier has been working with directors at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County on a plan for some kind of marine education and outreach center, one that would focus on programs to teach both children and adults in how to protect water bodies.

Although the plans are in “very early phases,” Mr. Bouvier said there is a possibility that the facility could include a shellfish nursery to raise oysters and other mollusks that would then be dispersed in Shinnecock Bay. He said he and Cornell Cooperative envision the facility at the building on the east side of the parking lot at Tiana Beach, on Dune Road’s bay side, which was originally used to house local police officers so they could be quickly dispatched to Dune Road when needed.

“We look at it as an education center—we can raise algae, spat, oysters, and help with some eelgrass [growth],” Mr. Bouvier said. “My idea is, we need more hatcheries, more shellfish centers … where we can educate people about the health of the bays.”

There are already a number of shellfish hatcheries and nurseries within the town, including the Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery in North Sea and one on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation. But Mr. Bouvier—an engineer who advocated for a number of environmental laws in the town before being elected to the Town Board late last year—explained that because oysters filter water, it is important to create more opportunities where they can be hatched and raised.

“As we work on the mitigation problems … with [nitrogen loading from] effluent … we can also work at the same time with the immediate problem, which is the high level of algae blooms,” he said. “You have to think about that, as well as thinking about what we could do immediately. And this is just one brick in that wall.”

Cornell Cooperative would run the facility in conjunction with Southampton Town, according to Chris Pickerell, director of the organization’s marine program. Mr. Pickerell said this week that Cornell Cooperative was already working on creating some type of youth center with the Town Parks Department, so Mr. Bouvier’s pitch came at the perfect time.

“This would be the perfect nursery site,” Mr. Pickerell said. “We have to come to some agreement with the town as to what we can and can’t do there. Then, we have to think about ways in which we want to improve that building. It’s in need of some help, but it’s got a lot of potential.”

Although Mr. Bouvier said he would like to see the center created at no cost to the town, Mr. Pickerell said it is still unclear whether the town or Cornell Cooperative would lay out the funds to fix up the structure. Mr. Pickerell said Cornell Cooperative has the ability to obtain grants and raise funds through private donations.

Mr. Pickerell explained that the facility would house marine programs similar to those at the 12,000-square-foot Suffolk County Marine Environmental Learning Center in Southold, only on a smaller scale. He said he and Mr. Bouvier still need to sit down with the rest of the Town Board, as well as Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and the Town Trustees, to work out more details.

“This will be unique. We’ve been looking for kind of a base of operations on the South Fork, and this could be that,” he said. “It’s so early in the process. We have some preliminary concepts. What it’s going to be, we’re not sure just yet.”

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This is exactly the sort of thing on which John Bouvier ran for election, and which the voters supported. It's always satisfying to see an elected official deliver on his or her campaign pledges as Mr. Bouvier is doing here.

Apart from that, this is a program with benefits all around and no serious objections on the horizon. The only possible problems that I can see are two.

The first is a potential reduction in the area of Tiana Beach available for general public use, but this ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Apr 6, 16 11:24 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yes hope it gets off the ground,A smart look at the two former clubs and the rustic house at former scouts property on Squiretown Rd should be undetaken,Leasing to private operators should be on the table after public input..way to go Mr Bouvier happy I voted for you.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Apr 7, 16 12:33 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By turkeyloser (22), east quogue on Apr 11, 16 6:13 AM