Greenport Village Mayor Kevin Stuessi shows the extent of the...

Greenport Village Mayor Kevin Stuessi shows the extent of the damage to a bulkhead in Greenport Wednesday. Greenport will receive $3 million in federal funding for bulkhead repairs. Credit: Barry Sloan

Greenport Village must make earlier-than-anticipated repairs to the bulkhead in Mitchell Park after an early April nor’easter pummeled the shoreline with torrential rain and whipping winds.

The April 3 storm flooded neighborhoods, downed trees and wrecked floating docks in the municipal marina. It also damaged critical points along the wooden bulkhead, leaving gaping holes and cracked concrete in its wake.

Several small docks were ripped from their connections as waves tore through, twisting thick pieces of metal “like if you were to grab a piece of chewing gum and bend it,” said village Mayor Kevin Stuessi. “It was just the perfect combination of a nor’easter, tidal flow and wind at the wrong moment.”

A total replacement of the 776-foot bulkhead was slated to begin later this year, using a $3 million federal grant. But the village may seek to tap into the funding for emergency repairs to bolster coastal resiliency amid more intense storms, rising seas and recurring flooding.

Stronger shoreline

  • Greenport will use a $3 million grant to replace the bulkhead in Mitchell Park.
  • A 2018 study found the bulkhead was failing.
  • Village officials are seeking bids for the project, but may make emergency repairs sooner after a recent nor’easter.

Stuessi declared a state of emergency and said the next step is to seek bids for the repairs to get through the summer.

The worst of the damage is between the North Ferry landing terminal and Railroad Dock, according to village officials.

“When the wind comes in from the east, it’s wicked,” said Trustee Mary Bess Phillips. “The blacktop is eating back farther and farther in each storm, and it finally gave way.”

The bulkhead project was among more than 50 Long Island projects that received about $87 million in federal dollars through congressional earmarks, Newsday recently reported.

A 2018 engineering report found the existing bulkhead, which is more than 30 years old, was failing. The report cited heavy wood decay, bowing and deterioration leading to small sinkholes behind the bulkhead, and recommended a complete replacement.

Phillips said a bulkhead collapse would be a “calamity,” since it protects Mitchell Park, the "heart and soul" of Greenport.

The park includes a carousel, camera obscura attractions, green space and a pavilion used for outdoor performances. The 60-slip Mitchell Park Marina is an economic boon to the village and generated $760,738 in revenue from May 2021 to 2022, according to village financial documents.

Other upgrades are underway throughout the park, including an $85,000 overhaul of public restrooms and repairs to stonework and walkways.

The recent storm put other infrastructure upgrades to the test. North Ferry, which connects Greenport and Shelter Island, is continuing an effort to address rising tides and mitigate flooding by raising ramps.

The company recently rebuilt one ramp in Greenport to be 18 inches higher and extended by 2 feet, which ferry officials said was in direct response to climate change.

“If people need to get off island in the middle of a storm, we have to be functional,” said Stella Lagudis, general manager of the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corp., which runs the North Ferry.

That project cost $363,713, according to documents filed with the county budget review office last year. Additional ramp replacements are planned for both sides of the ferry service.

“Since we put in the ramps, we have not had to go out of service. We didn’t miss one step,” Lagudis said. In the past, storms like the one on April 3 could disrupt ferry trips for hours at a time.

Stuessi, who took office in April 2023, has prioritized infrastructure improvements with an eye toward climate change.

The village board recently approved a $27,400 sewer study and hopes to make improvements over several years.

“We’re not able to deal with the amount of water,” Stuessi said. “It was a brilliantly designed sewage system, but it’s now 100 years old.”

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