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Jul 24, 2012 5:29 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sagaponack, Bridgehampton Residents Propose $24 Million Beach Nourishment Project

Aug 3, 2012 2:22 PM

A group of oceanfront homeowners from Sagaponack and Bridgehampton presented plans to the Southampton Town Board on Friday outlining proposals for a mammoth beach nourishment project along six miles of Atlantic shoreline, from Water Mill to the East Hampton Town line, a project estimated to cost as much as $24 million—mostly paid for by the oceanfront residents themselves.

The project, which could be tackled this coming winter if financial and regulatory approvals are granted and a dredging company can be lined up, calls for more than two million tons of sand to be pumped onto the beaches from natural stockpiles offshore. In addition to widening the existing sand beaches by up to 60 feet or more, the project will create a more gradual sand slope below the tide line to lessen the erosive effect of storm-driven waves on the dry beachhead.

The additional sand is expected to offer the homeowners at least a decade’s worth of protection from severe storms, and a way to counter systemic erosion along that stretch of beach, where several houses were destroyed by storms in the early 1990s and others have had to be relocated to escape the advancing ocean.

Expected to cost between $20 million and $24 million, the cost of the initiative would be covered primarily by an annual special tax levy on only the 141 individual properties that border the stretch of beach to be rebuilt. The Town of Southampton, which owns four public beaches in the zone, would pay about 10 percent of the overall costs, according to the proposal pitched by the homeowners on Friday.

The amount each affected waterfront homeowner would pay each year would be based on linear feet of oceanfront land and assessed values of what are some of the most expensive acres of land in the world. Southampton Town values the 141 parcels along the stretch of beach at $1.8 billion for tax purposes.

The work would be paid for with a bond floated by the town and repaid over 10 years through the special tax levies. The additional tax bill for an oceanfront homeowner, according to a breakdown presented to the board by the leaders of the initiative, would range from just over $1,000 per year to more than $200,000 per year for the largest property owner in the two districts, Ira Rennert. Dozens of property owners, especially in Sagaponack, would pay more than $20,000 per year, and several would pay upward of $40,000.

“Nobody in [the districts] wants to spend this money, but we all think it’s the right thing to do,” said Jeff Lignelli, one of the Bridgehampton homeowners who has spearheaded the proposal, adding that many of the property owners already are spending up to $40,000 a year to bolster the emaciated dunes protecting their houses. “We can’t wait for the federal government to do it. If we want something done, we have to do it ourselves.”

The town’s portion of the costs—roughly $3 million over 10 years—would be spread among all town taxpayers. According to Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s office, the impact on town tax rates would be 0.000054 per dollar of taxable value per year—or about $2.70 per year for a house valued at $500,000.

One of the project’s architects, coastal geologist Aram Terchunian, told the board that large renourishment projects are one of the few options the town has for protecting its homeowners in the near future, and its public beaches in the long term. Homes will have to be relocated northward away from the ocean, protected by bulkheads or mechanically renourished—something that has been done in Florida and the Carolinas for decades.

In order to extend the effective life of the project, the plans call for a larger portion of the sand pumped inshore by the dredges to be placed along the beaches in Sagaponack—and, therefore, a larger portion of the cost will be shouldered by the Sagaponack homeowners—because the beaches there are more eroded, and because natural forces will carry sand westward to other ocean beaches.

The beachhead would be extended by more than 60 feet in many places, but the bulk of the sand brought ashore will actually be placed below the water line, in about the first 20 feet of sub-surface area, where the beach slopes into the sea.

“Dunes are like the walls on a house, but the beach and the sub-beach are the foundation of the house—and that’s where most of our money and effort are going,” Mr. Terchunian said. “[We] went through 50 years of data, profiles of the beach, and did an actual sand budget, which is very much like a fiscal budget. You have so much in reserve, so much coming in and so much going out. They found that there is a net loss of about 65,000 cubic yards of sand per year in Sagaponack, and 60,000 cubic yards per year in Bridgehampton. The idea here is to make up for 10 years of erosion.”

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Interesting that the editor doesn't disclose that the owner of 27east is the son of the Sagaponack Village Mayor. Newsday (surprisingly) does an excellent job of disclosing all relationships when writing articles about the Knicks, MSG, the Rangers, Cablevision or other related entities. It seems that 27east enjoys eschewing "minor details" like the relationship of the owner to the Mayor whose village stands to benefit GREATLY from a $20 million bond floated by the Town and essentially backed by ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 1, 12 12:50 PM
Well, we've never been shy about making the disclosure when appropriate. Honestly, I think it would be extremely burdensome to point it out in a story that doesn't even mention the mayor of Sagaponack. In a small town, there are often such connections--which, while meaningless in dictating our editorial decisions, are certainly details the readers should know. But it would be tough to mention it every time we write something that affects Sagaponack. The disclosure: The mayor of Sagaponack is Donald ...more
By Joseph Shaw, Executive Editor (206), Hampton Bays on Aug 1, 12 1:59 PM
Thank you for clarifying that. I don't expect it for every article - but the fact that this erosion control district which is being forced through by the Supervisor at breakneck speed will directly benefit the ocean front residents of Sagaponack and Bridgehampton (and to a much lesser degree benefit the remainder of the Town) I believe warrants a mention of the connection.

There are many ways of reporting this story and the above article is a real feel good piece, touting only the benefits ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 1, 12 2:17 PM

Is there a reason why I can no longer find this article via the built-in search function?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Aug 3, 12 10:36 AM
The sand they are going to pump belongs to the citizens of this country, If these people lose their houses its their fault for building on the ocean. The same people who need the sand are the same ones who think they own the shoreline and try to stop people from using the beach. Let these people buy sand from the local sand pit and truck it in, How dare they think they can dredge the ocean bottom for their personel gain. As far as Sagaponak goes that village is run by knuckle headed Nazis who have ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Aug 6, 12 10:49 PM
Maybe they should get the sand from outside the 12 mile limit, would that make you happy?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 6, 12 11:58 PM
$20 million dollars for sand. Outstanding governance by our leaders! $3 million to be burdened on all taxpayers! Maybe $3 million should be spent to pave roads, build a park, fix dune road, etc. No, $3 million will be spent for sand for beaches that have very little public access for anyone other than the few oceanfront homeowners.

How about these homeowners who are willing to tax themselves $17 million, make a generous donation to the Town for the Town's share? I'm not even elected and ...more
By ridiculous (214), hampton bays on Aug 7, 12 9:05 PM