The sandbag project in downtown Montauk
The sandbag project in downtown Montauk | Defend H2O photos

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.


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

One thought on “Defend H2O Drops Montauk Beach Litigation, Pledges to Fight Future Shoreline Hardening

  1. For years we’ve all fought this and now the damage is done. Where once I watched sea birds and deer in the dunes, now it’s plastic and heavy machinery and orange dirt…

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