Village Awaits Word On Public Access Plan

Part of Asharoken's shoreline, which would be augmented to help prevent erosion (Photo / NYS Department of Environmental Conservation).

Part of Asharoken's shoreline, which would be augmented to help prevent erosion (Photo / NYS Department of Environmental Conservation).

Asharoken Village officials are holding tight as they await word from the Army Corps of Engineers on their proposed public-access plan for Asharoken beach, acceptance of which is critical for receiving major anti-erosion infrastructure upgrades.

Mayor Greg Letica, reading from a letter sent by Matt Chlebus at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), said during a village board meeting that he was expecting a formal response soon, and that “the Corps have indicated verbally that there will probably be some issues that need to be addressed.” Those specifics would be included in the formal response.

As of Tuesday, the Army Corps had not responded to Village Hall, said Nancy Rittenhouse, the village clerk.

Submitted in mid-November, the revised public access plan calls for creating five public access points along the Asharoken shoreline, which is currently all private beach land. The access points would each be 6 feet wide and about a half-mile apart from each other.

Acceptance of the new plan by the Army Corps is critical to clearing the way for an infrastructure project to nourish and protect Asharoken Beach’s sand dunes. The dunes, along with a sea wall along Asharoken Avenue for which the Army Corps completed repairs in January 2013, are critical to preserving access to Asharoken Avenue, the only access point to Eaton’s Neck.

While the access plan has been going through the approval process, Asharoken officials are also awaiting a new draft of the plan, which Letica said is likely to include some “groins” (jetty-like stone structures running perpendicular to the land and into the water, meant to hold the sand in place) and breakwaters (stone structures meant to divert wave energy offshore).

Letica said the Corps “seem confident” that the plan will include “probably three” groins on the western side of the project, near the Asharoken sea wall.

“The main thing that the Corps is currently evaluating is groins on the eastern side of the project in front of the bulkheads,” Letica said Feb. 3. “They are looking at different groin configurations (from zero, all the way up to eight,) and evaluating the benefits of each configuration.”

Upon receipt, Letica said the draft plan will be distributed to the village, the New York State Department of State and DEC Region 1 officials in Stony Brook, who will be handing DEC permits for the project.