For Immediate Release
Contact: Jerry Stoddard
Homeowners and Officials Tour Fire Island Beach Projects
Ocean Beach, N.Y. April 17 — Elected and agency officials joined coastal engineers and homeowner representatives on April 17 in a tour of a beach nourishment project Fire Island homeowners hope will protect their communities.
Fire Islanders agreed to a significant tax hike to pay for adding sand to adjacent public beaches for the third time since the storms of the early 1990s. The overall project, now nearing completion, will cost $23-$25 million, including the cost of environmental monitoring. It will result in adding 1.8 million cubic yards of sand in front of the participating communities.
At the property owners’ request, Brookhaven and Islip issued bonds to pay for the project. The bonds are backed by new taxes levied by community Erosion Control Taxing Districts. The bonds will take five or more years to pay off during which taxes on some properties will be more than double. In order to participate in the project, the Fire Island villages of Saltaire and Ocean Beach made similar arrangements with their taxpayers. All the beaches receiving sand are public and located in the Fire Island National Seashore.
The prime contractor for the projects is Weeks Marine, Inc., of Cranford, N.J. The projects were designed by Coastal Planning & Engineering, Inc. (CPE) of Boca Raton, Fla. Steven Keehn of CPE led a tour of the project, which is to be completed by April 25. Working with CP&E on project permitting, oversight and implementation was Land Use Ecological Services of Riverhead. Fire Island Ferries Inc. provided transport to Ocean Beach from Bay Shore for the tour.
Lead agency on the nourishment project was the Fire Island National Seashore, which is headquartered in Patchogue.
Fire Island Association president Gerard Stoddard said that property owners hoped the additional sand would provide protection for the beaches until a more comprehensive project could be constructed by New York State and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “We don’t know what that project will consist of,” Mr. Stoddard said. “But it seems pretty clear that the answer to sea level rise over the next 50 years will be to protect coastal communities by making beaches wider and higher,” he added.