For anyone who hasn’t ventured to the ocean side of the dune on South Emerson Avenue in the past few months, you may be disturbed to discover that the Montauk beachfront is being devastated by the Army Corps of Engineers.
You can now watch the sunset on the beach in Montauk with silhouettes of bulldozers against the ocean.
They have already succeeded in excavating over half a mile of the existing dune and are filling the pit they have created with geo-textile bags full of foreign sand, cement sewage drains, and 20-foot pylons in preparation for a boardwalk, which will change both the aspect and the functioning of the Montauk ecosystem, economy, and lifestyle forever.
This project was approved by the town of East Hampton due to a “state of emergency” (referencing three years post-Sandy status), funded by government Sandy relief, but with no long-term plan for the finances required for maintenance of this man-made “dune,” which the town will be responsible for as soon as the Army Corps leaves.
The project, which is being considered a “temporary solution” to the ocean level rise on Long Island and Fire Island is also part of a long term goal to complete shoreline “hardening” from Fire Island to Montauk, a plan that has been 30 years in debate.
Currently, there is zero environmental accountability for the Army Corps actions, and thus they are warping and undermining the existing dune, permanently damaging the coastal ecosystem.
No coincidence, from an immediate business perspective, the project will also benefit the hotels and property owners along the strip, many of whom are looking for a quick fix to super-storm vulnerability.
Multiple community protests have taken place, including arrests made on the beach, and there is currently an open legal action against the project. The primary support for the case against the project has arisen from the Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, who continue their legacy of advocacy for protection of shorelines, ocean, and coastal environments.
They recently sponsored a fundraiser to aid the legal action against the project, which was hosted by the Stephen Talkhouse. The next fundraiser will be held right here in Patchogue, and will feature music by local original band Soundswell and the national act Kung Fu.
It is being put on by Dogpatch Productions, and is being held at 89 North Music Venue on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. Additional sponsors for the event include Whalebone Creative, Bunger Sayville, Blue Point Brewery, Montauk Brewery, Long Ireland Brewery, and Oskar Blues Brewery.
Proceeds of the event to benefit the Surfrider Foundation and their efforts to raise awareness of the devastation and cease the project.
“We need to get involved now because Patchogue is next,” says Keenan Boyle, bassist for Soundswell and active member of community protests in Montauk who is also collaborating on the Dec. 30 fundraiser.
“The shoreline hardening project will affect the entire South Shore,” he said. “Although we may be joining the fight for Montauk late in the game, we will be ready and waiting for the next spot they hit, which could likely be us, by building community and creating awareness.”
Anna Macukas is a writer, surfer, mom, and social justice advocate with a passion for preserving our beautiful Long Island environment.
Top: Soundswell band members and other protesters at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction site at Kirk Park Beach in Montauk on Nov. 6. (Bartholomew Schwarz courtesy photo)