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Blueway Trail Grant to Connect the Three North Shore Harbors

Hempstead Harbor, LI Sound, Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor Linked for Water Travel

The Town of Oyster Bay, partnering with Friends of the Bay, Inc. (FOB) and the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee (HHPC), has received a $76,250 matching grant for the planning of a Blueway trail, which will begin in Hempstead Harbor, travel along Long Island Sound and proceed through Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbors, it was announced by Town Supervisor John Venditto.

The Supervisor said that the FOB has already established a water trail working committee, spearheaded by Barry Lamb (FOB board president), consisting of the Town, FOB, HHPC, the Waterfront Center, the Long Island Paddlers, Nassau County and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which will serve as the core of the steering committee for the project, with other entities to be added based on need and interest.

FOB Executive Director Patricia Aitken said, “I am thrilled with the prospect of exposing our beautiful harbor to even more people, and encouraging a great outdoor activity.”

“Blueways are routes for small, non-motorized boats such as sailboats, kayaks, canoes and row boats that combine recreation and environmental awareness and allow users to travel to designated stops along the way for rest, overnight stays, and enjoyment of land and water-based attractions in the vicinity,” Supervisor Venditto said. “Establishing a Blueway trail in these harbors would create an exciting and unique way for people to learn about and enjoy this beautiful natural watershed and promote the many attractions in and around the harbor.”

WaterFront Center Executive Director Dave Waldo sees the Bluewater trail as going to be of value to the marine education center. “It will be an extremely valuable teaching and recreational tool for us to share with people of all ages who come to the WaterFront Center for marine education and recreation, he said.” It will expand their horizons.

The Supervisor explained that the project will consist of an in-depth study of Hempstead Harbor, Long Island Sound, Oyster Bay Harbor, West Harbor, Mill Neck Creek and Cold Spring Harbor.  The Town, FOB and HHPC, along with a steering committee, will employ a consultant with experience in design and planning for waterfront/coastal facilities to inventory the best-suited trailheads and amenities that provide access to recreational facilities, commercial establishments such as restaurants and shops, and ecological and cultural resources along the proposed trail. The consultant will prepare a report outlining a final plan, or plans, for the future construction of the Blueway and a suggested action plan with recommendations for funding, estimated costs, and a list of environmental permits that would be required for physical improvements.

A public meeting will be held to present the conceptual plan and solicit comments. A water trail map will be prepared for use by Blueway travelers to locate services and points of interest along the route, something that FOB has been talking about.

“The creation of a Blueway trail will provide access and promote an appropriate, low impact use of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Complex,” said FOB Board President Lamb. “We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in the working committee to provide a means to connect the rich historic, cultural and natural resources of the communities surrounding the harbor. By providing information about local attractions and businesses, the Blueway trail will make paddlers more aware of all the resources available to them.  The trail will also provide a unique opportunity to educate the public about this invaluable eco-system and the issues that threaten it.”

Eric Swenson, executive director of the HHPC, pointed out, “These harbors contain some of the most scenic vistas, the most abundant wildlife and the best collection of historic sites along the east coast.  This Blueway trail will provide a healthy way for the public to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy these wonderful resources”.  According to Mr. Swenson, this trail will connect with a similar trail currently being designed by the Town of North Hempstead which will run from Hempstead Harbor to Manhasset Bay.

“This project was among 90 to receive a grant under the latest round of funding through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program,” Supervisor Venditto added. “The Town of Oyster Bay, Friends of the Bay and the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee are very gratified the State sees the worthiness of this project, which will help promote tourism, spur the local economy and continue efforts to protect, enhance and create new opportunities for people to enjoy, and learn about, our beautiful waterways and the many natural and man-made treasures that abound in and around them.”