State legislators and environmental organizations from Connecticut and New York met in Port Jefferson at the on Monday to hear the details of .
The plan was presented by the Long Island Sound Study environmental group and developed by its Citizen Action Committee, made up of members of the business community and non-profit groups from both states. The group is touring coastal villages on the Sound this summer to tout its new plan.
The meeting was described as a “bi-state collaborative work session” by organizer Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, a local environmental group that is one of the 38 members of the Citizen Action Committee.
Environmental issues that focused on limiting the damaging effects pollution along with ways to improve the health of wildlife that lives within and around the Sound were all discussed.
Many of the participants, including Connecticut and New York state legislators, members of the National Audubon Society and local environmental groups met on the edge of overlooking the Long Island Sound to talk to the public about the plan after the closed-door meeting.
The hope is to capitalize on the momentum gained already in cleaning up the Sound with reduction of nitrogen levels and improvements in fish populations already being realized.
At a question and answer session, Legis. Vivian Viloria-Fisher, D-Setauket spoke up to ask why county officials were excluded from the meeting.
She pointed out the initiatives Suffolk County had to help to preserve the Sound, including sewer studies and education programs for homeowners on the impact of lawn products on the water.
“I just want to ask why county officials weren’t included,” she asked.
Esposito answered that the meeting was a bi-state legislative meeting and merely the first step in a longer process.
“Before you run a marathon you have to run the first mile and do some training,” she said. “This was the training.”
She also pointed out that Connecticut doesn’t have county districts that mirror the ones found in New York.
One of the most salient points made by the group’s supporters was the connection between the environment and the economy.
“The Long Island Sound is an $8 Billion economic engine for our region,” Esposito said, stressing the impact to the people who live along the North Shore.
State Assemb. Steve Englebright, D-Setauket spoke about the importance of preserving the resources of the Sound to “derive new jobs for people who live in both coastlines.”
With Federal funds in limited supply, Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, applauded citizen advocates saying it’s the “perfect opportunity for us to come together to move government and the private sector in the right direction.”
“For a great many of us, the environment is the economy and the economy is the environment,” Bishop said. “The interconnection between those two cannot be denied.”
The full report can be found on the web at www.lisoundvision.org.