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Havens House ‘pond’ water passes lab test

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO The 'de-watering' project at the Shelter Island Historical Society construction site.
AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO The ‘de-watering’ project at the Shelter Island Historical Society construction site.

The water in a recently created pond next to the Shelter Island Historical Society headquarters on Route 114 has been tested and given a clean bill of health.

Contractor Chris Fokine, overseeing the construction next to the Havens House, presented the Town Board Wednesday with a laboratory report that said the water pumped from below ground excavations “did not indicate evidence of significant turbidity of any locations in which field measurements and/or samples for laboratory analyses were collected.”

According to Merriman-Webster, one definition of “turbidity” is “deficient in clarity or purity.” Town Engineer John Cronin confirmed later that the report, issued by Melville’s H2M engineering firm, was a good one.

In constructing a new archival vault and other facilities at the site, excavation meant encountering groundwater, Mr. Fokine told the board three weeks ago. A method called “sediment ponding” pumps water from the excavation and puts it out on the ground where it is naturally filtered through soil until it reaches the aquifer.

This is similar, Mr. Fokine said, to a natural flooding process. Also, the pond is 300 feet from any private wells and so far they have not been affected, he added.

The pond appears orange in places because iron in the water oxidizes when it hits the air, Mr. Fokine said.

William Pedersen, the architect who designed the new additions, told the Reporter that the idea of building below ground is not to “overwhelm the scale of the existing building. We were determined to keep [the new construction] from becoming competitive with the Havens House.”

He noted that because of setbacks required by town law from a natural wetland at the site “the actual footprint we can build is very small.”

The design will have about 1,500 square feet on the ground floor Mr. Pedersen said. “We need a large storage space and display space and we put that below grade,” the architect added.

An exhibition room below ground was designed to “create a beautiful gallery space and we have a 10 foot ceiling.”

Both Mr. Pedersen and Mr. Fokine said there haven’t been any problems with the project and it was proceeding smoothly on all fronts.