Rep. Zeldin Briefs Public on Latest Updates Re: FIMP and Encourages Residents to Participate in Public Comment Period that is Now Open
Westhampton, NY - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was joined today by local elected officials and community leaders at Westhampton Beach Village Hall to discuss the next phase of the Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) Project, which is now a $1.16 billion project that contains funding for essential dredging and shoreline projects across NY-1. Congressman Zeldin also announced the tentative dates and locations for the public hearings, and strongly encouraged residents to get engaged in the public comment period that is now open.
During the press conference, Congressman Zeldin discussed many of the key components of the Draft General Reevaluation Report, or GRR, which was released in July of 2016, and specifies which projects will be included in the next phase of the Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) Project. The highlights include:
- Beach and dune nourishment projects throughout the FIMP area at 2 year intervals for 30 years.
- Dredging to maintain Fire Island Inlet, Moriches Inlet, and Shinnecock Inlet.
- Groin and jetty modifications.
- The elevation of 4,400 homes and businesses. The plan also calls for assistance for another 1,250 homes – the assistance would be other than elevation, such as securing utilities.
- Road raising in Mastic Beach for 2 miles of road to protect 355 homes.
- An option for a betterment project for Dune Road.
- Support of the local management plan of Georgica Pond.
- Continued erosion protection through a sediment management plan along Potato Road and Downtown Montauk.
Additionally, the Congressman announced that the plan includes a variety of coastal and wetland restoration projects that will use the natural environment to reduce flooding, erosion, and storm damage, while also preserving the natural environment and habitat for wildlife. The project also provides various coastal management initiatives for the bay side of the barrier beaches.
Congressman Zeldin also encouraged South Shore residents to participate in the public comment period that is set to end on September 29, 2016 by attending public hearings and/or submitting public comments by mail or email. The Congressman announced four tentative proposed dates and locations:
- September 14, 2016 for the Babylon area, which will hosted at Town Hall;
- September 20, 2016 for the Brookhaven area, which will be hosted in Patchogue at the national park ferry service terminal;
- September 27, 2016 for the Southampton area, which will be hosted at the library or college; and
- September 28, 2016 for the East Hampton/Montauk area, which will be hosted at the Montauk Firehouse.
Residents can also submit public comments by mail or email. The address is: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, Planning Division-Environmental Branch (ATTN: Mr. Robert Smith) 26 Federal Plaza, New York, New York 10278-0090, or by email to: Project Biologist Robert.J.Smith@usace.army.mil and Project Manager Mark.f.Lulka@usace.army.mil.
Congressman Lee Zeldin said, “The FIMP project, which covers a distance of 83 miles, 80% of which is in the First Congressional District, will greatly improve our environment, economy and coastal way of life on Long Island’s South Shore. This project has been a long time coming with a history that spans generations. Superstorm Sandy devastated our coastal communities and businesses on Long Island, which is why it is important that we move forward with these projects to ensure that we as a community are best prepared for the future. After working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, this is now a massive $1.16 billion 100% federally funded project that contains funding for essential dredging and shoreline projects for our area. Over the next few weeks, I very strongly encourage the public to participate in the public comment period. We have received requests for additional sand in some locations. Some communities are thrilled with certain proposals in this draft GRR as is. The Army Corps needs and wants to hear from the public. We all want to hear from the public. If the last proposed hearing does in fact get confirmed for just one day prior to the end of the public comment period, I am calling on the Army Corps to extend the public comment period for two weeks. South fork residents deserve and need more than 24-48 additional hours to comment after their public hearings. Once the public comment period closes, all of the public comments will be considered for incorporation in the final report. The final report and environmental impact study will be prepared in October and submitted to the Army Corps Chief for his approval at the end of December 2016. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in an effort to expedite this project and ensure its completion, it’s my priority to get a finalized GRR that includes all of the important projects for our district attached to the next Water Resources and Development Act that passes Congress. The approval process and execution of the project partner agreement with New York State will take place in 2017 and construction is scheduled to begin in 2018. The Water Resources and Development Act (otherwise known as WRDA) approves of Army Corps projects. By including our GRR in WRDA, the project will officially be signed off on by Congress. I would like to thank the Army Corps for their efforts and I strongly ask that they give the highest consideration to the priorities of the elected officials and residents on Long Island’s South Shore. I would also like to thank all of the elected officials who have worked closely with me on this issue. This moment has been a long time coming, going back generations. In the years ahead, we will witness a massive investment of our federal tax dollars being returned to our congressional district in a way never witnessed before. We are all very excited to be a part of it. It is so important that the public be heavily engaged in this process over this next month and a half.”
