East Hampton, Other Towns, Scrambling To Meet Federal Deadlines For Beach Projects

The FIMP project will reconstruct ocean beaches in Montauk, Tiana and West Hampton Dunes.

East Hampton Town needs to secure permission from five Montauk property owners in order to officially sign on to the Army Corps of Engineers’ Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation project, or FIMP, which the town hopes will rebuild Montauk’s beaches as soon as next year.

The town already has easements from most of the homeowners in the stretch of beach that will be rebuilt from when the Army Corps constructed the 3,000-foot-long sandbag revetment along the downtown coastline in 2015. But the new plans by the Army Corps to pump hundreds of thousands of tons of sand ashore and restore the natural, more erosion resistant profile of the Montauk oceanfront extends well to the east, requiring the additional easements.

Town officials hoped that the land owners would sign on eagerly so that the town can make a May 31 deadline set by the Army Corps.

“If you are an oceanfront property owner in that location and we’re talking about sand only replenishment, I would think property owners will be quite delighted to learn that the beach in front of their house is going to be widened and elevated,” Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said on Tuesday.

Southampton Town has a much higher bar to meet in terms of mustering the required easement agreements from the hundreds of property owners in the Tiana region of Hampton Bays and East Quogue where the FIMP calls for extensive beach reconstruction plans.

Consultant Aram Terchunian, who has shepherded both towns through the FIMP planning process, told members of the East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday that Southampton has asked that the Army Corps initially accept the easements from just those homeowners in front of whose homes the sand pumping will actually take place, which is about 115 properties, rather than all of the more than 500 properties along the oceanfront in the region as the Corps has requested. Mr. Terchunian urged East Hampton officials to voice their support for that request as well since it could help speed the effort to get the sand nourishment underway.

The sand nourishment in Tiana and Montauk had initially been slated to be the first priority for mobilizing late this year and completion in early 2022. But after input from the state and the realization that Southampton would have to secure hundreds of easement agreements with private homeowners, the two projects were bumped down the priority list and are currently slated for 2023 at the earliest.

East Hampton has been lobbying the corps to put Montauk back at the top of the priority list because the town has been saddled with the annual costs of replenishing the sand atop sandbag revetment.

“We already have a project with [the Army Corps] that we were told FIMP would be coming on the heels of and we wouldn’t be on the hook for replenishment,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “This year, it was in excess of $700,000. So I think it is really important we move to the next phase as soon as possible.”