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Land Trust approves Reel Point transfer to town

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Spoils from the dredging that took place last week at Reel Point are part of a restoration effort.

The Peconic Land Trust Board of Directors Monday approved the transfer of Reel Point to Shelter Island Town subject to the environmental group holding a conservation easement on the property. The transfer had been the subject of a Town Board executive session following the work session last week.

Reel Point was donated to the Land Trust in 1995 by Marsha and Herb Stern, but Shelter Island maintained an easement on the property.

Now, in its efforts to gain U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involvement in shoring up Reel Point, it’s in the town’s interest to own the site and provide a conservation easement to the Land Trust, which will be involved in reforestation of the site in a late phase of a restoration project.

Word came Tuesday morning from Director of Conservation Planning Melanie Cirillo, who said lawyers will have to work out the exact wording and whether a token payment needs to be made to legalize the transfer.

Reel Point is the spit of land that reaches into Coecles Harbor and provides a buffer from waves that travel some 45 miles from Point Judith, Rhode Island to Shelter Island. Without work to restore the eroded land mass, local businesses and residences could lose multi-million dollars’ worth of investments in the area.

The recent early November nor’easter that battered the Island and further eroded Reel Point also resulted in flooding of the Ram Island Causeways that until now have held. The town has reached out to the Army Corps,  which was involved in the 1994 effort to raise the roadway and use large, secured stones to keep roadways from flooding.

But now there are concerns that flooding could result from both sides of the roadway as wave action could affect the Coecles Harbor side.

There are also significant threats to the environment in the area that have already been affected by the erosion.

More details on the transfer of the property to the town will be forthcoming and town officials will continue to track responses from the Army Corps.

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