In 1998 Mike Forbes was the area’s congressman, Jean Cochran was town supervisor and Doris and Ron McGreevy, who live in a house overlooking the Sound in Mattituck, began pressing the federal government to do something it rarely does: take responsibility for a problem it created and take steps to rectify it.
The East End has been represented by two other House members and Southold has had two more supervisors since then, but the McGreevys are still in Mattituck and and have never given up their quest for the Army Corps of Engineers to admit that the huge stone jetties on either side of Mattituck Inlet have caused and continue to cause significant erosion on the downdrift side to the east.
The McGreevys’ persistence paid off this week with Congressman Tim Bishop’s announcement that the Army Corps has accepted responsibility and will dredge the inlet, eliminating a navigational hazard as well, and pump the sand east to rebuild the damaged beach. The $3.4 million project is to start in the fall.
If there’s one immutable truth about how things are accomplished in Washington, it’s that the squeaky wheel may not always get the grease, but the quiet wheel gets nothing. A dredging project isn’t the most exciting of issues, especially in D.C., and in a time of diminishing federal resources it would be easy for lawmakers and the administration to follow another tried and true government policy and shelve the idea.
But the McGreevys didn’t give up, nor did town officials or Mr. Bishop, who not all that long ago took considerable heat locally after the Mattituck dredging was stripped from the Army Corps’ budget. But he pressed for and succeeded in gaining an emergency allocation to dredge Montauk Harbor. Thanks to the perseverance of all involved, the Army Corps admitted what had been clear for decades: The jetties trap sand on one side and cause significant erosion on the other. Congratulations to all involved.
Now that this issue’s settled, perhaps it’s time to take another look farther east, along the Sound in Peconic, where there’s a significant buildup of sand on one side of Goldsmith Inlet and continuing erosion on the other. The problem is clear — and so is the solution.