By Jano Tantongco
The Asharoken Village Board passed a resolution at its Jan. 5 meeting to authorize retaining a coastal engineer to help evaluate the different alternatives for the Asharoken Storm Damage Reduction Plan.
The engineer will advise the board on the draft feasibility report, analyze impacts and benefits of two separate plans and examine the sand bypassing amount of 15,000 cubic feet per year. Of the five options proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers, the village has narrowed down the options it is interested in to two. Plan one includes beachfill only, with 600,000 cubic yards of sand. Plan four includes beachfill with three rock groins.
The engineer’s analysis would be complete before the public comment period ends on Jan. 29.
Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica said that the board is seeking an option that would not include groins.
“The sentiment has been we don’t really want groins on the beach, period,” Letica said. “But since the Corps came back and decided they felt they would run with option four, we still sort of have to look at that to some degree, too.”
Village Trustee Ian Jablonski questioned if the engineer is going to evaluate plans one and four, he or she should also evaluate plan five as well. Plan five includes a total of 11 rock groins, including on both the west and east sides of the island. Option four only allows three groins on the west side.
“We made the decision based on the preferences of those property owners,” said Letica. “It was pretty obvious that no one down there wanted to have groins.”
“The Corps thinks four is better. Because maybe we’re making an egregious mistake because we’re not coastal engineers,” Letica said. “I’m not a coastal engineer; I don’t pretend to be one.”
Letica believes that it is not enough for the village to advocate for plan one.
The plan will not go through unless agreed upon by the Corps, the state and the village, and village officials want the coastal engineer’s input to boost their cause.
The board also voted in favor of a resolution to schedule a public hearing to discuss passing a local law that would allow the village to pierce the state’s 2 percent tax-levy cap.
Similarly, the board voted last year to pass a local law that would allow them to overshoot the tax cap if deemed necessary by their proposed budget. Last year, they came within $700 of needing to pierce the cap. After their budget hearing, the board voted to repeal that local law.
Letica said he wants the village to have flexibility if the proposed budget, which has been established, to override the tax cap.
The Asharoken fiscal year begins on June 1. Last year, the budget was adopted on April 21.