Southold Town engineers and a representative for Congressman Lee Zeldin aren’t seeing eye-to-eye about parking requirements for a proposed $17.7 million project to re-nourish beaches along Hashamomuck Cove.
Town engineer Michael Collins has said he believes the federal government requires on-site parking due to public access requirements, which he said could only be accomplished by demolishing a home.
However, communications director for Mr. Zeldin’s spokesperson Jennifer DiSiena described those those stipulations were “rumors” that are “100 percent incorrect.”
The proposal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers includes creating three berms along the roughly 1.6 miles of coves in the Hashamomuck area and to fill them in with about 160,000 cubic yards of sand.
The project is split between the coves and requires some form of public access for all three stretches of beaches. While the east and west coves have public access options, the central cove — which Mr. Collins has described as the most important — lacks a way to get in.
While the Army Corps proposal states public access sites will require the establishment of “designated parking areas consistent with expected use,” Ms. DiSiena said the project will not require any parking lots.
“All that is required is a small alleyway/path for access, which is standard for public beach access in projects like this all over the country,” she said in an email Wednesday. “Our office has heard nothing but support from community residents regarding this project.”
Ms. DiSiena said there was a “big difference” between a parking lot that would require a house to be demolished and a parking area, which she said could be located on a nearby side street.
When reached for comment Wednesday, Mr. Collins described such an idea has a “non-starter.”
“We didn’t want to encourage pedestrian traffic across that road,” he said, adding that the proposal would still need an access easement to get on someone’s property.
“I just don’t see it as likely that some homeowner is going to say ‘Yeah, put a path next to my home,’ ” Mr. Collins said. “I stand by exactly what I said.”
Mr. Collins said the idea of using eminent domain, which was discussed on a conference call with the Army Corps about the project, would also be unpopular with the town and residents.
A public hearing on to discuss the project is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m. at Southold Town Hall.
In addition to attending the public hearing, residents can also submit public their comments to:
Judith Johnson, project biologist, New England District Corps of Engineers, 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751
Or via email: [email protected]
The public comment period will be closed on Sept. 30;.
Photo: Congressman Lee Zeldin speaks at a press conference backed by Hashamomuck Cove homeowners last month. (Credit: Tim Gannon)