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APPROVED Minutes of the June 30, 2015 Work Session of the Asharoken Board of Trustees

 Incorporated Village of Asharoken

Work session Meeting

         Tuesday June 30th, 2015 7:00pm

             At Northport Power Plant

Approximate Attendance (65)



Officers Present:                                                         

Greg Letica, Mayor

Pam Pierce, Deputy Mayor

Melvin Ettinger, Trustee

Laura Burke, Trustee

Ian Jablonski, Trustee


Officials & Appointees Present:

Nancy Rittenhouse, Village Clerk

Raymond Mahdesian, Officer-in-Charge


The Pledge of Allegiance was said.

Proof of publication was made.


Mayor Letica reported that the meeting this evening was a meeting between the Board of Trustees, NYSDEC and ACOE.  He noted that the ACOE and NYSDEC will give a presentation and written questions from residents will be presented to the ACOE and NYSDEC by the board.


Mayor Letica introduced both agencies.  Sue McCormick introduced staff from both the ACOE and NYSDEC.  She noted that she is looking for a preferred alternative from the board for the ACOE to pursue during their final feasibility analyses.


Gene Brickman from the ACOE discussed the project and its timeline.  He noted that the next checkpoint will be a meeting on August 5th   in Washington.  A letter from the Board of Trustees must be drafted to indicate its preference of one of the five alternative projects.  He also noted that the village is fortunate to have Sandy money for this project and that you have to agree to help yourself to get the project while the funds are available. Because of Sandy you only get this deal once.  This is the best project that will solve a lot of financial needs, such as repairs and cleanups to the beach. 


Steve Couch from the ACOE presented the entire presentation.  Sue McCormick noted that public access is a federal requirement and it is also a NYS State requirement when government funds are being used for a project.  It’s not just an ACOE regulation it is a NYS Law, it is 44c of the coastal policy which are managed by the New York State Department of State.


Steve Couch noted the following:

·         Public review will take place in September 2015.

·         Agency decision based on all comments from the public and all agencies will take place in December 2015.

·         The ACOE submits a “Decision Report” that will be issued in March 2016.

·         A series of mandatory necessary reviews by the Assistant Secretary of the Army will take place for report approval and recommendations to congress.

·         If all reviews go accordingly than construction should begin in 2018.



Gene Brickman pointed out that two separate independent technical reviews will take place.

1.       District Quality Control Review: where independent individuals review the project for reasonableness.                                                                                                                                                                    

2.       National Agency Technical Review:  at this level national experts are selected to review the project and determine that the project is sound and reasonable.

3.       Public Review period will take place for the public to ask questions about the project.

4.       Environmental Review will take place.

5.       All certifications from the review boards must be presented to Washington by a lead technical individual.


Mayor Letica thanked Steve Couch for a very clear presentation.

Mayor Letica communicated questions to the agencies


1.       Question: How is it the option that calls for a number of groins on the east end been eliminated without justification and that the groins in front of the seawall remain an option?

Answer: Steve Couch noted that the ACOE evaluated both western and eastern groins as well the benefits and savings.  He highlighted the fact that groins that are being constructed to offset existing groins require a different procedure and lifting regulation requirements becomes less difficult..


  1. Question: Given that the existing stone groin is 19 feet wide and has withstood 63 years of storms, why are the proposed groins at the seawall so massive (60 foot wide at base)?

Answer: The proposed groin is 10’ wide at the top crest with two stones forming at the top of the groin which is as narrow as we can build it.  It will have a slope on a elevation of 1 on 2 down into the water,  the foundation maybe 63’ , the size are very similar.


3.       Question: Why weren’t greater quantities of sand considered to be placed on the beach, since there may be a million yards potentially available?

Answer: We are looking at the beach profile; we determine the volume of sand that is the most effective solution.  From an environmental respect the less sand we take out of the sound deems to be better for environmental reasons.


4.       Question: We are looking at a project for 50 years, how can the village be sure that funding from the federal and state government will be there for replenishment in the future?

