Army Corps to air plan to buffer downtown Montauk from storms

Flood inundation map for downtown Montauk.
The Army Corps’ flood inundation map for downtown Montauk.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Congress approved $700 million in funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect vulnerable areas of the south shore that are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

On Sept. 26, the Army Corps will roll out potential solutions to use some of that money to protect downtown Montauk at a special meeting of the East Hampton Town Board. The work is expected to begin in 2014.

The meeting will be held at town hall on Pantigo Road at 11 a.m., and despite the fact that there is not expected to be input from the public, members of the Surfrider Foundation plan to attend to make their concerns known about hardening of the shoreline and public access to the beach.

The Army Corps’ project is being called an “Emergency Stabilization,” aimed at reducing the risk of flooding during coastal storms, as part of the Corps’ ongoing Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study said Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Chris Gardner on Wednesday.

Mr. Gardner said options under consideration include filling in a “feeder beach” with 120,000 cubic yards of  sand that would drift westward to replenish sand on down-drift beaches, the construction of a 15 foot high dune or a 90 foot wide beach berm, or both in conjunction, or the construction of the berm, dune and the installation of groins — rock jetties along the beach perpendicular to the shore — to trap the sand.

Mr. Gardner said the sand fill is the “only alternative currently proven to have the positive benefit-to-cost ratio required to be economically justified. Economic analyses are ongoing regarding the other alternatives.” He added that the construction of the dune and berm “could involve real estate requirements that might drive up initial costs.”

He said the project won’t move forward until the Army Corps gauges local support for the project and weighs the cost-to-benefit ratio of the different options.

“Economic realities that must be taken into account for each alternative include costs of initial construction, any real estate requirements, as well as long-term maintenance to potentially include costs of future renourishments that may be required depending on erosion expected with an alternative,” he said. “Our goal, if a suitable alternative is found, is to begin construction of risk reduction work for downtown Montauk sometime in late 2014.”

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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