Trustees To Move Scallop Shell Recycling Space Following Residents’ Complaints

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The growing mass of scallop shells off Boat Yard Road in Springs will now take up residence at Lazy Point following complaints from neighbors who say they are plagued by the constant “low tide” odor of the remnants dumped by fishermen and others.

The large pile of shells by Three Mile Harbor was part of a pilot scallop shell recycling program spearheaded in November by the East Hampton Town Trustees, who offered up a piece of Trustee-owned land that borders Boat Yard Road as a designated area for people to leave old scallop shells, with the intention of allowing the shells to age before repurposing them in local waters.

But after “complaints before the first shell was even in place” from neighbors in the area, Trustee Clerk Diane McNally said the Trustees have decided to move the site out of the neighborhood. The Three Mile Harbor site is now officially closed.

“We have been monitoring it,” Ms. McNally said by phone on Monday. “It’s time to relocate the pile. It’s encroaching on the roadway, and it’s getting larger.” She added that Highway Superintendent Ed Lynch told her that the shells would be moved this week.

A few weeks ago, the Trustees designated an area at Lazy Point as a second drop-off space for the shells, and Ms. McNally said she was under the impression it was the only site being used.

“I guess people were still going to the Three Mile Harbor space,” she said, “so we’re going to get that cleaned up.”

The decision is largely well-received by neighbors who raised concerns in weeks past, saying the pile “is rotting, smells horrible, and has attracted hundreds of seagulls and other animals, whose droppings are a major problem, with their associated health hazards,” according to Springs resident and Seacoast Enterprises Associates President Peter Mendelman in an email.

While Mr. Mendelman said he supports the program itself, he is a firm believer it should exist solely at Lazy Point, “out in the middle of nature, far from human activities.”

Following the Trustees’ announcement, the organization said it is working with the Highway Department to remove the shells from the space originally chosen in Springs. Furthermore, said Ms. McNally, the choice of the hamlet should have been viewed as more of an honor than a nuisance.

“Some people felt like this was us ‘dumping’ on Springs,” Ms. McNally said. “It’s far from that. My kids grew up in Springs, I love Springs. The fact that the space [for the recycling program] was available in Springs should be looked upon as great.”

And despite concerns about the overall aesthetic of the pile, one thing can be agreed on: the concept of reusing scallop shells is a plus for the community.

Typically, said Ms. McNally, aged scallop shells are put back into the water to encourage the growth of shellfish beds, or to act as a form of protection for other shellfish that cling to the empty shells as something like a shield. The aged shells, she added, also foster the presence of calcium and boost the overall water quality.

“I mean, we could use them for lots of things,” Ms. McNally said. “You know those horse sculptures made of wood?” she said, referring to Lautaro Cuttica’s driftwood horse sculptures scattered throughout the Hamptons. “We could use the shells for some kind of sculpture or art. People use them to line their driveways with, too.”

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