That town, state, and federal officials are vowing to do something about the dangerous shoaling of the Montauk Inlet gives many people hope. However, the owners, captains, and crews of the large vessels that use the harbor should not let up their pressure until the equipment arrives and the job starts.
Like many inlets on the South Fork, Lake Montauk’s is a perennial trouble spot. Sand has been building up at about the midpoint inside the two parallel stone jetties for some time now, leaving only a narrow navigable channel for the bigger boats. Digging out the obstruction could cost taxpayers around $1 million, officials say. The work has been scheduled for 2013, but the fishing fleet’s representatives have convinced the powers that be that it needs to take place this year.
Because of the United States Coast Guard station in Lake Montauk, it is a federal waterway, which makes the inlet the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers. It will have to move money around to dredge it in 2011. Given the snail’s pace with which such agencies tend to work, it will be a small miracle if anything happens within the narrow time limits set by state environmental officials. One idea linked to the inlet’s dredging is to pump sand over the west jetty in the hope that it would help protect several threatened houses and motels. State officials have already okayed placing sand to a point 1,000 feet west of the inlet. Unfortunately, the effort would not buy much peace of mind for the owners of property along that stretch of moving shoreline. Several, who own vacation houses in the area, have sued, claiming that the jetties are responsible for their houses’ precarious positions. In the past, legal action has held up dredging projects, notably at Accabonac Harbor. For the safety of the fishing fleet, we hope this will not be the case in Montauk.