Our Town’s economy is based upon agriculture, fishing and tourism. It’s estimated that these industries represent approximately 50 percent of our Town’s economic activity, yet they demand a disproportionately small amount on public resources. As Louisa Hargrave stated in her Riverhead NewsReview letter to the editor (January 19, 2017):
“The Suffolk County Farmland Preservation Program doesn’t exist only to save farmland. It passed the county legislature because a dollar paid by a homeowner in taxes cost the government about $125 dollars in services – schools, roads, police, etc. – while a dollar paid in taxes on farmland cost a mere fraction in services.”
Tourists come to the North Fork for our lush open spaces, scenic byways, and expansive farms; to fish and swim in clean water and enjoy beautiful beaches; and, to hike our nature preserves and walk through our quaint towns and enjoy shops and restaurants.
At the current population level, our Town has excessive nitrogen in our drinking water and our estuaries, bays and Long Island Sound are suffering. Development means more run-off and additional nitrogen which bring more alga, fish kills and other environment degradation. Should the North Fork become more like the overdeveloped parts of Long Island, tourism or agriculture will suffer, real estate values stagnate or drop, and real estate taxes would increase to provide the additional services needed. Why kill – or even threaten – the goose (tourism, farming, fishing) that lays the golden eggs?