As the controversial work to build a sandbag revetment along the oceanfront of downtown Montauk continues this month, the environmental group Defend H2O has dropped a lawsuit filed nearly a year ago, because “construction has progressed to a point where the damages to the beach and natural protective features are too far gone.”
Defend H2O had also sought an injunction to prevent the work from going ahead, but that injunction was denied by the State Supreme Court as work began in the fall of 2015.
The suit was filed by Defend H2O founder Kevin McAllister, Defend H2O member Mike Bottini, who also serves as chair of the Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, which also vigorously opposed the project, as well as several other East End residents against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, East Hampton Town, the state DEC and Suffolk County, all partners in the project, which is being undertaken by contractors hired by the Army Corps.
“The court’s denial of an injunction to stop work moved the group to believe litigation had run its course,” according to a statement issued Thursday by Defend H2O. “The downtown Montauk shore-hardening project exists because of a failure to implement existing sustainable coastal policy and adhere to the law. While the Corps misrepresented the facts, officials pushed through its approval, disregarded town code, the LWRP, as well as federal and state coastal management statutes.”
“The adverse effects from shore-hardening structures are well-established in science and policy,” they added. “Hardening structures lead to the disappearance of the beach. Geotextile sandbags are defined in town code and state law as a form of structure. Structures are explicitly prohibited on ocean beaches.”
Members of Defend H2O added that they intend to continue to work with the community to continue the difficult discussion about the future of East Hampton’s coastline, a position shared by the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, which has been urging the public to take part in upcoming discussions about the town’s coastal resiliency.
“While the damages have been inflicted, the Montauk tragedy serves as a catalyst for having an honest conversation about rising seas, shoreline dynamics, hard structures, pumping beaches and coastal retreat in our region,” added Defend H2O.