12/19/13 4:30pm
12/19/2013 4:30 PM

With the clock ticking before a seasonal dredging window closes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized an agreement this week with a Port Jefferson-based contractor to dredge Mattituck Inlet, according to federal officials.

The project, originally estimated to cost about $3 million, will be completed by Village Dock Contracting Inc., for $2.2 million, Chris Gardner, an Army Corps spokesman said.

The federal government opened the project up for bid Dec. 6., receiving proposals from two companies, according to federal reports. Mr. Gardner said the contract was signed Tuesday.

A representative from Village Dock Contracting Inc. was not immediately available for comment.

The federal government agreed to dredge Mattituck Inlet, for which the Army Corps is responsible, this fall — a project 15 years in the making — and to use the dredged material to rebuild the heavily-eroded beach to the east of the stone jetties.

“The idea is to meet with [the contractor] as soon as possible and get the work done as soon as possible, so once we’re able to get started it should not take that long to get to work,” said Chris Gardner, Corps spokesman.

Congressman Tim Bishop said once started, the project is expected to take a couple of weeks.

State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations require waterway dredging to be completed by Jan. 15. to protect aquatic life, which could affect whether the project is started this year, he said.

“Once we meet with the contractor and come up with a timeline, that is where we would be discussing a need for any sort of maneuvering around such deadlines,” Mr. Gardner said.

To get an exemption from that dredge window, the Army Corps must apply for a DEC permit and be approved by the DEC to complete the work, said David Bergen, Southold Town Trustee.

It would not be the first waterway within Southold that has received such a permit, he said.

“We were able to get an exemption to the dredge windows last year to Little Creek. I, on behalf of the Trustees, had applied for and obtained it,” he said.

Mr. Bishop said he was “very hopeful that the DEC will grant that extension,” should the need arise.

The stone jetties, originally built in 1906, extend out into the Sound interrupting the natural west to east movement of sand, known as the littoral drift. As a result, a large amount of sand has collected against the west side of the west jetty. But with currents starved of sand, the Sound has scoured away the beach to the east, said Ron McGreevy, who has been lobbying for the last 15 years for the Army Corps to act.

According to the Army Corps July 2010 Section 111 Study, about 12,000 cubic yards of sand come down the beach from the west every year, collecting around different areas of the inlet.

FILE IMAGE, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEER STUDY

FILE IMAGE, ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEER STUDY

The study stated that about 7,000 cubic yards builds up on the western side of the jetty building up western beaches; about 3,000 cubic yards goes over into a shoal in front of the inlet’s entrance, essentially blocking part of it; and the remaining 2,000 cubic yards goes inside the inlet itself, building up and hindering vessels from safely navigating the waterway.

The dredging work, which calls for removing close to 100,000 cubic yards of material from the inlet, will both widen and deepen the inlet channel to a depth of 11 feet below mean low tide. The dredged sand will be placed on the beach in a 20-foot-wide strip of about 4,500 feet long from the eastern jetty, according to a May release from Mr. Bishop’s office.

“It’s one of the four inlets in my district that the Corps is responsible for. Mattituck is perhaps the least active, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Recreational and commercial fishing is a big part of our heritage and we have an obligation to maintain navigable waterways that are also safe. This is a very important project and I am delighted we are on the cusp of getting it done,” Mr. Bishop said in an interview Thursday.

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05/07/13 3:19pm
05/07/2013 3:19 PM

The federal government has agreed to dredge Mattituck Inlet this fall — a project 15 years in the making — and to use the dredged material to rebuild the heavily eroded Sound beach to the east of the stone jetties on either side of the inlet.

The work, which calls for removing close to 100,000 cubic yards of material from the inlet, where shoals pose a threat to commercial fishing boats, is to begin in October at a price of $3.4 million, said Congressman Tim Bishop.

Nearby residents and town officials have been calling for the dredging since 1998.

The inlet is a federal waterway and as such the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for routine dredging. But the new project comes under Section 111 of the 1968 federal River and Harbor Act, which requires the corps to mitigate erosion caused by its projects.

In this case, the culprit is the stone jetties, which by extending out into the Sound interrupt the natural west to east movement of sand, known as the littoral drift. As a result a large amount of sand has collected against the west side of the west jetty. But with currents starved of sand, the Sound has scoured away the beach to the east.

In agreeing to the dredging, and the price tag that comes with it, under Section 111, the Army Corps is conceding that the jetties cause the downdrift erosion, said Congressman Tim Bishop.

“That is one of the reasons why this was so hard to get,” Mr. Bishop said. “This is the Corps acknowledging that they have an obligation if there is an ongoing need to replenish the beach east of the inlet.”

The dredging work will both widen and deepen the inlet channel to a depth of 11 feet below mean low water. The dredged sand will be placed on the beach in a 20-foot-wide strip of about 4,500 feet long from the eastern jetty.

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04/19/13 8:00am
04/19/2013 8:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Summertime at Iron Pier Beach in Northville. The calm bay and Sound beaches are a big attraction for vacationing families with small children, says Islip resident David Cogliano.

