Southold Town is once again trying to work on solutions for Goldsmith Inlet in Peconic, pairing with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
On Thursday morning, the town hosted a public meeting, in which board members Bill Ruland and Jim Dinizio attended, with four members from the Army Corps of Engineers, Mark Woolley from Congressman Lee Zeldin’s office and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski.
Stephen Couch, Chief of the Coastal Management Branch for the Army Corps, outlined three options the town has if they wish to work with the Army Corps to develop short-term and long-term solutions to many issues the inlet faces.
The first is a congressionally authorized study. The second option, called the Continuing Authorities Program, is a study, design and construction work with authority from Congress that falls within a certain scope and dollar value, usually around a $10 million federal cost.
The last option is the planning assistance estates program. It allows the Corps to work on studies and evaluations in partnerships with states and municipalities to provide recommendations.
“Of the three programs I think the two that would be a good fit for Goldsmith Inlet are the third one I just addressed, the planning assistance estates program,” Mr. Couch said.
In order to begin the study through the Continuing Authorities Program, the town board has to send a formal letter to the U.S. Army Corps. Once it receives congressional approval, the study can receive up to $100,000 in federal funding for an initial report.
After those monies are used, the Army Corps would enter a partnership with a local sponsor for cost sharing any additional expenses of the study.
“If the problem we’re trying to address is coastal erosion or quality of the environment, those are probably the two big ones that would fit within the corps mission; we could do a study that could ultimately lead to potential construction of a project under those study authorities,” Mr. Couch said.
Residents who attended the meeting had many questions for the panel, including what they think the current problems facing the inlet are and what plans they have for the jetty. They stressed that these problems have been ongoing for decades, and added that they feared for their homes as waves began to rise over the bulkhead this winter and parts of the beach at the inlet continues to erode. The town has been dredging the inlet in recent years to no avail.
“The money spent on dredging could have been put to good use to finding a permanent solution to the problem,” resident Susan Switzer said.
Built in 1964, officials said the jetty contributes to capturing sand that ends up choking off the inlet, which has negatively impacted the waterway and marine life there. Residents had varying opinions, with some feeling it should be shortened and others saying it should be removed.
“We’ve had this discussion before at meetings years ago,” Leeton Drive resident Chris Graseck said. “Our fear is if the jetty stays the same length we’ll still have the situation we have now.”
Mr. Couch said the next step would be for the town to formally file a letter so that work on a study could begin.