Officials Urgently Calling On Feds To Shore-Up Ocean Beaches; Erosion Threatening Recreational Facilities

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The integrity of recreational infrastructure and the looming threat of another coastal storm have prompted urgent pleas to the federal government for assistance. File photo: JaysonPhotography, ShutterStock.com, licensed.

BABYLON, N.Y. – The playground at Babylon’s Overlook Beach stands closer to fierce ocean waves than ever before, marking a stark testament to diminishing beachfronts in Long Island, New York. Assessments by town officials reveled that the entire beach facility is in danger of succumbing to a relentless cycle of erosion and storm surges. The integrity of recreational infrastructure and the looming threat of another coastal storm have prompted urgent pleas to the federal government for assistance.

“We’re at DEFCON 5, red alert. We need all the help that we can get from our state and federal partners,” stated Town of Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer. This urgent call to action comes on the heels of Long Island seeing a frightening reduction of their beachfronts. Since 2014, Babylon alone has lost a whopping 500 feet of beachfront despite aggressive mitigation efforts that have seen truckloads of sand amounting to 100 million cubic yards deposited in these areas.

Leading the call for immediate intervention is an alliance of bipartisan leaders from across the South Shore, calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to steer their focus towards this escalating crisis. However, the Army Corps’ current operations, encompassing various sand replenishment projects, bypass parts of Islip, Babylon, and Oyster Bay. These are oceanic beaches said to be in dire need of immediate and long-term remedial measures. Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey aired his concern regarding the Corps’ seeming denial of the situation, stating, “It’s startling to know that the definition of the Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t consider this emergency.”

Officials expressed frustration with the seeming lack of effective follow-up after Superstorm Sandy, resulting in a disjoined or ‘patchwork’ approach towards remediation that has seen varying levels of success at different sites. Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino expressed his exhaustion with the current pace of progress, stating, “We’re tired of hearing, ‘Well, we have to do another study and another project.’ We’re losing our beaches. We need the help right now.”

The crisis has even caught the attention of New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who has made an aggressive request for federal emergency assistance. As the situation unfolds, the Army Corps of Engineers appears to be revisiting prior decisions, as an agency spokesperson confirmed that previous requests for the expansion of sand replenishment programs in the area are currently under reconsideration.

In the face of imminent catastrophe, officials call for regular dredging; a systemic, proactive solution that can protect the integrity of beaches and adjacent areas like the pavilion at Tobay Beach, highlighted by Supervisor Saladino as experiencing drastic diminution in its sand dunes. If unchecked, the loss of these wind-blown deposits could compromise the beach pavilion and even threatened the nearby highway.

As storm clouds gather, so does the resolve of Long Island officials and the communities they serve. The potential disappearance of a cherished, multifaceted resource is not a plight they are willing to passively endure. The Army Corps of Engineers’ response to these insistent calls could reshape the very shoreline of Long Island, providing renewed hope and protection for treasured coastal environments in the face of nature’s relentless power.


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