East Hampton Will Not Try To Stop Montauk Work

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A group of local Montauk surfers showed up to protest the Army Corps of Engineers proposed project to change Montauk beaches during the East Hampton Town Board meeting on November 5. Photo by Michael Heller.
A group of local Montauk surfers showed up to protest the Army Corps of Engineers proposed project to change Montauk beaches during the East Hampton Town Board meeting on November 5. Photo by Michael Heller.

The East Hampton Town Board will continue to monitor the Downtown Montauk Stabilization Project, which is being undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers, but will not take any steps to try to stop the work, despite an 11th hour outpouring of public opposition.

The work, which involves shoring up dunes along the Atlantic Ocean in the business district, is an interim project until the completion of the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, which has been decades in the making.

The town agreed to the project after federal funding became available following Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“It can’t be emphasized enough that the current project is an interim protective measure until FIMP can finally be completed and the long-term stabilization solutions can be implemented, said Supervisor Larry Cantwell in a release. “We will do everything in our power to cooperate with our federal, state, and county partners and strongly advocate that the preferred sand-only stabilization project be authorized, funded, and implemented as soon as possible.”

“The Town Board is charged with the responsibility of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the Town of East Hampton. The Town Board cannot ignore the specific findings made in the Corps’ environmental review, nor can it ignore the Federal Court’s rationale in protecting the public’s interest by undertaking this project,” added Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc.

“The calls to cancel this project are well meaning, but simply not in the interest of public safety. We recognize a “sand-only” project is the preferred option, but it was rejected by the Army Corps for this interim project and won’t be an option until FIMP is implemented. We will closely observe and track the construction activity of the contractors to ensure compliance with the significant environmental safeguards built into the project’s design that were developed over the past three years of design and environmental review to ensure the protection of both our coastline and downtown areas,” said Councilman Fred Overton.

“After Hurricane Sandy, for those who are entrusted with the public safety, doing nothing was not an option. Leaving downtown Montauk vulnerable for years would have been irresponsible. This interim measure was necessary to provide some protection to downtown Montauk. The Fire Island to Montauk Point project was still several years away. I believe the Town made the right decision in allowing the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the emergency project,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman concurred, saying the “reinforced dune project should not be looked at as an end product, but rather as a means to an end. In a few years, a wide sandy beach will be constructed in front of the dune. Under this federally funded project, sand will be dredged from off shore and pumped onto the beach. The current project is necessary in the interim period to protect all of downtown Montauk if a major storm strikes. After the beach has been constructed, the current project will not be necessary and can be removed.”

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