Looking to Move Hatchery

The East Hampton Town Board plans to buy a property on Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton at which to relocate the town’s shellfish hatchery, which is at present based on Fort Pond Bay in Montauk. 

The property to be purchased is adjacent to a shellfish nursery site in Three Mile Harbor. Moving the hatchery would consolidate the town’s aquaculture program, under which waterways are seeded with juvenile clams, scallops, and oysters. The effort is aimed at both restoring shellfish populations, which were decimated by algal blooms in the 1980s, and promoting healthier waterways, as the bivalves filter water as they feed. 

The board held a public hearing on the $2.1 million purchase of a 1.2-acre property at its meeting last Thursday. Of that price, $1.4 million would come from the community preservation fund, which can be used for water quality initiatives.

The hatchery’s present location, said Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, is less than ideal. The water there is colder than Three Mile Harbor during spawning season, and its nutrient content is lower, he said. Moreover, transporting the juvenile shellfish for placement in the nursery involves “some mortality” while also costing the town in the time spent by staff. 

“It has long been a goal to find another location that is more suitable,” he said. “Having all that in one location is much more efficient.” 

Structures on the property, other than the existing residence, would be removed, Scott Wilson, the town’s director of land acquisition and management, told the board. Its sanitary system would be upgraded and a permeable reactive barrier might be installed to intercept groundwater as it seeps into the harbor, he said, and bioswales and rain gardens, should they be installed on the property, would also treat runoff. 

The property may be equipped with solar panels, Councilman David Lys said this week, and serve as an environmental education center, demonstrating to the public the importance of clean, healthy waterways and how to achieve them.