The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the midst of a study of a swath of the north shore of the North Fork, in between Peconic and Greenport, looking for ways to prevent erosion at Hashamomuck Cove, where storm waters could easily breach a section of Route 48 that sits precariously between the cove and Hashamomuck Pond.
As of February of this year, the study area continued to just west of the the jetty at Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic, but, since that time, the Army Corps has decided not to include Goldsmith Inlet in the study, said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell at Tuesday’s work session.
A solitary jetty on the west side of the inlet is the nearest jetty updrift from the Hashamomuck Cove area. On Long Island, area-specific beach erosion can often be attributed to man-made updrift structures jutting out into the ocean. On the North Shore, that drift is from west to east, while on the south shore, that drift is from east to west.
The Southold Town Board is debating whether to ask the Army Corps to add the Goldsmith Inlet area back into the study, but, despite the urging of many neighbors of the inlet at Tuesday’s meeting, board members were reluctant to do so.
Town Engineer Michael Collins told the town board the state DEC is the sponsoring agency of the study.
“If they request a change in scope, the Army Corps will comply, but it has to come from them,” he said of the DEC, which he said sent several people to a recent meeting at the shoreline site of the study, but they weren’t the people in charge of the scope of the project.
Councilman Jim Dinizio said he is concerned that asking the Army Corps to add Goldsmith Inlet back into the study could delay or change the scope of the study, which is due to be completed next year, putting homeowners in areas other than Goldsmith Inlet at risk.
“This particular study focused on something we actually got a commitment for,” he said. “Now, tinkering with that, asking them to change a period to a comma and change something, I’m skeptical of that.”
Earlier this year year, the town board had agreed to update a shelved environmental study of the possibility of shortening the one jetty to the west of Goldsmith Inlet, but hasn’t yet done the work in part because they believed the Army Corps study would cover some of the same ground.
“The board tabled the DEIS because the Army Corps was going to look at Goldsmith,” said John Betsch of Southold. “I have empathy for the people at Hashampmuck Cove, but if you go by Peconic Dunes, they don’t even have a place to put their boats [because of the erosion]. One should not be in conflict with the other. ”
Mr. Dinizio said he isn’t sure if Goldsmith Inlet should be “tacked on” to the study at this point.
“It’s not ‘tack on,’ it’s do what you originally said you were going to do,” said Mr. Betsch.
George Aldcroft of Group to Save Goldsmith Inlet looked up the Army Corps’ most recent online report on the scope of the study, dated February of this year, on his cell phone, and read it into the record of the meeting.
At that time, the study area had gone from Goldsmith Inlet to Orient Point.
“I don’t know what’s happened since then,” he said.
“You can debate and question the details of what’s going on. The bigger question is whether or not this board wants the Army Corps of Engineers to include the Goldsmith Inlet area and deal with all the issues of flooding of homes and damage to shorelines,” said Hugh Switzer of Group to Save Goldsmith Inlet. “It’s representing the populace of this town…. It’s you all as responsible authorities for the town requesting that they do what they said they were going to do.”
“I agree with you. I dont want to do that at the expense of someone else,” said Mr. Dinizio.
“The original intent should be honored,” said Town Supervisor Scott Russell. “It’s unfortunate the Army Corps has put us in the position where we’re putting neighbor against neighbor.”
The board did not make a decision on whether to ask the Army Corps to add Goldsmith Inlet back into the plan.
In the meantime, the Group to Save Goldsmith Inlet, the Group for the East End and the Southold-Mattituck-Greenport NJROTC are planning their annual clean-up of the inlet this Saturday, Sept. 13. Volunteers will meet on Soundview Avenue next to the park trails off of Mill Road at 9 a.m. They will provide bags, gloves, and drinking water. For more information, contact Jenn Hartnagel at 631.765-6450 ext. 211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.