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Town looks to seize neglected beachfront property in Lindenhurst

The American Venice Civic Association is a group that plans to restore an eroded shoreline in Lindenhurst. Credit: Morgan Campbell

A Lindenhurst civic association is teaming up with a global scientific organization to come up with solutions to the erosion of a small beachfront property, but the property in question is still privately owned.

The American Venice Civic Association last year was one of 17 applications accepted from a pool of 30 for the Thriving Earth Exchange program, which is part of the nonprofit American Geophysical Union, based in Washington, D.C. According to its mission statement, Thriving Earth Exchange program aims to connect "communities with scientists to work together to tackle local challenges related to natural hazards, natural resources and climate change.

The civic group wants to halt the erosion of property that sits on the Great South Bay near the entrance to Grand Canal by creating a living shoreline using native plants and natural barriers such as rocks. Civic members said much, if not all, of the beach has washed away.

"This is so important to get done before there’s nothing left to be done," civic member Kathy Gullo said.

Kai Greenlees, a Thriving Earth Exchange fellow assigned to the project, said she was impressed by the community’s passion.

"Something that got me really excited when I first met the team there is that they were so forward thinking … a lot of people don’t jump to the nature-based solution," she said.

The property, listed as 159 feet by 85 feet, had been owned by a previous incarnation of the civic group that went inactive decades ago. Because of delinquent taxes, Suffolk County seized the property in 1990 and in 2000 gave it to the town, which in 2009 auctioned it off to a local resident, Norman Lagrandier, for $1,000.

Lagrandier has not abided by the covenants and restrictions the town set for the property, town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said, such as allowing community access and maintaining bulkheads. As a result the pilings deteriorated to the point where they became a hazard to boaters. The town last month had a company remove the remaining bulkheading, and civic members witnessed Lagrandier trying to stop the work.

After learning a survey the town commissioned for the property has not been completed, civic members expressed concern about the shoreline project moving forward.

"The last thing we heard was that it was good to go and the town was taking back the property," civic chairman John Vogt said.

Schaffer said the town is awaiting the survey results but plans to go after the property. He said he sees no reason why the Thriving Earth Exchange project, which is estimated to take six to 18 months, can’t go forward.

"I’m 100% confident that in a short period of time, we’re going to have that property back," Schaffer said, adding that the town will get scientists access to the property in the meantime.

Lagrandier in an interview declined to say whether he would relinquish the property, saying only that he is "in the middle of speaking to my attorneys about it."

According to the town, Lagrandier only filed his name on the deed within the past few years and now owes more than $15,000 in back taxes.

Thriving Earth Exchange

  • Program of the nonprofit American Geophysical Union, based in Washington, D.C.

  • American Geophysical Union has more than 130,000 members from 137 countries

  • Members are Earth, atmospheric, ocean, hydrologic, space, and planetary scientists

  • Thriving Earth Exchange has done nearly 140 projects since the program was started eight years ago

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