Asharoken officials are seeking more time to respond to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mandate that the village allow parking and public access to privately-owned beaches in order to receive $23.7 million to restore depleted dunes.
Federal law requires public access wherever the Army Corps puts down sand, but many village residents and beach-front owners oppose allowing the public onto their waterfront property.
Asharoken officials said on the village website that they are asking for a 30-day extension of a Sept. 7 deadline for responding to the Corps’ latest requirement, which reaffirmed the need for five public-access points and added a mandate that parking must be available at each one.
Previously, the Corps proposal only included parking areas at either end of the project’s 2.4 miles of shoreline. Corps officials told the village of the expanded parking requirement in July.
Corps officials said Wednesday that they had just learned that the village was seeking an extension, and that request for more time was under review.
“We do know more parking will be needed,” Corps spokesman Michael Embrich said in an email. “Exactly how much additional parking is unknown at this time. As soon as a plan is finalized on access points, we will have a clearer picture” of how much and where the parking is needed.
In a letter to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Corps officials said parking could be provided at lots, or on the street along the side of Asharoken Avenue at each of the 6-foot-wide access points, but the additional parking is not optional.
“It is a project requirment that the parking lots/spaces be located for the extent of the project, not just at its termini,” wrote Army Col. David A. Caldwell in the letter, which the DEC forwarded to the village Aug. 10.
The only alternative would be providing a public shuttle service to allow public access to the beach for free or at “reasonable” cost to beach users, Caldwell wrote.
Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica declined to comment Wednesday.