Connect people to the coast. That was the idea behind the South Shore Blueway project when it was proposed at part of Nassau Country’s 2006 Environmental Bond Act. Kyle Rabin and Mike Fahling wanted to open up access to Nassau County’s waterways for paddle craft by designating launch sites in existing parks.
Eight years later all of the planning is complete, but the trail still isn’t ready to launch.
“We trying to extend a grant agreement,” Nora Sudars from the Village of Freeport said.
There are funds remaining from the original amount provided to the South Shore Blueway from the 2006 Environmental Bond Act and the NYS Department of State Environmental Protection Fund.
Rabin who helped coordinate the project, said they want to explore using the remaining funds to bring on a coordinator to help with a range of activities including the initial launch, conduct community outreach, and host and manage the trail website and social media pages. He would also like to see the establishment of Friends of the South Shore Blueway. That organization would take the lead on trail advocacy, programming and coordination of discussions with Nassau County and other municipalities in regards to site improvements and construction budgets.
Sudars said the establishment of Friends of South Shore Blueway is necessary to launch the project as without it there would be no way to keep the trail because it encompasses multiple municipalities and so no one municipality can be truly in charge of it.
According to Rabin, however, the trail could be launched as is, with the existing access points, which require no additional funds. The proposed additional access points require funding, the respective amounts to be determined municipality by municipality site by site.
Rabin helped coordinate those access points with Going Coastal and Cameron Engineering & Associates. Going Coastal is a nonprofit that works raise awareness of coastal environmental and encourage a sense of community around coastal areas. They spent a year going over data, meeting with municipalities, doing on site research and meeting without stake holders to come up with the trail.
“We started with blank maps and people telling us where they go and where they had conflicts,” Barbara La Rocco, president of Going Coastal said.
Going Coastal presented a plan, available on the website South Shore Blueway, of 20 existing paddle craft launch sites and a plan to add seven more.
The additional sites, call for minimal improvements according to La Rocco.
“Some of it was adding a sign for kayaking, adding a rope to a dock so kayakers could pull themselves in,” La Rocco said. “It’s very minimal.”
While the official launch of the project seems to be on hold, it’s one that once launched Rabin believes will promote engagement and exercise around the coast with very little impact on the environment.
“There’s little infrastructure, it stands the test of time,” Rabin said.
Now the idea just has to stand the test of time for it to launch.