Reading between the lines of Kyle Campbell’s article, “Quogue Dredging Application Draws Questions about Economics,” some residents believe that if they don’t have to pay for the proposed beach nourishment project, then they would support it. However, were any part of the cost borne by the citizens of Quogue, they would be opposed. The irony of this conundrum is that those opposed, hopefully understand that a beach nourishment project protects the mainland, too. One has only to recall what happened in West Hampton Dunes, due to inaction and political complacency.
Those who would like to believe that Quogue’s 2.7 mile coastline is just fine fail to realize that records from the 1950’s indicate that the beach was approximately 250-300 feet wide. Our new normal is a 50 foot wide beach that accretes and recedes depending on the moon and seasons. Annual measured sand loss in the last 60 years, (thanks to the Shinnecock jetty system) has averaged approximately 4.2 cubic yards of sand per linear foot, equivalent to a 240 foot loss of protective dunes and coastline.
The barrier beach is the last line of defense in protecting the mainland. Even if homes hadn’t been built on Dune Road, the rate of erosion would remain the same, and the challenge to protect the mainland would still exist. The Shinnecock Inlet is a major artery for both business and pleasure, and is here to stay. But, make no mistake; the Inlet is the cause for the exacerbated erosion, not the homes on Dune Road. As the 17th century poet, John Donne said, “…if the Island goes, then so goes the Main.”
The threat of a breach increases as erosion continues and protection diminishes. If a breach occurs, not only will the quality of life be compromised, but the cost to repair will be greater. The West Hampton Dunes’ breach devastated properties, eroded the tax base, including the mainland villages of Remsemburg and Westhampton, and corroded basic community services, including the schools, police and fire departments. Access to the west end of Dune Road, including Cupsogue Beach, was denied for years. Property values took a beating and it was years before economic stability returned.
All Quogue property owners are stakeholders when it comes to protecting Quogue’s greatest asset. Notwithstanding that, those who are most affected should pay the greatest share. Our neighbors to the east in Bridgehampton are breathing a little easier these days, due in great part to the completion of their beach nourishment program. Hopefully, we’ll be able to breathe a little easier in the future as well. We’d like to avoid a disaster.
Founding member, Save The Dunes And Beaches Foundation