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March 26, 2014

Feds To Town: Hurry Up And Wait



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By Kitty Merrill

Last year federal officials warned East Hampton Town Board members that if they didn't make a decision quickly, they could lose the money. A bounty of bucks was available for a major beach protection project for downtown Montauk. Locals just had to pick which option was most preferable – trucking in sand, building a seawall, relocating waterfront businesses or using geo-tubes. They had to pick the option after engineers completed a detailed study of each alternative, including a cost/benefit analysis. The study was promised by Thanksgiving 2013.

Town officials are still waiting to see it.

On Friday, Supervisor Larry Cantwell expressed a modicum of exasperation about the delay. In recent days news about the project on line ahead of East Hampton -- an erosion control program on Fire Island – has been less than heartening. The Fire Island project has been delayed and may take months longer than expected, with work not beginning until next fall and a 2015 completion estimated.

This week Cantwell said he's slated to meet with officials from the Army Corps of Engineers to learn the status of the Downtown Montauk project.

In other news of beach work, the new owners of the East Deck Motel out at Ditch Plains have begun a dune replenishment project, and are looking to share the love . . . and sand.

Ed40 LLC, the new owners of the property located on DeForest Road received a Natural Resources Special Permit last month from the town Zoning Board of Appeals. The approval gives the owners permission to place approximately 6000 cubic yards of "bluff compatible" sand on its property and to follow up with a native species revegetation plan.

The ZBA approval commends the applicant for proposing a soft solution to the erosion problem and determined the project would "restore a pre-existing dune that provides natural protection upland and provides sand nourishment for the public beaches to the west."

Last Thursday night the town board voted to accept a donation of additional sand Ed40 LLC will have placed on town properties, including Ditch Plains beach, abutting East Deck. The owners will donate 1000 cubic yards of sand and related services to the town.

Jeremy Samuelson of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk praised the public/private partnership and the use of a "soft solution" for erosion control. He was happy to see an applicant looking at "the big picture," and said, "I think we have a good outcome here."

"This potentially is a good thing," the environmental advocate observed. "The devil's in the details."

kmerrill@indyeastend.com

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