The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering adding 160,000 cubic yards of sand to a 8,500-foot stretch of Hashamomuck Cove on the Long Island Sound in Southold to protect the area, where houses are perched precariously on the edge of the scoured coastline, from coastal storms.
The project would consist of an 8,500-foot long berm ranging from 25 to 75 feet in width, with a height of 6 feet above sea level, “to resemble an average natural elevation of existing shoreline,” according to the Army Corps’ draft Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study for the area. The sand “would be obtained from an upland sand source.”
The Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, available online here, was originally scheduled to be open for public comment through Sept. 16, but has since been extended to Sept. 30, according to Congressman Lee Zeldin, who held a press conference Thursday morning announcing some updates to the timeline for public comment.
A public hearing will be held at Southold Town Hall on Sept. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Comments can also be mailed to Ms. Judith Johnson, Project Biologist, New England District Corps of Engineers, 696 Virginia Rd. Concord, MA 01742-2751 or emailed to Judith.L.Johnson@usace.army.mil.
The Army Corps’ initial projected cost for the project is nearly $13.5 million, and the total cost, including beach replenishment, is estimated at $17.75 million.
The cost of planning and engineering for the project, not included in that figure, will be borne by the federal government.
The initial cost of construction would be borne at 65 percent federal and 35 percent non-federal expense, while the continuing costs would be borne at 50 percent federal and 50 percent non-federal funding.
According to the draft study, “the non-federal project partner for the study is the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The non-federal sponsor for project implementation has not been identified at this point in the study, but a non-federal sponsor for the project would be required for project implementation.”
While the study estimates that the work would be done over seven-and-a-half months between March and October of 2019, there are still many unknowns listed, including the lack of a non-federal sponsor.
Mr. Zeldin said at Thursday’s press conference that he hopes work will be done in 2018.
The project would also call for easements on 75 parcels of privately owned lands along the cove, and public access must be allowed along the project area in order for federal funds to be used. The non-federal sponsor would be charged with drafting the public access plan.
Currently, the only public beach access along the cove is Southold Town Beach, and the plan would require public access points every half mile along the 1.6 mile stretch of coastline.
According to the document, the Army Corps also weighed the possibility of installing a new sheet pile bulkhead shoreward of the properties along the cove, but found that the cost of the bulkhead would exceed the benefits.
The intervals at which sand would be replenished in the years after the initial construction “depends on a variety of factors including sea level rise, storm frequency, and type of storms,” according to the document, but renourishment costs in the plan were “estimated based on a 5 year interval (9 events) assuming 7,250 cubic yards per renourishment event.”
During initial construction, sand would be trucked to the site and be delivered to staging points with direct access to the beach, where it would be spread and regraded by bulldozers or front end loaders.
“Southold is a coastal community and protecting our coastline is essential to protecting our communities. The completion of the Hashamomuck Cove Study was a vital first step in the effort to protect a cove from eroding to a point where it would be unrecoverable,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell after Thursday’s press conference. “The efforts of Rep. Zeldin were key to getting us to where we are today. The work is not done, however, and it is important for the public to have their voices heard during the public comment period to ensure that this critical project keeps moving forward.”
“I have been involved with this project from the beginning and am so pleased that it’s finally getting to this point,” said Southold Town Councilwoman Jill Doherty. “This project is not only important for the residents at Hashamomuck to save their homes that have been in their families for generations, but also for everyone else that lives, visits, and passes through Southold to get to Connecticut by the ferry. Southold Town is unique having only two roads in and out of the Town. It’s imperative that we all work together to protect this area from future loss.”
More information about the proposed project is online here.