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Oct 28, 2016 4:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town Officials Again Push For Funding To Raise Dune Road

Dune Road from the air. PRESS FILE
Nov 2, 2016 8:54 AM

Southampton Town officials are once again pushing to get funding to raise Dune Road, with continued flooding of the oceanfront stretch of road an ongoing concern.

Recently, the Town Board sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, making the case for the addition of a Dune Road elevation project to the draft 400-page Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study Plan, commonly referred to as FIMP.

In the letter from the board, the town argues that the long-term maintenance and nourishment of federally engineered dunes and beaches called for in the plan depend “highly” on access to Suffolk County’s emergency sand stockpile and trucked-in sand—by utilizing Dune Road. “However, Dune Road is a low-lying road that is chronically flooded and often impassable, even in minor flooding events,” the letter states.

Earlier this year, the town had discussed a plan to raise, but up to 2 feet, the nearly seven-mile stretch of Dune Road between the Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays and the western border of Quogue Village.

Town officials hope to see the federal government pay to at least raise the land mass below the road, leaving the town to cover the costs of paving. Raising and repaving Dune Road would cost an estimated $6.8 million, but it would arguably reduce flooding along the ocean beaches and allow heavy equipment to pass during “these necessary re-nourishment events,” according to the town’s letter to the Army Corps.

“The town’s past experience with previous emergency beach response projects identified the low compromised access associated with the section of Dune Road west of Ponquogue Bridge as a significant limiting factor in project execution,” the letter continued. “Therefore, elevating Dune Road is a critical link to implementing the proactive beach nourishment plan described in the [draft of FIMP] and must be included.”

This is not the first time the town has tried to obtain funding for the project. Earlier this year, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman worked to obtain $3 million through the state’s Community Development Block Grant program—but the town’s highway superintendent, Alex Gregor, objected to that.

“The community block grant is specifically used for low- and middle-income neighborhoods,” Mr. Gregor said last week, maintaining his opposition to the use of CDBG funds for the project. “That doesn’t fit the bill there. Even if you get the money, they will come back and do an audit. If you don’t use the money properly, the state will come back and make you pay for it.”

One of the requirements of the state program is that it be used in areas where households earn less than 50 percent of the county’s median income of about $87,000. Mr. Gregor had voiced concerns about the repercussions of using the grant money if residents’ income did not meet those requirements. But town officials say residents in the Hampton Bays and East Quogue communities earn 58 percent less than the county’s median income.

Mr. Gregor said he always supported the project itself—but not using CDBG funds to complete it. This week, he said he would support a plan to raise the road using funding from the Army Corps, or from a federal grant.

In the spring, he had said his department was working with U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin to get a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant, but that it was not pursued by the Town Board before an April 2016 deadline. “No one reached out to me from the supervisor’s office regarding road design and plan for the TIGER grant,” Mr. Gregor said. “Now we have to wait another year.”

According to Mr. Schneiderman, the town is looking into applying for next year’s TIGER grant, which has an April 2017 deadline.

“I’m looking at every possible way to come up with the funding to elevate Dune Road,” the supervisor said, adding that he believes there is a good chance the project will still be added to FIMP by the Army Corps, which would provide federal funds to complete the work. “I’m quite hopeful that [the Army Corps] will provide some funding for elevating at least the land mass.”

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Needs to get done, salt water is killing a lot of cars.
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Oct 28, 16 5:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
It shud be over water.
Over water.
Har har
By dave h (193), calverton on Oct 28, 16 6:27 PM
Has to be done for safety... All utilities should be notified to plan ahead. Culverts to drain south side low lands.
Lets think ahead...
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Oct 28, 16 7:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
The rich people who live on Dune Road can't be bothered to pay for their local road, the State funding is too restrictive, I know let's get the Federal Government to pay, after all they can just print more dollars, no problem.
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Oct 28, 16 8:53 PM
Alex should stand his ground, the people support him. He's won more elections than anyone on the Town Board. It's time to stop spending money we don't have and the next recession is about 2 months away.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Oct 30, 16 12:26 PM
3 members liked this comment
How about some funding to ease the School Tax burden in Eastport?!?!
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Oct 31, 16 10:09 AM
I for the life of me have no idea how they think simply a raised roadway will withstand the fury of the Atlantic. One big storm and it's gone. Get a grant for a contingency repair fund for when that storm does come and wash away the road.
By DesiMenendez (1), on Nov 4, 16 9:05 AM