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Aug 22, 2018 9:35 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Quogue Homeowners Pitch New Beach Reconstruction Plan, On Their Own Dime

The Quogue Village Board and Southampton Town would have to vote to allow residents to form a taxing district to fund the beach nourishment project.
Aug 24, 2018 10:42 AM

A group of Quogue homeowners pressed the Quogue Village Board on Saturday to let them hold a vote among just 51 neighbors to decide whether they want to self-fund a $10 million effort to rebuild the beaches in front of their homes.

In contrast to an earlier proposal to rebuild the entire 2.7 miles of beach in the village, which was shelved in 2013 after years of debate over how the costs should be divided among residents, the new proposal calls for just the easternmost 1.1 miles of beach—from immediately east of the Quogue Beach Club, to the village’s eastern boundary—to be nourished. The costs would be carried solely by the owners of the 51 properties within that stretch.

The project would be designed to piggyback on a large sand nourishment project planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and tentatively forecast to get underway in 2022. That project will reconstruct 4.5 miles of chronically eroded beaches in Hampton Bays and East Quogue, paid for with federal Superstorm Sandy recovery aid. But their restoration efforts would halt at the Quogue Village border.

The planners of the proposal within the village say that tacking on the extra mile presents a unique opportunity to restore beaches and rebuild dunes in places that have slowly been winnowed away since the construction of the Shinnecock Inlet jetties began interrupting natural flow of sand more than 60 years ago.

Without the sand the inlets have redirected, the anemic state of the beaches, both above and beyond the surf line, have meant that any severe storm directly impacts and erodes the dunes, and means there is nothing for dunes to rebuild from between severe weather events.

“Sand provides the source material for the dunes to rebuild,” said Aram Terchunian, a coastal engineer from Westhampton who has helped design several large beach nourishment projects. “That is not happening now, because there is no source material, and the dunes are getting eroded further on every storm.”

Mr. Terchunian said that the millions of tons of sand that will be deposited on beaches will slowly drift westward at a rate of about 500 feet per year. If the beaches in eastern Quogue are restored to a “healthy” condition, that sand will help maintain them. If they are not, it will do little to bolster beaches there as it will be washed away at a faster rate

In order to move forward with the homeowners’ plans, the village and Southampton Town would have to propose the creation of a new taxing district encompassing just the 51 properties. A vote would have to be held among only the residents of the district. If approved, the district could propose the design of a project and ask the town to borrow the money to fund it, and then tax residents annually for 10 years to pay back those loans.

“I’m here to respectfully ask the trustees to allow the democratic process to proceed—have the 51 homeowners in the district vote, let them decide,” said Bob Friedman, one of the organizers of the erosion control district effort. “I see no downside to having sand put on the beach. In fact, I see only great benefit.”

Mr. Friedman said that he believed a major reconstruction of the eastern Quogue beaches was a necessity to stave off the eventual breaching of the barrier island somewhere within the village’s boundaries.

The homeowners pushing the district creation estimated that the project would cost most of the homeowners in the district between $25,000 and $30,000 per year, for 10 years—though they have not yet determined how the taxation will be calculated.

In 2012, more than 150 residents of Sagaponack, Bridgehampton and Water Mill agreed to fund a more than $25 million project to reformulate six miles of beach. The two erosion control districts formed for that project used separate formulas for calculating the taxes each homeowner owed: one basing it on linear footage of oceanfront per property, the other on total assessed value of a given lot.

Quogue had been considering undertaking its own restoration project in the years after Sandy heavily damaged the village beach pavilion. But an analysis of the village beaches showed that nourishment was not sorely needed in the western half of the village and supporters of the project struggled to find support for all village residents paying for the project.

The new pitch, some of the would-be district homeowners said, would address those divergent issues.

“This project is a win-win,” said Donald Gruhn. “The bottom line says, if you do not live on Dune Road, this costs you nothing. For us, it fills an urgent need and should substantially enhance the value of our property.”

But not all residents of the district were convinced by the initial pitch, and some of those living outside the district even voiced opposition to it.

Karen Cirincione said that in the years since 2000, when she and her husband, Andrew, bought their Dune Road house, the beaches have gotten wider, not narrower.

Mr. Cirincione objected because he said it was unfair for the 51 homeowners to pay to pump sand onto the beaches that will eventually drift onto the beaches of parts of the village where residents did not bear the costs. “That’s a lot of money,” he said, nodding to the $30,000 annual cost estimate for each homeowner.

But other residents said the total 10-year burden on each oceanfront homeowner would be returned to them several times over in the value of their home if there is a broad beach in front and protection from strong storms.

Quogue Village Mayor Peter Sartorius noted that the village and those proposing the erosion control district would have to determine how much of the cost, if any, the village itself would be responsible for, since it owns two parcels within the proposed reach. In 2013, Southampton Town contributed more than $2 million to the beach nourishment project in Water Mill, Bridgehampton and Sagaponack, where it owned four major public beaches that were damaged in Sandy.

Mr. Terchunian said he worried that those skeptical or critical of the proposal were underestimating the level of risk the eastern end of the village faces from severe storms like hurricanes or successive strong nor ’easters.

“That risk is a lot bigger than a lot of the people in this room understand,” he said. “They will understand it the day after the storm.”

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The sand will be long gone before your 10 year loan payment period . The ocean will go where it wants to .
By ashhelm (9), hampton bays on Aug 23, 18 7:06 AM
Save your money and either move or raise your house with the money. Renourishment will be needed again with the next big storm comes long before anything is paid off. If you do move dont move near an airport and complain about the noise.
By Baymen87 (135), Lugoff, SC on Aug 23, 18 8:55 AM
1 member liked this comment
Personally I think this is great. A group of home owners looking to fix their own problem without sticking their hands out looking looking for welfare. All they want is for the government to get out of their way. How refreshing!
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Aug 27, 18 7:18 AM