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Fire Island dune project schedule restored

Senator Charles Schumer, left, and Congressman Tim Bishop

Senator Charles Schumer, left, and Congressman Tim Bishop discuss how new talks have led to an agreement to expedite dune construction on parts of Fire Island. (Dec. 8, 2013) Credit: Johnny Milano

Dune reconstruction on the eastern and western ends of Fire Island is set to begin in early 2014, as originally scheduled, while state and federal officials sort through details of the project for the central populated portion of the island.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month informed the New York Department of Environmental Conservation that building dunes could be delayed until next fall while specifics are worked out for the possible relocation, purchase or demolition of homes in the central stretch of ocean beachfront.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) Sunday unveiled the plan to return the project to its original schedule.

"We did not want to wait. God forbid there are more storms this summer," Schumer said in a news conference at Smith Point County Park in Mastic Beach. The eastern and western portions of the island "have no land acquisition issues to deal with and so, the environmental assessment . . . is much more straightforward," Bishop said. "We're going to fast-track those, get ourselves into a position where we can begin beach nourishment."

Building a 15-foot-high dune line is part of the $700 million, 83-mile Fire Island to Montauk Point project known as FIMP. It also includes raising thousands of flood-prone homes and several roads, widening beaches and creating salt marshes and wetlands that would serve as coastal sponges.

The state unveiled a proposal for the populated central area on Oct. 29 that could affect 80 to 100 homes. The Corps' current plan impacts about 20 homes, Bishop and Schumer said.

Bishop said the DEC notified him Sunday that it plans to support the Corps' latest proposal for the dune line. Attempts to reach DEC and Army Corps officials Sunday were unsuccessful.

Schumer and Bishop said they plan to get each agency to sign off on the new plan for the eastern and western portions, and draft a weekly work timeline.


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