Quogue has secured the necessary state permit to move forward with a long-discussed and much-debated beach nourishment project—work, expected to cost between $12 million and $15 million, that would shore up the village’s entire 2.7 miles of coastline—though village leaders said this week they still do not know if they will advance the initiative.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation approved the permit on July 11, nearly three years after the village applied for it on behalf of a local group made up mostly of Dune Road homeowners in Quogue who have been pushing for the replenishment work. The document, a Tidal Wetlands Protection of Waters and Water Quality Certification permit, allows the village to dredge an estimated one million cubic yards of sand from the ocean floor and redistribute those spoils along the village’s entire stretch of oceanfront—if it ultimately decides to do so.
The original application requested permission from the DEC to widen the village’s stretch of beach by between 50 and 127 feet.
“We have a Beach Nourishment Committee that has been working for a year, so we’re waiting for them to come to a decision,” Quogue Village Deputy Mayor Randy Cardo said this week, referring to the seven-member panel created following last August’s public hearing on the matter that attracted nearly 200 people. “I think we’re a ways off for making any kind of movement.” Mayor Peter Sartorius echoed that sentiment this week.
The project’s estimated price tag has fluctuated between $12 million and $15 million, and village officials have yet to finalize how the work would be funded, though multiple options—including having the cost shared among all village taxpayers—have been floated over the past two years.
The Village Board agreed to apply for the permit in late 2013, on behalf of a group called Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation that has been pushing for the work. The group, mostly homeowners along Dune Road who are worried about erosion leading to a possible breach of the barrier island, agreed to cover all of the fees in the application process, village officials previously stated. Village Board members have also made it clear, time and again, that their decision to apply for the permit on behalf of the foundation does not mean that they would support the actual work.
The freshly secured permit states that the DEC finds the beach nourishment project both “reasonable and necessary.”
“The permit application and supporting materials, and the direct observation of the ocean beach in the Village and the surrounding area by DEC staff since Hurricane Sandy, have established that there is an ongoing trend of net sand loss from the barrier island within Quogue, particularly in the eastern half of the community,” the permit reads.
The document also notes that the permit was issued because beach bolstering projects have multiple benefits, including shoring up beaches that have been harmed by erosion and protecting homes and businesses on the mainland. Additionally, the document notes that the proposal, which calls for collecting sand just off the village coast, is a better option than dredging sand from other nearby bodies of water, such as the Shinnecock Inlet, and transporting the spoils to Quogue.
The proposal has been vigorously debated in the village over the past year; the most recent public hearing on the topic drew nearly 200 people to Village Hall last summer. At that hearing, several residents questioned whether or not the beach requires such extensive nourishment, while others wanted to know how much their village taxes would go up if the board ultimately decides to move forward.
Part of the reason for the nearly year-long delay in issuing the permit after that hearing was that DEC officials had to transcribe and review all comments made by those in attendance last August. A short time after that hearing, Mr. Sartorius appointed the seven-member Beach Advisory Committee to study the need for the project.
Marjorie Kuhn, a member of that committee and who also serves as president of Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation, said this week that she was pleased that the DEC has finally issued the permit because it means that officials can continue moving the conversation forward regarding the proposal.
“I’m hopeful,” said Ms. Kuhn, who lives on Dune Road in the village. “I’m hopeful that beach nourishment will become a reality for Quogue.”
Douglas Greeff, a spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Quogue, the group that wants the project to be closely dissected before a final decision is made, did not respond to calls this week seeking comment.
Mr. Sartorius said the plan moving forward will be for his board to check in with committee members to hear their suggestions and opinions before scheduling another public hearing on the issue.
In addition to Ms. Kuhn, the Beach Advisory Committee includes the following individuals: Bob Freedman, a member of the Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation; Terry Young and Bill Horak, both members of the Concerned Citizens of Quogue; and village residents Kittric Motz, Andrew Lynch and Wick Coddington, who are not affiliated with either group.