When work began on the long-debated Army Corps of Engineers beach revitalization program in Montauk last week, residents of the hamlet were taken aback by the scale of the work and began to demand the town stop the project.
Dozens of beleaguered Montauk residents showed up at a town board meeting Thursday evening, decrying the work that had begun with large excavators arriving on the beach. The next morning, three residents went to the work site and were arrested when they refused to leave. Since then at least four more people have been arrested. On Sunday, hundreds of surfers showed up on the beach to protest the project and then on Tuesday, November 10, the town board’s work session in Montauk was moved to accommodate the large crowd.
The revitalization program involves placing huge geobags underneath the sand, in the hope they will bolster and protect the beach, the dunes, and, with that, the many hotels, homes and restaurants in downtown Montauk built on the ocean beach.
Members of the board have said openly for some time that the geobag plan was not their preferred project—that would be a sand-only project—but that it was the best compromise to make at that time. The geobags are supposed to be a temporary measure, until a sand-only plan can be realized.
“Forget for a moment that much of the community sat out the last two and a half years of debate surrounding the Army Corps of Engineers project now underway in downtown Montauk,” Jeremy Samuelson, executive director of CCOM, said this week.
“While there is great disagreement about the Corps’ geobag project, there is near unanimity in the community for pumping sand onto the beach. The town board needs to galvanize community support for the construction of a wide, sandy beach and spell out clearly how soon they think we can get there,” he said.
The Army Corps is working on the project five days a week, beginning at 7 a.m. each day.