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Schumer To President: Don't Shortchange LI Army Corps Of Engineers Projects

Senator asks President Bush to ensure Army Corps projects around Long Island and across New York State are fully funded in forthcoming 2005 Budget

Local officials concerned that projects to fight erosion along South Shore and help commercial fishing in Lake Montauk Harbor face draconian cuts

Program that could help save TWA Flight800 Memorial may be on the chopping block

US Senator Chuck Schumer today asked President George W. Bush to fully fund Army Corps of Engineers projects on Long Island in the 2005 Federal Budget that he is scheduled to send to Congress next week. Schumer has heard from local officials on Long Island and across New York State that Army Corps in the state may face draconian budget cuts in the forthcoming budget proposal. These cuts could delay or terminate plans to fight beach erosion along Long Island's South Shore and help commercial fishermen around Lake Montauk Harbor.

"Long Island's waterways are its heart and soul, and the Army Corps has an excellent record protecting and improving them with a good return on the investment for taxpayers," Schumer said. "Severe cutbacks in these projects will cause delays and possible cancellations, and that's flatout unfair for Long Islanders who already pay too much in taxes."

In a letter to President Bush, Schumer highlighted seven Army Corps projects across New York State that may face drastic cuts, including two on Long Island. The Army Corps' Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point Reformulation Project is determining how to provide hurricane protection and beach erosion control along five reaches of the south shore of Long Island between Fire Island Inlet and Montauk Point, a distance of approximately 83 miles. The study was initiated in 1994 and is almost completed. Schumer said today that a large cut in the program's funding now could mean that years of work could go to waste and hundreds of thousands of South Shore residents could be left unprotected from storms.

Schumer also pointed out that despite temporary measures to protect it, the TWA Flight 800 Memorial at Smith Point Park has been buffeted by two major winter storms this season which severely eroded the beach there and left the memorial close to being swallowed by the sea. The Army Corps' Fire Island Inlet to Montauk Point Reformulation Project could help provide badlyneeded protection to the Memorial, so the shore sand in front of it does not have to be manually replenished every year at the cost of millions of dollars.

The Army Corps' Lake Montauk Harbor Project is developing a way to improve boat navigation in the area and determine if dredging will help commerce and the environment there. Lake Montauk Harbor is one of the busiest commercial fishing ports on Long Island. Schumer noted that both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Town of East Hampton have committed significant financial resources to the project because the harbor is home to a substantial commercial fishing fleet that is vital to the local economy. Schumer also highlighted the importance of the Army Corps' work in the Bronx River Basin, Fulmer Creek, Steele Creek, and Moyer Creek near Utica, and the Sacandaga River in the Town of Wells, in Hamilton County.

"These projects are extremely important to the economic and environmental health of the State of New York. I respectfully request that as you finalize your budget request for the upcoming fiscal year you give these projects the utmost consideration," Schumer wrote to the President.

A copy of Schumer's letter is attached.