A plan to shorten the jetty at Goldsmith Inlet on the Long Island Sound in Peconic is dead in the water, after Southold Town Board members balked this week at completing an Environmental Impact Statement for the project. Some members of the board were concerned that shortening the jetty would not help with environmental issues at the inlet, and some were worried about the potential cost of the project.
The town has been debating the best method to control the clogging of sand in the inlet and the related erosion to the east for more than 20 years.
The single 335-foot jetty on the west side of the inlet was built in 1964 as a replacement for two jetties that had stood at either side of the entrance to the inlet since the mid-1880s. Members of the Group to Save Goldsmith Inlet, who are working to protect the environmental health of the clogged waterway, believe that the use of just one jetty has been a major factor in how it has negatively impacted dredging efforts.
In August of 2009, the town board voted to go ahead with the environmental review, but councilmen Vincent Orlando and William Ruland voted against the plan at the time. Town Supervisor Scott Russell, however, said the shortened jetty would help more sand that currently collects on the west side of the jetty to reach Kenny’s Beach, to the east, which is facing serious erosion.
Only Mr. Russell was in support of continuing the project when he initiated a discussion on the matter at a town board work session Tuesday morning.
“There’s a lack of functionality of the last third of the jetty. It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” he said. “A little bit of sand is an important step for the people on the east side. I’m ready to move on a reduction of one-third.”
“We don’t have the funds for the Goldsmith DEIS. If we’re going to have to dredge it every year anyway, we should do a bigger dredging. That’s money better spent than trying to change the jetty,” Mr. Orlando said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Cost figures for the project were not immediately available.
Board members were also concerned that changes to the jetty, which is deteriorating to the point where sand washes between the rocks and into the inlet, might not change the conditions to the east.
“It’s no longer a functioning jetty,” said Councilman Al Krupski. “It’s my opinion that it’s not going to affect the inlet at all either way. Sand will still be available to plug up the inlet either way. If it would help with the health of the inlet, I would be all for it.”
“I agree with Al and Vinnie,” said Councilman Ruland. “I wasn’t in favor of this from the beginning.”
“Unless you get a plan in place to constantly do a transition of sand, you’re never going to solve the problem,” said Councilman Chris Talbot.
Mr. Russell was quick to point out that rocks taken from the last third of the jetty would be used to rebuild the remaining two-thirds.
“If there’s a hands-off approach here, there should be a hands-off approach for eternity,” he said. “We’re done with this discussion of the jetty.”
Mr. Russell added that he still plans to work with the Group to Save Goldsmith Inlet on improving the health of the inlet.
“If we had a piggy bank full of money, it would be a different story,” said Mr. Orlando. “Mother nature is unpredictable.”