By Desirée Keegan

Friendship Beach in Rocky Point is next on the list of local beaches receiving renovations.

The Brookhaven Town Board recently adopted a resolution approving a $1,215,000 bond to pay for erosion control and drainage improvements, which will limit pollutants in local ground and drinking water, while also helping to improve the water quality of the Long Island Sound.

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) secured the Federal Emergency Management Agency funding through a State Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant, which is given to help reduce or eliminate long-term risk from natural disasters. Friendship Beach, along with others on the North Shore, was heavily affected following Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“This project will help us not only from an erosion standpoint, but also to prevent pollution,” Losquadro said. “The hazard mitigation program allows us to repair or replace, but replace with something much better and stronger. It hardens our infrastructure to leave us less vulnerable to damage from future storms.”

“The hazard mitigation program allows us to repair or replace, but replace with something much better and stronger. It hardens our infrastructure to leave us less vulnerable to damage from future storms.”

—Dan Losquadro

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) recently spoke about the significance of the Sound at press conference at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai, where he called on the Environmental Protection Agency to keep its commitment to permanently close the Eastern Long Island Sound disposal sites.

“The Long Island Sound, an EPA designated Estuary of National Significance and one of the nation’s most populated watersheds, is a cultural and natural treasure that provides a diverse ecosystem with more than 170 species of fish, over 1,200 invertebrates and many different species of migratory birds,” he said. “The Sound is also essential to the everyday economy and livelihood of millions of Long Islanders. Over the years, water quality on Long Island has suffered severely from issues such as pollution and overdevelopment, but through work between the EPA, state and local governments, and dedicated Long Islanders, progress has been made to improve water quality and ecosystem health in the Sound.”

Improving the local North Shore beaches will help eliminate some of the waste that makes it’s way into the Sound.

According to the highway superintendent, improvements at Friendship Beach include the addition of armoring stone, which are two to three-ton granite boulders that are used to strengthen and fortify the area; over 200 feet of bulkheading; replacing the drainage system with a filtration system that includes catch basins that separate sediments and solids rather than it being discharged into the water; along with replacing the stairs and planting native beach grass.

What Losquadro said is important about armoring stone is that unlike worn down Long Island boulders, the blasted granite the town will be installing is angular, helping the stones lock together to protect beaches. This is unlike the rounded edges of natural existing stone, which is easier for material like sand and debris to slide around the edges. The new uniform surface will stop the sand from migrating or getting sucked out by hydraulic action, to limit erosion. There will also be stone placed above the boulders, to disperse the energy of waves and help prevent water and sand from breaching the wall.

Improvements to Friendship Beach in Rocky Point include the addition of armoring stone and and a filtration system. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Improvements to Friendship Beach in Rocky Point include the addition of armoring stone and and a filtration system. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said it has been a long time coming.

“I sat in on several meetings with FEMA and was at the beaches with FEMA representatives showing them the magnitude of the problem,” she said. “The areas along the North Shore have become severely compromised, especially because everything around here flows downhill.”

Sills Gully Beach in Shoreham and Amagansett Drive in Sound Beach are two areas that have already received upgrades, although the restoration part of the cleanup at Amagansett Drive will not be covered by FEMA. Currently, the highway department is working on completing Gully Landing improvements in Miller Place, and is close to getting approval to renovate Hallock Landing. Broadway is also on the town’s list.

Losquadro said dealing with FEMA, is unlike the normal process of getting help from the town’s environmental division or the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The Environmental Protection Agency and United States Army Corps of Engineers are involved, which make sure the undertakings are well vetted and that the completed project meets stringent guidelines.

“This is an instance where being persistent and consistence really pays off,” Bonner said. “As a resident of the community I know how vital these structures are to bluff stabilization and water quality. These projects will help the Long Island Sound for fisherman, users, the fish that live in the water — there’s a whole host of reasons why this is a good thing. This is another spoke in the wheel to assure water quality by reducing stormwater runoff and pollutants associated with it.”

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