Long Island Press
Sand dredged from a boating channel was pumped onto Robert Moses
State Park beach this spring.
Fire Island Dune Rebuilding Plan Moves Forward
by Timothy Bolger on August 11, 2014
A project to rebuild
Sandy-flattened dunes on Fire Island is slated to start next month, but might
not be finished for two years—leaving part of the island vulnerable for a third
or fourth hurricane season since the superstorm.
The New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation (DEC) signed agreements with the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers and Suffolk County that effectively authorizes the $207 million
project, which is funded by Sandy aid.
“This is a significant,
much-needed project that will help protect the south shore of Long Island from
future storms and sea level rise in an environmentally sensitive manner,” said
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.
The first phase of the project
will rebuild dunes at Smith Point County Park on the east end of the barrier
island starting in September. The second phase will be contracted at Robert
Moses State Park on the island’s west end last this year. The third phase
involving the residential section in the middle of the island is expected to be
completed by late 2016.
The third phase involving FI’s
17 communities is expected to take longest because it requires the government
to negotiate with 41 private property owners, mostly in Ocean Bay Park and
Davis Park, whose land falls in the way of the planned new dune. Some of those
houses may be moved back and others may be bought out. Those that refuse may
wind up fighting condemnation in court.
“The sort of dominoes have to
fall before each piece can move forward,” Gil Anderson, the Suffolk public
works commissioner, told the Fire Island Association (FIA) last month.
Now that the agreements have
been signed, contracts can be awarded. Land surveyors and appraisers can then
lay the ground work on third phase. After that, buy-out and relocation
negotiations can start with those are in the way of the last leg of the
project, officials said.
More than 400 oceanfront
property owners on FI will also be asked to sign easements allowing
construction workers on their land before the dune work can finally begin.
The plan, known as Fire Island
Inlet to Moriches Inlet (FIMI) project, is one leg of the larger Fire Island to
Montauk Point Project, a $700-million Sandy aid funded storm mitigation plan
for 83 miles of south shore eastern LI.
About 7 million cubic yards of
sand—enough to fill 350,000 dump trucks—will be dredged and pumped onto the
beach to rebuild the 15-foot dunes along more than half of the 32-mile barrier
island. In the meantime, more than 400,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from a
boating channel was pumped onto Robert Moses this spring.
Chris Soller, superintendent of
the Fire Island National Seashore, cautioned that even with all the beach
rebuilding work planned, Mother Nature remains a force to be reckoned with.
“If another Sandy comes, it
doesn’t matter what we put on the beach,” he told the FIA.