by Mindy Block
Frankly, I should've run away from another Port Jefferson controversy, but beaches are important to Long Islanders. . . . Yesterday, Defend H2O broadcasted an email in response to an article about the Bluff, and several weeks prior, one of Quality Parks volunteers reviewed the Village of Port Jefferson as a park resource.
Quality Parks is developing a Park Resources knowledge base which links local environmentalists to the Long Island Parks we care about. Specifically, we developed Park Resources to be a citizen scientist's tool, so as to help evaluate a website's ability to present and inform the public on our Long Island environmental concerns.
To begin, the volunteer's overall observation was: "The Village of Port Jefferson's website is really just all marketing and contains information about;What to do' in Port Jeff in regards to activities and what not do do in regards to laws and codes ... it's not very environmental at all!"
I did some website digging to find this news item: East Beach Bluff Project Awaits DEC Approval: Progress Report, as a counterpoint. I then asked our volunteer to review this article, in response to the form's question: "Did the website explain what a coastal environment is, or any marine related concepts or concerns?"
She responded, "I took a look at the second site about the Port Jefferson-East Beach Bluff project. This Project sounds like it would be really helpful and I hope the permits get approved asap. It sounds like there is a need for this wall that can help with protecting the shore from future possible tragedy by stabilizing the beach and shoreline."
Well, I feigned ignorance, even though I knew the article also said, " . . .their [NYSDEC] first inclination was to deny the project altogether because being naturalists they want the material to return and to replenish the beach as it naturally erodes." However, my bluff of feigning ignorance wasn't working: DefendH2O posted an email regarding the Bluff, just last night!
Defend H20 said, "There is no middle ground: save the beach or the beach house. Or in this case a tennis court. Monumental changes are underway and only through strict adherence to forward-looking coastal policies will we be able to protect at-risk coastal resources—the beaches, bluffs, dunes and tidal wetlands which define Long Island and enrich our coastal lifestyle."
"Natural shorelines across the region are being transformed by hardening. While regulatory protections exist in law, due to lax permitting, exemptions and variances regularly issued at the state and local level, stone and steel is fast becoming dominant features on LI shorelines. And the death knell for walkable beaches and critical habitat. The beach or the beach house? The choice should be clear."
I wasn't sure what to do with this new information. At that moment of indecision, I sent him the link to review our post on the Village of Port Jefferson.
Kevin's response: "I read your volunteer’s assessment and it’s wrong. The sill height seawall will not stabilize the beach, just the opposite. It’s intended to blunt wave energy and retain bluff sediments. Inevitably, reflected wave energy off the wall will narrow the fronting beach where it’s impassable at high tide. And cutting off sediment supply from the bluff will eventually adversely effect not only the fronting beach, but updrift and downdrift beaches as well. They’re saving the tennis courts by sacrificing the beach."
To be fair, I must clarify that the volunteer was reporting on the general content of information she found on the website. The volunteer is not a coastal erosion specialist, and neither am I. That's the disclaimer. And as for the editorial comment, I added it into to the Village of Port Jefferson park resources review.