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Army Corps seeks clarity on Asharoken beach access proposal

A no tresspassing sign is pictured at the

A no tresspassing sign is pictured at the border of Asharoken Beach and private properties between Northport Bay and the Long Island Sound in Asharoken on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking clarity from Asharoken officials on their proposal to open private beaches to the public in exchange for millions in federal funding to restore dunes damaged in superstorm Sandy.

In a memo dated March 13, Corps officials said the state district would support a plan that addressed their questions and made recommended tweaks. They are seeking specifics on parking, public access points and environmental impacts, among other things.

"Assuming these further details will be provided, the [New York] District would support a recommendation . . . that the public access plan is sufficient to allow for federal cost-sharing," officials said in their tentative response memo.

Village Mayor Greg Letica said he was "happy" about the Corps' assessment that the project would likely lead to low recreational use. He said village officials feel it means the Corps is likely to support the village's final parking plan.

In its response, the Corps acknowledged that adding parking at the middle three access points along Asharoken Avenue could have a negative environmental impact and create safety issues on the road. But it sought more information to support the village's assertion that parking there should not be needed.

Corps officials also want the village to address several aspects of its proposal for parking at the east end of the project.

A large portion of the area is owned by a power plant, and the Corps wants Asharoken and the Town of Huntington to enter into an agreement that will ensure public parking access.

The village's proposal had limited that parking area to Huntington residents; a condition Corps officials said would "not be allowable."

The village submitted its latest plan in November.

The first proposal was rejected, with officials saying it did not include the level of access mandated under federal law.

To receive the $25 million to $35 million to restore the damaged beaches, village officials must agree to allow public access wherever federal tax dollars are spent to lay down sand.

The prospect has been problematic for many Asharoken residents and beach lot owners concerned about private beachfront property values on the North Shore isthmus.

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