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Southampton Beach Rebuilding Work Delayed Until Next Fall

Publication: The Southampton Press
By Michael Wright   Oct 4, 2012 11:36 AM
Oct 10, 2012 11:52 AM

A major beach rebuilding project targeting six miles of oceanfront in Water Mill, Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, which proponents had hoped could be completed as early as this coming winter, will be put off until at least November 2013.

The delay will allow state legislation to exempt certain property owners from the special taxes that will pay for the $24 million project. Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said this week that legislation is being pushed through the State Legislature by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. that would exempt two properties, both of which have conservation easements on them, from the beach rebuilding project’s special taxing schedules. That legislation will not come up for a vote in the legislature until at least January, however.

Because of restrictions on dredging the ocean floor between March and November to protect migratory fish species, the delay would mean that the project would not be able to get under way until late next year.

Even without the delay, getting the massive dredging project rolling this winter would have been a challenge because of the time needed to solicit and review bids for the work from dredging companies, and the time needed to get the proper dredging vessels into local waters. But some of the organizers of the effort had been confident they would have gotten the work done.

“We were ready to go—I think we were going to be able to get it done December through March,” said Sagaponack resident Alan Stillman, one of the homeowners who marshaled the effort to form the special taxing districts and organize the planning of the beach reconstruction. “Sure, we’re a little disappointed. The longer you wait, the more risk you take. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed that we have a nice, mild winter. If we have a big nor’easter, or a hurricane, that’s a real risk.”

Coastal engineering consultant Aram Terchunian, who helped design the beach reconstruction project, said there were strong hopes that the work could be done this winter. A major beach nourishment project slated for the ocean beaches in Hampton Bays near Shinnecock Inlet this winter could have helped with the logistics of getting a dredge vessel ready for the Water Mill-Sagaponack work, and kept costs down, he said. But a similar project scheduled for the West Hampton Dunes shoreline next winter might provide similar economies of scale and logistic benefits as well.

“It’s conceivable that the equipment being used for West Hampton Dunes is going to be more similar to what we need anyway,” Mr. Terchunian said. “You make plans because without plans you’ll never get anything done, but you have to be flexible, too.”

The proposed project calls for some 2.5 million tons of sand to be dredged from the ocean floor one to two miles offshore and pumped onto a six-mile stretch of beach running from Flying Point in Water Mill to the East Hampton Town line in Sagaponack. The dredging work, which will take three to four months to complete, will raise and widen the ribbon of beach in the project zone as well as create a more gradual slope for hundreds of feet below the surf line to dampen the erosive effects of waves breaking on the shoreline.

The project is to be paid for with bonds taken out by Southampton Town and repaid primarily with funds raised by a special tax levied only on the 141 oceanfront properties along the waterfront within the project zone. The town itself, which owns five public beaches within the project area, would pay about 11 percent of the total cost, a little less than $3 million.

The state legislation is intended to exempt two specific property owners, the family of Sagaponack farmer John C. White and the owners of the Bridgehampton Club, a private beach club and golf course. Both have conservation easements over the large swaths of oceanfront property they own, precluding any future development of the land.

The White family, which owns 24 acres of farmland with more than 1,000 feet of beachfront, was on tap to pay more than $60,000 a year in taxes for the project, an amount the family said it simply could not afford to pay. The beach club, while not claiming it would be unable to pay the tax, argued that it was unfair for it to have to pay to protect land that has been protected from development, particularly if the White family were going to receive an exemption.

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What!? I thought that this was still under discussion. So the Councilpersons have decided that we are going to pay $$3M to protect the property of the rich? Let's remember that the public beaches will still be there, regardless of where the barrier beach decides to settle after storms. The ONLY way that this project should be allowed to go forward is if the rich property owners pay the whole nut and immunize the Town from any resulting liability.

I can think of several other uses to ...more
By highhatsize (2112), East Quogue on Oct 4, 12 1:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Hey Hig Hat, why is it that you always want something for nothing. If you need it or want it you have to PAY for it. Nothing in life is free. If the roof on your house is leaking you have to pay for a new one. The roofing company isn't going to feel bad for you and give it to you. People don't work for free. They like to get paid. If $3M is what the job costs after looking at several bids then thats what it costs. Just pay the bill and move on. If you don't like it move.
By lifesaver (95), speonk on Oct 4, 12 2:23 PM
to lifesaver:

In this case, every resident but the oceanfront property owners are getting nothing - - - for $$3M. Why shouldn't the residents with houses on the ocean pay the entire cost without a Town subsidy?

