Oceanfront property owners in Bridgehampton, Sagaponack and Water Mill approved a $24 million beach renourishment project to repair the six-mile stretch of critically eroded ocean beach in Southampton Town in a referendum on Saturday.
The shoreline includes 141 properties, five of which are town-owned beaches. The project will be paid for by special district tax levies on the properties within two beach erosion control districts. The town's share of the project cost is $1.5 million, which will come from reserved funds from park fees.
A total of 124 people of the 181 eligible to cast ballots in the referendum did so. The final votes tallied had 75 ballots cast in favor of the project and 49 against it.
"Today's referendum marks the culmination of two and a half years of collaboration with our oceanfront property owners -- a group of constituents who first approached the Town with an interest in forming a special taxing district in order to jointly pursue more efficient and cost-effective measures for protecting their properties," said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst in a press release on Sunday.
Now that Southampton has the support of the referendum, the town can be cleared to bond for the nearly $24 million cost of the project. The bond will be paid back over the next 10 years through the special tax levy for the property owners.
The renourishment project, which will include pumping 2.5 million tons of sand from natural supplies on the ocean bottom a mile offshore, will take two months to complete and is expected to double the width of the beach from Flying Point to the East Hampton Town border.
"The beaches are a crucial part of our local economy and way of life, and the properties within these BECDs [Beach Erosion Control Districts] also comprise a major portion of our tax base," the supervisor said.
Work on the project is expected to be completed within the year, with the possibility of beginning in late spring or early summer. However, organizers and the town have said it most likely will commence after Labor Day.