With chants of “Today’s the day to save the bay!” dozens of concerned citizens filled the headquarters of the environmental group Operation SPLASH’s on Freeport’s Nautical Mile on Monday morning — just days before the New York state budget was expected to be released — to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to direct $500 million of surplus funds to the construction of a Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant ocean outfall pipe.
“We can have a legacy in our lifetime of clean bays and healthy living,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and the coordinator of the event. “Our dream is to have our maritime culture back … We want the fish to come back to the Western Bays. How crazy is it that we’re asking for clean water? How crazy is that we dump 50 million gallons of treated sewage into the bay and then we ignore it? And how crazy is it that there’s a fix?” She added that the sewage plant has come a long way — but now the governor has a chance to fund an outfall pipe.
Along with Esposito, a panel of other environmentalists, civic and labor group representatives and state, county and local officials spoke to the ralliers.
“The water and marine life are in such poor shape,” said State Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, whose district includes Atlantic Beach, Long Beach, Lido Beach, Island Park, Oceanside and the Five Towns. “It’s more than a pity. We have the opportunity to turn this around, and we should seize this opportunity to create a better landscape for our children.”
Kaminsky vowed to fight hard for the pipe. “Come on, Governor Cuomo,” he said, “let’s get it done.”
Rob Weltner, president of Operation SPLASH (Stop Polluting, Littering and Save Harbors), said he prayed that the project “will bring back hundreds and thousands of people that love our beaches and bays, and the wildlife that used to call the Western Bays their home.”