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Ditch Plain Gets Its Beach Back

Wed, 06/19/2024 - 19:25

1,000 cubic yards of new sand a day to nourish scoured Montauk span

Sand was piled near the west parking lot at Ditch Plain in Montauk earlier this week as East Hampton Town began a project to bolster the beach after severe winter storms scoured much of its sand.
Brian Halweil

Ditch Plain Beach will be more beach and less ditch this summer after a beach replenishment project that will bring approximately 200 truckloads of sand, about 1,000 cubic yards daily, began on Monday.

The East Hampton Town Board accepted a $300,000 bid for the work from Southampton Excavation and Site Development on June 6. The area between the comfort station parking lot and what’s known as the Ditch Witch lot, will see the sand nourishment.

To put that amount of sand into perspective, the beach in front of downtown Montauk grew by 450,000 cubic yards of sand this winter as part of the federal Army Corps of Engineers Fire Island to Montauk Point beach replenishment project. That project ended well west of the beach at Ditch Plain, however. Three consecutive storms bashed the beach this winter, necessitating road closures, and washing away dunes with displaced sand settling in parking areas. After one January storm, water settled a block north of the shoreline, flooding nearby houses.

In the aftermath of the winter storms, a petition started by the Ditch Plains Association called for sand replenishment and dune restoration at the popular surf and family beach. The town board listened.

The sand dumped this week is part of a two-phase project. The second phase, scheduled for the fall, involves dune recovery, which will help protect residences from breaches and flooding. The work for that phase will be completed by Coastal Science and Engineering, a South Carolina firm.

Brian Halweil was fishing off Ditch Plain Beach Monday morning and could see piles of sand on the beach. “When I rolled up to the parking lot at 6:45 a.m. they had already dumped a few loads of sand and there was a guy with a giant earth-moving machine spreading it out. There is so much more beach with just one morning of dumping,” he said. Construction hours are scheduled early, starting at 5 a.m. each day.

Steven Mezynieski, who owns Southampton Excavation, said 5,800 cubic yards of sand would eventually be dumped and spread.

The sand comes from a Calverton sand mine owned by Mr. Mezynieski and his wife, Gretchen. “A lot of people are trying to close all the sand mines on the East End,” he said in a phone call. “Situations like this arise and if there were no sand mines, there would be no way to correct the situation. Sand would have to be trucked in from other states.” After Superstorm Sandy, his company moved about a million cubic yards of sand onto the beaches from Southampton to Sagaponack.

“The first phase of restoration will ensure that our residents can enjoy the natural beauty of Ditch Plain Beach this summer,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez said in a statement. “We could only get this done by working together with the folks who live in this community. This is how we were able to put together a thorough schedule with the contractor to minimize disruptions and ensure that the beach is ready for the summer season.”

Work will not take place this weekend and is expected to be complete by Wednesday. Mr. Mezynieski said work would begin early on the weekdays and that the beach should be open the second half of the day. The main staging area is at the comfort station parking lot, which will remain closed during construction hours until the work is complete.

According to a town press release, “$1.75 million has been allocated by the town in the capital budget for both phases of this project. A request for matching funds has been sent to New York State to assist with the cost.”




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