The Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee on Monday heard from two members of East Hampton Town’s coastal erosion committee on Monday. The committee has announced recommendations for shoring up the Montauk business district, although they have not yet been submitted to the town board.
As reported last week, the group’s plan calls for an “engineered” beach that would include a sand-covered stone revetment, starting at Shadmoor State Park and running west through the downtown area to the Ocean Beach Motel. A path similar to a boardwalk would be installed at the top of the structure.
According to Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the town hopes to obtain the $20 million to $30 million the project would be expected to cost from the federal government. “The elephant in the living room is what if we don’t get federal money? There is no plan without the federal government. And what we design with that money is still up for debate,” he said. He added that even if the funding came through it would take at least 18 months to move forward.
Paul Monte of Gurney’s Inn and Steve Kalimnios of the Royal Atlantic Resort represented the erosion committee at the meeting. The Royal Atlantic took a severe beating in the last few storms. Mr. Kalimnios said the downtown beaches should be everyone’s concern, not just his. High tides and storm surges have already breached the primary dune in front of his motel and are now encroaching on the secondary dune, he said.
“We’ve been forgetting for years about our beaches. There’s no line item in the [town] budget to provide funding for them. If we love this community there’s a price to pay,” he said. He warned that should the ocean sweep through his property all the downtown businesses would suffer “devastating” flooding. He noted that about 10 years ago an engineer he had hired to study the situation had said there was no hope. “ ‘You’re gone,’ he told me,” Mr. Kalimnios said.
Jay Fruin, a member of the citizens committee, expressed concern about a revetment going straight across the area in one long path. “It sounds to me that this would destroy public access to the beach. We need to walk into this with eyes wide open,” he told the committee.
Other questions about the plan were stymied when members of the citizens committee asked to see copies of it, only to be told none were available. Mr. Kalimnios said he would supply copies if the proposal went through. Diane Hausman, the committee’s chairwoman, said she was sure the erosion committee would make its plan public as soon as it was ready, but Mr. Monte corrected her. He said the plan would go to the town board rather than the public.
In a follow-up interview, Jeremy Samuelson, executive director of Concerned Citizens of Montauk, said he was baffled by the proposal. “I think this whole process is crazy. They have a plan but they won’t show it to us because it’s Steve’s plan,” he said, referring to Mr. Kalimnious. “Steve is saying, don’t worry, we have a plan and no, you can’t see it because I paid for it. That’s a problem.”
Speaking to The East Hampton Star yesterday, Mr. Samuelson said, “C.C.O.M. wants an engineered beach that is designed by an engineer that wasn’t hired by Steve Kalimnios.”
Mr. Kalimnios and Mr. Monte did not return calls for further comment.