Paul DiCenso, who lives on the consistently flooded stretch of between East Quogue and the Shinnecock West Inlet, plans his travels by two clocks – a standard clock, and a tide clock.
Without the tide clock, he could be stranded in the parking lot or on the mainland for hours, waiting for the waters to abate so he can safely drive through.
DiCenso is not alone. Dune Road residents – including members of the Tiana Bay Erosion Control District – turned out en masse to grill the Southampton Town Board on the status of an $8 million road-raising project, which would alleviate some of the flooding and has been discussed as far back as 2004.
The project is the farthest along than it has been in years, said Councilman Chris Nuzzi Tuesday night. Nuzzi, who has long worked on the project, said the project will cost roughly $1 million per each mile along the ocean.
The town has committed $100,000 toward the project, said Jen Garvey, a town spokesperson. The money is going toward developing a plan for the project that will be submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which will have to sign off on any roadwork.
DEC officials have held pre-application meetings with Southampton Town and Village of Quogue officials, said Bill Fonda, a spokesperson for the department. Fonda said the DEC will need detailed plans and surveys because of the protected wetlands along the thoroughfare.
The town is expected to reach out to the federal government, the state and the county for funding for the project, Nuzzi said. Federal projects are usually an 80-percent, 20-percent split between the national government and the local municipality, he said. If the project totals $8 million, the town would need to come up with about $1.6 million, he said.
Southampton has a better chance of securing funding once plans are in place, Nuzzi said. The town missed out on federal dollars in the past because it did not have a “shovel-ready” project, he said.
Dune Road resident David Wasserman requested that the town draft a written report with a timetable for completing the project. Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst agreed it was a reasonable request and said that the Town is already working on engineers’ plans and liaising with other levels of government.
“By the time you get commitment from the county or the government’s we’re going to be living with this for another five or six years,” said Robin Eshaghpour, who lives on Dune Road in East Quogue. “It’s just not possible.”