Pictured Above: A dredge contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked on the West of Shinnecock Inlet project in late February.

Editor’s Note, Dec. 25: President Donald Trump has threatened to veto and has not yet signed this bill, though he had been expected to sign the bill when this article was published Dec. 22.

Original Story Follows:

The 2021 federal spending bill authorized by Congress Monday night includes funding for numerous projects to buffer the East End’s shoreline from storms and sea level rise.

The largest of these projects is the Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, in the works for the past 60 years, which contains recommendations for $1.7 billion worth of work to manage tidal flooding, waves and erosion from coastal storms along 83 miles of the South Shore of Long Island.

On the East End, FIMP calls for shoring up beaches and dunes in downtown Montauk, along Dune Road between Shinnecock Bay and the Atlantic Ocean at Tiana Beach and just west of Shinnecock Inlet, where Army Corps contractors spent last winter conducting an emergency breach repair dredging project. Farther west, particularly in low-lying areas like Mastic, FIMP calls for raising more than 4,000 houses out of the floodplain.

In response to major storms, the FIMP plan has been revised significantly since it was initiated, including a substantial set of changes after 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, which were the subject of the last FIMP public comment period in 2016.

Southold's Town Beach entrance on Jan. 16.
Southold’s Town Beach on Hashamomuck Cove in January of 2018 after a major storm.

The bill also includes several other studies and projects, including some on the North Fork, announced Congressman Lee Zeldin on Monday evening, including the Hashamomuck Cove Coastal Storm Risk Management Project in Southold, and authorization for feasibility studies for Wading River Creek in Riverhead, Reel Point Preserve on Shelter Island, Goldsmith Inlet in Southold and Lake Montauk Harbor in Montauk. 

“On the East End of Long Island, we have a unique responsibility to safeguard our local waterways, from bolstering our local maritime infrastructure to managing future storm risks,” said Mr. Zeldin. “Working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the Army Corps team at its New York District office, this bill prioritizes local projects that are vital to my Congressional District. Continuing to safeguard and invest in our maritime infrastructure will help preserve Long Island’s way of life for generations to come.”

Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic is now completely shoaled in.
Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic, shoaled in in 2016.

The Hashamomuck Cove Coastal Storm Risk Management Project in Southold is designed to help reduce coastal storm damage to residents who live along the Long Island Sound. The project is expected to play a key role in protecting County Road 48 — a major transportation route used for hurricane evacuation, while also protecting critical infrastructure including nursing homes and hospitals.

The initial federal funding contribution estimate of $11,549,000 for this project is now eligible for funding by the Army Corps of Engineers as part of its upcoming annual work plan. This project also requires an initial contribution of $6,218,000 from a non-federal sponsor.

The spending bill directs the Secretary of the Army to expedite the completion of the feasibility studies and, if justified, may proceed directly to pre-construction planning for Reel Point Preserve on Shelter Island, which will focus on navigation and shoreline stabilization; Goldsmith Inlet in Southold, whose entrance is perennially silted in, which will focus on improving navigation; Lake Montauk Harbor in Montauk, which will focus on improving navigation.

The Wading River Creek feasibility study will focus on hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, flood risk management, navigation, and ecosystem restoration. The creek is adjacent to the decommissioned Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she 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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