Fire Island Homeowners Present Certificates to
Jeffrey Kassner, Marie Michel and Barbara Wiplush
The Fire Island Association (FIA) and a delegation of homeowners presented certificates of appreciation to three Brookhaven town employees at a meeting in Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko’s office on June 12.
From left; Councilman Mazzei, Barbara Wiplush, Jerry Stoddard, Marie Michel, Deputy Supervisor Walsh, Supervisor Lesko.
The employees were singled out for their special efforts to help the town’s Fire Island communities raise property taxes to pay for vital beach nourishment projects in the Brookhaven portion of the Fire Island National Seashore.
“When property owners agree to higher taxes to pay for a needed project, it can get pretty complicated,” Gerard Stoddard, FIA president, said. “These experts applied their unique talents and worked with several other federal, state and Islip town agencies to draft the permits needed to make the project happen,” he added.
Receiving certificates depicting the Fire Island Lighthouse were Jeffrey Kassner, Assistant Director of Environmental Protection, and attorneys Marie Michel and Barbara Wiplush of the Town Attorney’s office. Timothy Mazzei, Councilman for Brookhaven’s 5th District, which includes the barrier beach, and Deputy Supervisor Kathleen Walsh (who also represents the 3rd Council District) helped arrange the meeting honoring the awardees.
The Erosion Control Taxing Districts of the Brookhaven communities of Davis Park, Ocean Bay Park, Fire Island Pines and the Brookhaven part of Seaview received the town’s permission to add to the taxes levied to pay for community erosion control projects. Related efforts in the Villages of Saltaire and Ocean Beach and five other communities in the Islip part of Fire Island, will result in a total of approximately $23 million in new property taxes over the next five years.
The new tax will pay for 1.9 million cubic yards of sand placed on the public beaches of the Fire Island National Seashore that are adjacent to the participating communities. The communities hope the additional sand, dredged from offshore deposits, will help protect the Fire Island barrier until New York State and the U.S. Army the Corps of Engineers can agree to a more comprehensive project extending from Fire island Inlet to Montauk Point.
More such projects will be needed in the future, according to Mr. Stoddard. “For at least the next 50 years, coastal communities will have to raise and widen beaches with sand from offshore deposits as the primary response to rising sea levels,” he said.