Shellfish Hatchery Is Leaking

The East Hampton Town Shellfish Hatchery building, on Fort Pond Bay in Montauk, is in need of repair and renovation. 

The hatchery, which distributed some 40 million oysters, clams, and scallops into town waters last year, was established in the 1980s after a brown tide reduced the local shellfish harvest by some 80 percent. 

Last month, Barley Dunne, the hatchery’s director, told the town board that all the doors and windows of its building, which was erected in the 1940s by the Navy as part of a torpedo-testing facility in the bay, must be replaced because water is leaking in. He also seeks to extend a roof on the building’s north side to protect a landing area against inclement weather. A glass block on the building’s exterior, through which most of the water is entering the building, also needs replacing, he said. 

The roof was replaced and a mold remediation effort begun in 2016, Mr. Dunne told the board. “That’s where this work stems from: There was a lot of black mold in the east end of the building, so the Sheetrock and insulation was ripped out.” That part of the project remains at a standstill, he said, pending renovations to make the structure watertight. “We need to button up the exterior to keep water out.” New windows and doors would also make the building more energy efficient, he noted. 

Once the work is completed, the hatchery is likely to seek tenants to rent part of the building, as has been done in past years. The town’s lifeguards have also expressed an interest in storing vehicles and Jet Skis under the extended shed roof, he said. That equipment is presently stored at present at the Montauk playhouse. 

Mr. Dunne estimated the project’s cost at $255,000. The town has allocated $165,000 toward the expense.

“Clearly the most important part of maintaining a building asset is to prevent water intrusion,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said at the board’s May 8 meeting. “The roof solved that issue, but the block in the upper skylight is a source of constant leaking. Before proceeding with mold remediation and re-Sheetrocking, we clearly have to take care of this.” 

The building is a valuable asset to the town, Mr. Van Scoyoc said. Storing lifeguards’ equipment at the hatchery, he said, is “a much less expensive alternative to building a new, separate, free-standing building on some other parcel.” The hatchery is also a candidate for solar panels, given the roof’s southern exposure alignment, he said. 

In its lifetime, the structure once housed a portion of the New York State Ocean Science Laboratory. It was later renovated to house the hatchery. The late Tony D’Agostino leased the east end of the building for 25 years for the Montauk Marine Science Institute, where he grew and propagated blue lobsters and conducted experiments on brine shrimp, Mr. Dunne said.