The Shifting Beaches of Long Island's East End

Thursday, February 4, 2021 (Listed under Teaching)

Andrea Anthony is the owner of the iconic LUNCH restaurant located in Amagansett on the sandy stretch of road connecting the Hamptons to Montauk. The summertime destination is a hotspot for vacationers heading to and from the bluffs, beaches and lighthouse that make Montauk famous. LUNCH is also one of the familiar locations featured in the HBO hit series, “The Affair.”

Not far from LUNCH is Anthony's summer home, where the restauranteur (and now also tequila manufacturer) shared her observations of climate change. It's from her second-story deck that one can see how much eastern Long Island's beachfront has changed since 1977, when Anthony purchased her property.

“When I moved here, you could barely see the ocean, but the changing climate has caused so much dune erosion that my land is now considered waterfront property,” Anthony said.

All along Montauk Highway, there are concerned homeowners and businesses who witness the seashore changing. For many, it's now difficult to buy flood insurance and, if it's available, it's often too expensive.

“The owners of mobile homes along Ditch Plains Beach have grave concerns about their future too, as they are even closer to the ocean than I am,” Anthony added.

Northwest of Amagansett, on the north shore of Southampton, I met with Peter Saltini, whose home on Little Peconic Bay has also shrunk since he bought it over thirty-five years ago.

“This beach here used to be 20-feet deep at high tide and now it's just two-feet,” Saltini said, as we toured the marshes surrounding his historic home and boat dock.

“For the first ten or so years, I didn't notice that things were changing. But the sandy beach I once enjoyed with my family has all but been washed away and a narrow pebble strip of beach is all we have left.”

This coming summer, I look forward to meeting with Gordian Raacke, the Executive Director at Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI) to discuss the offshore wind power projects planned for Long Island. I'll also speak with Montauk Chamber President Paul Monte and East Hampton Supervisor Peter van Scoyoc on how the wind farm plans are progressing and the degree to which local NIMBY voices may be impeding the advancement of offshore wind power in NY, despite the encroachment of the sea onto their properties.


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