The Ditch Plains Association is pleased that ED40 has acknowledged overwhelming community sentiment opposing their development plan and is now offering the former East Deck Motel property for sale to the Town. The Ditch Plains Association believes that The Town of East Hampton must aggressively explore the purchase of this parcel using funds from the Town’s Community Preservation Fund (“CPF”) and/or other sources. The CPF is dedicated for land acquisition and is entirely independent of the Town’s general funding and budgeting. It is the result of a conservation program enacted in 1998 to preserve open space and farmland with a goal of protecting the environment—it can only be used for conservation purposes. The CPF is funded entirely by a 2% tax on all real estate transfers. There is no financial impact to East Hampton Town residents from a purchase of any property through this fund. Due to strong real estate market conditions, the fund is currently generating about $2 million per month in proceeds.
The Town and ED40 must work in good faith toward the only conclusion for this property that truly serves the public good: guaranteed public access to Ditch Plains beach, the protection and enlargement of this beach, critical environmental protection of the ocean and Lake Montauk, and the implementation of sound coastal management practices that forego risky coastal development in favor of a coastal buffer zone that mitigates flood risk to the adjacent community.
Ditch Plains is utilized by East Hampton Town residents and by visitors from around the world. It is regarded as one of the premiere surfing beaches on the East Coast. This beach is a major economic driver for many local businesses and has been featured in national and international publications. Arguably, it is one of the main factors behind Montauk’s dramatically increased popularity, creating jobs and increasing property values.
The East Deck property is flanked by two Town owned parcels. The Town purchase of the East Deck parcel represents a unique and critical opportunity to extend the Town owned beach at Ditch Plains by clearly establishing public ownership of the shoreline between two Town-owned parcels. This would formally connect the public beach from Otis Avenue to the Montauk Shores Condominium Association and permanently assure public access to this beach. Though never enforced by the prior owner, this portion of beach is currently claimed to be private and belonging to the East Deck property owner.
A preservation purchase of this property would also enlarge the depth of Ditch Plains beach by over 400 feet (the average depth of this property) in this heavily eroded portion of beach fronting this property. This beach supplementation is necessary to help offset the tremendous erosion suffered at Ditch Plains beach that has seen a meaningful narrowing of the beach. (See photo above dated September 15, 2014)
Adding this property to Ditch Plains beach will create a coastal buffer zone free of development that will benefit the entire community. Unfettered with lot coverage from any structures, this property can serve as flood catch basin. Most importantly, since there will be no structures of value to defend from storm damage, the dunes can be left to migrate naturally thereby nourishing the entire beach. The additional 400 or so feet of critical beachfront property will better enable Ditch Plains beach and community to withstand storms and will promote the existence of a useable public beach for decades to come.
Preservation of this kind demonstrates sound governmental coastal policy in action since any development on this property must be viewed as a loss that is certain to occur. This property is located in FEMA VE18/AE15 Hazard Flood Zone and within a FEMA Limit of Moderate Wave Activity Zone (LiMWA). The LiMWA is defined as an area that floods with wave heights reaching 1.5 to 3 feet in AE Zones and with over 3 foot waves in VE Zones. This property is environmentally sensitive and uniquely unsupportive of septic development given its inherently high water table and non-permeable clay ground layer. Septic system failure by storm inundation, or otherwise, would constitute a severe environmental hazard given the sensitive environmental location of this property adjacent to the surfing and bathing beach and within the Lake Montauk Watershed.
A Community Preservation Fund (“CPF”) purchase of this property is entirely consistent with many ongoing Town initiatives such as the East Hampton Wastewater Management Plan and the CPF Lake Montauk Watershed Outreach Purchase Program that seek to limit and possibly reverse the contamination of the Lake Montauk watershed, protecting a valuable public resource and robust shellfish fishery.
We urge the Town Board, the CPF Committee and ED40 to move expeditiously and in good faith toward making this important preservation a reality that will serve as legacy to all involved.
Ditch Plains Association P.O. Box 310 Montauk, NY 11954 firstname.lastname@example.org