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Apr 9, 2013 3:47 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Are Answers To Montauk's Erosion Near?

Apr 12, 2013 10:09 AM

Answers to Montauk’s erosion problem seem to be shaping up on the East Hampton Town Board, as members plan next week to vote on a resolution accepting federal funding for an engineered beach in Montauk, should such money become available.

Erosion in Montauk, and the various recommendations offered by the town’s Coastal Erosion Committee, a group assembled after Hurricane Sandy to diagnose the issue, was the only topic of discussion at a heated work session at the Montauk Firehouse on Tuesday. Members of Montauk’s downtown business community, residents, committee members and Town Board members sounded off on some recent developments in the erosion dialogue—which have boiled down to the divisive question of whether the Town Board would permit hard structures on beaches in emergency cases for properties already compromised by Hurricane Sandy.

At last Thursday’s Town Board meeting, East Hampton Business Alliance Executive Director Margaret Turner and Ira Barocas of Springs expressed their frustration over the Town Board’s inability to move past the issue of whether vulnerable beachfront property owners should be allowed to place rock on their properties. Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and Councilman Dominick Stanzione had said they’d support hardening the shoreline in temporary, emergency cases, while Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc and Councilwoman Sylvia Overby have expressed hesitation and a desire to study the matter further. Ms. Turner called it “a lack of action” on the erosion front. “We cannot afford as a town eight months of autopilot,” Mr. Barocas told the board, apparently singling out Ms. Quigley and Mr. Wilkinson, neither of whom will seek reelection in November.

This week, Councilman Van Scoyoc was taken to task on his position over hardening shorelines. Chris Coleman, a member of the town’s Coastal Erosion Committee, asked him if the town were able to get federal funding for an engineered beach, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials came up with a plan that included some kind of hardening—for example, a rock core surrounded by dune—would he support it. When Mr. Van Scoyoc said he’d have to look at the plan, Mr. Coleman called it “a roundabout answer” and that Mr. Van Scoyoc was “hurting people.”

Later in the meeting, Mr. Van Scoyoc said he would be “very much inclined” to go along with recommendations by the Army Corps of Engineers. He and Mr. Stanzione pointed out there’s no guarantee yet the federal government would fund and design an engineered beach. Paul Monte, the general manager and CEO of Gurney’s Inn and a member of the Town Coastal Erosion Committee, said if the board doesn’t publicly demonstrate support for federal funding for an engineered beach—a potential “once in a lifetime opportunity”—federal officials are not likely to make it happen. After comments by members of the audience, and an attempt by Ms. Quigley and Mr. Wilkinson to force a vote on the issue, Mr. Van Scoyoc said he’d sponsor a resolution next week that would speak to support federal funding for an engineered beach, should money become available.

Mr. Stanzione addressed the interim situation, highlighting that the process of amending Town Code and going against the town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan to permit material like rocks to be used in an emergency, temporary basis would involve four votes, public hearings and would take somewhere between six and seven weeks. The board plans to begin that process.

“And we’ll just hope nothing happens in the next six weeks,” Mr. Wilkinson said, referring to future storms.

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Each journey begins with one small step.

Hardened structures on the beach will beget more hardened structures.

Long Island is a drop in the bucket in geologic time, and will soon erode away on this time scale.

Go in with eyes wide open on this debate, but know that all of Long Island will require hardened structures to save it from the forces of Mother Nature, at least until the high tides surpass even the highest hardened structures.

VERY EXPENSIVE to build jetties ...more
By PBR (4863), Southampton on Apr 10, 13 9:51 AM
whats the alternative? everyone pack up and move?

I'm not being sarcastic, I truly dont know the answer.
By tm (174), mtk on Apr 10, 13 10:08 AM
The first of many answers must be one of context IMO: that we need to make intelligent and CONSCIOUS choices here, "with eyes wide open." No panicked decision-making.

One alternative is to not permit hardened structures, but to permit PRIVATE MONEY dump all the sand they afford to buy on their own private property.

Yes, buildings will eventually be undermined, and will fall into the ocean. Many such structures have done this through the decades, and we have all managed to live ...more
By PBR (4863), Southampton on Apr 10, 13 10:52 AM
And what happens when the high tides exceed the tops of all the bulkheads on Long Island, and when the bays have risen more than a couple of inches?

Montauk's average tide has been rising for decades. Think this process is going to change course?
By PBR (4863), Southampton on Apr 10, 13 10:53 AM
Sea level trend at Montauk tide station on Fort Pond Bay:
By PBR (4863), Southampton on Apr 10, 13 10:56 AM
my concern with that thinking is your statement that "Some financial losses will occur, to offset profits already realized, and life will go on."

If I am reading that correctly, your view is, in part, that since people who built close to the water, and in montauk's case, did so decades before we maybe had a true understanding of erosion, that they and their homes or businesses should be sacrificed because they made their money and thats that.
By tm (174), mtk on Apr 10, 13 10:56 AM
"sacrificed" and "thats that" are your words BTW, and do not reflect my feelings about the burdensome losses that erosion causes.

Before the "science" of erosion, the old-timers built mainly little shacks close to the ocean and bays. Their wisdom was hard-earned from sweat and toil on the land and water.

They did not need science to see beyond their noses, and to know that The Sea giveth and it taketh, and that structures built near the water could someday be gone.

We ...more
By PBR (4863), Southampton on Apr 10, 13 1:45 PM
Article updated.

The track record of the Army Corps of Engineers often includes a host of unintended consequences IMO.
By PBR (4863), Southampton on Apr 12, 13 5:04 PM
New article:
By PBR (4863), Southampton on Apr 20, 13 5:37 PM
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