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Six acres of woodlands in West Neck purchased to preserve

A purchase to preserve a Shelter Island parcel of open land and protect the aquifer was announced Thursday.

Six acres of woodlands off North Menantic Road near West Neck Bay was bought for $1,250,000 by the Peconic Land Trust in partnership with New York State, which then sold it to the town for $312,500. The town used its Community Preservation Fund (CPF) for the purchase.

Money for the CPF comes from a 2% tax that buyers pay when buying East End properties and is used in turn to purchase open space for preservation and fund water protection programs.

This deal seems to have met both criteria, since the site will be preserved and is located near a water well head.

Gordon Gooding, chairman of the Shelter Island Community Preservation Advisory Committee, noted that Islanders depend solely on individual wells for drinking water. “Some local issues are high nitrate levels and saltwater intrusion into our drinking water,” Mr. Gooding said. “The preservation of this importantly located property reduces additional septic systems and significantly provides recharge of fresh water to our aquifer.”

Supervisor Gerry Siller thanked Gov. Cuomo and the Peconic Land Trust “for taking the necessary steps to protect drinking water. This acquisition demonstrates the state’s dedication to preparing for climate change and protecting the residents.”

Former landowners Ned Smyth and Rima Mardoyan-Smyth said they had been more than open to the idea of selling the property for preservation when the town approached them.

“Having lived on the land with no other houses, we were intrigued by the thought of the land staying wild. In the end, we feel it’s a win-win. There won’t be four more septic systems, wells, houses or hard surfaces. And we get to live next to preserved land.”

The six acres will be maintained by the CPF for hiking, bird watching and other passive recreational uses. There will be limited interior parking and, according, to the Peconic Land Trust and the CPF, improvements will be limited to a foot trail, placement of trail markers and a trailhead kiosk.