Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced a new plan that will allow the construction of storm protection dunes at Smith Point County Park and Robert Moses State Park to begin in early 2014, as originally scheduled.
Schumer and Bishop brokered a deal between federal and state agencies that will break the dune construction project, being completed as part of the federally-funded Fire Island to Montauk Point project, into separate phases. The two projects on the eastern and western ends of the Island can begin this winter under the new approach, once federal and state environmental regulators sign-off on the plan.
The plan would also allow the State and the Corps to focus on the controversial middle portion of the project, where real estate acquisition and dune alignment have become obstacles, to continue moving forward in hopes of advancing an agreement to start work this year.
Recently, it became apparent that the promised timetable was slipping. In response, Congressman Bishop and Senator Schumer worked with Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Jo Ellen Darcy, to formulate a response. The result was an agreement to separate out the Smith Point County Park and Robert Moses State park projects from the rest of the Fire Island project. The projects within the parks are ready to go and do not require the easements with private property owners required in the developed portions of Fire Island.
“When we found out the project was slipping, we went right to work,” said Rep. Tim Bishop. “It is imperative that the low-lying Mastic Peninsula receive protection as soon as possible. I thank Secretary Darcy and the Army Corps of Engineers for their swift response to my request. As always, I also thank Senator Schumer for his unwavering support of Long Island.”
“FIMP has been in the pipeline for over half a century, and we simply couldn’t wait one more year and leave communities along the south shore without vital storm protection,” said Schumer. “This agreement will allow dune construction to begin as planned, while some of the project planning is finished. While this is a good step, we will not rest until construction on every part of the island has begun, and I will continue to put maximum pressure on the state and federal agencies until an agreement is hammered out.”
The Fire Island to Montauk Point Project provides for hurricane protection and beach erosion control along five reaches of the south shore of Long Island between Fire Island Inlet and Montauk Point, a distance of approximately 83 miles. It was originally approved over 50 years ago, but was never funded until New York’s congressional delegation secured funding for it as part of the Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
Press Release, December 30, 2013