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Quogue residents wrestle with how to save their beach

Sandbags have been placed at Quogue Village Beach

Sandbags have been placed at Quogue Village Beach to prevent futher erosion until a more permanent solution can be found. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Quogue Village residents are torn over how to address worsening erosion near their village beach, with suggested solutions ranging from letting nature take its course to a project that could raise some tax bills by an estimated $30,000 per year.

Residents said the village beach on Dune Road has suffered this season when fall storms pummeled the barrier island. Rows of sand-filled geocubes, which fortify the shoreline, have become exposed and the village will have to truck in sand before the summer season.

A petition circulated by some residents urges the village to undertake multimillion-dollar beach nourishment, which involves off-shore dredging, to protect Quogue’s most prized asset.

“It is the beach which most significantly defines us as a summer resort community and as such, directly affects the values of our homes,” states the petition, which is posted on the nonprofit Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation website.

The petition outlines three funding options: enacting a villagewide tax; creating a special tax district; or advocating to become part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ federally funded Fire Island to Montauk Point project, or FIMP.

Save the Beaches and Dunes members said the most recent estimate puts the cost of nourishment along a one-mile stretch at $11.7 million, but will protect property values that average $1.8 million in the village.

“You would think that all of Quogue would want this,” said Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation president and Dune Road property owner Marjorie Kuhn. “What will happen if nothing is done?”

The village board in June decided against moving forward with an erosion control taxing district, which would have levied a tax against 44 property owners to fund the project. If approved, the project could have raised taxes for those in the district by roughly $30,000 annually over the next decade.

“With a relatively small number of properties contributing to this cost of a very expensive project, we believed that the cost imposed on the minority is too great given all the circumstances,” reads the decision unanimously approved by the board in June.

Mayor Peter Sartorius said the board is monitoring whether the project could be incorporated in the Army Corps’ FIMP project, which would mean the nourishment would be federally funded. An Army Corps spokesman could not comment on that possibility.

“Right now that would be the most likely means of getting sand on that beach,” Sartorius said in an interview Monday. “If not, then we’ll have to do it.”

But not all residents are in favor of beach nourishment and instead are asking for a shoreline management plan crafted by an independent consultant.

The Concerned Citizens of Quogue, a group formed in opposition to a dredging project in 2013, said on its website that nourishment would be expensive and only a temporary solution. The group also stated that many oceanfront homes are too close to the ocean and asserts that “property owners need to assume personal responsibility for their actions and investment decisions.”

“People are in denial,” said Concerned Citizens of Quogue member Andrew Cirincione. “They want to save their houses. In reality putting sand on beaches … all it’s going to do is drain their pocketbooks of money.”

The debate

Save the Dunes and Beaches Foundation members and other residents are asking the village to support a beach nourishment project, which involves off-shore dredging.

Concerned Citizens of Quogue members oppose dredging, saying it is too costly and only temporarily effective.

Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius said officials are monitoring whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can incorporate the work into its federally funded Fire Island to Montauk Point project.

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