New Tool Possibility in Erosion Fight

A full-scale mock-up of a “dune ladder,” an invention that is intended to help limit erosion, has been set up on beachfront land owned by the East Hampton Town Trustees at Lazy Point. Russell Drumm

    Francis Bock, a former East Hampton Town Trustee, has installed a scale model of a “dune ladder” on trustee-owned beach at Lazy Point in Amagansett. The trustees are considering financing the construction of a 900-foot-long version to help combat chronic erosion.
    Mr. Bock presented the idea last March, and again to newly elected trustees on Tuesday night. The structure, which is arched like a breaking wave, was invented and patented by Charles West of Mount Sinai. A dune ladder constructed there has functioned successfully for 20 years, Mr. Bock said.
    The model that has been erected on Shore Road beachfront is in an area that has undergone severe erosion in recent years. The construction shows the skeletal shape and scale of the framing. When built, similar frames would be located every six or eight feet along the beach. They will be spanned by 12-foot planks made of recycled plastic material. In fact, the frames themselves will also be made of plastic lumber.
    The model does not show the three feet of ladder that will be dug into the sand. The ladder creates new dune by catching sand washed onto it by waves and tides. The ends of the structure taper landward to prevent a direct east-to-west assault by storm surge. Beach grass will be planted between the ladder’s steps. Even if the grass is damaged during a storm, the roots remain to grow the plants another day.
    “The beauty is, you can add to it,” Mr. Bock said. He said it would be possible to buttress long stretches of Lazy Point beach in the future.
    “We haven’t made a deal yet. I have to give them a hard number,” which would come to about $50,000 including the cost of a sand covering that will get the dune off to a good start. Mr. Bock said the work would be done at cost.