The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is requiring more parking areas in an already controversial proposal that would restore the Village of Asharoken’s depleted sand dunes but require public beach access, Rep. Steve Israel’s office said Friday.
Federal law requires public access wherever the Army Corps puts down sand, but many village residents and beach lot owners oppose allowing the public onto their waterfront property.
An estimated $23.7 million in federal funding is at stake for the North Shore community, which received a tentative proposal from the Army Corps in November that included five public access points along the project’s 2.4 miles of shoreline — but only two parking areas at either end.
But Army Corps officials Friday revealed a new requirement — parking areas at each access point — during a conference call with village officials and the congressman’s office, said a spokesman for Israel (D-Huntington). It wasn’t immediately clear how much parking would be required at each location or how it would look.
“My office worked diligently to get the Village of Asharoken and the Army Corps to meet in the middle on a compromise to move this project forward,” Israel said in a statement. “It is extremely disappointing that after making significant progress to reach that compromise, the Army Corps’ headquarters rejected it.”
An Army Corps spokesman declined to provide details on changes to the agency’s tentative proposal and project requirements, but said officials will send the village a written explanation.
At that point, Army Corps officials said they will ask the village for an updated access plan, as well as a letter of support for the project’s feasibility study to move forward.
Many Asharoken residents have called for village officials to continue fighting any public access to their property. Mayor Greg Letica and village trustees have maintained throughout the process that the village is moving the project along, but is not yet committed to any public access.
Letica declined to comment Friday, saying he is “waiting on a written response” from the Army Corps.
To view the draft feasibility report, visit www.nan.usace.army.mil/Portals/37/docs/civilworks/projects/ny/coast/asharoken/Asharoken%20CSRM%20DRAFT%20Feasibility%20Report.pdf.