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Feb 3, 2012 5:26 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Trustees May Charge Town For Sand For Mecox Beach Nourishment

Feb 8, 2012 11:23 AM

After being cast in what they felt was an unfairly negative light by some town officials last week, the Southampton Town Trustees offered to trade, in effect, several thousand tons of sand to the town government in exchange for the town’s financial support of an effort to restore water quality in Mill Pond.

At their meeting on Monday afternoon, the Trustees took umbrage at members of the Town Board and Department of Parks and Recreation Superintendent Chris Bean’s criticism of the Trustees for proposing that the town should have to pay for sand dredged from the mouth of Mecox Bay and used to rebuild dunes at the town-owned Mecox Beach on Jobs Lane in Bridgehampton. They pointed to a Town Board policy of billing internal “charge-backs” between various departments for services rendered to each other and claimed that not charging the town for the sand would be fiscally irresponsible of them.

“We’re being made out to be the villain because we have to charge for this sand,” Trustee Eric Shultz said. “But they need to see that this is something of monetary value for us.”

The Town Board asked for a permit from the Town Trustees to restore the dune, which the Trustees said on Monday they would readily grant. The Town Board also asked the Trustees to donate sand for the project, as a cost-saving measure.

As what it saw as an offer of compromise, the board unanimously approved a resolution to trade the needed sand for $50,000 in funding toward the cleanup of Mill Pond. Last month, the Trustees proposed a two-year project to clean up the pond using an experimental mineral compound. The total cost of the project is expected to be upward of $400,000, funded by the town.

January storms left Mecox Beach in dire need of nourishment, Aram Terchunian, president of First Coastal Corporation in Westhampton, told the Town Board members last Friday. After January’s battering, more than two-thirds of the beach’s dune was lost; the dune, which was 60 feet wide until the storm, now measures approximately 15 feet.

“We are at the point where we may have a crisis on our hands,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

“We have what I would describe as an emergency situation,” added Marty Shea, the town’s chief environmental analyst.

Mr. Terchunian said approximately 6,000 tons of sand would be needed to reconstruct the dune.

The sand would be mined from the Mecox “cut,” a strip of open barrier beach that separates the bay from the Atlantic, through which the Trustees intermittently cut a channel to lower the level of the brackish bay and flush it with saltwater. The Trustees, who own that particular stretch of beach and oversee all of the town’s beaches, have long mined sand from the cut area, both to keep the channel flowing strongly when it is dug open and also as a revenue source. The Trustees charge a $7.50 per cubic yard—approximately one ton—for sand removed from the Mecox cut.

The sand is typically removed by contractors hired by Mr. Terchunian’s company and trucked eastward along the beach to be used to rebuild dunes. In exchange for the work of removing the sand, the Trustees charge only a fraction of what sand mined from upland pits typically costs, which can be more than $20 per ton.

Mr. Terchunian said that at the Trustees’ price, the project total would be approximately $54,000. If sand had to be purchased from a mine, the cost could top $100,000.

Mr. Bean, however, was angered that the Trustees would propose charging the town for the sand. “This is a major recreational area,” he said, adding that his department often lends its services to the Trustees without asking for some compensation.

“The last thing we want to do is be Grinches,” said Trustee Fred Havemeyer. “We’re not in the business of taking sand from children’s sandboxes.”

On Monday, Mr. Shultz said he felt the Trustees were being put in an unfair position. Mr. Shultz also said there were concerns about a lawsuit over the Trustees’ management of their own finances. Last week, Mr. Shultz said, a county judge ruled in favor of the Trustees in one of two ongoing lawsuits brought against the Trustees by the mayor and residents of West Hampton Dunes. The ruling dictates that the Trustees can control their own finances instead of having the Town Board control their purse strings. Mr. Shultz said the Trustees did not want to make any decisions that could jeopardize their legal standing.

In addition, with other town departments applying the chargebacks policy—the highway department, for example, pays a fee to dispose of waste at the town’s transfer stations—Mr. Shultz said the Trustees should follow suit and be able to charge for the sand since it is one of the few assets of value the board has.

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Sand Thieves or Sand Brokers? How about both? The Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonality of the Town of Southampton do not own the lands underwater in fee title they hold the lands in Trust and therefore can not sell them in whole nor part, not even by the yard! They idea that they would charge the Town who gets it's revenue from the Freeholders of this town whom the "Trustees" are to manage the lands for is so corrupt in could only happen out here.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Feb 4, 12 10:52 AM
Resourceful trustees ... there is an emergency situation ... opportunity to make some money from the town. Wonder if the trustees town council person Jim "financial guy" Malone would approve.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Feb 4, 12 9:57 PM
The sea takes what the sea wants.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Feb 4, 12 12:51 PM
2 members liked this comment
the town residents, who are also the owners of the trustee properties, and also the owners of the town parks, are going to pay alot more once again for work done to its own property because our elected officials can not work together in the best interest of the taxpayer. The trustee's "want to control their own finances?" Come on, who pays their benefits and salaries NOW? Taxpayers!!!
By trurepublician (53), hampton bays on Feb 5, 12 8:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
The lawsuit mentioned in this article was brought against the Trustees by a faction that wanted to gut them of any ability to fight legal actions by making them completely dependent on the Town Council for financial support. The Trustees opposed efforts by this group of West Hampton Dunes residents to build on storm overwash in Moriches Bay. These folks think, correctly, that the Town Council is much more pliant to the wishes of developers than the Trustees. They also realize that having the ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Feb 6, 12 2:49 PM
3 members liked this comment
The trustees approved expansion of Dockers, the baycreeper has brought suit, where are the funds coming from to defend our trustees right to allow development of the fragile barrier beach bayside wetlands.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Feb 7, 12 7:30 PM
Perhaps if 17 is more than what they had it would be considered an expansion, then the need for shore services .. a larger fuel tank, possibly dredging and it can go on from there.... Could the trustees not have done sufficient environmental reviews and not heeded the baycreeper so that he had to bring suit, thus their authority is under nys law.
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Feb 7, 12 10:23 PM
are we talking about sand or Larry
By sandbox (6), southampton on Feb 8, 12 8:46 PM
Sand .. and the idea that everyone should be trying to work together better than what appears to be happening. Our supervisor speaks of partnerships to make things work. Wonder to whom and for how much did our trustees sand go to in the past two years. Long Island's sand and gravel has a history of moving out of the townships to projects to the west. Is Mecox a crisis / emergency situation?
By fix-it-now (216), sag harbor on Feb 10, 12 8:30 PM
Mecox beach is in crisis situation. I walk the beach every day and there is no beach left there and also in front of the tennis club to the east and the BH club just west of Ocean Road. east of Ocean road is gaining beach especially the area close to Sagg Pond.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Feb 12, 12 5:14 PM
This is a crisis how? Come back in July, everything will be how you seem to think it should be
By smacw (240), New York on Feb 13, 12 3:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
Do we really even need trustees? isn't it a duplication of our government?
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Feb 12, 12 10:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
Yes. No.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Feb 12, 12 11:49 PM
No. Yes!
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Feb 13, 12 10:45 AM
Somehow, I'm reminded of OPEC ---- another bunch of guys sitting on a lot of sand and discovering it's worth something. Changes everything, right?
By fidelis (199), westhampton beach on Feb 13, 12 2:40 PM
The Trustees is a crucial governmental body in the Town of Southampton. Through them, we have the RIGHT to access all beaches in the Town and drive the beaches. We can fish Town waters witthout the illegal license the State tried to shove down our throats. They do more for us than I can post right now. Those who dispute the need for the Trustees should do some research before blathering online.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Feb 16, 12 11:49 AM