Aerial view shows show the bluff has receded to within...

Aerial view shows show the bluff has receded to within a few feet of the tennis courts at the village-owned country club in Port Jefferson. Credit: GEI Consultants Inc., P.C.

Port Jefferson officials are weighing a multimillion-dollar plan to reinforce a bluff where erosion is threatening tennis courts at the village-owned country club.

Village officials say it could cost approximately $10 million to rebuild the steep cliff overlooking Long Island Sound that runs along the northern edge of the Port Jefferson Country Club.

Mayor Margot J. Garant said she may ask the village board to vote Tuesday or next month on a bond to pay for the project.

"I don’t think we really have a choice," Garant said. "It’s just, how do we get this done?"

The club, formerly the private Harbor Hills Country Club, was purchased by the village in 1978 for $2.3 million from the estate of late developer Norman K. Winston.

The club's approximately 300 tennis program members are being informed that the 2022 season has been canceled, Garant said. Closing the courts also affects summer tennis lessons offered by the village, she said.

Aerial photographs show the top of the bluff has receded to within a few feet of the courts and a clubhouse.

Village Administrator Joe Palumbo said preliminary estimates show the total cost of the project could be about $10 million. The village is hoping to receive state and federal aid for the project, he said.

"We need some sort of stabilization," Palumbo said. "We’re a small village and we don’t have the resources to do something like this."

Bids to install a 400-foot, steel-reinforced toe wall at the base of the bluff ranged between $4.9 million and $6.2 million, Garant said, adding that additional bids will be required for work to rebuild the top of the cliff.

The village last year obtained a state Department of Environmental Conservation permit to begin work at the cliff's base, Garant said.

"I don’t think we can wait," she said. "It’s my job to minimize the impact on the taxpayers, but if we don’t get this done, we’re looking at losing [the courts]."

James Burke, a former village trustee and planning board member, said the deterioration of the bluff is obvious when he walks on the beach at the base of the cliff. Utility pipes from the country club that are supposed to be underground are exposed to the open air, he said.

"Every time I look up, I go, 'Ooh, it’s getting more and more precarious,' " said Burke, the Southampton Town attorney. "You can actually see some of the piping."

Though concerned about the project's cost, Burke said the country club and its tennis courts are an asset that should be saved.

"I think it’s certainly a worthwhile amenity for the village," he said. "It’s obviously a very, very unique thing to have for any village or municipality."

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