Answer: Sue McCormick noted that, “there is no guarantee of future funding, but what you are guaranteed is funding for the initial construction. This is a huge step in the right direction, without the initial construction the re-nourishment program is useless”.  The re-nourishments will come out of a different appropriation. Public Access is in perpetuity, the operations maintenance is as long as the project is functioning. The access is for regional and annual inspections, for repairs and re-nourishment. The coastal emergency repair law states; that if you’re a functioning project and the project has been probably maintained then the federal government will come in and fix it at 100% of federal funds after it has been damaged by a storm less than its designed level even if its 75 years from now.  So you need to maintain the public access in an emergency and make the repairs to the beach and restore it.  The emergency funds are from a different pot of money and they are available to restore the beach after a severe storm.  These funds are called Coastal emergency funds.”   



5.       Question:  Our ten percent local share, what is the interest, and how the village will acquire it and what is the payback period?

Answer: Local share is the village’s responsibility; the payback period is whenever the state invoices the village.  The state has to pay for the entire non-federal share upfront, and the state is prepared to do this under the partnership agreement.  Once the project is completed and turned over to the state by the ACOE, then an invoice is generated.  Estimated time is 3-5 years after the project is complete.  


6.       Question: Will the village be pressured to put any facilities on the beach like other public beaches?

Answer: Once this is done, it is yours (villages) and the village can put in place any ordinances they want.    


7.       Question:  If the public is on the owner’s private property and they are injured are they going to be indemnified or held hold harmless?

Answer:  Sue McCormick with the NYSDEC responded that the village needs to discuss this with the village attorney and the homeowners need to discuss this with their insurance companies. The State has to indemnity the Federal Government and the village has to indemnity the state and federal government. 


Bruce Migatz, village attorney noted that if it’s foreseeable for that property owner that someone is walking on their property as a trespasser or invitee the owner has a duty to protect that person of injury.   Public access doesn’t change that liability, but it changes the frequent possibility of someone falling on their property.  A section in general obligation law 9103 where the state has given protection to property owners from certain users, such as certain recreational uses, the owner does not have that common law duty to protect the individual and it list various activities; snowmobilers, boaters, bicycle  riding, hikers, it doesn’t address people coming to a beach to sunbath.  The research that was done is strictly construed.  He noted that he would like to see that statue amended when situations arise where there is public access when it is mandated by the government that the property owners have the same protection as law 9103. The village attorney asked Sue McCormick if she can reach out to the State and the village will reach out to our legislators as well to ensure that “beach users “are in this class.  Sue McCormick noted that she will bring it to her contracts attorney. 


8.       Question: Is the current plan an extension of a previous project or is this new post-Sandy?

Answer: Initially it is a new post-Sandy, but it’s a continuation study and the project is in the ground now.


9.       Question: What does the ACOE identify as the worst case scenario if no action is taken?

Answer: Damage to Asharoken Avenue, cutting off access, the focus is on the transportation.


10.   Question: How is this different from any other protects ex. Manhattan?

Answer: It all depends on the type of funds. Sue McCormick noted, if you look at Bayville, this does not impact public access because you are not adding a beach.  It depends on the type of project, but all beach projects that are seeking federal involvement require public access. The Fire Island project is the first project in NYS where we built on private property.  All coastal projects that have been done previously have been municipal owned land.  We have never had this issue before.  On Fire Island we had to get 450 easements and demolish 25 homes.  For the Long Beach project we require public access because there are private parcels.  In Montauk, we require easements for the project near Montauk Harbor.  All these projects are different then we typically did in the past. But we cannot spend public funds on private property without the easements.


11.   Question: Based on the three different plans, do they require the same amount of sand?

Answer: Approximately the same amount of sand but the difference is how long the sand will stay on the beach; groins will keep the sand in place longer.


12.   Question: Why shouldn’t the village opt to support the least expensive project?

Answer: Steve Couch indicated that we have to look at the project lifecycle.


13.   Question: What is the height of the dune for homes on the bay side who also own property on the sound side?

Answer: The dune will be approximately 13-14 feet an increase of 1-2 feet on average and a wider dune. The owners who have current private access structures to the beach will be compensated for the private access structures and be given a dollar value in order to rebuild.


14.   Question: People using the beach do they have the same use rights as any other resident?

Answer: Yes, and full use of the beach any place where sand is placed except for the dune.


15.   Question: In an article in Newsday the DEC apparently fixed a lake, and they got partial public access?

Answer:  Not familiar with this project. It may not be a coastal project.


16.   Question: For the Fire Island and Long Beach projects where easements are required; has there been any valuation yet for those easements?

