The long awaited dredging project in Accabonac Harbor began late last week.
County Legis. Jay Schneiderman, I-Montauk, announced that the dredge arrived in East Hampton on Friday. He and East Hampton Town Trustee Clerk Diane McNally were at the foot of the harbor when it moored, Schneiderman said in a statement released Tuesday.
Schneiderman, who is also the chair of the Public Works Committee, said the dredging will continue through Jan. 15. The county is footing $1.4 million for the project, Schneiderman said.
He said he "fought hard" to include Accabonac Harbor in the 2012-13 dredging schedule, following two other dredging projects in Three Mile Harbor and Northwest Creek over the past two years.
Gibson & Cushman Contracting Inc. is conducting the dredging, which will include opening the inlet and channel, as well as rebuilding the Louse Point Beach, moving approximately 25,000 cubic yards of material out of the inlet and on to the beach.
McNally said Accabonac Harbor's shoaling has left access restricted in recent years, affecting their livelihoods. "We have had baymen in the last year or two who have had to conduct their fishing, their working, around the tides. On certain low tides, they couldn't get back in," she said on Tuesday.
The project provides dual benefits for the town, McNally said. "For the environmental concerns, it needs to be open so it can have that tidal flush," she said. Accabonac Harbor was the last harbor in the town to reopen to shellfishing after Superstorm Sandy, which closed all harbors in its aftermath out of fear for the lack of tidal exchange.
"This is fabulous. I'm very grateful to Jay for getting the funding for us," she said, adding, "Dredging is so important to so many townships. We've actually had three done this year, after a long hiatus."
“I am pleased to have worked with the East Hampton Town Trustees on this project which will open up the navigable channel at Accabonac Harbor. I am looking forward to a safe boating season," Schneiderman said.
In addition to the trustees, Schneiderman thanked Bill Hillman, Chief Engineer and his staff at the Department of Public Works, for obtaining the necessary permits to ensure the project happened this year.
Meanwhile, a planned county dredging project in Napeague Harbor remains on hold. McNally said, "It's stuck in a quagmire of different opinions and concepts."
Some believe that dredging in the harbor, while necessary for a healthy environment and for navigation, has been done in the wrong channel and compounded erosion, particularly around Mulford Lane in Amagansett — where 150 feet of beach and road lost in 33 years. They want to see the east channel dredged, instead of the west, as planned.
Napeague Harbor is the cleanest harbor, according to McNally. There are eelgrass and scallop sanctuaries located there. "At least it's not being impacted by the loss of or lessening tidal flow through either channel," she said.