The United States Army Corps of Engineers has begun the construction of a half-mile-long sandbag wall across the downtown Montauk ocean shoreline, but not all are pleased about the Montauk Stabilization Project.
Many feel that the $8.9 million project, paid by the federal government, will ruin the treasured East End beaches in Montauk and have set out to make their voices heard. On Friday, November 6th, the first round of arrests related to the construction occurred. Nearly two dozen protesters gathered early in the morning to obstruct the path of bulldozers working on the construction of the sandbag wall. Three of those protestors, James Katsipis, Tom LaGrassa, and Sarah Conway, declined a town police order to vacate the area and were arrested without confrontation, for disorderly conduct.
On Sunday, November 8th, the rallies continued with a paddle and protest. Hundreds came out to support the event and the preservation of the natural dunes and the beach. Attendees united both on surfboards in the Atlantic Ocean and by watching the paddle beachside. On Monday, November 9th, two more protesters, Lisa Spelmman and Bess Rattray, were arrested.
During a Town Hall meeting last week, Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell told Montauk residents that there wasn’t much opposition to the project and “it’s, signed, sealed and delivered.” But in May, Defend H2O, an environmental organization, along with several Montauk residents, filed a lawsuit alleging that the dune, which is designed to guard structures along the 3,100-foot stretch, is actually a “hard structure” that will lead to further beach erosion. A petition created by Surfrider ELI at www.change.org has received over 2,600 signatures in support of the rejection of the currently proposed US Army Corp Downtown Montauk Stabilization Project, and a Facebook page, Stop the Corps, Save the Beach, described as an information sharing page for those who believe the beach at Montauk must be saved, has over 600 likes. The cause has also received support from a few notable names like chef Sam Talbot and surfer Kelly Slater, who took to Instagram to voice his concern about the seawall.
An East Hampton Town Board meeting addressing the seawall will be held on Tuesday, November 10th, at the Montauk Playhouse Community Center (240 Edgemere Street, Montauk) beginning at 10 a.m.