FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2006

Schumer, Hempstead Supervisor Murray Urge Immediate Action At Point Lookout – Massive Army Corps Erosion Control Project In Jeopardy

May 1 Deadline to Support/Reject Army Corps Erosion Action Plan Looms and Hempstead Beaches Could be Left in the Lurch

Schumer to Army Corps: We Need to Protect the Point Lookout Beaches, and We Need to Dredge Jones Inlet Now

Today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward as quickly as possible with the storm damage mitigation and long-term erosion control project in and around Point Lookout in the Town of Hempstead. The proposed “Long Beach Storm Damage Reduction Plan,” designed to lessen damage to the barrier island in the case of a major storm, is being considered for approval or rejection by May 1, by the City of Long Beach, but also impacts parts of the barrier island that falls within Hempstead.

Schumer today called on the Army Corps to take action at the eastern section of Point Lookout – where the situation continues to deteriorate – regardless of the outcome in the City of Long Beach. For decades, Hempstead Town officials have strongly supported Army Corps plans to alleviate the terrible damage inflicted on residential, commercial and recreational interests.

“The residents of Point Lookout, and all those who enjoy the area’s beautiful beaches, are in desperate need of help that can no longer be fixed with band-aids. The local community supports the Plan; Hempstead Supervisor Murray supports the Plan – so let’s get to work. The Army Corps of Engineers must move quickly to implement its storm protection and erosion reduction plan,” Schumer said. “Without the Corps taking these immediate and comprehensive measures to protect residential and commercial property, the Point Lookout community will remain in unnecessary danger from major storms and flooding.”

“For well over a decade, the Town of Hempstead has been committed financially, ideologically and environmentally to implementing a project that will offer immediate and long-term storm damage protection to our precious barrier beach communities,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray. “It is critically important that the Army Corps’ Erosion Action Plan be implemented as presented to prevent further erosion and restore the severe damage to our shoreline. We are grateful for Senator Charles Schumer’s efforts to move this project forward and are eager to collaborate with our state and federal representatives.”

Severe erosion has devastated local Hempstead beaches and exposed the Point Lookout community to damage from major storms like Nor’easters and Hurricanes. In fact, Schumer noted that the Army Corps has recognized Point Lookout as the hardest hit area on the barrier island. Schumer also indicated that, by taking swift action the Army Corps will erect a bulwark against high-energy waves and mitigate flooding in the event of a major storm. In his letter Schumer wrote: “The Plan will also protect residential and commercial property, local business and its economy, the ecosystem and its habitat and recreational interests. The nourishment to the beaches of Point Lookout, as proposed in the Army Corps Plan, will help reverse the relentless erosion negatively affecting the area, and provide 50 years of monitoring and maintenance by the Corps.”

“Hempstead has heard enough planning – action to protect its invaluable beaches is long overdue. After forty years of planning, twenty years of refining a feasibility plan, and two substantial reviews, there is a possibility that the entire project will be abandoned. For Point Lookout and Hempstead, which want to move forward, that would be a mistake,” Schumer said. He added, “If this plan is enacted, the Town of Hempstead will be able to implement desperately-needed capital projects to restore environmental and recreational quality on the beaches. The Corps’ Plan will provide storm damage reduction to municipal infrastructure, local homes and businesses, and evacuation routes. It will also enhance emergency response capability, while limiting damage to the mainland from a potential breach.”

In the letter, Schumer noted that implementation of the Plan in the area known as Reach 1 includes: dune and berm development, groin rehabilitation, four new groins with three deferred, and the extension of groin number one

In order to provide a minimal level of immediate storm damage protection to the easternmost areas, Schumer also asked that the Army Corps support maintenance dredging of Jones Inlet and concomitant beneficial placement of the dredged material on the immediate down drift shore. Together, the short-term benefits of the sand from the channel maintenance project coupled with the 50-year long-term storm damage reduction plan will provide the area with a level of protection sought by local officials through the Corps’ original planning effort. By mitigating the problems at Jones Inlet, the Corps will offer sorely needed assistance in improving safe and productive commercial and recreational navigation, emergency marine response, and prevention of the westerly migration of deep water channel that threatens the shore stabilization structures along Point Lookout.

Schumer’s letter also said, “Now more than ever, residents of Point Lookout know they are threatened with the spectre of the Atlantic Ocean further encroaching upon their homes. I understand that the Point Lookout community, as well as the Town of Hempstead, enthusiastically endorses the Corps’ Plan to provide this curative storm damage mitigation and long-term erosion control to the area. …The protection of this community and its beaches from storm damage demands a collective effort on the part of federal, state and local officials.”

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