Additional speakers at today’s press conference included: Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore, New York State Senator Tom Croci, Southampton Superintendent of Highways Alex Gregor, Brookhaven Town Superintendent of Highways Daniel Losquadro, Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico, Brookhaven Town Councilman Neil Foley, Quogue Mayor Peter Sartorius, Mastic Beach Village Mayor Maura Spery, Westhampton Beach Village Trustee Ralph Urban, Westhampton Beach Village Trustee Steve Franco, Alex Walter on behalf of East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, and local resident Robin Eshaghpour from East Quogue.
New York State Senator Ken LaValle said, “Throughout my career, I have made it a priority to preserve and protect our fragile environment and shorelines. The FIMP project is an opportunity to address the harm to our coastline from decades of erosion and storm damage. As elected officials work together in a bipartisan way to impress upon the federal government methods to properly restore our coastlines, we need the public to speak out as well. It’s critically important that the community is actively involved in the public comment segment of FIMP. I urge everyone to add their voice to the efforts.”
New York State Senator Tom Croci said, “This plan is vitally important for the sustainability of low lying areas in the 3rd Senate district such as Mastic, Bellport, Patchogue, Bayport, Bluepoint, Sayville and Oakdale. I urge all impacted parties to provide their input and comments so a workable plan can be adopted. Fire Island is a national treasure and our natural levy protecting our south shore, we must ensure its survival for future generations.”
New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said, “With the Fire Island to Montauk Point plan progressing, now is perhaps the most important stage of the project. It’s time for our local municipalities and residents to participate in the process by reviewing and providing comments and suggestions on the draft plan. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the final outcome reflects what our local communities need. Specifically, we need a much greater focus on the dynamic Montauk coastline and implementing a larger scale soft, sand-only solution.”
New York State Assemblyman Dean Murray said, “I would like to thank Congressman Zeldin for his tremendous efforts in fighting to secure the funding for this important project. The FIMPS project is vital in safeguarding our coastlines during times of natural disaster or crises. With over 85 miles of coastline on the South Shore, it is necessary to ensure the coastline is as stable as possible and able to withstand devastating weather conditions."
“The Fire Island to Montauk Point Project is one of the most significant capital projects on Long island, affecting more than 4,000 homes on Fire Island and tens of thousands more along the South Shore. After the devastation this area saw in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, it is critical that the Army Corps hears the voices of these residents and the elected officials that represent them to ensure that their needs and concerns are addressed. I’m hopeful that one of these public hearings will be scheduled within the Town of Brookhaven,” said Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine. “I want to thank Congressman Lee Zeldin for his leadership on this issue, and for fighting on behalf of our residents to make sure this plan is put in place to protect our South Shore.”
"The amount of endangered and damaged infrastructure we have along the South Shore is truly staggering," said Brookhaven Town Superintendent of Highways Daniel Losquadro. "As a lifetime Long Islander, I am so grateful to see the federal government being proactive instead of reactive. As Superintendent of Highways, I know firsthand the importance of finally taking action after decades of only discussion."
Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico said, "Congressman Zeldin remains remarkably well versed on the issues that affect the residents of Brookhaven because he listens. I have always worked successfully with him regarding issues including those on our shorelines. His ability to marshal resources for our area come from his willingness to listen to his constituents and articulate our concerns to a variety of federal agencies as our Congressman. At a time when Washington is criticized for their top down approach, it is encouraging to have a homegrown Congressman who still believes in the bottom up approach. As a Town Councilman for some of the hardest hit south shore communities in Brookhaven, and Deputy Supervisor of the Town, I know that our residents welcome this opportunity and thank Congressman Zeldin for taking the time to publicize it."
Paul Monte, President of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, said, "The Montauk Chamber of Commerce and the entire Montauk Community view our beaches as our greatest natural resource. While the ACOE has taken interim steps to protect our downtown beach, they must include a much larger beach fill project in the FIMP plan to ensure the long term preservation and protection of our beach and our downtown. The small maintenance project proposed for Montauk in the current FIMP draft is a mere drop in the bucket and falls far short of what's needed to effectively rebuild our beach for the long term. "
Robin Eshaghpour, East Quogue Property Owner, said, "I would like to thank the Army Corp of Engineers for taking a proactive approach in their plan to protect Long Island's shore line. I am pleased to see that the plan includes a potential “betterment project” which could and should be the raising of Dune Road. Congressman Lee Zeldin has been a great advocate and communicator for Long Island and his efforts towards the FIMP project should be applauded by all Long Islanders."