Pictured Above: The beach in downtown Montauk is currently shored up by sandbag “geotubes” covered in sand installed during a prior Army Corps project.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has selected a contractor to refurbish the beach in downtown Montauk this winter as part of the Fire Island to Montauk Point Project, East Hampton Town announced on Tuesday.

The $11.2 million, sand-only beach refurbishment, which is slated to be paid for entirely by the federal government, is designed to create a wider, more resilient beach in downtown Montauk. Work is expected to begin after Army Corps contractors finish work on Fire Island this fall, and is expected to take several months and be completed prior to the 2024 summer season.

Approximately 450,000 cubic yards of clean sand compatible with the existing downtown Montauk beach will be dredged and pumped from an offshore “borrow site” off Napeague, and placed on a length of beach between the Benson Reservation on the west, to just east of Surfside Place. The additional sand will extend the beach area both above and below sea level. 

Public access to the beach will be maintained during the beach restoration process, though active work areas will be blocked off for safety. The town parking lot at Kirk Park will be used by the contractor as a staging area. East Hampton Town will keep residents informed by posting information on its website, at http://ehamptonny.gov/531/ACOE-Fire-Island-to-Montauk-Point-FIMP-P and with periodic updates through press releases and social media. 

The Army Corps completed the controversial Downtown Montauk Stabilization Project in 2106 under an emergency authorization due to the impacts of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, reinforcing approximately 3,100 feet of shoreline with sand-filled geotextile bags designed to protect downtown Montauk businesses. Since then, the Army Corps and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, East Hampton Town and Suffolk County have shared the cost of annually replenishing the sand that covers the bags. 

The new work in Montauk has been approved and authorized as part of the current Fire Island/Moriches Inlet contract, in a bid awarded Sept. 29 to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, which is doing the FireIsland. The town says the scheduled beach renourishment in Montauk was “accelerated by approximately a year following recent successful lobbying efforts by East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc and town staff to have the work included as part of emergency work being conducted now on Fire Island.”

An estimated Montauk start date will be calculated by the Army Corps based on the timing and progress made at Fire Island, which is “expected to take several months,” according to the town.

A full replenishment of the Montauk beach was not initially included in the federal FIMP project plan but town officials, led by then-Supervisor Larry Cantwell, negotiated its inclusion, with support from regional and Congressional elected representatives. 

The Army Corps began the Fire Island to Montauk Point planning process in the 1950s to manage the risk of coastal storm damage along Long Island’s Atlantic coast by shoring up areas prone to flooding, erosion, and other storm damage. Downtown Montauk, whose business district is just steps from the ocean, is one of those areas. 

The Army Corps is expected to continue periodic beach renourishment in Montauk with 400,000 to 450,000 cubic yards of sand every four years, for three decades, following the initial project. The cost of that work is expected to be shared between the Army Corps, New York State, and the local municipalities, “pursuant to a future agreement,” according to the town. 

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 editor@eastendbeacon.com

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