Hashamomuck Cove posing erosion threat

Residents of the Hashamomuck Cove neighborhood on Long Island Sound in Southold are up in arms over the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s failure to take steps to stop severe erosion that they believe will lead to a breach across Route 48 into Hashamomuck Pond.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a study of four major erosion areas on the Sound in Southold two years ago and identified Hashamomuck Cove as an area in need of erosion protection.

Both Southold Town and Suffolk County have been willing to move to the next phase of a process that could do something about the problem: a feasibility study that would cost $4.5 million. The problem is the state has not signed on.

Fifty percent of the cost of the study would be borne by the federal government, which has already committed to its share. Suffolk County has committed 15 percent of the money, in part because a breach of Route 48, which is a county road, would create major problems in the area. In addition to cutting off one of only two east-west roads on the North Fork, a breach could affect major gas and water lines under the road.

Residents who live in the 11 houses along the cove off Route 48 joined County Legislator Ed Romaine, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell and Town Trustee president Jill Doherty at a beach near Lynn Laskos’ house on the cove on the afternoon of Sept. 22 to publicly chastise the state for not signing on.

Mr. Romaine said that DEC officials had told him that morning that they wanted to prepare their own study before signing on to help pay for a feasibility study conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers.

A letter from DEC regional director Peter Scully to New York State Assemblyman Mark Alessi provided by the DEC confirmed the agency’s position.

“The department is engaged in development of the feasibility study for the storm damage reduction project for Hashamomuck Cove, which is the fastest available action having county support,” wrote Mr. Scully.

“That’s bureaucratic double-speak for foot dragging,” Mr. Russell said of the state’s position at the SEpt. 22 press conference. “We need to get this done. If that road flooded or washed out, it will create all types of problems.”

Hashamomuck is a natural cove, with no shore-hardening structures that contribute to the erosion problem. Its natural condition makes an effort to solve the erosion problem more complicated than just removing a jetty.

Ms. Laskos said that property owners want to see several temporary groins built inside the cove and sand added around them in order to rebuild the beach, which was as much as 50 feet wide when many of residents bought their houses. Now, it is non-existent during storms and at high tide.

Her own house is new but was built on the site of a house her parents had owned, which was washed away by a storm on Christmas Eve 1994.

Mr. Romaine believes that Ms. Laskos’ suggestion is a practical one. “We all know that, but I guess they need a study to come to that conclusion,” he said, adding that the $4.5 million covers only the cost of the study, not the cost of remedying the erosion.

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