Dan Rattiner's Stories

Montauk Never Satisfied: Army Corps Forgot Wheelchair Access

Over last winter, the Army Corps of Engineers installed an underground wall of sandbags to reinforce the two-mile long stretch of ocean beach that protects downtown Montauk. Half the town opposed their doing this. There were demonstrations. At certain points people stood in front of bulldozers on the beach so the work had to stop. But in the end, the job, at a cost of $9 million, was done. As a result, the dunes at the back of the beach rises to the height it was back in the 1960s, when I was a lad. You climb over it to get to the beach.

Now, however, there are more complaints, and this time it’s mostly that they didn’t do enough. There are wooden stairs with railings that go up the dune and down the other side to the beach—but they forgot to make ramps out of part of them, so wheelchairs have problems.

Secondly, the Army Corps of Engineers has now sent out a $1 billion, that’s BILLION, plan to save the beach from Montauk out and across Fire Island, a distance of 60 miles. Montauk, they say, was promised inclusion in this, the current fix just “temporary,” but the big, big plan does not include Montauk. The Army Corps just offers to replenish the sand to see the sandbags are fully covered every four years.

The big beach project sent out, however, is just preliminary for local authorities to look at and make comment about. So our local authorities say INCLUDE US. YOU PROMISED.

As for the wheelchair access, there is one place, by The Sloppy Tuna, where there is a big gap in the beach. So no problem for wheelchairs if they go there. Nevertheless, the stairs at the ends are half a mile away from this, so if you live out at the ends, you still need to drive to that entrance.

Meanwhile, plans and approvals and paperwork are being tossed around so the modest addition of ramps at the two ends, instead of just being built in a few days work by a couple of carpenters, should be in place just in time for winter, when nobody would need them until next year.

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