Trustees Claim ‘Extortion’

    As a condition of an East Hampton Town Trustee okay to repair a rock revetment in front of his oceanfront property back in 2006, William Rayner of West End Road promised to keep it covered with sand. This he has done, and he has a trustee permit to do the same early next month. And the gods of bureaucracy have smiled on the project.

    The sand is to come from a flat at the southeast end of nearby Georgica Pond, which the town and State Department of Environmental Conservation have long since agreed would be beneficial to the health of the pond. First Coastal, a Westhampton Beach company, is ready to do the work after entering into contract with the trustees for the excavation of the 2,000 cubic yards of sand required to cover the structure.

    When Billy Mack of First Coastal went before the trustees Tuesday night to get the board’s final okay, however, he learned that access to Georgica Pond and the Rayner revetment had been thrown into question. 

    The D.E.C., through the town’s Department of Natural Resources, had approved the removal of up to 12,000 cubic yards of sand each year from the flat. Contractors had already removed the amount allowed for 2011 for badly eroded beaches to the west. 

    Diane McNally, the trustee clerk, reported Tuesday that the state had agreed to allow more sand to be taken via a simple amendment to the 2011 permit. 

    So far so good.

    Billy Mack of the First Coastal company went before the trustees to get the board's final okay for the work, but there was a rub, Ms. McNally announced.

    On the one hand, First Coastal had obtained a licensing agreement with the Georgica Association to move equipment along the beach between the Beach Lane road end and the south end of the pond. On the other hand, the Georgica Association was not going to permit heavy machinery needed for the excavation to traverse the beach unless the association was given 2,000 cubic yards of trustee-owned sand at no charge. Catch-22.

    The stretch between Beach Lane and the pond is one of the only places of town where the beach is not owned by the trustees on behalf of the public (excepting in Montauk where the trustees lost sway back in the 1800s). The Association and the trustees have an understanding that allows residents to travel down the beach at certain hours to go crabbing in the summer.

    Although the Rayner property is located east of the Georgica gut, machinery can not approach from the east because of serious erosion there. 

    Trustees are offering the sand to First Coastal under the terms of the D.E.C. agreement for additional excavation at $7 per cubic yard, the 2011 price.

    Mr. Mack said the plan was to excavate the Rayner before the end of the month, stockpile it beside the revetment, and place it early in early February. The work must be done before April 1 and the arrival of nesting piping plovers.   

    In a Jan. 18 letter sent to the trustees' attorney, John Courtney, via the Georgica Association's lawyers, Mr. Courtney was advised: "In exchange for giving the trustees permission to use the association's beach, the Georgica Association would like to make arrangements to remove up to 2,000 cubic yards of sand without fee from the trustees."

    "We won't be extorted," Ms. McNally said, adding that the board would not favor one individual over another when it came to dispensing a common East Hampton resource.

    "We have to make it clear there will be no free sand," attorney Courtney concurred.