The federal government is spreading the love this Valentine’s Day.
A dredge has finally been positioned west of the Shinnecock Inlet near the east end of Dune Road in Hampton Bays to rebuild the beach that has been repeatedly washed away during recent storms. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $10.7 million contract to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company last month for the pumping of nearly 600,000 cubic yards of sand onto the beach to bring it and the dune up to the designed standard of the West of Shinnecock Inlet emergency replenishment project.
“This project is a big deal,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. “We pled for emergency help, and we’re getting it.”
He, along with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Legislator Bridget Fleming, Congressman Lee Zeldin, Senator Chuck Schumer, and others, requested immediate action be taken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the project, which began Monday. The congressman, along with Schneiderman and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers kicked off the start of the project with a press conference February 10.
“With local restaurants and businesses, including the second largest commercial fishing dock in New York, operating in the affected area, the continued progress of the area’s restoration is continued good news for our local economy,” Zeldin said. “In pulling sand from the Shinnecock Inlet, this project is also good news for area boaters, both commercial and recreational.”
The area is home to three restaurants, the Shinnecock Commercial Fishing dock, a public beach, and a Suffolk County park. Dune Road is on a vital barrier island that protects the mainland during storms. The beach has been deteriorating since last October, and was restored several times by smaller replenishment efforts by state Department of Transportation, Suffolk County Department of Public Works, and Southampton Town highway crews, but subsequent storms reversed the results of their endeavors.
“I spent a lot of my fall and winter on Dune Road. We have worked hard over the past few months to hold back the tide and prevent a catastrophic breach in this area,” Schneiderman said. “A much larger effort was needed — well beyond our local capacity — and this early implementation took a lot of coordinated requests, but we got there. We combined our voices and our pleas to get help and put the area back together.”
“I know you put a lot of energy and necessary organization into saving that road,” Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni said to the supervisor. “We might have lost it without you.”
This West of Shinnecock Inlet project will restore the inlet to its 2005 authorization level — a 15-foot-high dune with an associated 140-foot-wide beach berm from the toe of the dune — which would be a better, more robust outcome than simply restoring the area to its recent 2019 pre-storm level. The project will run through the end of the month and be followed by the Fire Island to Montauk Point Plan that will likely be signed this spring. Under this plan, a dredge will return to Dune Road every three or four years across the next 30 years to pump up the beach and maintain the new levels. The dredge could also be dispatched if repairs are needed in the event of a storm.