Answer: Sue McCormick indicated that no offers have been made yet for both those projects.

First Suffolk County will gather surveys for every parcel, on those surveys they proposed project limits they defined the easement that is needed. Then they prepared letters and attaché the survey showing what is required and a draft copy of the easement.  They then hold public meetings to explain the easement.  At the meetings they offer a choice;

a.       Sign a waiver of compensation and the property owner would donate the value of the easement to the municipality, or

b.       Offer an appraisal for the property to establish the value of the easement the ACOE reviews and approves them. The county sends an offer letter for the easement; the homeowner can accept or decline.

c.       If the owner declines they will pay them the offer, then they could take it through eminent domain process to settle. 


17.   Question:  Who will regulate fires on the beach, litter baskets, dogs, foot patrol, etc?

Answer:  The village is responsible for all rules and ordinances when it comes to these items.


18.   Question: Can you recommend anyone to discuss the easement process?

Answer: Sue McCormick noted that Suffolk County would be helpful since they are working through the Fire Island project now.  So far, 25% have donated their easements, 10% will be taken through eminent domain and the remaining will be money exchanges.


19.   Question: What kind of assurance can you provide that the project will come in on budget?

Answer:  As we get further along with the process and the design phase, the cost estimate gets refined, and then we will put it out to bid and it may come in under or over. 


20.   Question: The property owners north of the seawall are concerned about the groins and future erosion?

Answer: The new model with tapered groins will be filled with sand; any erosion that will occur will be repaired through re-nourishment.


21.   Question: Do you think you have enough time to do this project within one year, with dredging?

Answer: Sue McCormick indicated that they are trying to open the window up.


22.   Question: The biggest obstacle is public access?

Answer:  Sue McCormick noted that the biggest project that is complete is West Hampton Dunes; it’s been in place since 1995-1996.  They have very little public going to that beach. She said the village of Asharoken has three public beaches around this area for the public to go to. Based on other projects, like West Hampton Dunes we don’t think there is going to be a high usage.


23.   Question: Is it all the 600,000 cubic yards at one time?

Answer: The fill of 600,000 is all at the same time, there will probably be more than this amount.


24.   Question: Is the re-nourishment going to be changed if the National Grid doesn’t deposit sand?

Answer: They would have to reassess the re-nourishment amount.


25.   Question: What are you looking for from the village between now and August 5th?

Answer: The State needs from the village some assurance, a letter saying that you prefer one of the alternatives. It’s important to have the August 5th meeting because of the way the Sandy program is managed in Washington; they are very strict about sticking to schedule. We will be presenting this project in August and we need your preference. There is no commitment out of the village until the final draft report has gone through public comment and is ready to be sent to the Assistant Secretary of the Army.


Mayor Letica thanked Sue McCormick, Gene Brickman, Steve Couch, Ron Pinzon and other staff members.




Resolution (2015-64) Be It Resolved, that the Village Board does hereby approve a tent permit for the Baiter  Family located at 389 Asharoken Avenue for the time period of July 3rd thru July 5th 2015.


Mayor Letica made a motion to approve, seconded by Trustee Ettinger.

Trustee Jablonski                                            AYE

Trustee Burke                                                  AYE

Trustee Ettinger                                              AYE

Deputy Mayor Pierce                                    AYE

Mayor Letica                                                     AYE

Motioned Carried.


Resolution (2015-65) Be it Resolved, that the Village Board does hereby approve a tent permit for the Diack/Anderson beach lot owner for the time period of July 3rd thru July 5th, 2015.


 Mayor Letica made a motion to approve, seconded by Deputy Mayor Pierce.

Trustee Jablonski                                            AYE

Trustee Burke                                                  AYE

Trustee Ettinger                                              AYE

Deputy Mayor Pierce                                    AYE

Mayor Letica                                                     AYE

Motioned Carried.


Mayor Letica made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Trustee Ettinger.

Trustee Jablonski                                            AYE

Trustee Burke                                                  AYE

Trustee Ettinger                                              AYE

Deputy Mayor Pierce                                    AYE

Mayor Letica                                                     AYE

Motioned Carried.


                The June 30, 2015 work session board meeting of the Board of Trustees was adjourned at approximately 9:30 pm.             

Signed: _____________________________________________

                Nancy Rittenhouse, Village Clerk