The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ long-awaited Fire Island to Montauk Point post-Superstorm Sandy re-evaluation report is now available for public review, and the Army Corps is planning several community meetings after Labor Day to give the public a chance to weigh in on the massive document.
Among the projects recommended for the East End are a 90-foot-wide berm and 15-foot-high dune along the barrier beach south of Westhampton and the shortening of 13 groins along the Westhampton shoreline to reestablish natural coastal processes there.
The plan also includes a feeder beach at Potato Road in Sagaponack, which is contingent on a local pond opening management plan for Georgica Pond, and a sediment management plan for the controversial downtown Montauk beach stabilization project completed this past winter.
The plan provides for the placement of about 120,000 cubic yards of sand on the front face of existing berms at each location approximately every four years “as advance fill to offset erosion.”
It also calls for a “proactive breach response” plan along the barrier island fronting Shinnecock Bay, where the Army Corps will restore dunes to 13 feet or higher and 90 feet wide if they are “lowered below a 25 year design level of risk reduction,” and work to enhance the resiliency of the dune and the salt marsh on the bay side at Tiana Beach.
Congressman Lee Zeldin will brief members of the public on the study at a special meeting Thursday morning, Aug. 18, at 11:30 a.m. at Westhampton Beach Village Hall, 165 Mill Road, Westhampton Beach.
The Army Corps is planning to set up at least four meetings throughout the FIMP coverage area in the month of September, according to Army Corps Public Affairs Specialist James D’Ambrosio.
Mr. Zeldin’s office said Thursday that meetings are going to be scheduled for September 14 at Babylon Town Hall; Sept. 20 in Patchogue at the National Park Ferry Service Terminal; Sept. 27 in Southampton (either at the library or the college); and Sept. 28 at the Montauk Firehouse.
The Beacon will have more information on the final locations and times of the meetings once they are finalized.
Public comments will be accepted in writing through Sept. 29, either addressed to The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, Planning Division-Environmental Branch (ATTN: Mr. Robert Smith), 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278-0090 or by e-mail to: Project Biologist Robert.J.Smith@usace.army.mil and Project Manager Mark.f.Lulka@usace.army.mil.
Mr. D’Ambrosio said each meeting will include a presentation on the project, a poster board session explaining different aspects of the project and a question and answer period.
After the public comment period is closed and internal reviews of the draft are complete, he said, the project delivery team that wrote the original report will write a final report, which the Army Corps expects to be complete, delivered to headquarters and signed by the Assistant Secretary of the Army “in early 2017.”
After that process is complete, the Army Corps will prepare design plans to bid out the project, with the anticipation that work will begin “sometime in 2018,” said Mr. D’Ambrosio.
“People really want to know when there’s going to be a shovel in the ground, but that’s contingent upon everything here happening,” he said. “There are a lot of checks and balances. We want to be good stewards of federal money, and we want it to be comprehensive. It’s all designed to work within a system together.”
The estimated cost of the project is $1.2 billion, funded at federal expense through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, passed just after Superstorm Sandy struck Long Island’s shores.
While Mr. D’Ambrosio said that no project will protect the coastline 100 percent from storm damage, the projects together are designed to minimize damage to life, property and infrastructure.
He said the Army Corps anticipates some of the projects might be controversial, as was the case with the Montauk beach stabilization project conducted last winter, and representatives from his office are willing to set up additional meetings in communities where people would like to have more input.
“They’re major civil engineering projects, and it gets very involved,” he said. “It also involves taxpayer money. But local communities couldn’t come up with this kind of money to get these projects done.”