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Hashamomuck Pond – Meeting Tuesday April 7th, 6pm

By Joanna Lane

The Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) has developed what they are calling a management plan for Hashamomuck Pond and invitations have been sent to all watershed property owners in the area to take part.

They are asking owners to attend a meeting on Tuesday April 7th 2009 at 6pm to 7pm in Southold Town Hall Public Meeting Room, where, over refreshments and snacks, you will be briefed on the Hashamomuck Pond ecosystem and planned stormwater reduction projects, including steps you can take around your home. This involves some structural improvements on surrounding roads and you will begin to see groundbreaking in this neighborhood soon.

While we all want to do what is both necessary and desirable to protect our fragile ecosystem, not only on Hashamomuck Pond, but throughout the North Fork, the online questionnaire which is part of their perceived process is unnecessarily intrusive and patronizing.

This survey is a ringing endorsement of the nanny mentality that is now apparently endemic and all pervasive in the various “do good” organizations invading our Town, which have yet to publicly acknowledge waterfront owners as not only part of the solution, but also as….gasp……adults, not to be treated as morons. The survey is pitched to the lowest common denominator – a moron, which says more about the authors of the survey than it does about the audience it’s aiming to enroll in its garden games.

Anyone can complete the survey anonymously here , but let’s just take a minute to think about some of these questions.  How accessible is the pond from your property?  What relevance does that have? Everyone knows there is absolutely no problem with public access to Hashamomuck Pond, but this survey wants to know if you have Visual Access.  Did we coin a new phrase here? Does the Town now seek to assert some kind of public right to visually accessing privately owned property? The word for that is snooping, or for a repeat offender, possibly stalking.

The questionnaire asks you to estimate the percentage and square footage of lawn, as well as the estimated value of your property. What possible relevance can the value of a particular property have to the quality of water and the ecosystem?  Unless the number was based on a proper appraisal or broker price opinion,  whatever answers are given would be unusable in any meaningful evaluation for whatever purpose the question was asked. Special Assessments on the Taxes maybe, or just plain snooping? Don’t answer that question.

The PEP also wants to know how often you use your lawn, the purpose for which you use it and who uses it, including details of residents and your pets. Do you use your private garden for sports, gatherings, eating, relaxing or bird watching? Or do you just “look at it”, which could be regarded as the owner exercising their right to “quiet enjoyment in a visual access kind of way .  If you have checked any box that indicates a “high impact” activity, is that a problem, or why are they asking? Are you not going to be allowed to kick a ball around the garden anymore, and will some foods be banned?  Those outdoor cats are going to need to be rehoused as well, only geese on your lawn from now on!

The fashion police would also like you to describe the look of your yard – do you really think you are doing a good job? By whose criteria? Yours? Sorry, the Town sets the criteria, and you need to know that PEP doesn’t trust you to read the labels on the fertilizer cans either, or they wouldn’t be asking you to confirm that you do read them. And by the way, where the heck are you getting your information anyway? Can’t be the Town that loves to regulate not educate, so you need to be specific. No vague answers here, they want to know if you’re getting suckered by those TV ads into creating a bowling green. And that’s just page 1.

The real meat is on page 2. Who exactly did you say maintains your lawn? Are they local? What pesticides and fertilizers are you using? Do you dethatch? Do you aerate? Do you repair bare spots? How? Do you buy your stuff in Home Depot, Lowe’s, or where exactly do you shop?

You’ll also need to measure how high you set your lawnmower blade before doing the questionnaire, and have your check stubs to hand. PEP needs to know how much you pay your landscaper and how often. No joke.

Maybe you don’t care because it’s only a few houses on Hashamomuck. Think again.


All this from a Town which continues to distribute a list of approved natural plantings for waterfront property which Cornell Cooperative Extension has stated categorically is outdated and inappropriate, despite repeated requests from SoutholdVOICE for an updated list.

The Town has genuine concerns to address, and to answer them has the ability to ban pesticides, fertilizers, vector spraying and other harmful chemicals that get into our waters through the drains, from inland property in far greater quantities than waterfront property by sheer volume of numbers. So do it, and get the survey monkey off the back of the watershed owners. How an owner chooses to relax in the privacy of their own home is nobody’s business, and the garden is no less private than the bedroom and bathroom. The same rights to privacy exist and Government must respect them and insist that private organizations to which it allies itself also respects them, which currently nobody is doing.

Don’t you think the Town could be making much better progress in protecting our ecosystem if they would stop listening exclusively to the paid lobbyists and start listening to the waterfront property owners who know the shorelines as well as anybody and better than most? The Town needs to start serving the waterfront property owners, by producing voluntary guidelines based on scientific fact, not regulating on the basis of muddled thinking developed from unreliable, insecure, unverified, and anonymous online surveys that frankly any one person with access to multiple computers can complete unlimited times to skew the results.

This organization, SoutholdVOICE, has been pushing for one simple little leaflet on natural plantings almost since this organization was founded, which will be 2 years this August. During all of that time, not one paid or even unpaid environmentalist, not Cornell, not DEC, not the Trustees and not even one of the local landscape designers has stepped forward and given our members the advice we have been seeking. When is this Town going to start listening to us?


Your local Peconic Estuary Program Representatives are Jennifer Skillbred on 631 765-6540, Laura Stephenson on 631 444-0871 and the multitalented man who doesn’t wander aimlessly round Town Hall looking for a job, Mark Terry, on 631 765-1938. If you want to know more, the PEP website is here and the meeting invitation is here.

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