In an effort to shore up a popular ocean swimming and surfing beach, Ditch Plains in Montauk, the East Hampton Town Board last week passed a resolution expressing its desire to have it included in the U.S. Army Corps Fire Island to Montauk Point Study, or FIMPS, a long-term effort to protect the south shore of Long Island from storms.
Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, who sponsored the resolution last Thursday, November 7, said that the beach was not seen as a potential project under FIMPS, but as the town attempted to address the needs of Ditch Plains over the last year, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Representative Tim Bishop wanted the town to formally address the need of Ditch Plains to be part of FIMPS.
Although it is not eligible for emergency relief as downtown Montauk is, the town would like it to be included as an actual project, Mr. Wilkinson aid.
“They’re focusing on emergency applications,” he said of the Army Corps, “but they would make some determination to physically review the site with some vigor and report back on whether it would be eligible for engineering status of some sort.”
Downtown Montauk, he noted, was considered not worth the investment for beach nourishment and engineering until he and Mr. Bishop stepped up their pressure. That area has since been specially flagged as a priority in the wake of Superstorm Sandy erosion and damage.
“This is another example of trying to focus a little more on Montauk and the relief that Montauk needs,” the supervisor said, “especially after the exposure that was evident as a result of Sandy.”
Councilwoman Theresa Quigley seconded the resolution, and Council members Peter Van Scoyoc, Dominick Stanzione and Sylvia Overby all voted in favor.
Oliver Longwell, the communications director for Mr. Bishop, explained in a phone interview, “The board, basically, is formalizing the consensus of the community that Ditch Plains is an enormously valuable asset that has suffered very much in recent storms and needs a comprehensive plan to protect it.”
Ditch Plains was not part of FIMPS, meaning it was not eligible for full federal funding as the beaches near downtown Montauk were, Mr. Longwell said. But now it will be on the radar screen, he said, as an economic engine, a draw for Montauk tourism and a well-regarded destination for surfers that many want to see it protected.
Ditch Plains, however, should be viewed as an effort distinct from the emergency stabilization project being planned for downtown Montauk, he said.