Longtime Islip resident Dave Cogliano and his family, who have summered on Fire Island for the past seven years, now have their sights set on the North Fork for a season of beach bathing and barbecues.

As of now, the family is looking for houses in Mattituck or Jamesport.

“Rather than figuring out which homes [on Fire Island] have mold or damage, we decided to rent on the North Fork,” Mr. Cogliano said. “It’s beautiful. It’s different. I want to check it out.”

The Coglianos are not alone.

With Hurricane Sandy having devastated popular summer spots in the tri-state area, like Fire Island and several Jersey Shore communities, those in the local tourism and hospitality industries are preparing for what could be one of the busiest summer seasons on record. The North Fork’s infrastructure was largely unaffected by Sandy, in comparison to other locations, and the pricier Hamptons aren’t an option for most middle-income families eager to spend a week, a month or longer away from home.

By April, most Jersey Shore and Fire Island rentals have been leased, but ongoing reconstruction and a sharp drop in the number of available rentals has taken its toll.

Bob Hilton, executive director of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimates that more than 50 percent of rentals were lost during Hurricane Sandy, which struck the Northeast Oct. 29. Mr. Hilton said some businesses have since been trying to make the best of a bad situation, but he freely admits certain pockets of the Jersey Shore cannot reopen as they had before the storm.

The situation is similar on Fire Island, where the Army Corps of Engineers just began removing the first piles of debris last month. Many homes on the barrier island will need to be demolished. In those that withstood the storm, concerns about mold or other structural damage are preventing some homeowners from renting out their properties at all this season, said Grace Corradino, a broker with Fire Island Living Real Estate.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Baiting Hollow farmer Jeff Rottkamp turning over a field for early sweet corn. North Fork tourism officials frequently highlight the region’s farms, shops and waterways.

Other issues, like spotty Internet and cellphone service and the decimation of dunes and beaches, are also deterring visitors, she said.

Meanwhile, at Colony Real Estate in Jamesport, the phones have been “ringing off the hook” with potential seasonal renters, said agent Dolores Peterson.

The company has already rented 10 summer homes this year, Ms. Peterson said, and business is not slowing down.

“It’s picked up quite a bit since last year,” she said. “People always ask how we made out during the hurricane. I tell them to come check it out. We were very lucky.”

Greenport Village Business Improvement District director Peter Clarke expects a tourism surge in his waterfront village this year.

“One of the things we tried to do before Christmas was let people know we are open for business, we have power and all of our stores aren’t destroyed,” Mr. Clarke said.

The village has a host of plans to prepare for the summer months. The BID is developing maps and signage to outline the business district for visitors, he said.

Village officials are currently working with the BID to develop a way to manage summer parking, according Mayor David Nyce. In March 2012, the board voted against installing parking meters downtown. Mr. Clarke said the BID plans to use additional signage to point visitors to the village’s ample municipal parking lots behind Front Street stores and on Adams Street.

It seems they’re right to be preparing ahead of time for more visitors than in years past.

“Most summer weekends at this point are already sold out,” Greenporter Inn owner Deborah River Pittorino said. “Greenport is busier than ever.”

Other area hotels like the Hilton Garden Inn in Riverhead are also reporting a record number of bookings. Sales director Meghan Mathesen said the hotel is almost sold out seven days a week from May through October. “Summer has always been busy, but there is a high demand for hotel rooms this year,” she said.

Last year, direct tourist spending generated $9.2 million, according to the North Fork Promotion Council.

Tourism is critical to the viability of the North Fork’s small business community and agricultural operations, according to council president Joan Bischoff.

With a substantial number of tourism-dependent seasonal jobs, visitor traffic is crucial for local employment and area economy, Mr. Bischoff said.

To support the small businesses and the tourism industry in general, the North Fork Promotion Council — whose members include the North Fork and Mattituck chambers of commerce — has recently partnered with East End Tourism Alliance to undertake collaborative marketing projects, he said. To help manage vehicle traffic in the coming months and beyond, for example, the groups plan to test the viability of a shuttle network, which could increase tourism without burdening local roadways, infrastructure and natural assets.

Mr. Cogliano said it’s the North Fork’s natural beauty that attracted him to the area, but its family-friendly atmosphere makes it ideal for his two young children. He said the waterways provide a lot of options for fun, and that boating, fishing and lazy beach days will all be on the agenda.

After a fall season slowed by Sandy and other storms, local business owners are welcoming the expected increase in tourism this summer.

“We need a really great summer for businesses to recover what they lost due to Sandy,” said North Fork realtor Donielle Cardinale, a member of the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce. Storm damage caused some Mattituck businesses to close for extended periods for reconstruction, she said, and in some cases, inventory was destroyed due to wind and prolonged power outages.

Some business owners incorporated Sandy-related repairs with re-branding efforts as well as construction upgrades.

Ms. Cardinale called the North Fork a “warm” and welcoming place for visitors, and expressed confidence that any newcomers will enjoy their stays here.

“The entire community is like ‘Cheers’! Everyone is friendly,” she said. “It’s going to be an exciting summer.”

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10/01/10 5:25pm
10/01/2010 5:25 PM

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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