At Peconic Baykeeper’s fourth annual Celebration of Our Bays, guests congregated in the backyard of the Port of Missing Men, a private estate in Southampton overlooking Scallop Pond and Cow Neck.
Admiring the setting was just as appealing as helping yourself to the raw bar of oysters and clams, served on ice in a canoe, donated by local fishermen. The pheasant in pastry cups was worth a try too.
Kevin McAllister, the organization’s president and Baykeeper, took shade under a tree.
“Scallop Pond is in fairly good shape,” McAllister said. “The owner doesn’t use pesticides. She shakes a fist at the mosquito control helicopters applying pesticides.”
He gestured to the land across the water, Cow Neck: a parcel of 540 undeveloped acres (218 hectares) conserved by the Peconic Land Trust with a gift by Louis Bacon, founder of Moore Capital Management.
“Look at the surrounds,” McAllister said. “You don’t have the people influence.”
McAllister has plenty of work to do elsewhere. He calls himself a “clean water warrior” for the estuaries from the Great South Bay to the tips of Long Island’s twin forks.
“He goes out and stops things from happening, and if they’re already happening, he keeps them from getting worse,” said Nancy Hebert, a Peconic Baykeeper board member who lives in Southampton.
Cleaning up Havens Beach in Sag Harbor was one effort. Over five to six years, Peconic Baykeeper “confirmed pollution and helped implement a restoration plan, so bathers will not get sick,” McAllister said. “We work for fishable, drinkable and swimmable waters.”
The Baykeeper -- whose organization is part of the Waterkeeper Alliance network -- then turned his attention to guests. They included Steven Klinsky, founder of New Mountain Capital LLC, George Brokaw, managing director Highbridge Principal Strategies Growth Equity, and John Wambold, managing director at Imperial Capital LLC, who recalled hunting pheasant on Cow Neck.
Other guests included Scott Lindsay, global head of mergers and acquisitions at Credit Suisse AG, and Susan Dunne, wife of Jim Dunne, co-founder of Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP.
Tickets ranged from $150 to $500 (which included a tour of the house). The party on Aug. 16 honored John Cronin, former Riverkeeper of the Hudson River for 17 years, and Skip Tollefson, who ran the Lobster Inn, a Southampton landmark on Route 27, for longer.
Cronin spoke of a project at Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries with International Business Machines Corp.: a real-time monitoring technology that will place sensors in the water to transmit data wirelessly.
“I can look up the weather in real time anywhere in the world,” Cronin said. “I’m going to be able to do the same thing with water. So I’ll know in real time if a swimming beach is contaminated, or if the drinking water in a village in the developing world is contaminated.”
Chris Brady Jr., who works in venture capital and mobile startups in New York, said he’s involved in protecting Clifton Bay in the Bahamas, where the water is overrun with lionfish. His role model is a man his father has known since college.
“Louis Bacon is a huge inspiration to me,” Brady said.
Maureen Sherry, author of a middle-grade novel about the adventure of a family moving from Brooklyn to Fifth Avenue, said she will plant hard clam and oyster beds to better filter local waters on Sept. 7, working with the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Guy Collins on wine, Ryan Sutton on U.S. food and Hephzibah Anderson on books.