Demonstration Rain Garden Installed in Cold Spring Harbor

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A cooperative effort among Business, Government and Environmental Organizations has brought a demonstration rain garden to the grounds of the Cold Spring Harbor Library and Environmental Center. In attendance at today’s press conference included Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Huntington Town Councilman Mark Mayoka.

Funded primarily by a grant from the Scott Paper Company, the garden will serve to catch and retain storm water runoff and return it to the soil, while providing an attractive focal point near the Library’s entrance off route 25A in Cold Spring Harbor.

Brian Zimmerman,  District Manager of the Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District, explains: “Much of Long Island’s storm water flows through storm sewer systems into ponds, streams and harbors, carrying with it silt, nutrients, bacteria and chemicals, all of which are harmful to the native plants and animals in the water – including, at times, humans. Rain gardens filter out much that is harmful and return the water to the ground, rather than the ocean.”

Working with the Library on the project are:  The Soil and Water Conservation Districts of both Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Oyster Bay / Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee, Friends of the Bay, and Main Street Nursery of Cold Spring Harbor.

“In order to catch and clean runoff, rain gardens are depressed below grade, forming a shallow basin which will catch and hold water.  Soils are layered to promote percolation and filtering, and the garden is planted with native species which can withstand being wet but thrive in dry conditions all the while contributing to the filtering process,” said Paul TeNyenhuis, Manager for the Suffolk County District and the designer of this garden. “The plant material was obtained from the Long Island Native Plant Initiative whose focus is the promotion and preservation of plants native to Long Island.”

Informative signage is an important part of the garden installation. “We hope that this model will inspire our neighbors to create their own gardens at home,” says CSH Library Director Helen Crosson. “We are pleased and proud to add an attractive piece of ‘green infrastructure’ to our setting.”

Rob Crafa, coordinator of the Oyster Bay / Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee, cited this as an example of his committee’s efforts to promote cooperative action throughout the watershed which feeds the two harbors, to protect the health and productivity of its waters. “We are especially grateful  for Main Street Nursery’s help to create this garden. These public / private partnerships benefit everyone.”

The site for the demonstration garden was selected for a number of reasons:  its location at the foot of a steep grade, adjacent to the harbor, with high visibility from route 25A, and helping a library that serves parts of both counties. In addition, environmental education is a core element of the library’s mission.

“Stormwater runoff is one of the primary routes for pollutants to enter our bay and harbor,” said Friends of the Bay Director Paul DeOrsay, ” even from properties quite distant from the shore. Rain gardens are an attractive and effective way to filter out the harmful elements before the water reaches the bay.”

For more information on rain gardens, readers should contact their local county Soil and Water Conservation District (Nassau (516) 364-5860; Suffolk (631) 727-2315).

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