The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its long-awaited feasibility...

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its long-awaited feasibility study to restore Asharoken's dunes. Credit: Steve Pfost

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its long-awaited feasibility study to restore Asharoken’s dunes, a tentative $23.7 million proposal that would initially add 600,000 cubic yards of sand and require public access to the much of the village’s privately owned beachfront property.

Federal law requires public access wherever the Corps restores sand, but many Asharoken residents and beach lot owners oppose allowing the public onto the Long Island Sound waterfront property they own.

Officials at all levels of government have cited increased urgency in restoring the coastline along Asharoken, a North Shore isthmus linking Eatons Neck to Northport and the rest of Long Island. But the risk of property destruction from another big storm, coupled with millions in federal dollars made available after Sandy, led other residents to support the project.

The plan, released Monday, could be altered based on public feedback, changes in the cost of critical materials, and other factors. State and village officials can also reject the final plan if it doesn’t have the support from residents — many of whom would have to sign easements allowing access to their private property.

“Until I have a chance to see the whole document and see the presentation from the Army Corps . . . I’m not prepared to make any statement,” Mayor Greg Letica said, noting the report was more than 100 pages.

The Corps selected the plan from among five as the most ideal and cost-effective. It includes adding 80,000 cubic yards of sand to the shoreline about every five years, with total costs projected to reach $57.8 million.

The tentative plan also would add or restore three groins — structures intended to reinforce the beach against erosion — and maintain a fourth at the northwestern end of the shoreline. Village board members supported a different plan, which would not have added any groins.

The long, raised structures can be controversial for beach preservation because while they help trap and build up sand on one side, they also accelerate erosion on the other side.

Ron Pinzon, an Army Corps project manager, said the tentative plan would minimize that effect by staggering the length of the groins, starting with the northernmost one, from shortest to longest.

The Corps report included warnings against not addressing the beach’s erosion. Asharoken Avenue, which runs through the village and along the 2.4-mile stretch where the project would take place, is a critical evacuation route in emergencies. Many residents have said that fact should be enough to merit federal dollars for the project without requiring public access, but federal officials maintain there is no way around the Corps requirement.

“Based on the past storm events . . . it is clear that wave attack and overtopping of dunes and bulkheads will continue to cause shoreline recession; damage to existing . . . structures, infrastructure and residences; exposure of marsh habitats,” without a beach restoration project, the report said.

Public comment about the plan is open until Jan. 8. The Corps then is to develop a final recommended plan, likely by the latter half of 2016. Then they need official support from the state and village, Pinzon said.

“If the local residents or the state doesn’t want it, we can’t move forward because we need that local buy-in,” he said.

If approved locally, the project would then need support from Congress and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. The the first quarter of 2017 is the earliest the project could have all official approvals needed to start, Pinzon said.

Latest Videos