Just in the Nick of Time 

by Ken Giustino

Montauk has been waiting years for the promised and much-needed sand to be pumped onto the downtown beach. The numerous early winter storms completely wiped out the sand right up to the ocean motels, exposing the sand-filled geotextile bags the army core engineers had placed there in 2016. As long ago as the 1950’s, the Army Corps began considering a comprehensive and long-term Fire Island to Montauk Point protection plan for areas prone to flooding, erosion, and other storm damage. Superstorm Sandy, in 2012, precipitated emergency measures that resulted in the geotextile bags. This was meant as a temporary measure until the dredging could begin.

Near the end of the last big storm, I went down to take photographs of the beach. I saw waves breaking right on the now exposed bags, realizing that the geo bags had held the line. Despite the pounding of the waves, the controversial bags did their job. It was sad and scary site to see, and I wondered if the promised sand would make it in time.

Earlier this winter, Councilman David Lys held a zoom meeting to inform the Montauk residents and the businesses community of the commencement of the project, timing of any road closures, and interference of use of the beach. David Lys reported that the replenishment project would be starting January 11 with hopes that nothing would delay its arrival. As predicted, early January saw the deliveries of large equipment arriving and mobilized in Kirk Park Parking lot as well as assembling the large sand delivery pipes on the beach, and eventually the 480-foot-long dredge “Elis Island” cruised up off the coast of downtown Montauk.

The crews have been working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and will continue until the project is completed. Originally it was estimated to be completed near the end of May – just in time for the Montauk Music Festival!  However, the project looks like it’s moving ahead of schedule and the replenishment aspect will most likely be done in early March. After that they will be planting seagrass to re-create protective dunes for downtown Montauk.

The Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company is dredging and pumping beach-compatible sand from an offshore “borrow site” off Napeague and placing it on the length of beach between the Benson Reservation on the west to just east of Surfside Place. The additional sand will extend the beach area both above and below sea level, creating a wider beach with a gradual slope that is more resistant to future storms and wave erosion.

Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company Field Engineers having a little R&R at the Halfway to Summer Party

At the annual Montauk Sun’s Halfway to Summer party on February 10 we met a half dozen of the field engineers working on the FIMP project. After having the band introduce them, the full house of Montauk Locals cheered and applauded them for being there. They were quite taken aback, and told me they felt really good and appreciated for the work they’re doing in Montauk.


On February 22, I went to the beach to take photos for this update, and was amazed how far along the sand replenishment part of the project had come. When I arrived, they gave me a hardhat and an escort to tour the beach. It was quite an impressive site- watching the mixture of sand and seawater pumping out of the dredge pipe in concert with five giant bulldozers, moving the sand along the beach to create the new beach elevation.

When the work is completed, they will have deposited a 450,000 Cubic Yard of All-Sand Beach, and installed new Beach Fence and Beach Grass. Going forward the downtown beach Nourishment program will be on 4-year Cycle; depositing 400,000 to 450,000 cubic yards of sand for the next 30 years. The cost of that work will be jointly borne by the Army Corps, New York State, and the local municipalities.