Earlier this month, Asharoken officials voted to bring an end to the multiyear-long dune restoration project with the Army Corps of Engineers.
The village had been working with the Army Corps to create a proposal to replenish the community’s eroding beaches, but part of the plan included creating public access points at certain private properties, which many residents rejected.
Mayor Greg Letica wrote in a letter to residents that the decision to no longer go forward with the plan was a result of surveying residents and opinions from public hearings.
“I was not surprised by the outcome because this is what the residents wanted,” Letica said in a phone interview. “It was a combination of the public access points, the liability and the cost.”
According to Letica, residents would have been liable for any injuries or mishaps that happened when the public was on the shoreline of the property — if new public access points had been created.
The village would have been expected to pay 10.5 percent of the $21.5 million cost for the initial placement of sand, and then 15 percent of the future sand placement costs, which were left undefined.
Back in December, village officials looked over the results of a public survey where it was revealed 85 percent of the 427 surveyors were against moving forward with the plan. Ninety percent of the homeowners that own Long Island Sound beach property that responded were opposed. If the remaining homes on the Sound property all responded with approval of going ahead, opposition would still be at 73 percent. Half of the beach lot owners in Asharoken responded.
“The responding property owners sent a comprehensive, resounding, unambiguous and nearly unanimous message to the board of trustees — we do not want to do the ASDRP,” Letica said in the letter. “You were heard loud and clear.”
Village trustees said repeatedly during previous board meetings they wouldn’t approve a plan without resident approval, and Letica said he was grateful for resident participation throughout the process.
“I would like to sincerely compliment the residents of Asharoken for their participation in the process to help guide the board of trustees in their decision on the ASDRP,” he said. “You were engaged every step of the way, provided very helpful insight into aspects of the plan that otherwise may have gone unnoticed, communicated passionately to the board about how you felt, responded to the survey in very high numbers and provided polite, concise and clear comments at the public hearing. Everyone who took time to be involved in this historic decision should be proud of their efforts.”
The village originally entered an agreement with the Army Corps in 2001 to perform a Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, but it did not obligate the village to move forward with any of the proposals suggested. The resolution was approved with a 4-0 vote, with Trustee Laura Burke being absent.
In previous meetings, some residents expressed the need for a plan to protect the beaches.
“We need to protect the beaches,” Asharoken resident Christine Peterson said in a previous interview. “I understand the residents that don’t want to give access to their private property, but I think this is something we need to do. It’s not like we’re opening up a new beach and expect many new visitors to come and use it.”