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Nov 6, 2015 8:06 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

UPDATE: Three Arrested Protesting Beach Excavation In Montauk

Montauk residents protested an Army Corps of Engineers project to excavate the beachfront across the hamlet's downtown business district and construct a wall of sandbags beneath and artificial dune. Three protesters were arrested. M. Wright
Nov 8, 2015 5:35 PM

UPDATE: 10 a.m.

"Save our beach," exclaimed Montauk resident Sarah Conway as she was handcuffed and led into an East Hampton Town Police van with two others at about 7:30 on Friday morning. "Save our beach from destruction!"

An hour earlier, a dozen Town Police officers had watched as the rag tag group walked from Kirk Park onto the beach and made its way into the trench that had been gouged out of the natural dunes a day ago.

"Montauk Village is in the wrong place," said Keri Lamparter, one of the protesters, saying that businesses along the beachfront should have to retreat from the ocean as erosion threatens them rather than artificially bolstering the shore with the sandbags. "We don't support the Army Corps project. It makes no sense and we're not going to let it go forward. We will sit in the path of these bulldozers. So let's plant our butts. We're not leaving."

Construction crews stood by their vehicles as police appealed to the protesters to make their point and then move on.

"I know why you guys are here, we understand your concerns, but we're going to ask you to move to a public location," Town Police Sergeant Robert Gurney told the protesters. "You guys mull it over. We'll give you a few minutes, but we're going to do what we need to do. The charge would be a misconduct charge."

Three of the protesters—Ms. Conway, James Katsipis and Tom LaGrassa—agreed to remain in the pit until officers came and led them to a waiting paddy wagon. After the two men were led away, Ms. Conway laid on the sand, her arms spread open, until a female officer trudged down and coaxed her out. The rest of the protesters walked out of the pit and watched from the deck of the Ocean End motel, as the three were taken away and a backhoe resumed digging the 20-foot deep trench while a dump truck hauled the sand up the beach where it is being stockpiled until it will be used to cover the sandbags.

The project, which is being paid for with $8.9 million in federal funding, is expected to take about three months to complete. Once finished, East Hampton Town and Suffolk County will be responsible for replenishing sand that is washed away over time exposing the sandbags. Estimates for the maintenance costs are about $150,000 annually. Critics have pointed out that when completed the wall of sandbags will extend nearly to the mean high-tide line, and possibly below it during exceptionally high tides. It will mean the natural beach will cease to exist, they have claimed.

UPDATE: 8:15 a.m.

Police arrested three of the protesters on Friday morning for impeding the construction vehicles. Montauk residents James Katsipis and Sarah Conway and Sag Harbor resident Tom LaGrassa were arrested at the bottom of the excavation area. They were charged with disorderly conduct, a violation.


Protesters blocked bulldozers from beginning work on a Montauk beach on Friday morning.

Contractors working for the Army Corps of Engineers are excavating the beach to make way for a revetment of sand bags meant to protect downtown Montauk businesses from a severe storm, the beginning of the Downtown Montauk Emergency Stabilization Project.

Protesters said that the project is ill-advised and will ruin Montauk's natural beaches.

East Hampton Town Police have asked the crowd of about 20 protesters to disperse but the group has refused to leave.

