Montauk Beach Fortification Unlikely To Start Before Fall

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East Hampton Town officials could hear the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recommendations of how best to shore up downtown Montauk’s ocean beach within four to six weeks, according to U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, who has been in regular contact with the agency.

At this point, however, Mr. Bishop said he doesn’t think it would be possible to get the Montauk project initiated before the dredging window closes, which is at the end of March. It would be more likely to start in September, he said.

It has been about four months since the corps presented the Town Board with five options for replenishing and protecting the beach from future storms and said it would return in early to mid-November with more detailed plans and cost analyses.

But time is ticking—the funds, which come from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, could go to another community if a decision is not made shortly, town officials have said.

After Superstorm Sandy hit, Montauk and Fire Island were fast-tracked for emergency repair projects, in a kind of spin-off of the larger Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, or FIMPS, project.

In late September, the Army Corps of Engineers presented five options to the Town Board, and in October, the Town Board narrowed the choices down to three: rebuilding the dune with sand, creating an armored dune or placing geotubes, or large bags pumped full of sand, on the beach.

Mr. Bishop said this week that the corps was more in favor of reinforcing the dune with geotubes when its representatives made their last presentation in the fall, and that, to his knowledge, was still the case.

Since then, however, there has not been any word on when the corps will return with its recommendations. Mr. Bishop said the engineers have been extremely busy with other projects, which have slowed the process down.

“Frankly, they’re inundated with work,” he said. “The corps has an enormous amount of work on their plates getting the Fire Island project in shape. Their priority is getting nourishment going before the end of March.”

Chris Gardner, a spokesman for the Army Corps’ New York division, said that the corps is still looking at the options to determine the benefit-to-cost ratio by refining conceptual designs and cost estimates for each one. The option that is chosen must be feasible, or legally and economically justifiable, he said.

The most popular option with East Hampton Town officials—the installation of geotubes—needs to be as functional as an armored shoreline structure, Mr. Gardner added.

“They wanted to make sure it has the appropriate functionality as the original proposal for the armored shoreline structure, and if there are differences between the two and see if they have the same performance,” he said.

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