Englebright, Catell and Kessel Announce the Dedication of the Stephen D. Matthews Preserve in the Village of Poquott

Woodland buffer between Port Jefferson Power Plant and Village of Poquott permanently protected
April 20, 2006
Assemblyman Englebright joined with Robert Catell, Chairman and CEO of Keyspan, Richard Kessel, Chairman of LIPA, and representatives from the Village of Poquott and the Three Village Community Trust today to announce a formal agreement that will protect in perpetuity the Stephen D. Matthews Preserve—a ten-acre natural woodland buffer between the Port Jefferson Power Plant and the Village of Poquott.

This “L”-shaped parcel, which reaches from Route 25A to Port Jefferson Harbor and borders the Port Jefferson Power Plant to the east and Washington Avenue to the west, is a rare and unique remnant of the old-growth native vegetation that once covered Long Island. Towering oak, beech, and hickory trees dominate the woodland which supports a species-rich beautiful understory of mountain laurel and viburnum. Trees of this mature size offer protection from both air and noise pollution as well absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. In this location, they serve as a critical buffer between two modes of land use that are otherwise much less compatible as next-door neighbors.

This preserve will be dedicated to memory of the late Stephen D. Matthews.

Assemblyman Englebright brought the idea for permanent protection of this woodland a number of years ago to Steve Matthews who was then a Poquott Village Trustee. With Steve Matthews’ strong support and encouragement, Englebright then reached out to Robert Catell of Keyspan and Richard Kessel of LIPA to garner their support for permanent protection of the woodland. This resulted in numerous meetings over the last years with representatives from Keyspan, LIPA, and the Village. Though Dr. Matthews passed away last year before seeing this dream come to fruition, his dedication to protecting our environment will forever be associated with this preserve.

“Steve Matthews was Poquott Village’s environmental protection champion,” said Assemblyman Englebright, “and it is entirely appropriate to gather today to dedicate this preserve, on what would have been Steve’s seventieth birthday, as a living memorial to his vision and dedication to the citizens of Poquott Village.”

“April 20th would have been my husband, Steve Matthews, 70th birthday,” said Kathy Matthews. “He loved the natural environment and worked to preserve it as the Environment Commissioner for the Village of Poquott. He loved living in Poquott. For nine years as Trustee and then as Deputy Mayor he was actively involved in negotiations with LIPA and Keyspan. This agreement would have given him great joy.”

The land will be protected through a conservation easement which allows Keyspan to retain ownership of the land while donating the right to develop the property. The Three Village Community Trust, a local non-profit based in Setauket, will accept both the donation of the conservation easement and the responsibility for protecting the conservation value of the woodland site.

"KeySpan is proud that this bucolic parcel of land – all ten acres of it -- will remain forever green," said Robert B. Catell, Chairman and CEO of KeySpan, the owner of the Port Jefferson Power Plant property, which signed the easement making the dedication possible. "We’re also

extremely pleased that the land will be named in honor of the late, beloved Steven Matthews. As Deputy Mayor and long-term resident of Poquott, Steven Matthews had a strong commitment to the community and environment around him. This area will stand not only as a space for

local families to enjoy, but as a living testament to Stephen Matthews’ dreams and ideals, as well as an example of a terrific, and ongoing collaboration between KeySpan, LIPA and the Village of Poquott to truly do the right thing for the communities we serve."

“LIPA is very pleased with the creation of the Stephen B. Mathews Preserve,” said LIPA Chairman Richard M. Kessel. “This unique setting will serve as a place of refuge and will provide years of enjoyment for local residents. I commend Assemblyman Steven Englebright, KeySpan and the late Stephen Mathews for their vision and hard work to preserve an important piece of Long Island’s natural history and enhance the quality of life in the Port Jefferson area.”

“The Keyspan-LIPA donation of this conservation easement is the generous gesture of a good neighbor and it both underscores and insures forever the shared goal of cooperation,” said Assemblyman Englebright. “As the green spring tree buds open on another year, I am pleased to see the fruition of our work--preservation in perpetuity of this magnificent living landscape that is so important to the Village of Poquott’s sense of place and environmental quality of life.”