Islip Town has signed on to a federal coastal protection project that is expected to prepare Fire Island and South Shore communities for decades of dune-devouring storms and climate change, officials said Monday.
The town's decision to sign a Project Partnership Agreement is a "major milestone" for the Fire Island to Montauk project, which is expected to begin construction next year, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) said in a news release.
The $3 billion project is expected to restore and protect 83 miles of coastline through a combination of dredging, raising buildings and rebuilding dunes devastated by recent storms.
Islip joined Suffolk County and Babylon, Brookhaven, East Hampton and Southampton towns in signing on to the project, known as FIMP, for Fire Island to Montauk Point.
"Completion of the FIMP project is critical to the long-term health and viability of Long Island’s environment, economy and coastal way of life," Zeldin said in a statement. " … It’s incredibly encouraging to see all levels of government working together to finally get this project done for Long Islanders."
Garbarino added in a statement the project "will provide critical initiatives to help preserve and protect our coast."
Supporters have said FIMP is Long Island's best chance to save Fire Island and low-lying, flood-prone South Shore communities from future storms.
Plans and recommendations for the project include building a feeder beach that would be replenished with fresh sand every four years for 30 years on 6,000 feet of Montauk shorefront, raising or flood-proofing 4,500 structures, removing two groins — structures that capture sand and are doing more harm than good — from Ocean Beach Village on Fire Island and improving the Moriches, Shinnecock and Fire Island inlets, according to a report filed last year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The $1.5 billion cost of initial planning and construction will be entirely covered by federal funds, officials said. The remaining $1.5 billion will be 50% funded by the federal government, with the remainder covered by Long Island taxpayers, officials said.
Ensuring Islip would not be on the hook for "extraordinary maintenance costs" was a key factor before the town agreed to support the plan, Supervisor Angie Carpenter said in an interview.
"It’s a barrier island and protects us on the mainland here on Long Island," Carpenter said. "Storms like Sandy showed what could happen. This is so exciting and finally there is going to be a cohesive effort."
Early versions of FIMP were proposed as far back as 1960 but stalled for decades before being resurrected around 1980. That effort also was delayed, then brought back to life about 1994. Recent storms such as Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 jump-started talks, leading to federal authorization last year.