By Alex Petroski
Port Jefferson Village is shrinking. East Beach, which lies within the parameters of the Port Jefferson Country Club bordering the Long Island Sound, is experiencing erosion that has caused Mayor Margot Garant to take notice and seek assistance in the hopes of reversing the trend.
“The Village of Port Jefferson’s shoreline suffered significant structural damage, resulting from multiple state-of-emergency storm events,” said a Jan. 17 letter from GEI Consultants, a privately owned consulting firm, to the village regarding its concerns about erosion. “These storm events appear to be occurring in greater frequency and severity.”
Representatives from GEI, the village and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation met on the beach May 26 to examine the area and assess its condition. The village is seeking recommendations from GEI and the DEC so that they can then apply for grants from the state to financially assist in projects that would stabilize an already slumping bluff.
“We found that the shoreline erosion has continued to claim significant portions of this recreational area,” the letter said of a Nov. 1, 2016, visit to the beach to view the condition of a bluff that lies below the golf course and adjacent to Port Jefferson Country Club tennis courts and a dune near the mouth of Mount Sinai Harbor.
The bottom 15 feet of the bluff had fallen 260 feet west of the rock revetment, a man-made pile built to preserve the eroding shoreline, according to the letter. Dredging of sand from the Mount Sinai Harbor navigation channel could be used to revitalize the eroding shoreline, and GEI also suggested dead trees be removed on the slumping bluff near the borders of the PJCC to relieve some of the weight on the sand. Removal of trees would require a permit from the DEC.
“These two actions are critical for long term coastal management of this beachfront,” the January letter said, referring to dredging and the eventual repair of a jetty near the mouth of Mount Sinai Harbor, which is owned by the Town of Brookhaven. “In the meantime, East Beach will continue to erode unless stopgap measures are implemented.”
Aphrodite Montalvo, a representative from the DEC’s office of communication services, addressed the May 26 meeting in an emailed statement.
“DEC and GEI have met to discuss erosion issues in the area, as well as options for, and alternatives to erosion control,” she said. “DEC does not currently have any pending permit applications from GEI for the vicinity of East Beach.”
The department referred further questions about the matter to GEI or the village.
The village installed a ramp in May 2016 from the road to the sand at the end of Village Beach Road, the road that leads to the waterfront through the country club, which is becoming exposed at its base due to the eroding sand, according to Garant. GEI representatives said the erosion issues had gotten worse since previous checks during the winter and fall.
The mayor added she plans to go after grant money from the county, state and federal government in the hopes of sharing the cost of potential repairs.
GEI and Garant reiterated that the repair of the Brookhaven-owned jetty would be the first step in alleviating the beach’s erosion issues. In September 2016, Brookhaven committed nearly $6 million in funding to go toward the jetty repair. At the time, Brookhaven hoped Port Jeff Village would contribute dollars for the repairs, because according to Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) the village would receive a direct benefit from the fix, but Garant has yet to show an inclination to do so. The repairs are expected to begin sometime during 2017. The total cost of the repairs is expected to be about $8 million, with grant money secured by state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) also going toward the project.