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For Release: Tuesday, January 15, 2013

DEC Acquires Southold Site for Public Waterway Access

Site Will Be Developed to Increase Public Access to the Peconic Estuary

The state purchased the Old Barge restaurant site in Southold from the Reiter family of Mattituck, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced today. The site is a 3.2-acre waterfront property off of Old Main Road that will provide public fishing and recreational boating access to the Peconic Bay.

The purchase was funded entirely with non-state sources, including a Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and a generous charitable donation from the Carl D. and Helen Reiter family. The fair market value of the property is $2 million.

"Governor Cuomo appreciates the extreme generosity of the Reiter and Reiter-Denson families, and their commitment to the environment and maritime heritage of Southold. Without their donation, this acquisition could not have come about," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "The property will be used to provide enhanced public access to Peconic Bay, an estuary of national significance."

The site will be DEC's first and only Waterway Access Site on the Peconic Bay. When completed, the property is planned to include a public boat ramp, wash down station, and canoe and kayak launch. All amenities will be universally accessible and available to the general public.

"The sale to the State aligns well with our parents' core values. The creation of a site on the Peconic Bay which makes our precious natural resources accessible to the public captures the longstanding marine culture of this community," Carol Denson, manager of the property for the family, said. "Our family was inspired by DEC's boat ramp at Mattituck. It's a beautiful facility providing access to the Sound. A deciding factor to move ahead with the sale to the State was my brother's impression of the Mattituck facility."

"The Town of Southold is very pleased that New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had the vision to purchase the Old Barge site from the Reiter family enabling Southold residents and visitors public fishing and recreational boating access to the Peconic Bay," Town of Southold Supervisor Scott A. Russell said.

A commercial fishing family by trade, the Densons bought the property in 1938, then an old World War II ammunition barge, for use as a fishing station. Later, The Old Barge became a popular seafood restaurant known for its fresh catch and views of the Peconic Bay. Now, under state ownership, the property will once again serve the fishing and boating public. DEC anticipates making improvements to the property over the next several years.

The federal Sport Fish Restoration Program was authorized by the Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950. It is administered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and is funded with revenues from manufacturers' excise taxes on sport fishing equipment, import duties on fishing tackle, yachts and pleasure craft and a portion of the gasoline fuel tax attributable to small engines and motorboats. It provides funds to states for fishery, boating access and aquatic education projects.

DEC has successfully used Sport Fish Restoration funding to develop and maintain its other Long Island Waterway Access Sites ("WAS"), including Mattituck Inlet WAS, Oyster Ponds WAS (East Marion), Oyster Bay Western Waterfront WAS, and Moriches Bay WAS. However, this is the first time DEC has used Sport Fish Restoration funds to acquire a marine access site.