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Gilgo State Park to be replenished, reopened

Gilgo State Park, closed for three years in

Gilgo State Park, closed for three years in a row due to erosion, is shown on July 11. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to dredge over 2 million cubic yards of sand and pour it onto the barrier beach that borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Great South Bay. Credit: Chris Ware

Off-road vehicles will be allowed back into Gilgo State Park after a dredger hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pours 2.1 million cubic yards of sand onto the beach, a project that also will shield the roadway that runs along the barrier island, officials said Friday.

The sand again will be dredged from Fire Island Inlet, which periodically fills in.

Similarly, the park, closed to the vehicles for three years, has repeatedly eroded. 

Its latest narrowing became urgent in April, after the state Department of Environmental Conservation said it found just 36 feet separated the Atlantic from Ocean Parkway.

This heightens the risk that a storm will cleave the island in two, officials have said.

The Army Corps listed the award for the $26 million project on its website Tuesday. However, no plan has been agreed upon to haul away the remains of the U.S. Coast Guard Station, abandoned decades ago, officials said. Its riprap, bulkhead and part of the original concrete foundation are accelerating erosion, experts said.

“The Gilgo debris is a downright hazard along Ocean Parkway that demands an immediate fix and a longer-term mitigation plan,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a statement. 

“That is why I fought so hard to zero-in on securing these critical federal dredge dollars and get this work going before the hazard to the parkway evolved into imminent danger,” Schumer said.

An Army Corps spokesman was not immediately available to say when the project would begin or end. 

“As an added benefit, the Babylon park might be able to reopen to off-road vehicles before next summer, making this news a boon for safety and recreation,” Schumer said.

George Gorman, Long Island deputy regional director of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, “This is great news; the surf and fishing communities will be thrilled.”

The new contract costs nearly twice as much as a similar one the Army Corps undertook in 2013, when it spent more than $15 million dredging nearly 1.5 million cubic yards of sand for several nearby beaches. Gilgo got the lion’s share.

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