Asharoken seeks ways to limit public beach access after restoration project

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A view of the shore at Asharoken Beach. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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Asharoken's mayor has asked federal officials if at least part of the village's Long Island Sound beach can be kept private if it accepts a restoration project funded mostly by state and federal money.

About 2.4 miles of beach would be restored under the $25 million-$30 million project to be paid for mostly by superstorm Sandy relief funds.

State and federal officials have said Asharoken must provide public access on the beach if the village pursues the publicly funded project.

Some village residents raised concerns about the public access requirement, prompting Mayor Gregory Letica to send a letter to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) on Tuesday.

"They are worried about their total loss of privacy, ability to leave property on the beach and be exposed to potential liability issues should they chose to do so," Letica wrote.

Letica said several residents have asked whether it would be possible to create a "buffer zone" that would remain private. He said the state Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told him "that it could not be done."

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Letica said the public would benefit from Asharoken Avenue being protected by the beach rebuilding project and that public access on the road should meet federal requirements. He asked Schumer and Israel to contact both agencies to ask about using the road access to offset the beach access requirement.

"Asharoken understands and respects the beach public access requirement, but the public benefit of preserving the road is significant and should be considered," Letica said.

But Sue McCormick, chief of the DEC's coastal erosion management program, told the village board on June 3 that "wherever we put sand, the public will have access."


Israel said in a statement that he has contacted the Army Corps and is "committed to working with all stakeholders on the issue of public access."

Schumer spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said in a statement that his office has asked the Army Corps to meet with Asharoken officials.

The village is developing its draft public access plan, which has to be agreed upon by all parties. The plan is to include several access points to Long Island Sound beaches as well as designated parking spots.

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