The East Hampton Town Board, which has held a series of hearings in recent months on future planning goals for each of the town’s five hamlets, saved the most difficult challenge for last: Montauk, where Mother Nature and the Army Corps of Engineers have teamed up to wreak havoc on the shoreline.
If it sounds hard to figure out a way to provide more workforce housing here, or more recreational space there, how much more difficult will it be to try to protect an entire business district that is under assault from stronger and more frequent coastal storms?
Typically, when policymakers confront the problem of coastal erosion, they either call for armoring the shoreline in the form of rock jetties or sandbags or they call for a measured retreat from the danger zone.
The problem with the first approach is it has been shown to be ineffective time and time again. And if sea levels continue to rise, as scientists tell us they will, efforts to build a wall, as it were, against Mother Nature, will continue to fail.
The problem with the second approach is it has never been tried locally on such a large scale. And even when it has been proposed on a small scale, say, when planners suggest that a house in harm’s way should be moved back, property owners start to kick and scream — and sue.
Suggestions have ranged from buying coastal properties with the Community Preservation Fund to establishing a special tax district to help underwrite stop-gap protective measures. Whatever is decided, it will have to be a communitywide discussion that brings all stakeholders to the table. And one that needs to start soon because the clock is ticking.
This marks our final regular issue for the year. As we at The Independent prepare to enjoy our holidays with our family and friends, we extend our warmest season’s greetings to you. Make sure to look for our Best of 2018 issue on newsstands next week and visit http://www.indyeastend.com for more news.
On The Cover
Prekindergarteners in Sandy McLaughlin’s class at the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center were excited to walk down Newtown Lane in East Hampton and deposit their letters to Santa in the special mailbox designated for the North Pole only.