The perennial sand buildup at the mouth of Montauk Harbor has become so bad in recent weeks due to consecutive Nor'Easters that local and state officials are demanding the Army Corps of Engineers move up its planned dredging project.
"Without adequate ingress and egress not only are our boats threatened, but a trawler like The Perception will wind up off-loading in a port like Point Judith, Rhode Island," said Bill Wilkinson on Saturday.
The Perception recently got stuck outside the channel and had to wait for high-tide to dock. A Coast Guard cutter's deployment from the Montauk station has even been an issue.
However, the Army Corps of Engineers' dredging project isn't slated until 2013.
"We lose not only in the ability to provide safety for our fleet, as they attempt to operate on a daily basis, but we also lose any economic benefits of our boats packing out in the Montauk Harbor," Wilkinson said. He is looking for help to pressure to the Corps to move the date forward.
On Friday, Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) sent a letter to the Army Corps calling for an immediate fix of the shoaling, which is only getting worse.
"Commercial fishing vessels with experienced captains are currently forced to wait offshore up to several hours and even then, often end up scraping bottom and narrowly averting disaster. Additionally, shoaling is threatening the deployment of US Coast Guard assets stationed at Montauk, including the 87-foot cutter Ridley," Bishop and Schumer wrote in a letter to colonel John R. Boule II in New York City.
They are following Wilkinson's lead in suggesting to the Army Corps that the sand dredged from the inlet be used to build up the eroded away shoreline on Soundview Drive and Captain Kidd's Path, where .
"We request that the Army Corps of Engineers do an immediate survey of Montauk Harbor Inlet along with a coordination meeting in Montauk with local users and officials with the goal of exploring an expedited time-line for dredging," the letter continued.