As each winter storm scours away more beachfront from homes near Hashamomuck Cove in Southold, residents worry that help from the government will be too little and too late.
Officials who attended a public forum on erosion sponsored by Southold Town Wednesday morning said that the most important thing for residents to do is to pressure the New York State Legislature to pay its share of a $3 million study of the area from Kenny’s Beach to the Sound View Inn to be conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Roman Rakoczy, a planner with the Army Corps, told the crowd of about 80 residents who crowded into the Southold Town Recreation Center Wednesday that once the funding is in place, the study could take three to five years, after which the federal government, New York State and Suffolk County would again be asked to pay for a project to curb the erosion along the sensitive area of shoreline.
Residents who live near the cove were vocal in their disappointed with the word from the officials.
“Are we going to let this water take our land? We have to try and resolve this,” said Freddie Guerra. “Assume that our roof got blown off our house tomorrow. Would it take us three to five years to patch up the roof? That’s the same thing that’s happening to our land. I remember going to the Southold beach. You could walk from one end to Hortons Point. You can’t do that anymore. In three to five years, I think we’re gonna lose the house.”
“We need to stick together as one voice,” said Michael Verni. “We’ve been down this road before and nothing will happen.”
Stacey Milios, whose family has a condominium at North Fork Beach Condominiums was upset that she hasn’t seen any action on reopening the section of Soundview Avenue in front of the 42-unit complex that was closed after the post-Christmas blizzard.
“From April until mid-November we’re here and we we spend a lot of money here,” she said.
Town Supervisor Scott Russell said that the town is waiting to hear whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay to fix that road.
As to the long-term solution, Mr. Rakoczy said that the federal government will pay for 50 percent of the study and the state needs to fund 35 percent and the county will contribute 15 percent. Once that study is complete, he said, the federal government will pay 65 percent of a the cost of constructing a permanent fix for the problem, the state will pay 24.5 percent and the county will pay 10.5 percent.
County Legislator Ed Romaine, who was at the meeting, said that the county is committed to the project, primarily because the study area is alongside County Route 48, one of only two east to west routes along the North Fork.
“If we don’t preserve the houses, and the short term solution is to at least stabilize the beach, if at the end of the day Route 48 is breached, to rebuild the road would be very difficult,” he said.
State Assemblyman Dan Losquadro urged attendees to write letters of support that he can bring to argue his case to other members of the legislature during the upcoming budget negotiations.
“If you want to put bullets in the gun for us to help us at that target, please feel free,” he said.