Members of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee expressed concerns at a meeting Monday night about the Downtown Montauk Emergency Stabilization Project and the quality of the sand that is to be used to create a dune along the 3,100 feet of ocean shoreline.
The committee also voted to send a recommendation to the East Hampton Town Board to hire a firm to oversee the work of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, so that the project’s specifications are followed and any shortcomings are documented by an expert.
The emergency stabilization project, slated to begin in January, is a temporary fix while the town awaits recommendations for a larger project from the federal Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, also known as FIMP. The study, which has been in the works for decades, is not expected to be completed until 2017 at the earliest.
CAC liaison Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said that while the town, as the local sponsor of the project, will have a say in what sand is used, ultimately the Army Corps of Engineers will decide where the sand comes from.
“It remains to be seen,” Mr. Van Scoyoc said. “The town is interested in making sure the sand is compatible in the bags. It’s a risk in not doing the project, and a risk to doing the project. We’re between a sandbag and the great blue sea.”
If the town can’t “fight the feds” in terms of who decides where the sand comes from, Mr. Van Scoyoc said that making sure the Army Corps follows the project’s specifications, which include using a sand that is similar in size, quality and color, is the next best thing.
The Army Corps plan includes trucking in 51,000 cubic yards of sand to put in the bags, and it plans to excavate another 20,000 cubic yards from the beach to build a berm on top of the sandbags. Approximately 14,200 geotextile bags, or sandbags made of ultraviolet-resistant, sand-colored fabric, are to be buried along the shoreline and covered with 3 feet of sand that will be vegetated.
Montauk residents said on Monday that they are worried that when the bags break in a storm, the sand, which will be quarry sand, will end up on the beach. Quarry sand is derived from ground stone, rock and construction debris and is not naturally occurring.
Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who attended the CAC meeting, said that the town cannot completely control the federal project, but it can require that a local expert is on the scene to oversee the work.
“If they follow the specifications, we’ll be all right—and having someone follow them to make sure they’re following the specs is a good idea,” he said.
Mr. Schneiderman said the legislature was expected to vote on Tuesday on whether the county would participate in a cost-share with the town on the project’s maintenance. The Army Corps has estimated the maintenance costs of the project at approximately $157,000 annually.
CAC members also expressed their concerns to Mr. Schneiderman about the number of cars lining Edgemere Road, which is a county road, due to crowds at the Surf Lodge in Montauk. The view looking right and left when turning from Industrial Road is obstructed because of cars parked near the intersection, some said, adding that drivers are parking in a no-parking zone.
Lieutenant Chris Hatch, the Montauk Precinct commander for East Hampton Town Police, said that on a busy night the department issues 10 to 20 parking summonses at the site.
Mr. Schneiderman said he would ask the county to put yellow striping on the road and widen the shoulder for walkers and bikers.
Committee members and Mr. Schneiderman also discussed the intersection at Flamingo Avenue and West Lake Drive, where there is a two-way stop. The majority of the committee agreed that a four-way stop would help address the near-misses at the intersection, while others said a roundabout would be a better solution. Others suggested painting “Stop” in large letters on the pavement, or putting an island in the middle with a stop sign.
Lt. Hatch said that the town and county did a study and found that a roundabout at the intersection would create a higher possibility of traffic accidents.