Stopgap for Erosion

    At the urging of residents of Soundview Drive and Captain Kidd’s Path in Montauk, the Town of East Hampton has agreed to a Montauk Inlet dredging project that is expected to provide some relief to the chronic erosion there. But in backing the Army Corps of Engineers’ $26 million plan, the town and affected homeowners may, in the long run, be leaving the waterfront neighborhood in harm’s way.
    The Army Corps proposes excavating the inlet to a depth of 17 feet and pumping the dredged sand in front of the properties along Block Island Sound to the west of the inlet. This is the less costly of two options. In a more ambitious proposal, the corps would have installed jetties, or groins, at existing bulkheads in front of the properties at a cost of $41 million. There is virtually no beach in the area, and the catch for homeowners would be that any beach created with taxpayer money must be accessible to the public.
    For the town, opting for an $800,000 share of the modest approach, rather than $1.5 million for the more complicated plan, makes fiscal sense. But it may not prove the best choice for the property owners. With predictions of sea level’s continuing rise, the less expensive plan may not provide the protection they would wish.