We are the owners of Frank M. Flower & Sons. We are shellfish farmers and have been in business for over 125 years. Our hatchery and aquaculture farming operations are located in the Oyster Bay-Cold Spring Harbor Estuary, located on the North Shore of Nassau County. The Estuary is described by the Department of Environmental Conservation as North Shore II, and it is the most productive and healthy shellfishing estuary in our state.
We write to you to express serious concerns about your proposal to construct a Long Island Sound bridge from the northern terminus of the Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway across Syosset, Woodbury, Laurel Hollow, Bayville, Oyster Bay Cove and Oyster Bay. We find the proposal inappropriate from an ecological, community and economic prospective.
We do not believe that a bridge from Eastern Nassau County or for that matter anywhere from Long Island, serves the best interest of those that reside on Long Island. On the contrary it would only serve to create additional traffic, congestion, and overcrowding on Long Island. While constructing a bridge would create temporary construction jobs and perhaps save time entering and leaving the Island, certainly there are more creative solutions for creating jobs, and less destructive solutions for easing traffic congestion, and improving commerce.
We are one of the largest private employers in Oyster Bay and employ over 50 members of the community at our hatchery and harvesting operation. We would not be the only business impacted. Marina operators, sailing schools, baymen, marine education facilities, as well as other businesses that support commerce generated by the estuary would be negatively impacted by the proposed bridge. The prospect of such a massive construction project in and around the Oyster Bay-Cold Spring Harbor and Bayville Estuaries is inconceivable from an ecological prospective, and would likely bring an end to our ability to continue farming. From an economic and recreational prospective it would end a way of life that many in our community depend on and enjoy.
The ecological impact of our company ceasing operation in Oyster Bay would also have a direct negative impact on the Estuary. Our farming operations rely on clean water and a healthy estuary. We raise 100 million clam and oyster seed at our hatchery each year. Those shellfish seeds are planted and cultivated in Oyster Bay, Cold Spring Harbor and Mill Neck Creek Bayville each year, and the maturing shellfish filter nitrogen from the water, in fact tons of nitrogen each year. Without the crop of shellfish, the nitrogen load would dramatically increase and the water quality and marine life would dramatically decrease. Our crop of oysters and clams ensure that Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor remains clean and productive. If we were to cease operations water quality would seriously degrade, to the detriment of all that work or enjoy the estuary.
Oyster Bay and the surrounding communities of Mill Neck, Oyster Bay Cove, Cove Neck, Laurel Hollow, Bayville and Cold Spring Harbor also contain some of the last unspoiled natural habitats for marine and animal life. Our estuary is not just the most productive shell fishing location in our State. The estuary is also home to a host of fish, marine life, and migratory birds. In the spring, summer and fall; fishing and boating is a way of life for many of our residents. Our communities are also the home of white tail deer, fox, wild turkeys and a host of other species, all living in the path of the proposed bridge.
The concept that our community would be scarred by a highway and bridge is not new, the proposal to build a bridge in the 1970s was met with fierce opposition by those in our community, and our community’s opposition to this proposal would be no different. In fact today a more aware and environmentally informed public would oppose even more vigorously the proposal to build a bridge. We are a strong community that values this rare and beautiful place.
From a personal prospective this project would likely force us to look towards a state that values the ecological and economic benefits of our shellfish farming business. From a community prospective a bridge though our town, villages and harbor would destroy a way of life and forever turn our community into what has become all too common on Long Island; vast areas of congested roadway and ill-conceived construction which does nothing to enhance our way of life, but only serves to harm our quality of life.
We welcome you to spend time in our community and see firsthand the quality and character of Oyster Bay and the surrounding communities. Instead of creating a path of economic and ecological destruction through our community, you should consider our community as a model for how Long Island should be preserved and enhanced.
Dwight Relyea and David Relyea