Commissioner Grannis announced the anticipated opening of Hempstead Harbor to shellfishing, an activity that has been prohibited in Hempstead Harbor for decades owing to poor water quality. State studies show that the water is now clean enough for the ban to be lifted. If federal data confirm state findings, shellfishing soon will be permitted in certain designated areas.
Much of the improvement in water quality is due to the work of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee, an inter-municipal organization made up of the nine municipalities surrounding Hempstead Harbor, as well as local community groups and state agencies that serve as technical advisors.
Each municipal government—Nassau County, the towns of Oyster Bay and North Hempstead, the City of Glen Cove, and the villages of Sea Cliff, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn, Flower Hill, and Sands Point—appoints a representative and pays modest dues to participate in the committee.
The NYS Department of State, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, United Civic Council of Glen Head and Glenwood Landing, New York Sea Grant, Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, and Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association serve on the committee as technical advisors.
Since the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee was established 15 years ago, it has completed water quality improvement and harbor management plans and has secured nearly $3 million in grants to implement plan recommendations.
“The projects the committee undertakes—like storm drain inserts or water quality testing—may not always seem terribly exciting, but they are awfully important, ” Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association President Patrice Benneward said.
“Progress is often painstakingly slow, but the local and state commitment to the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee has been tenacious. We appreciate all that our state agencies and municipal governments have done and look forward to continuing to work together on many projects that continue to improve and protect Hempstead Harbor.”
Other speakers included Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Director Peter Scully, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, Town of Hempstead Councilman Fred Pollack, Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Chairperson Bill Clemency, Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi, Village of Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy, Village of Roslyn Harbor Mayor Yvette Edidin, Carol DiPaolo of the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, and Pat Aitkin of Friends of the Bay (see photos below).
The civic association has supported the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee since the committee's early days by providing letters of support for grant applications, assisting with public outreach, and helping to set the environmental agenda. The Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor has been testing water quality in the harbor for more than a decade in partnership with the committee, Nassau County, the Town of Oyster Bay, and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.
Among the activities that have contributed to the overall environmental improvement of Hempstead Harbor are an upgrade in wastewater treatment at Glen Cove, conversion of Roslyn’s wastewater treatment facility to a pump station, designation of a no-discharge zone for watercraft, closure of two incinerators and a landfill, implementation of a nitrogen limit for Long island Sound, removal of rotting barges from a nearby sand mining operation, and wetland restoration.
In addition to many grants aimed directly at water quality improvement, the municipalities on the committee have recently obtained grants to construct canoe and kayak trails in Manhasset Bay, Hempsead Harbor, Oyster Bay, and Cold Spring Harbor.
Peter Scully, Director, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Long Island Region, flanked by Carol DiPaolo, Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor (right), Oyster Bay Town Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia, and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.
Bill Clemency, Deputy Mayor, Village of Flower Hill, and Chair, Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee.
Carol DiPaolo, Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor.
Eric Swenson, Director, Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee, left, and GeesePeace founder David Feld.
Fred Pollack, Town of North Hempstead Councilman and Representative, Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee.
Sea Cliff Mayor Bruce Kennedy and Roslyn Harbor Mayor Yvette Edidin.
Pat Aitken, Director, Friends of the Bay.
Members of the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, a non-profit organization made up of concerned citizens that is a technical advisor to the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee, an inter-municipal organization made up of local government representatives.