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Mar 18, 2009 1:34 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Road closure irks fishermen and beachgoers

Mar 18, 2009 1:34 PM

At the northern end of Sebonac Inlet Road, erosion has scoured away the small beach and caused parts of asphalt roadway to wash away, spurring Town Superintendent of Highways Bill Masterson to order the last 250 feet of the road closed.

The barricades have effectively shut down vehicle access to the popular fishing area and sunbathing beach at the road’s terminus, where the inlet leading from Bullhead Bay and Sebonac Creek empties into Great Peconic Bay between Southampton and Hampton Bays.

On Monday, representatives of the Southampton Association for Beach Access, a citizens group formed to counter attempts by private homeowners to limit beach access in front of their homes, asked the Town Trustees if there is anything that can be done to have the beach re-opened to vehicles. A small path was left open at the end of the barricades, but it is for use by emergency vehicles only—as formerly warned by a sign that Mr. Masterson says was ripped down by unknown vandals.

“Even one lane with a turn-around would be just fine,” Mark Borucke, an SABA member, said. “People use that beach. The repair that could occur doesn’t look that bad. It’s only a tiny portion of the roadway.”

The Trustees said they have met with Mr. Masterson and are trying to figure out what can be done to facilitate better access to the area or to get the road repaired. They own the beaches that border the roadway, but their jurisdiction ends at the high-tide line, they said.

“It’s a very valuable place to lose,” Trustee Eric Shultz said of the mile of public beach that lies between Sebonac Inlet Road and Cold Spring Point Road. “It needs two accesses.”

Mr. Borucke said that on very high tides, around the full and new moons, the rising water could trap unaware vehicle owners if the Sebonac Inlet end of the beach does not have an egress.

On Monday, Mr. Masterson said he expects it to be a long time before the road end is open to traffic again. Only a small portion of the roadway has collapsed from the erosion, which anecdotal evidence suggests took place over the winter, but Mr. Masterson said that leaving the roadway open to traffic could open the town to liability if there were to be an accident there.

The erosion seems to have accelerated since the inlet to Sebonac Creek and Bullhead Bay was dredged in September by Suffolk County, Mr. Masterson said. Repairs can’t be made to the road until the area is stabilized enough to ensure it won’t wash out again. It might require building a bulkhead or rock barrier, he said, which could take a long time to design and get permission for.

“I can go in and repave it tomorrow, but if the cause of the erosion isn’t addressed it’s just throwing good money after bad,” Mr. Masterson said. “We can’t just throw a bulkhead up. We have to get the [state Department of Environmental Conservation] involved. Then you’re talking about a long time.”

Mr. Masterson said that when the county dredged the inlet in the fall the town asked them to place the dredge spoils on the beach alongside Sebonac Inlet Road, but were turned down. The sand was deposited on the bayfront beach on the opposite side of the inlet, an undeveloped privately owned island of wetlands.

The SABA representative, Mr. Borucke and attorney Tim Behringer said they worried that the area that has become the road ending will soon be designated a no-parking zone, preventing people from even walking to the beach and fishing area.

Mr. Masterson said there are no plans to ban parking and that he regretted having to block off the road.

“If we can prevent one tragedy from happening we have to do this,” he said. “But I will endeavor to see if there is something we can do to open the road in some way.”

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Interesting how they are always trying to keep traffic to a minimum on that rd and now a small problem has shut it down for and unknown amount of time. Smells fishy. Keep endeavoring to prevent your tragedies Mr M. Maybe it's time for a new town super of highways if Masterson can't get the job done?
By icecreamman (287), Southampton on Mar 19, 09 9:22 AM
I used to fish and go down there then it became a hang out for the less than nice crowd. It started getting dumpy. Maybe now it will be nicer. Used to be a nice family spot. However fisherman with trustee passes should be allowed to access the beach, at their own risk. Amazing how stupid the whole dredging thing is. I tried to get the spoils moved to our beach but instead they put it somewhere else. The DEC only works for themselvs and not the local people. I cant help but wonder if the damage may ...more
By North Sea Citizen (441), North Sea on Mar 23, 09 6:41 AM
reminds me of a book called ''Its the Whiskey Talking''.

By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Mar 24, 09 4:26 PM
Firecracker 8K run & 3 Mile Walk Southampton Village 4th of July weekend