The New Haven project aims to bring the oyster into the “modern era” on the Quinnipiac River

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NEW HAVEN – Fair Haven, which started out as an oyster hamlet, will be home to a 21st century bivalve farm that will make the business temperamental, yet tasty, more predictable.

Copps Island Oysters a obtained the approval of a permit, exemption and site plan to modernize its long-standing operation on the Quinnipiac River, a process that took years of planning and discussions with neighbors and the Historic District Commission, all of which were further slowed down by the pandemic.

The project, based on other successful models across the country, will recreate the conditions for growing the large stock in a hatchery to allow it to grow large enough to be placed in beds for harvest later.

Two historic buildings at Copps Island Oysters that will be relocated as the business expands to Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven on September 24, 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

The approvals went smoothly, garnering praise at a meeting of the City Planning Commission, a gathering not often devoted to such expressions.

“It sounds like a really exciting thing, rather than just approving one and two bedroom condos. We are updating history, so to speak, of something that historically happened along this river and bringing it into the modern age, ”said Commissioner Carl Goldfield.

Edward Mattison, another commissioner, said it was “fascinating to see what is needed to help nature”. He suggested that they open the site to public tours.

He commended the owners for being sensitive to the concerns of neighbors and the history of the site.

Fair Haven rose to prominence in the mid-19th century as a major oyster port, according to the request for district recognition of the historic district of the Quinnipiac River.

Historical photos accompanying the application showed oyster farms at 576, 560, 536 and 530 Quinnipiac Avenue at least since 1901.

Norman Bloom and his son James Bloom, owners of the properties, are part of an oyster farming family that dates back to the 1940s.

Copps Island Oysters expansion plans on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven on September 24, 2021.

Copps Island Oysters expansion plans on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven on September 24, 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Paolo Campos from Patriquin Architects, who designed the improvementssaid Copps Island Oysters manages farming operations along Long Island Sound, from Norwalk to Mystic.

Patty King, who worked for Copps for several decades aboard a clam boat and is co-manager of the New Haven site, said Quinnipiac’s location is most important to the company.

Anyone who takes Quinnipiac Avenue to the intersection with Grand Avenue is familiar with the large pile of shells on the property, which is seasonal.

It rises in January and is slaughtered in July when it is returned to the oyster beds at the time of spawning. This is essential for the operation and will reappear in four months.

Patty King, Booth Manager at Copps Island Oysters Farm, is pictured by oyster dredging boat Jeanne Christine on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven on September 24, 2021.

Patty King, Booth Manager at Copps Island Oysters Farm, is pictured by oyster dredging boat Jeanne Christine on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven on September 24, 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

The company, after complaints from neighbors about an odor coming from the hulls, now uses a cleaning formula that appears to have corrected the problem.

The development upgrade includes improvements throughout the site, from the entrance to the parking lot and bulkhead repairs, but the main changes are the construction of an oyster building, the hatchery and the relocation of two buildings. historical.

The hatchery, which will be adjacent to the river, will have three floors.

The first two have large spawning and culture ponds where babies, or broadstock, are trained and fed by river water and algae growing in a greenhouse on the third floor.

This top floor will have a large glass roof with solar collectors that capture sunlight focused on the growth tanks.

Copps Island Oysters expansion plans on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven on September 24, 2021.

Copps Island Oysters expansion plans on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven on September 24, 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

Once the larvae are large enough, they are moved to establishment tanks where they attach to the shells to become spat. The spat is assessed for size and resistance before being shipped to prepared oyster beds throughout Long Island Strait.

“The bottom line is that we imitate nature here in this building. Their whole life cycle is based on feeding through filtration, ”which is why they need water from the river, Campos said. In the wild, they spawn in brackish or estuarine waters.

To alleviate the pump system that keeps water from clogging, Campos said there will be built-in redundancy with at least two of all pipes and pumps.

“If you get a blockage, which could kill the oysters, you can switch to another system,” he said.

The final strategy is to have the hatchery as close to the river as possible, which helps keep it running smoothly.

The new oyster building will have two floors, with the lower level designed to be protected against wet flooding, which means flood water can flow into it.

All utilities will be 14 feet above baseline flood level; the upper level will be an office and meeting space.

Copps Island Oysters expansion plans on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven on September 24, 2021.

Copps Island Oysters expansion plans on Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven on September 24, 2021.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

The two small historic buildings, which contribute to the structures of the historic district, will be moved from the floodplain and placed elsewhere on the property.

Campos said the new process will require intensive maintenance, but the result should be more certain to have a successful product.

King said the company had run small testing programs over the past two summers and found the larvae did well with the Quinnipiac water.

Donna Curran, who lives next door, said her only concern was the timing of the project, which she hopes won’t be long with unfinished portions lingering.

Chris Ozyck, a neighbor across the way, said he was excited about the multi-level projects.

He said it’s a business that defines the neighborhood with Fair Haven so closely linked to the oyster.

Ozyck said he also lives in the former home of an oyster baron and as an environmentalist appreciates the fact that oysters, along with catfish, are the only aquatic creatures that clean up the ‘water.

He said the project opens up opportunities for both historical and biological educational discussions, while the new hatchery will bring life to the waterfront.

The project still has a few steps, as the approval of the historic district was conditional, while the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection must intervene on the repairs to the partitions.

Oyster farm document through Helene Bennett


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