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Gov. Appears On LI To Announce Dredging Law

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Gov. Appears On LI To Announce Dredging Law

Gov. Eliot Spitzer helicoptered in to Long Island Tuesday morning to announce he had signed legislation requiring the state to dredge Jones Inlet.

The 9 a.m. event was added to the governor's public schedule at the last minute, but he did manage to get several local officials to attend the event near the inlet.

Among those attending were U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray.

The hastily arranged event upstaged an 11:30 a.m. news conference those officials had planned for later in the morning to urge Spitzer to sign the legislation. He said he had signed it Monday.

The dredging will make it easier for boats to navigate Jones Inlet, and it will also provide some 700,000 cubic yards of sand that will be used to buttress the storm ravaged shoreline of Point Lookout, a small community of about 1,500 people on the eastern tip of Long Beach Island.

Spitzer's action overrode his own commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, Alexander Grannis, who had said just two weeks ago that state dredging "would set a terrible precedent."

Spitzer said in an interview Monday that he understood "the legitimate concern" voiced by Grannis, "but I believe the merits here ... outweigh those concerns."

The governor signed the measure on the eve of the deadline for him to act on a bill passed last month at the urging of Skelos and Weisenberg.

"I'm happy that the governor has signed the bill to compel his own commissioner to do this," Skelos said after the Tuesday morning event. "This will make the inlet safe for recreational and commercial boaters and make the beaches of Point Lookout safer." King praised the governor for signing the bill, calling it, "a triumph for public safety and the people of Point Lookout."

The inlet should be dredged every four or five years, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but it was last dredged in 1995.

The state legislation provides $7.6 million for the dredging, and it is still possible that the federal government could reimburse the state if the traditional federal funding comes through.

The Point Lookout dredging had been linked for years to a larger project that would have required almost $100 million in dredging for Point Lookout and most of the rest of Long Beach Island, including Lido Beach, Town of Hempstead beaches and the City of Long Beach.

However, the Long Beach City Council voted to reject that proposal in May 2006, leaving Point Lookout on its own.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton and King have been working since to get federal funding, but Congress has not yet authorized the money.


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