Montauk Point. June 1, 2013. b. young photo
Montauk Point. June 1, 2013. b. young photo

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking for public comment on its plan to fortify the revetment around the Montauk Lighthouse but if you have something to say, you’d better say it fast — the deadline for comments is this Friday, June 3.

The Army Corps’ long-languishing plan to fortify the bluff alongside the lighthouse was hastened by a “Hurricane Sandy Limited Re-evaluation to evaluate coastal storm damage risk reduction measures” in the wake of the 2012 superstorm,” according to the Army Corps.

The $14.6 million project consists of an 840 foot revetment, designed to withstand a 73-year storm event.

“The project provides protection for the most vulnerable portion of the bluff that would directly endanger the lighthouse complex should it fail,” according to the HSLR draft report, released in April.

The federal government plans to contribute $7.3 million to the project through the post-Sandy Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, while the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is sponsoring the state’s portion of the cost.

The lighthouse, owned by the Montauk Historical Society since 1996, is a National Historic Landmark, and was commissioned by George Washington two hundred years earlier, in 1796.

When the lighthouse was originally built, it was 300 feet from the bluff at the end of the South Fork, but the bluff has eroded over the past two centuries to the point where the lighthouse is now just 50 feet from the bluff.

The area surrounding the bluff is a popular surfcasting, surfing and sightseeing location.

The Army Corps’ plan consists of placing 15 ton armor stone on top of the existing, collapsing revetment after removing loose sand and stones at the foot of the revetment to provide a stable base.

The revetment would slope from the toe of the bluff at a 2:1 slope until it reaches an elevation of 10 feet, at which point there will be a 12 foot wide bench, which is like a step in the face of the bluff, eight feet above mean high water. From there, the revetment would continue at a 2:1 slope until reaching an elevation of 21 feet. The top bench at 21 feet would be approximately 30 feet wide.

The revetment would be topped by a stone splash apron of 1 to 2-ton boulders, underlain by a geotextile fabric, bringing the total height to 25 feet. The revetment would have plantings above the splash apron to stabilize the slope.

The Army Corps estimates the project will take 18 months to complete, and will involve a total of 4.56 acres of the grounds of the lighthouse, including two staging areas on either side of the revetment.

The plan outlined in the HSLR updates a 2005 feasibility study for the project, and makes several minor design changes, including a wider and lower crest of the revetment and a toe berm instead of a buried toe, which may be open for maintenance in the future.

The Army Corps said they made the adjustments in light of “constructability considerations, and application of current coastal processes and relative sea level change analysis.”

New York State legislators are also working on legislation to allow the state to enter “financially obligated agreements with non-profit organizations to halt erosion,” according to State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle.

Mr. LaValle’s bill passed the State Senate on May 5, 2016 and State Assemblyman Fred Thiele’s companion Assembly bill is currently in committee.

Detailed Army Corps documents on the project are online here. Written comments should be mailed to the following address by June 3:

Robert Smith, Project Biologist
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
26 Federal Plaza, Rm. 2131
New York, NY 10278-0090
(917) 790-8729
or email:

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

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