New York State Senate Deputy Majority LeaderDean G.Skelos, Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, Congressman Peter King and Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray joined with dozens of Point Lookout residents to kick off the dredging of the sand-clogged Jones Inlet and the restoration of the storm-ravaged shoreline at Point Lookout beaches. Also present at the event were Councilwoman Angie Cullin, Legislator Denise Ford, Point Lookout Civic Association President Herb Abbe and Colonel Aniello L. Tortora, New York District Commander and District Engineer, US Army Corps of Engineers.
“For everyone who has worked so hard on this project, it’s gratifying that the dredging will soon begin,” said Senator Skelos. “This has been a long, difficult process, but I’m extremely pleased that this project will be completed by April 1st and that Point Lookout’s beaches will finally be restored. This is a great day for the residents of Point Lookout.”
The project, which will be undertaken by a US Army Corps of Engineers contractor, will involve the removal of up to 700,000 cubic yards of sand from a channel that has become sand-clogged and dangerous to boaters. The removed sand will then be pumped onto three eroded beachfronts – Civic Beach, Middle Beach and Point Lookout Town Park – all of which are located on the eastern end of the Long Beach Island. The work is expected to be completed within 30 to 40 days. Under the law, the project must be completed before April 1, the beginning of the mating season for piping plovers, a protected species of shorebird.
Officials overcame a host of obstacles in their year and a half quest to commence with dredging and beach replenishment. Senator Dean Skelos and Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg battled to pass unprecedented state legislation providing the $7.6 million in funding for the work, and a separate law directing the commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation to appropriate his agency’s funding to implement the project. Congressman King recently secured $3.7 million for Jones Inlet in a 2008 bill that was signed into law. Additionally, the Congressman fought aggressively to have the US Army Corps of Engineers amend their project schedule to ensure that the Point Lookout work would occur this year. Hempstead Town is indemnifying the contractor on the project, a necessary component without which the project contract could not be executed. Finally, town officials participated in amending the project’s final design.
“This is a great day for residents of this barrier island, local mariners and everyone who enjoys our beaches,” announced Murray. “Congressman King, Senator Skelos, Assemblyman Weisenberg and residents of Point Lookout have worked so hard, along with Hempstead officials, to get the Jones Inlet dredged and to restore sand on our storm-ravaged beaches. I want to thank all of our partners for fighting hard and overcoming many obstacles . . . let the dredging begin.”
All of the officials agreed that a profound degree of cooperation between several levels of government was required to prevent the project from becoming ensnared in bureaucratic red tape or stalled due to lack of funding.
"After years of fighting for this project, I am thrilled to see that we have finally achieved a victory," said King. "This is truly a great day for the citizens of Point Lookout, the Town of Hempstead and everyone who enjoys these waters and beaches."
The situation in Jones Inlet has been called critical and the lives and property of Point Lookout residents depends on the project. Three boaters have died in the treacherous inlet over the past few years, and tidal ocean water has breached the dunes, flowing into local streets and threatening to destroy area homes.