By Pieter Greeff, Board Member SDBF
Quogue is a very unique situation, along with East Quogue and Hampton Bays, being west of the Shinnecock Inlet. For 75 years our tax dollars, along with everyone else’s, have been keeping the Inlet open as well as repairing it, extending it and dredging it to effect that its jetties have diverted the East to West “littoral drift” sand flow that naturally should have accrued to our beaches had Nature been allowed to take its course. This sand has been diverted miles offshore, not to return to our protective barrier beach.
The Little Pike Inlet break of 1993, whereupon 124 houses were lost, tax revenues escrowed to the severe detriment of Westhampton Beach and a huge settlement with the U.S. government plus the formation of Westhampton Dunes stands as example to what a dangerous affair a breakthrough can be. Albeit the LP Inlet was before a bay, such an event in Quogue would invade the village with a torrential rush of water over flat land.
In the times of Mayors Harvey Cooley, Malcolm McLean and other old timers any break or weakening of the dunes was immediately repaired by the village.
That dune maintenance and enhancement should be out of hand rejected is irresponsible, in my opinion, especially since dredging would return to Quogue its share of the lost littoral drift diverted by the Shinnecock Inlet. We are not New Jersey but a unique regional situation severely influenced by a man maintained inlet which is necessary to the community as an ocean transit for sport and commerce.
Having been a surfer myself since 1965 and an ocean Hobiecatter I can attest that good breaks come and go with the seasonal and storm shaped meanderings of the near and far bars and that other breaks can always be found. Some of the best are due to jetties, groins and bar replenishments due to bay dredging. The notion that offshore dredging destroys bars for surfing is simply not the case.
The reality that the next hurricane or severe nor’easter could possibly destroy Quogue is not so outlandish with our Eastern dunes being the lowest and least effective in living memory.
By Marjorie Kuhn, Board Member SDBF
It is surely time for us to come together and make beach nourishment a reality in Quogue.
I’ve been a beach watcher since I was a little kid; I respect the ocean’s power, and realize that whatever is done to shore up our shore lines, must be undertaken in a mindful way. As discussion wages on as to whether the barrier beach should be nourished, and how that should be financed, I think of the wise and eloquent perception 16th century English poet, John Donne: “No man is an island, entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main…”
I urge my neighbors to look not only at Quogue’s 2.7 mile stretch of sand, but to consider the spit of land from the eastern inlet Shinnecock to the western Moriches Inlet. Not only are we part of the continent, the main, but if the barrier beach goes, then so goes the mainland. We simply have to figure out how to work together so that a beach nourishment program becomes reality in Quogue – and soon.
No longer can a dredge park offshore in a convenient spot and spew sand onto the beach. Now, borrow areas must be qualified, tested and meet a strict laundry list of criteria before it can even be considered. Testing, environmental impact studies, and many many borings are delicately lifted from the ocean bottom, and then if all passes muster, a nourishment program can follow. But, I get ahead of myself. There are bureaucratic procedures to heed, permits to obtain and community agreement on a financial model for funding. The history is hardly encouraging.
By Pieter Greeff, Board Member, SDBF
As to the specifics of a scheme financed by tax valuation, the Southampton office of Supervisor Ann Throne-Holst would be preferable to any recollections. Her email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What we are protecting: Quogue’s most valuable asset.
By Marjorie Kuhn, Board Member SDBF
West Hampton Dunes was borne out of a crisis caused by a groin field that substantially increased erosion far beyond the normal rate of one and half feet a year to over fifteen feet a year. Couple that with a strong cycle of nasty storms, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. [The Mayor of the WH Dunes tells the story on an adjoining page.]
Must the same fate befall Quogue? This past fall and winter, the East Coast, especially the northeast, was battered by decade’s worth of storms in two seasons. While for the most part, Superstorm Sandy spared our homes, the dunes west of Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays and East Quogue were completely flattened and the island almost breached. In the most at risk & endangered area of the Quogue coastline, Sandy left behind one devastated home, sheared off dunes, and a lot of questions. So now what?
For the last sixty years, the waves of erosion created by Shinnecock Inlet (almost six miles to the east of the Village) have devastated Hampton Bays and East Quogue. In the last twenty years nothing has been done about the inlet and its interruption of the natural westerly flow of sand so has spread into the eastern beaches of the Village of Quogue like a virus. Given the prolonged inertia, it cannot fail to continue its westerly progress, destroying all the dunes quite likely breach the barrier island to menace homes inland. In short the economic viability of the entire area is at risk. Those who maintain that the accelerated erosion in Quogue is simply ‘natural forces’ are wrong and their uninformed opinion threatens the integrity of the entire barrier island.
Before it is too late, let’s take steps urgently required so that beach nourishment can become a reality in Quogue and so we will not find ourselves echoing the 1992 remark of Bill Daley of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation: ‘There were a number of steps along the way where it all could have been avoided.
Above: Destruction of dunes slightly to west of village beach