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Feds replenish sand at Gilgo Beach after nearby dredging project

Sand replenishment underway at Gilgo Beach on Tuesday.

Sand replenishment underway at Gilgo Beach on Tuesday. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

About 1.8 million cubic yards of sand are being placed on a narrow portion of Gilgo Beach that has eroded, bringing the ocean dangerously close to Ocean Parkway, officials say.

More than $26 million in federal funds went to Illinois-based contractor Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company LLC to dredge the bottom of Fire Island Inlet in Babylon and move the sand to Gilgo Beach, reinforcing the parkway.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the project, which involves portions of Gilgo Beach run by the state and portions run by the Town of Babylon.

“The dredged sand being removed from Fire Island Inlet is being reused beneficially at the critical erosion area on Gilgo Beach as an additional coastal flood risk measure,” Hector Mosley, Army Corps spokesman for the New York District, said.

Town of Babylon officials also hoped they could piggyback on the dredging project to replenish sand at its nearby Overlook Beach, but it will have to wait for a future project.

Overlook has also sustained erosion from past storms, and while sand was replenished in 2014 after superstorm Sandy, it loses its shorefront very quickly, said Brian Zitani, waterways management supervisor for the town.

“Things weren’t bad prior to Sandy; our beach is eroding faster,” he said. “It’s cyclical right now. We seem to be losing it faster than in the last 10 years.”

The small job of replenishing a single, small beach isn’t enough to attract a contractor with massive dredging equipment, town officials said.

The contractor was not left with enough time after the Gilgo replenishment to do Overlook Beach, so officials have to wait until at least next year to latch onto another nearby dredging project.

The Town Board approved a plan to bond $500,000 for the project but haven’t borrowed the money yet, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said, and will hold off on doing so until officials are sure they can get the dredging done.

The Overlook replenishment is not as dire a need as Gilgo’s is, Bonner said, but “we prefer to have it.”

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