That $$3M could be used to defray the cost of our $$150K/yr. cops.
By highhatsize (2112), East Quogue on Oct 7, 12 9:35 PM
How would the $3 million help defray costs of employees? The taxpayers are paying for them either way....

If you're going to try and rip the Town/Cops at least try and say something which makes sense.
By Nature (2588), Hampton Bays on Oct 8, 12 8:56 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By local 84 (165), riverhead on Oct 8, 12 12:15 PM
to Nature:

Here's the concept, Nature, if the taxpayers don't have to pay $$3M to the oceanfront homeowners, then their taxes will be lower despite the cost of the $$150K cops.
By highhatsize (2112), East Quogue on Oct 8, 12 12:42 PM
I agree that the town taxpayers shouldn't have to pay the $3 million - but you claimed that the EXTRA $3 million should go toward the Town Police. How would that help anything? Taxpayers are on the hook no matter what...

You were just trying to come up with a segue into bashing police pay and it failed. Sorry to have wasted your 2nd comment of the day...
By Nature (2588), Hampton Bays on Oct 8, 12 7:31 PM
Where's Tim Bishop when you need him? Maybe we can get an Obamabeach!!

By itsamazing (159), Southampton on Oct 4, 12 3:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By local 84 (165), riverhead on Oct 8, 12 12:16 PM
So by this logic - shouldn't the TOWN taxpayers be exempt from paying? The only reason Town taxpayers are on the hook is to pay for the public lands that the Town owns. The whole point of acquiring those lands in the first place was to preserve them from development. And yet, the taxpayers are forced to pay for this project while these two special property owners will be exempt, all while benefitting from the project just as much as their neighbors.

No one on the TB sees a problem with ...more
By Nature (2588), Hampton Bays on Oct 4, 12 4:43 PM
And how is this going to effect the migration of bass, blues and other species when the last of the schools head south in november and december and return again in the spring ? How long will the water remain silted ? What is the estimated fish kill ? How much of the breeding stock of bass remain in montauk in the late fall and will they be effected ? Sounds like an environmental study needs to be done, eh? And don't dismiss the importance of this as the entire environmental movement started in ...more
By lazymedic (99), southampton on Oct 4, 12 4:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
Dredging sand to the beach is a total waste of money. I have watched sand being pumped onto the west side of the shinnecock inlet for decades it is gone usually in 6 months. Can you imagine the lawsuits started by oceanfront homeowners when their sand is gone in 6 months? They will start suits against the town, the experts, and the dredging company. They will refuse too pay their assessments, and start a mess for the town. The town should not be involved in this.
By chief1 (1316), southampton on Oct 8, 12 10:41 AM
Actually that homeowners along the ocean have been funding their own projects for years which is why they are agreeing to doing this. They overwhelmingly have stated they want it and are located within a special taxation district. Also, the way the project is designed it will not be the same temporary sand addition as in the past. I'm not saying it's going to work - but it's not going to be how you are making it to be.

If they refuse to pay their assessments then their properties can ...more
By Nature (2588), Hampton Bays on Oct 8, 12 10:48 AM
Are you really so naive to think that if this doesn't work the town will not spend tons of money defending unhappy people on the ocean? There is no such thing as permanant sand on the oceanfront. It is always one storm away from being washed out. Living on the ocean sometimes means they have too bring in sand to stablize ther property. The homeowners want cheap dredged sand and want the town to contribute, and too hold the note on it. If I need a roof I pay for it. It is a ridiculous idea.
By chief1 (1316), southampton on Oct 8, 12 5:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
You are really hungup on that roof analogy huh?

I'm not naive - I know how things work in this world. But I do know that the homeowners are in a special taxation district and can't simply refuse to pay the assessment. The large majority of them are paying for sand on their own - so might as well have everyone in the neighborhood do it. While they are rich, they're not stupid. They're fully aware that the sand can be washed away in one storm - but the proposed project is designed to ...more
By Nature (2588), Hampton Bays on Oct 9, 12 9:59 AM
**Scratch the "10 year program thing". I think it's going to be 10 years to pay it back... my point is the project is designed so that one storm won't wipe out everything. Again, I'm not saying it will work but it's not the same as putting a little bit of sand in front of your house.
By Nature (2588), Hampton Bays on Oct 9, 12 10:01 AM
Putting sand on the beach is a design? Guess what there is no design to stop erosion nothing works. You have to continuously pump sand on the beach and that is expensive. This project would cost twice as much if these people trucked the sand in. They want 3 million from the govt and cheap sand pure and simple.
By chief1 (1316), southampton on Oct 9, 12 9:04 PM
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