Jun 4, 2013 5:37 PM
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct an extensive rebuilding of the ocean beaches near downtown Montauk, paid for entirely by the federal government with Hurricane Sandy recovery aid, according to U.S. Representative Tim Bishop.
Congress this week approved $700 million in funding for the rebuilding of beaches and other protections for communities along the entire south shore of Long Island—and Mr. Bishop said that a beach nourishment project in Montauk will be among the work the Army Corps will tackle in the coming years.
“Montauk is a specific project for which funding will be allocated, first for design and planning, and second for the beach nourishment work itself,” he said on Tuesday, shortly after announcing that the funding for the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, or FIMPS, had been fully allocated by Congress. “It’s a victory for the South Fork. All of this work will go forward at 100-percent federal cost share.”
The East Hampton Town Board applauded the announcement and the work of Mr. Bishop, a Democrat from Southampton, and Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson for their aggressive efforts to get the Montauk beaches onto the Army Corps’s to-do list.
“Three cheers for Tim Bishop and Bill Wilkinson for the incredible effort they put in,” Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.
When the FIMPS project was initially presented in 2011, it contained a mention of a possible small-scale sand replenishment project in Montauk. That work, however, had been a low priority for the federal engineers who were working on the project.
After Sandy, Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Bishop put pressure on the Army Corps and other federal officials to revisit the issue and placed additional emphasis on the importance of rebuilding the beaches that separate the ocean from the hamlet’s business district.
“This is the first time Montauk has gotten the attention it deserves,” Mr. Wilkinson, a Montauk resident, said. “It may be a little late, but it’s progress.”
Mr. Bishop said in recent months that getting a Montauk beach nourishment project added to the FIMPS work plan was a top priority.
The Town Board also began talking about their own beach nourishment effort, on an albeit smaller scale to address some of the lingering effects of Sandy. Mr. Wilkinson said the town is in discussions to have more than 10,000 tons of sand trucked in and spread at Ditch Plains, the popular swimming and surfing spot, so that it may be used this summer.
The supervisor said he has been told that Ditch Plains would be a part of the scope of the federally funded project. But with that work likely at least 18 months to two years down the road, he said the town needs to take action now to keep the beach open this summer.
“We need to do something, whatever we can, just so people can get some blankets down there,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “Thus far, it’s not coming back the way we had hoped it would.”
He said that trucking in the sand would cost in the neighborhood of $300,000, and that the town could tap into a $700,000 bond it took out to make repairs to town facilities damaged by Sandy.
In addition to Montauk project, the full funding of the study projects ensures that beaches in Hampton Bays, East Quogue and West Hampton Dunes Village will also be rebuilt with federal money.
Mr. Bishop said the $700 million already alloted for the work recommended in the FIMPS study will likely not cover all of the design and implementation costs of every beach reconstruction project now planned. He added that more money from the $5.3 billion appropriated for the Army Corps from the $60 billion Sandy aid bill will be alloted to future reconstruction work.