An Agreement for Dredging

The East Hampton Town Trustees and the Georgica Association, a 100-acre private enclave on the west bank of Georgica Pond, have reached a memorandum of understanding that will allow the trustees to traverse the association’s property in order to conduct dredging at the pond’s south end. 

At the trustees’ meeting on Monday, Francis Bock, the body’s presiding officer, announced a five-year agreement with the association under which, in exchange for the right to cross association land, the trustees will provide 3,000 cubic yards of beach-compatible sand, stockpiled for use in rebuilding the dune area in front of the association’s property. 

“Should additional sand, up to 1,000 cubic yards, be required, we will place that on the beach for their access at the cost of the bid price for sand plus $6 a yard to cover excavation and stockpile,” Mr. Bock said. 

In the second through fifth years of the agreement, the trustees will provide 1,500 cubic yards of sand plus, if needed, up to 1,000 additional cubic yards at the same cost. 

It is impossible to access the pond with dredging equipment without crossing the association’s property, Bill Taylor, one of the trustees’ deputy clerks, said yesterday. The agreement is also intended to resolve a conflict between the trustees and the association stemming from previous excavation efforts that have been followed by flooding of private property. 

“There had been considerable excavation beyond what was probably appropriate for the removal of the sand in the past,” Jim Grimes, a trustee, said at the meeting. “We’re going to try and remedy that, and basically reinforce the west side of that opening so that, hopefully, if the pond lets naturally, the pond lets on our land and doesn’t jeopardize the Georgica Association’s land” or other private property. “This is a move to improve the relationship with all of the neighbors here,” he said. 

The traditional spring letting of the pond to the Atlantic Ocean did not happen this year due to weather conditions and the earlier than expected arrival of federally protected shorebirds. The pond’s level was much higher than is typical in the spring, and property owners were concerned about flooding along with a recurrence of the toxic algal blooms that have fouled its waters during the last several summers. The Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation, a group of pondfront property owners that is working to restore its ecological health, made repeated requests to the trustees to open it to the ocean. 

Dredging at the south end, Mr. Taylor said, “is going to make draining the pond more productive. . . . We’re trying to get everything back to where it’s the best for the pond, best for the people around it, and best for the trustees.” 

Mr. Grimes asked John Hall, a member of the association who serves as its attorney, if the memorandum of understanding was acceptable to his group. Yes, was the answer. “We’re delighted that we’ve been able to reach an understanding with the trustees, and that a new day is dawning.” 

“We are deeply committed to the health of the pond, as is the association,” said Brian Byrnes, a trustee. “Having said that, I think this is very fair, and I’m pleased that we are working in conjunction with the folks around the pond to continue to see the pond get healthy and stay healthy.”