FIMP Reaches A Milestone, But Is Still Over The Horizon

Crews pump hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sand onto the beach just west of theShinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays in February. PRESS FILE

The $1.7 billion package of beach nourishment and coastal protection projects of the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Project — commonly known simply as FIMP — has reached a milestone step, but seems unlikely to get underway for at least another year.

Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers chief engineer’s office gave its final stamp of approval to the FIMP project plan — 60 years after it was first conceived and seven years after Congress agreed to fund the infamously delay-plagued project as part of the response to Superstorm Sandy’s impacts on Long Island’s southern coastline.

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Water Resources Development Act which includes additional funding for the maintenance of the FIMP coastline projects over the next 30 years.

The bill still must find its way onto the agenda of the Senate — possibly a tall order amid the coronavirus epidemic response — and will then be brought to New York State and local municipalities for approval of the maintenance agreement, which would have to be partially funded locally.

“We don’t really know what the timing is now — we’re trying to find that out,” said Aram Terchunian, a coastal engineering consultant who is representing several municipalities that will get FIMP projects, including East Hampton Town and Westhampton Beach Village. “The two steps on the maintenance money have to be done down in [Washington] D.C., so who knows what that means. It’s going to be at least another year before we see any sand.”

Among the projects included in the FIMP plan are broad beach re-nourishment efforts in Montauk, Hampton Bays and East Quogue, some hotly-debated modifications to the Westhampton Beach jetties and another influx of sand in West Hampton Dunes.
The details of the plan have met with some bristling from locals.

In Montauk, the town has said that the Army Corps is not planning to pump enough sand onto the beaches along the hamlet’s downtown business district.

Even as the town recently adopted a long-range planning study that recommends the first row of hotels along the oceanfront be removed to protect them from erosion, it is also exploring a plan to create a special taxing district.