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Schumer, Gillibrand, Bishop Urge Army Corps to Expedite Emergency Stabilization Projects on Fire Island and Downtown Montauk; Projects Will Help Protect Long Island's South Shore Communities

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U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tim Bishop today urged the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately approve and begin work on emergency stabilization projects at Fire Island dunes and downtown Montauk for hurricane protection, flood control and beach nourishment. The stabilization projects, which are part of the larger New York Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study known as FIMP, await final Army Corps approval, as well as other local agreements, before construction can begin. The officials pushed for an expedited timeline in order to immediately start putting in place these two critical protection measures for Long Island' south shore in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

"Superstorm Sandy seriously damaged Long Island's South Shore communities and in light of this damage, the Army Corps should immediately move forward with all emergency stabilizations projects at Fire Island dunes and downtown Montauk," said Senator Schumer. "The historic FIMP project has been fifty years in the making and these protection measures are seriously overdue. Now that it's fully funded by the federal government, we must make sure that this project begins as soon as possible."

"Now that funding has been secured, we must move swiftly to begin work that will protect Long Island's south shore," said Senator Gillibrand. "Army Corps must quickly approve these emergency measures and work with federal, state and local partners to ensure that federally-approved projects are put into place immediately."

"With hurricane season upon us, we must act now to protect Long Island's south shore communities from another devastating storm," said Congressman Bishop. "We urge the Army Corps to expedite the federally-funded emergency work using the funds we secured in the Sandy disaster relief bill to rebuild beaches and dunes on Fire Island and downtown Montauk. We will continue working at all levels of government to complete the job done quickly and effectively."

The officials wrote in a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, "We write to request that your agency take immediate action to approve the emergency stabilization projects at Fire Island dunes and downtown Montauk… These projects also represent the best short-term storm protection measures for Suffolk County's South Shore until the entire FIMP project can be implemented. In light of the Sandy-related damage caused to the South Shore of Long Island, particularly the barrier island dune system on Fire Island, the Corps of Engineers and its partners must move as expeditiously as possible to protect south shore residents from future storms. As we move further into hurricane season and the one year anniversary of Sandy, our communities remain vulnerable. After 50 years of planning, it is clear that the protections planned in this project scope -- both structural and non-structural - are long overdue."

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congressman Bishop secured federal Sandy aid for the Army Corps to take steps to protect Long Island's coastal communities from future storms at full federal expense. Last year, the Senators urged the Army Corps to immediately begin to execute federally-approved projects, including Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) project, which provides for 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 project also authorizes federal participation in periodic beach nourishment.

The officials pointed out that two emergency stabilization projects under FIMP can begin immediately as soon as Army Corps approval is secured. The projects would put in place unique flood control and storm damage reduction efforts, including beach re-nourishment and dune protections.

A copy of the letter can be found below:

Dear Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy,

We write to request that your agency take immediate action to approve the emergency stabilization projects at Fire Island dunes and downtown Montauk, which are part of the larger New York Fire Island to Montauk Point Reformulation Study, also known as FIMP. While the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) has worked diligently along with its federal, state and local partners to finalize local project partner agreements and move forward with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the entire FIMP project, these two crucial emergency stabilization projects are in a position to be started much earlier. These projects also represent the best short-term storm protection measures for Suffolk County's South Shore until the entire FIMP project can be implemented.

As you know, a historic amount of construction funding has been made available to the ACOE through the Disaster Appropriations Law (P.L. 113-2) passed earlier this year. Funding for this unique flood control and storm damage reduction project, which is over 50 years in the making, will be a full federal expense, as outlined in the Corps of Engineers report to Congress of March 1, 2013. The Corps Division office has estimated that the full project will cost approximately $700 million. However, the Division has also stated that the project will have to be conducted in two phases - an emergency construction phase and a long-term construction phase. It is our understanding that emergency stabilization projects on Fire Island and downtown Montauk could start as soon as the necessary approvals from Army Corps of Engineers headquarters are secured, as well as other relevant federal and local permits and easements are granted. It is imperative that this timeline be expedited, so that work is not stalled due to environmental windows that could stall beach fill projects.

In light of the Sandy-related damage caused to the South Shore of Long Island, particularly the barrier island dune system on Fire Island, the Corps of Engineers and its partners must move as expeditiously as possible to protect south shore residents from future storms. As we move further into hurricane season and the one year anniversary of Sandy, our communities remain vulnerable. After 50 years of planning, it is clear that the protections planned in this project scope -- both structural and non-structural - are long overdue.

We would urge you to provide us an immediate status update on the emergency stabilization plan and look forward to receiving your commitment to starting this work immediately.


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