During the summer months, Montauk comes alive with weekend warriors seeking salty refuge from the hustle and bustle of New York City. In the winter time, the town population is decimated – only the year-round mainstays stick around through the frigid slumber. But that’s when the waves turn on, too, making Montauk a haven for surfers clad in thick neoprene head-to-toe.
But both the winter and summer crowds – how disparate they may be – are witnessing a drastic change to the beaches of Montauk. Due to a restorative effort from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering, Montauk’s famous sand dunes are being replaced by a Great Wall of geotextile sandbags spanning more than half a mile and weighing nearly two tons.
The “Downtown Montauk Stabilization Project” is an $8.9 million plan funded by the post-Sandy relief fund and helmed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering. It aims to protect private residences and local businesses from the rising ocean and save the beach from erosion.
Though the project seeks to save the beach, many experts have called it a faulty solution. Not to mention the blatant eyesore of 1.7 tons of sandbags. And many locals aren’t having it – year-round mainstays and surfers are passionately protesting against it, resulting in three arrests after they refused to vacate the path of bulldozers.
“We don’t support the Army Corps project,” Keri Lamparter, one of the protestors obstructing the bulldozers path last week, told local 27 East. “It makes no sense and we’re not going to let it go forward. We will sit in the path of these bulldozers. So let’s plant our butts. We’re not leaving.”
But it’s not just locals that are speaking out against the efforts from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering. Big wave charger and activist Greg Long has taken to his Instagram account to raise awareness about the fight. And Kelly Slater has used his social media omnipotence (1.3 million followers) to spread the word as well.
The process is already underway with bulldozers tearing up the coastline. But protestors seem to be continuing the fight. And while the stabilization project is an effort to sustain the local coastline, the locals seem to be fighting for the same thing. Both movements support the community but in different ways – one seeks manmade intervention, while the other hopes to let Mother Nature run its course. It’s a muddled standoff but both sides seem adamant of what they want.
“We don’t pretend to understand the scientific and environmental intricacies of the arguments for and against this,” The Usual, a local surf and lifestyle magazine, wrote on their Instagram. “But it’s our community and home, so will [sic] support every effort to make sure the best solution wins out.”