Plans move forward for Shorefront Park
An early rendering of the plans for Shorefront Park including a living shoreline and boardwalk.

Courtesy photo

Plans move forward for Shorefront Park

Story By: NICOLE FUENTES
10/11/2018


 

After over $2 million in a New York Department of State Division of Coastal Resources grant was awarded earlier this year, the Village of Patchogue has been moving forward with plans for a living shoreline and boardwalk at Shorefront Park.

After meeting with VHB, the engineering firm tasked with the project, Dennis Smith, Business Improvement District executive director, explained that though all conceptual planning is complete, it is a matter of figuring out the placement of the living shoreline.

The NYSDEC, he said, suggested the shoreline begin with a rock sill at the currently existing bulkhead, which would push the natural habitat and boardwalk north impeding on the current parkland. According to Smith and Marian Russo, executive director of the Community Development Agency and writer of the grant, the village hopes to see the living shoreline begin further into the bay with the rock sill and begin the boardwalk where the existing bulkhead currently sits, thus preserving the parkland.

“We need to flesh out the details and what we want our plans to look like before submitting to the DEC,” said Smith.

Once figured out and compromised, plans will eventually be submitted to the NYSDEC for permitting and later sent to the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of State for a consistency review. At that point, a public meeting will be held to inform the community of the decided plan.

According to the DEC, they met with Patchogue Village officials as recently as July, and have also made site visits to the location. “DEC has received pre-application conceptual plans from the village and is supportive of the village’s efforts to install living shorelines as part of this project, but requires a complete review of its formal plans to make certain the proposal meets tidal wetlands requirements,” said a DEC spokesperson.

The goal, according to Russo, is to submit the plans to the DEC for permitting within 60 days. Approved permitting could take up to a year. Mayor Paul Pontieri said he hopes to see construction begin sometime next year.

“The question is where the shoreline should begin,” he said. “There has to be a compromise. Before we lose everything, we will leave the bulkhead and give back the money.”

“There is a value in our park,” added Russo. “It’s a matter of balancing what the DEC requests and what we need.”

In addition to the $2.189 million, the village has also been awarded a total of $314,640 from New York State for the parks portion of the project including walkways, benches and a kayak launch, as well as $45,000 and $30,000 from the NYS Department of Conservation for habitat restoration and to expand the village’s wastewater treatment plant. Russo said the grants would supplement and match the $5 million anonymous donation made back in 2015 for park restoration, allowing the project to be at no cost to the taxpayer.

The entire project, she said, will cost about $4 million, including the over $200,000 granted for engineering costs for the design last year. Also, Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) pitched in $250,000 in county funding to address Little Creek’s flooding.

Shorefront Park is a seven-acre park, known to endure severe flooding as seen during Superstorm Sandy. Sandy caused considerable damage to not only the park but nearby homes and village infrastructure. Living shorelines have since been proven successful as a resiliency measure and are anticipated to become a more frequent technique used to mitigate flooding.

Once approved for permitting, the project will take the existing and failing about-50-year-old bulkhead, which was installed as an erosion prevention measure, but deemed ineffective, and replace it with a line of rock sill structures parallel to the shoreline. In addition, a 50-foot-wide planted swath and sand dunes would be implemented to further absorb the wave action, and an elevated walkway along the shoreline with benches and shaded structures will be added to protect the scenic resource.

Unlike typical structural rock projects that work similarly to bulkheads, Russo said the living shoreline would allow for bay water to come up with tidal cycles and exist in a created habitat for vegetation and wildlife.

In addition to the living shoreline, a 1,200-foot timber boardwalk will be constructed from Ocean to Rider avenues with access to the beach. After completion, the project will be monitored for success as the largest living shoreline project on the South Shore Estuary Reserve, serving as the pilot project for all of Long Island.