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Dec 15, 2019 1:48 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Eastern End of Dune Road In Hampton Bays Takes Another Beating

A 30-foot section of dune near the Shinnecock Commercial Fishing Docks was washed away on Sunday night due to a coastal storm that pushed through the area. COURTESY JAY SCHNEIDERMAN
Dec 18, 2019 10:59 AM

Rough seas from a coastal storm, coupled with a high tide, washed away a 30-foot section of a sand dune along Dune Road in Hampton Bays on Saturday night, December 14, forcing emergency action to be taken by the Southampton Town Highway Department.

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said in a text the following morning that the dune in front of the Shinnecock Commercial Fishing Docks washed out at approximately 10 p.m.

The area has been subject to constant assault from the North Atlantic since the beginning of October, when a slow-moving nor’easter sat off the coast and churned the ocean for days. As a result, the area known as “the bowl,” just west of the Shinnecock Inlet, suffered severe erosion.

In fact, the area in front of the commercial docks has been nearly breached by every minor and major coastal storm that has moved through the East End since October.

Suffolk County dredge operators pumped 90,000 cubic yards of sand from inside the inlet onto the beach in November to help build it back up. But since they wrapped up the operation, about 75 percent of the sand has been taken back out to sea in the storms, according to Mr. Schneiderman.

Saturday’s event was a reality check for Mr. Schneiderman that a federally operated dredge to maneuver just off the coast from the eastern end of Dune Road cannot come soon enough.

“The area at the east end of Dune Road remains extremely vulnerable, and we are watching the weather and tides very closely,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “The town lacks the resources to prevent a breach in this area, and we are calling for assistance from county, state and federal agencies.”

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin issued a statement on Monday after speaking with Colonel Tom Asbery of the New York District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the situation on Dune Road.

Mr. Zeldin said Colonel Asbery submitted a report to headquarters and is waiting on approval to assist, which could come as early as next week.

“This is an urgent situation along Dune Road affecting our community’s small businesses and jobs,” Mr. Zeldin said. “In an effort to move the project along as quickly as possible, the Army Corps has put out advance notification for multiple bidders in preparation of accepting bids for what ultimately could be the placement of around 600,000 cubic yards of sand on the ocean side of Dune Road west of Shinnecock Inlet.”

He added that the Army Corps sped up the bid process from a 90-day procurement to 10 days in order to reduce the timeline for bidding, starting construction and pumping sand onto the beach.

“This is great news,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a text on Monday. “So now we are expecting the federal dredge to arrive by mid- to late January.

“I am told that approval for the dredge project is likely, but not absolutely certain. We should know by Christmas,” he added.

Early Sunday morning, the Highway Department pushed the sand covering the road back in line with the dune, creating a small berm to hold up during the upcoming high tide.

While the dune was knocked down, a harbor seal crossed through and got trapped at the commercial dock. The seal has since been rescued by marine mammal rescue.

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