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Umm. it won't protect the beach.
By Boots O'Rourke (12), Montauk on Nov 6, 15 9:48 AM
The Army Corps Of Engineers are about to ruin this beach and they don't even get it or give a damn!! When these hotels have no beach to sit on, they will not have any guests!!! VERY SAD!!
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Nov 6, 15 9:51 AM
Thumbs up to the protesters; they are taking an important stand on such blatant destruction of the beach primary dune. What the Army Corps are doing is a disgrace. This is going to come back to haunt them in a few years when they realize that this did not protect the beach, it actually contributed to its destruction. Didn't they learn anything from the follies of building beach Jettys and how those accelerated erosion? I am stunned that the current Town Board is letting this happen to Montauk!
By SisBoomBonacker (106), Hamptons on Nov 6, 15 10:44 AM
Isn't the army Corp of engineers federal? How exactly would the town Board stop them?
By Hambone (514), New York on Nov 6, 15 11:25 AM
suggested reading: The Monkey Wrench Gang
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Nov 6, 15 11:23 AM
Or this one....A 1971 book by Arthur Morgan, Dams and other Disasters, was even more critical. The book rips into the Corps for its arrogant and damaging mismanagement. Morgan found that "there have been over the past 100 years consistent and disastrous failures by the Corps in public works areas . . . result[ing] in enormous and unnecessary costs to ecology [and] the taxpayer."34 Morgan was a former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and a highly distinguished engineer, who had worked on ...more
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Nov 12, 15 8:16 AM
Pack of morons run them over. Go save the starving if you want to save something.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 6, 15 3:19 PM
nice cliche
By dave h (193), calverton on Nov 6, 15 11:49 PM
See, what nobody realizes is that it's a lesser of two evils. If a line is not drawn, nothing will be left at all. The beach will erode regardless. No beach, or no town..? Choice is yours...
By The Royal 'We' (199), Southampton on Nov 7, 15 9:37 AM
Revetments are not effective in storm conditions. Also, the sand to the east and west of revetments will wash away leaving no beaches on either sides of it. Just look at the current revetments along the coast and see the damage from them. It is not the answer. Bravo to the protestors for taking a stand!
By Long Island Viking (28), Southampton on Nov 7, 15 10:30 AM
2 members liked this comment
the beach will naturally leave and naturally return. The issue is some businesses were built WAY too close to the dunes - what the Army Corps is doing is buying THOSE establishments some time and screwing it up for others further down the beach sooner AND ruining the beaches ultimately for good. Don't fool with mother nature - she'll kick your ass in the end!
By PineNeck Dio (10), Southampton on Nov 7, 15 11:03 AM
Just have to love how the Press points out to this group of these good people trying to save something we all value so much and call them " rag tag"! Expect this post to be censored immediately!
By LovinLife (61), East Quogue on Nov 7, 15 1:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
I agree. My first thoughts when I read the article was how demeaning and disrespectful the press was to a caring group of concerned citizens. Shame on the press!
By Long Island Viking (28), Southampton on Nov 7, 15 2:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
Checking the true definition of the word checks out. I don't think that's what the Press intended - but man that's insulting
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Nov 7, 15 4:34 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By nazznazz (276), east hampton on Nov 7, 15 8:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
Im sure these numb skulls know more about the dunes than the corp of engineers.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 8, 15 7:13 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By mtkfish (59), montauk on Nov 9, 15 7:46 AM
Well, in defense of the surfers their argument is more along the lines of the beach will ebb and flow over-time and if businesses are in the way, they need to deal with that. They believe that tax payers and the feds shouldn't be doing this massive project for the sole purpose of saving a few motels that were built too close to the ocean.

Did you know that George Washington, when deciding where to put the Montauk Lighthouse, took into consideration the inevitable fact of erosion and thus ...more
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Nov 9, 15 9:11 AM
And that's still there, Nature, thanks to revetments. According to this group it should have just fallen into the sea .... c'mon. Let the hotels fall into the sea and the water flow onto 27 ... forever ruining the Town. Really?! I think these people are being pretty darn selfish, actually!
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Nov 9, 15 5:27 PM
Yes, the revetment that has robbed the entire point of sand. How great will Montauk be with no beaches and just hardened structures? This is the most near-sighted plan that the politicians could have come up with. We aren't talking about "water flowing onto 27". We are talking about a select few businesses continuing to run the risk of being taken by the sea. No one held a gun to their head and told them to buy or build there.
By Nature (2966), Southampton on Nov 10, 15 10:55 AM
A "select, few" businesses? Sorry Nature - we ARE talking about water flowing across 27, as it did on the stretch during Sandy, and I am talking about all of the businesses on 27 that make up the "downtown area". I respect your thoughts but disagree with the "let them fall into the sea" mentality that is being espoused by those who don't own or work in these "select, few", or any other place Montauk. Your point about "no sand" at the lighthouse is valid, yet thousands upon thousands of people ...more
By Board Watcher (534), East Hampton on Nov 11, 15 9:44 AM
The Army Corps of Engineers did so well protecting New Orleans, what makes you think they can't protect Montauk?
By KevinLuss (356), SH on Nov 12, 15 8:09 AM
Are these near the famous natural phenomenon of the "walking dunes" they are changing? Isn't that a protected State Park? Protesters definitely have the right to protest. If Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis didn't help the protest in NYC where people actually were stretched out bodily in front of the bulldozers - we would have NO GRAND CENTRAL STATION....one of the best places in NYC. When Penn Station was torn down - supposedly more beautiful & larger than Grand Central - & pedestrian & traffic ...more
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Nov 12, 15 5:56 PM