Sen. Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele at a press conference in December. File photo: Katie Blasl

A bill sponsored by East End lawmakers to extend and expand the community preservation fund has been signed into law by the governor.

The new law, introduced by State Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele would extend the CPF from 2030 to 2050 and authorize the five East End towns to use up to 20 percent of their annual CPF revenues for water quality protection.  

The measure must now be approved by voters in a ballot referendum. 

The Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund, initiated in 1999, has protected more than 10,000 acres of land with more than $1 billion dollars generated through a 2-percent real estate transfer tax.

“The original assumption inherent in land protection was that if the land was protected, the water would remain clean. However, it has become evident that in spite of the preservation of 10,000 acres, the legacy of existing development and land uses continues to increase nitrogen loadings to the East End’s waters,” Thiele and LaValle said in a joint press release this afternoon.

Under the new state law, eligible water quality improvement projects would include: (1) wastewater treatment improvement projects; (2) non-point source abatement and control program projects; (3) aquatic habitat restoration projects; (4) pollution prevention projects, and (5) the operation of the Peconic Bay National Estuary Program.

The lawmakers estimated that the extended reauthorization would generate approximately $1.5 billion in CPF revenues between 2031 and 2050. Of that, there would be a minimum of $963 million in new additional money for land preservation and up to $540 million for water quality projects. It remains up to the individual towns to determine their spending priorities.

The enactment of authorizing state legislation is just the first step. As with any proposed CPF extension, the voters must ultimately approve the change in a referendum. Each town must also devise and approve a plan for water quality protection projects and adopt a local law that ensures the continued integrity of the CPF. Voters must know exactly how each town would spend the additional CPF funds if the voters were to approve the program.

“The newly extended and expanded community preservation fund will be utilized to protect Long Island’s clean water for generations to come,” LaValle said. “Throughout my career, I have made it a priority to preserve and protect our fragile environment. Prior to this new law, the CPF was a mechanism that enabled us to preserve important lands, and now, I am hopeful it will have the same success protecting our water.”

“The community preservation fund has been an extraordinarily successful land preservation tool,” Thiele said. “This new law will provide for another 20 years of priority land acquisitions in addition to presenting a local mechanism to address the East End’s water quality crisis and further protect the resources on which our economy is so heavily reliant.”

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.