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Oct 21, 2015 11:22 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Bulkhead Will Be Constructed At St. Andrew's Dune Church In Southampton Village

A bulkhead is set to go up on the south side of the St. Andrews Dune Church in Southampton Village.  DANA SHAW
Oct 21, 2015 11:39 AM

After more than 20 years of pushing for the construction of a bulkhead behind the oceanfront St. Andrew’s Dune Church, both Southampton Village and church officials have gotten their wish.

Work is already under way on a $700,000 plan to construct 375 linear feet of steel bulkhead, followed by dune restoration that will replace 4,800 yards of sand and an additional 2,000 yards of beach grass, immediately behind the house of worship on Gin Lane.

Alan McFarland, president of the board of trustees for the St. Andrew’s Dune Church, said the institution is currently awaiting the delivery of all the steel before the actual structure can be built. James H. Rambo Inc. is the company that will be building the bulkhead. The building permit was issued to the church on September 3.

Once the steel is delivered, Mr. McFarland said, it is estimated that it will take about four weeks to construct the bulkhead. “I’m hoping it will all be finished by Thanksgiving,” he said. In the meantime, Rambo has already cleared part of the beach so that construction vehicles will have easy access.

The bulkhead has long been a subject of contention between Southampton Village and the Southampton Town Trustees, which had delayed the approval of the St. Andrew’s structure. In late 2013, the Town Trustees filed suit against the village and the State Department of Environmental Conservation, asking the courts to determine whether the two entities had complied with state regulations pertaining to hard structures and bulkheads on beaches.

The Trustees have argued for years that while such structures protect buildings, they ruin beaches and destroy public access to them.

The courts ruled last year, however, that the Trustees no longer have regulatory authority in villages over dunes and seawalls—a ruling that could be revisited in court.

Trustee President Ed Warner Jr. said “it is a shame” that the decades-long disagreement has come to this. “It was a hard fight for many decades, making sure there were minimal amounts of hardened structures, and making sure [beaches were] accessible for the residents and freeholders in the town,” he said. “So, going forward with something like that is a benchmark, and we really don’t have any jurisdiction. I wish we still had the authority.”

Trustee Scott Horowitz echoed Mr. Warner’s comments. “I think it’s unfortunate that we’re in this situation, and I would like to see a sensible, working relationship between the Town Trustees and all the villages that would be in the best interest of both parties,” he said, adding that he is “ready, willing and able to sit down with the mayor of any village to try and find a resolution.”

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said it was crucial that a bulkhead was constructed behind St. Andrew’s. Not only was the church badly damaged in the 1938 hurricane, but the two surrounding properties—the Southampton Bathing Corporation to the east and a private home to the west—have been bulkheaded, making St. Andrew’s even more vulnerable to damage.

Additionally, the village has conducted studies of all the properties between Halsey Neck Lane and Old Town Road that are close to the beach and susceptible to damage from storms, and determined that the few that are not protected by bulkheads are extremely helpless.

“About 98 percent of them are bulkheaded,” Mr. Epley said. “The ones that are not are actually weak points. In that area, I support the continuation of bulkheading.”

Mr. McFarland said he is relieved that the church will finally have protection with the bulkhead, although the price to construct it drastically increased from $180,000 when the project was originally pitched in 1993. And even though a bulkhead was constructed in 1939 after the bad hurricane damage, it has since been covered by sand and is not substantial enough to shield the church from rough waves.

He added that the church has raised the money from patrons to pay for the project, and still needs about $200,000. Gifts can be made out to either St. Andrew’s Dune Church or St. Andrew’s Preservation Foundation and mailed to P.O. Box 1245 in Southampton Village.

“We’re just thrilled. I guess if you try long enough, the forces will let you get stuff done,” Mr. McFarland said. “There’ll be a lot of smiles. It’ll protect everyone.”

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At last their prayers were answered by judicial intervention...Blessed are they.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Oct 21, 15 11:49 AM
Ed Warner doesn't mind his bulk headed little cove that jets 75 ft into Shinnecock Bay. I guess that doesn't hurt anyone.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Oct 21, 15 1:22 PM
The DEC had said no to their bulkhead application years ago. I wonder what has made it change its mind. Political pressure upstate? The church is in no danger of being washed away.
By Crabby (63), Southampton on Oct 21, 15 2:25 PM
Chief, care to say when that bulkhead was put in? Bay front vs oceanfront is a substantial difference.
By But I'm a blank! (1283), Hampton Bays on Oct 21, 15 4:32 PM
MAJOR mistake:(
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Oct 21, 15 5:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
Oh the humanity a little wall is going up heaven forbid, You all sound so ridiculous

Give It a reast already
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on Oct 21, 15 5:26 PM
You apparently have no idea what a bulkhead does to a beach.......
By sandydog21 (195), Southampton on Oct 21, 15 10:52 PM
Apparently you don't care what salt water does to a landmark church
By Undocumented Democrat (2065), southampton on Oct 22, 15 5:04 PM
It could be years or decades before the folly of this bulkhead is laid bare (literally). Part of me hopes to be around when it does for the i told you so factor but that would be overshadowed by the sadness of losing the beach.
By shocean (16), Southampton on Oct 21, 15 5:28 PM
I hope the trustees is east hampton don't EVER give up the full powers or any, entitled to them on the dogan patent of 1686.
If they do...... This is what happens.
By H2O (85), easthampton on Oct 21, 15 6:43 PM
2 members liked this comment
"Fooling with Mother Nature" will once again have the foreseeable consequence of severe erosion downstream to the west, because of the prevailing littoral drift from the east. It is just a matter of time.

One ironic twist to this story, to illustrate how our sensibilities about the ocean have changed, is that the bulkhead work is said to be "behind" the church. Hah!

Oceanfront property has its FRONT yard on the ocean, don't you know . . . what what!

[ Like the phrase ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Oct 21, 15 7:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
Another fine example of the republican leadership of the trustees- good job Warner and Horowitless!! Pretty soon there'll be a wall from Montauk to Brooklyn.
By PoliticallyIncorrect (45), earth on Oct 22, 15 11:49 AM
"MARK" politicallyincorrects posts as "INCORRECT"
By 007 (45), East Quogue on Oct 22, 15 12:20 PM
Mayor Epley's comments are correct. Since this property is not protected, it will be more likely suffer due to the fact that the adjoining properties are bulkheaded. Sounds like a blueprint for the future. Everyone knows that the beach next to a bulkheaded lot gets chewed up. So contractors, start handing out your cards there will be lots of work soon as the village thumbs its nose at the trustees and hands out permits like they're going out of style. The trustees will be sitting in the front ...more
By clammer (23), hampton bays on Oct 22, 15 9:07 PM
Sounds as if Ed and Scott have forgotten that there is a final appeal underway in the Quogue case regarding Trustee jurisdiction! Do not give up that fight gentlemen! The question remains - when the Villages were incorporated and broke from Southampton Town, did the Trustees explicitly relinquish jurisdiction over the beaches to said Villages? If not the Villages do not have a leg to stand on. This point was brought up last year at a Trustee meeting and the board said "we will look into this". ...more
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Oct 25, 15 11:21 AM
As much as some enjoy the spirited debate on the 27 east, The reality is that there are much better forums to discuss these issues. Some of these issues are attached to litigation and have discussion limitations at times. Trustees meeting are open to all the public and comments are always welcome, in addition, any citizen can reach a Trustee at 287-5717. They return phone calls and I am sure more than willing to talk or meet. Trustees take their responsibility to defend public access and the ...more
By 007 (45), East Quogue on Oct 26, 15 1:59 PM