A view of the bluff that needs stabilization behind the Port...

A view of the bluff that needs stabilization behind the Port Jefferson Country Club on Jan. 7. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Port Jefferson officials have been awarded a $3.75 million federal grant to help slow erosion of a steep cliff before it collapses a clubhouse and tennis courts at a village-owned golf club. 

Erosion at the top of the East Beach bluff has crept to within a few feet of the foundation of the Port Jefferson Country Club clubhouse, village officials and Sen. Chuck Schumer said as they announced the grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The grant will help pay for a $9 million project to add steel plates at the top and bottom of the bluff and plant vegetation to stem further erosion, officials said.

“The East Beach is eroding rapidly,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Newsday on Monday. “It’s going to stabilize the East Beach bluff … and assure that this can be used for decades to come.”

Port Jefferson officials said the bluff overlooking Long Island Sound has been eroding for about a decade due to sea level rise. Waves scouring the bottom part of the cliff caused the top of the bluff to slide downhill, they said.

Aerial photographs taken about two years ago by a village consultant showed an approximately 400-foot section of the bluff had been washed away. The edge of the cliff was within only a few feet of the clubhouse and tennis courts, officials said in a Jan. 3 news release. 

Port Jefferson officials said they feared that further erosion would collapse the clubhouse's foundation and cause the 30,000-square-foot structure to slide down the slope.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot J. Garant on Jan. 7.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot J. Garant on Jan. 7. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The clubhouse includes a catering facility for weddings, retirement dinners, proms and other events, Mayor Margot J. Garant said. The facility, run by an outside contractor, brings about $360,000 in annual revenue to the village, she said.

Demolishing the structure and relocating it would have cost about $6 million, she said.

“If we lose that building we lose that revenue, so either way I’m in the hole,” Garant told Newsday.

The village board in November 2021 had authorized borrowing about $10 million to pay for erosion mitigation. Subsequent estimates showed the work would cost $4.8 million to install a steel wall at the bottom of the cliff, which has been completed, and $4.2 million to build a wall at the top of the bluff.

The wall project at the top of the bluff has been put out to bid, but a contract has not yet been awarded, she said.

The federal grant will reduce the impact on village taxpayers, Garant said, adding the project is expected to add several hundred dollars annually to the average village tax bill.

“People come from all different parts of Long Island to use the facility," the mayor said. "The effort to save it is for the general public good.”

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