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Long Island dredging project gets funding

Sen. Hillary Clinton and Rep. Peter King push for dredging of Jones Inlet

Sen. Hillary Clinton and Rep. Peter King push for dredging of Jones Inlet

Two Long Island-based New York state legislators announced June 23 they had secured $25.2 million in state funding that will allow busy Jones Inlet to be dredged — possibly beginning in October.

State Sen. Dean G. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said the project would immediately use $7.6 million toward dredging 700,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet and the dredge spoils will be used to offset beach erosion in Point Lookout and Lido Beach.

The Jones Inlet phase could begin in early October and take about two months to complete, he said.

On May 4, the Long Beach City Council defeated a resolution authorizing the city to participate in the long-planned Long Beach Barrier Island Storm Damage Reduction Project. The vote effectively terminated the project.

Skelos made the funding announcement with Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), but they received support from U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton (both D-NY) and Congressman Peter King (R-Seaford).

Officials cited the deaths of four boaters in three capsizing accidents since 2002 on the confused and rough waters in the shallow passage out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Sen. Clinton and Rep. King wrote in December to Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, the corps’ chief of engineers, lobbying for dredging.

“The situation at Jones Inlet has now become critical,” Clinton said in a statement. “After 10 years without maintenance dredging, the inlet poses a serious hazard to both recreational and commercial boat traffic. We need to act now.”

The Congressional representatives forwarded to the Washington a letter from Coast Guard Capt. Peter Boynton, captain of the port for Long Island Sound and the Island’s South Shore. “Jones Inlet rates lower on dredging priority than channels used by commercial traffic as it is designated as a recreational use channel. It should be [noted] that the Jones Inlet is used by nearly 20 commercial vessels, including fishing vessels and charter fishing vessels, as well as the M/V Majesty, a passenger vessel certified to carry over 400 passengers, all of which are home ported in Freeport,” he wrote in the letter.

“Over the last several years,” Boynton wrote, “the channel ... has gradually shoaled in some areas, causing concerns [of] groundings in this area. Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Teams Moriches has repositioned the aids to navigation in this area three times since the channel was last dredged in 1996 in order to mark the deepest water in this inlet in order to ensure safe vessel transit.”

Hempstead town supervisor Kate Murray wrote to Clinton in a letter forwarded to the Engineers that the inlet is the access waterway for the Jones Beach Coast Guard Station. “Even small vessels are now being stranded,” she said.

In 1995 the Engineers arranged to dredge 459,000 cubic yards of sand from the inlet.