Popular Mattituck bay beach may not be ready in time post Sandy

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Superstorm Sandy caused significant damage to the parking area at Veterans Memorial Park in Mattituck.

The parking lot at Veterans Memorial Park beach in Mattituck took the pounding surf head-on all day and night when superstorm Sandy struck in October and the damage is still readily apparent to anyone who stops by the usually peaceful park on Peconic Bay.

A chain-link fence sprinkled with No Trespassing signs cuts across the parking lot. Beyond it, the asphalt is so heaved up and cracked it looks as if an earthquake hit instead of the remnants of a hurricane.

Down the beach, an entire section of bulkhead has washed out, leaving just the pilings, and metal tie rods that held them in place, exposed on the beach.

Mattituck Park District commissioner Nick Deegan said this week that he doubts the park will be ready to open in time for Memorial Day Weekend, since the district is currently awaiting engineering diagrams of how to repair the beach.

He said the park district expects FEMA will reimburse some of the cost of repairing the damage, which he estimated at upwards of $100,000.

FEMA has already paid $1,400 for the fence across the parking lot.

“The parking lot is under review as to whether we should resurface it as is or rebuild the end of it,” Mr. Deegan said. “We already had been in talks with an engineering firm on drainage in the parking lot. Now, of course, with the storm damage, it becomes even more urgent.”

Mr. Deegan said the bulkhead on the west side of the beach had been deteriorating for years, but during the hurricane it completely washed through.

“The storm got to it before we got to it,” he said.”

The park district had already paid a contractor to do an initial site cleanup, but Mr. Deegan said the landscaping and a small fence in front of the park building were torn out during the cleanup and must now be replaced.

A large cylindrical cement mooring found during the initial cleanup is also still sitting in the parking lot.

Mr. Deegan said he’s been in touch with Group for the East End about holding a beach grass replanting session later this spring.

“It was a nice growth, years of growth,” he said of the beach grass that had grown there. “It’s bare now.”

Mr. Deegan said the park district’s other beaches — Breakwater Beach and Bailie Beach on Long Island Sound — were not badly damaged by Sandy, though some debris did wash up. He expects they’ll both be open in time for the summer.

But for Veterans Memorial Park, “Memorial Day is going to be a stretch,” he said, adding that the best he can hope for is completion of repairs some time in June.

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