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Asharoken asks Chuck Schumer for help on beach access issue

Private beaches along Asharoken Avenue in the Village

Private beaches along Asharoken Avenue in the Village of Asharoken, are shown on Monday, July 6, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

Asharoken officials have asked Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to intervene in the village’s fight against a mandate requiring public access to private beaches in exchange for $23.7 million in federal funding to restore depleted dunes.

The Village of Asharoken sits on a long, narrow strip of land on the North Shore of Long Island in the Town of Huntington. Its sand dunes are depleted, leaving the village vulnerable in the next major storm.

Officials with Schumer’s office said Wednesday that they had received the letter and had forwarded it to the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We’ve been engaged on this with the Army Corps and strongly urged them to work with local stakeholders to hammer out an agreement that works for both sides,” Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro said in a statement.

The Corps of Engineers has proposed a $23.7 million project to restore the beaches, but federal law requires public access wherever the Corps puts down sand. Many village residents and beach-lot owners oppose allowing the public onto their properties.

The Corps expanded its public access requirement earlier this summer, when officials notified the village that public parking would be mandatory at each of five mandatory public access points along the 2.4-mile stretch of the proposed project.

Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica said on the village’s website that he met with Huntington Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone on Aug. 12 and the two drafted the letter asking for Schumer’s assistance in fighting public access.

The letter asks Schumer to make the case that the project would reap a public benefit through a combination of more limited public access — and less parking — and the protection of Asharoken Avenue, which is the main road through the village of about 500 residents.

Asharoken Avenue is also the only land evacuation route for the roughly 1,400 residents of Eatons Neck, a section of Huntington that sits at the end of the road.

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