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Police: 3 arrested protesting dune project on Montauk beach

Tom LaGrassa of Springs and James Katsipis of

Tom LaGrassa of Springs and James Katsipis of Montauk are handcuffed by East Hampton Town Police after protesting in a pit at an excavation area on the beach in Montauk, Nov. 6, 2015. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

A protest over a Montauk dune-erosion project being undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ended with the arrest of three East End residents Friday morning, East Hampton Town police said.

James Katsipis and Sarah Conway, both of Montauk, and Tom LaGrassa of Springs were arrested by East Hampton police at the beach off South Emerson Avenue just after 7:30 a.m. and charged with disorderly conduct.

All were released on their own recognizance and ordered to appear in Town Justice Court on Dec. 2.

Police spokesman Capt. Chris Anderson said the three were part of a group of protesters who took to the beach Friday morning, forming an arm-in-arm blockade designed to stop heavy equipment being operated by the Army Corps.

The group, which included a dozen or so protesters, was asked to disperse, Anderson said. "All but three dispersed when asked to leave the area," he said. They were arrested.

The dune project is moving forward despite a lawsuit that asserts the project actually will destroy the beach and that the methods being used could result in flooding of downtown Montauk.

Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said at a town board meeting Thursday that it was too late to stop the project, because the town is under contract with the Army Corps and because the town board had voted for the project.

About 100 residents attended the meeting and a group told officials they would form a human chain Friday morning in an effort to block the project.

Opponents at the meeting said the beach's natural dunes were being destroyed in order to be replaced by "hard structures" that will ruin the aesthetics of the beach itself. With Lisa Irizarry

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