Ditch Plains Beach Will Be Saved By the Feds Just in Time, Thanks to Congressman Tim Bishop

On Tuesday I got a frantic email forwarded to me from Laraine Creegan from the Montauk Chamber of Commerce regarding Ditch Plains Beach and how bad the erosion was there, and also how important it was that the Town of East Hampton come up with the money for the beach to be restored. The email read,

“At the Montauk CAC meeting last night we discussed Ditch Plains Beach and the need for the TOWN to place sand on the beach ASAP. There was a resolution WITH 100% agreement for the EH Town Board to do so. We need all hands on board to appeal to the EH Town Board to insist this be done. PLEASE attend the work session meeting this morning at TOWN HALL East Hampton to voice your concern that we need 15,000 yards of sand to be dumped on Ditch Plains Beach NOW! This will be a devastating July / August once school lets out and you can’t even spread a towel on the beach! Ditch Plains is world famous and we need to tell our Town Board that wherever they can get the money to do this it is critical to this summer, it’s residents, and our economy are counting on them! If you cannot go to the meeting today then send Emails to all Board members TODAY!! ASAP!”

The email got me startled for two reasons. One is because Ditch Plains beach is in fact a very important tourist attraction and world famous destination in Montauk, and two, because the Town of East Hampton, like many other towns, are under the financial microscope right now, and it didn’t seem like a sure thing that the beach was going to get restored quickly.

But it wasn’t too long afterwards that I found out that Congressman Tim Bishop and state and local officials representing East Hampton Town announced that federal funding was going to be pumped into Montauk to begin the process of rebuilding heavily-eroded beaches of the South Fork. The money was approved by the federal Office of Management and Budget yesterday, just a few hours after Laraine’s email was sent out, as part of the implementation of the US Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) Reformulation Study.

I’m rarely thrilled with the work that politicians do for our community, but Bishop really has put a lot of worry at ease when it comes to beach erosion on Long Island, and he’s also going to be putting a lot of people to work at the same time.

The USACE included $700 million for implementation of FIMP in its second interim report for a strategy to expend $3.461 billion appropriated by Congress for construction of previously authorized Corps projects in the areas impacted by Sandy.

Bishop said that, “Superstorm Sandy was a once-in-a-generation storm that dealt a heavy blow to Downtown Montauk and other areas along the South Shore, but it has provided a unique opportunity to secure a stronger and more resilient coastline for the long term at 100 percent federal expense,” said Congressman Bishop. “I will continue to advocate in the strongest terms for a plan that will protect vulnerable beachfront properties and the beaches that make Montauk a world-class vacation destination.”

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele said, “Our coastlines, the crux of the East End’s economy, were severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy. This funding will allow us to address the serious erosion issues Montauk is facing in the immediate future, as well as providing a long term solution to ensuring a more resilient coastline. I want to personally thank Congressman Bishop for his tireless efforts to help ensure federal aid is directed to the areas of highest concern.”

I applaud Congressman Bishop’s efforts in securing funds to help rebuild our valuable beaches, from Fire Island to Montauk,” said Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman. “Areas such as Montauk are important to our economy and our beaches are not only a  tourist attraction but they provide important protective barriers to residential and commercial areas during storms.”

This is great news for the hamlet of Montauk and the Town of East Hampton,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. “Sandy painfully highlighted the vulnerability of downtown Montauk. The global attraction of these beaches are an economic asset to all of New York and I, the people of Montauk and the residents of East Hampton want to personally thank Congressman Bishop for his extraordinary efforts in securing the expertise and funding to complete this renourishment.”

In addition, Bishop announced that the ACOE’s second interim report also includes $18 million to fund design work and construction of an 840-feet of riprap stone revetment for long-term erosion control at Montauk Point to protect the historic Montauk Lighthouse and associated facilities. USACE has not yet released a timetable for the next phases of the project.

Good.

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