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Aug 11, 2015 5:33 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Quogue Residents Air Concerns At Beach Nourishment Hearing

Terry Young, a member of Concerned Citizens of Quogue, speaks at Monday's public hearing. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Aug 16, 2015 11:06 AM

Quogue Village residents sounded off on a proposed $12 million to $15 million beach nourishment project during a public hearing on Monday night, questioning how it would be funded, the accuracy of supportive research, and how the redeposited sand would protect the mainland.

Representatives of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, who hosted the hearing at Village Hall that attracted about 200 people, said they will consider those comments and concerns before deciding if Quogue should be issued a permit allowing it to dredge an estimated one million cubic yards of sand from the ocean floor and redeposit it on the village’s 2.7 miles of beach.

The DEC is expected to decide on the permit within 60 days after the comments aired during Monday’s hearing are transcribed, according to George Hammarth, the project manager for the DEC.

One of the biggest shared concerns raised by attendees at the standing-room-only gathering is how the village would pay for the work, which is projected to be only a 10-year fix at most.

“I also think we need to have a cost-benefit analysis before we do this and not after,” Maureen Krause told DEC representatives after taking to the podium. “I understand the mayor wants the voters to make that decision ourselves and not have it dictated to us, but it’s very hard to make a decision without a proper cost analysis.”

The project has been projected to cost between $12 million and $15 million to complete, though the Village Board has not yet decided how taxpayers would cover the cost, assuming the necessary state and federal permits are secured. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must also sign off on the project.

Previously, members of the group pushing for the beach nourishment, the Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation, offered five different ways for the work to be financed, with the most extreme being only oceanfront homeowners would foot the entire bill. One of the other suggestions calls for all village property owners paying for a portion of the work.

Others in attendance Monday questioned the accuracy of the data compiled by First Coastal Engineering in Westhampton Beach that supports nourishment efforts. Some said the information relies on data, such as beach profiles, that go back to 2011, when the project was first proposed, and that the information no longer provides an accurate snapshot of the current coastline.

Lynn Joyce, a Concerned Citizens of Quogue member who lives on Dune Road, stated that the village’s beaches are “healthy,” adding that it is possible that they have grown in width since 2011 due to the natural rebuilding of the beach.

“I noticed that a lot of the studies that they quote are out of date,” Quogue resident Blair Kessler agreed.

“No barrier beach is like the other, and all the examples I’ve been given are east or west of our barrier beach, or in other counties and districts,” added Pamela Sabrin, another village resident. “This cannot fully explain what we need to know about our barrier beach.”

Aram Terchunian, the owner of First Coastal Engineering who has been hired as a consultant by members of the Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation, on Tuesday defended the accuracy of the information. He also noted that all of the associated data is available for the public to review. “The data is professionally assembled,” he said. “The methods are transparent and repeatable, and I stand behind the report.”

He noted that additional beach measurements were taken in June, though a report on those findings is not yet available.

Ms. Krause and others still took issue with the way the information was gathered, especially when it came to the susceptibility of the coastline. “If I actually look at the report there is a scarce amount of data or recent data about the beach profile,” she said. “It’s hard for anybody to evaluate the science and the credibility of the numbers without having a better understanding of the methods that are being used by them.”

Additionally, residents voiced complaints regarding the degree to which a fortification of the barrier beach would actually protect the mainland. One of the arguments previously made by proponents is that all village residents rely on the barrier island, noting that it serves as a buffer during serious storms, such as nor’easters and hurricanes.

“This project will do nothing to protect the flood prone area,” village resident Charles Skeen said at Monday’s hearing. “Putting sand on the beach will do nothing to protect that.”

Debbie Disston agreed with that assessment, adding that the village “makes no claim or suggestion that any property away from the oceanfront will derive protection from the project.”

Still, a few of the estimated 20 people to address DEC officials, mainly members of the Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation, spoke in favor of the work.

“I look upon the project as an insurance policy,” said Rob Friedman of Quogue, who is a member of the group and also owns a home on Dune Road. “Why do I say that? Because the danger of a breach is very, very real. And the damage it would cause to our village if that happened would be very, very severe.”

Marjorie Kuhn, president of the Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation, shared a similar opinion when she addressed those gathered earlier in the evening.

“To do nothing is simply not acceptable,” said Ms. Kuhn, who also owns a home on Dune Road. “I won’t accept it and let nature take its course because man has interfered. As a result, the erosion is anything but natural.”

The DEC will next transcribe and review all of the comments made during Monday’s hearing and then decide on whether or not to issue the permit. If one is ultimately granted, the village will schedule additional hearings to discuss both the project and how it would be funded.

“We obviously had some passionate statements from both sides,” Mayor Peter Sartorius said after the hearing. “There were interesting environmental issues raised, so the DEC will have to decide what to do.”

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Those that want to replenish the beaches are on the correct path.
By Summer Resident (245), Southampton N.Y. on Aug 15, 15 12:17 AM
Here's what bothers me about this: in Hampton Bays on Peconic Bay, rests tons of rusted, rotting refuse from a bygone era. Apparently, a pier used to be there on the bay along Newtown Road near East landing where many people vacation. In the style of the 60s or 70s, that pier was simply knocked down and left there. Now rusted concrete spears are there for everyone to see! But if they don't, they lose an eye or a foot or have to deal with an infection. When money could be spent to materially enhance ...more
By SHPredatorDept (72), Southampton on Aug 16, 15 8:41 PM
1 member liked this comment
$12 to $15 million in Quogue-just have the residents take out their checkbooks
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Aug 16, 15 9:06 PM
better yet-just charge Dune Rd residents
By westhamptonboy (227), Westhampton on Aug 16, 15 9:11 PM
San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons, Hampton Bays, Scottos