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On YouTube: Town Looks to Restore Eroded Shoreline in Lindenhurst
New York Shorelines - News



Civic group kicks off Grand Canal restoration initiative with assistance from Sea Grant

— Compiled by stories by Denise M. Bonilla, Newsday / Ana Borruto, Greater Long Island - Babylon

November 10, 2020, Babylon, NY -  A Lindenhurst civic association is teaming up with a global scientific organization to come up with solutions to the erosion of a small beachfront property, but the property in question is still privately owned.

The American Venice Civic Association last year was one of 17 applications accepted from a pool of 30 for the Thriving Earth Exchange program, which is part of the nonprofit American Geophysical Union, based in Washington, D.C. According to its mission statement, Thriving Earth Exchange program aims to connect "communities with scientists to work together to tackle local challenges related to natural hazards, natural resources and climate change.

The civic group wants to halt the erosion of property that sits on the Great South Bay near the entrance to the Grand Canal by creating a living shoreline using native plants and natural barriers such as rocks. Civic members said much, if not all, of the beach has washed away.

"This is so important to get done before there’s nothing left to be done," civic member Kathy Gullo said.


Kai Greenlees, a Thriving Earth Exchange fellow assigned to the project, said she was impressed by the community’s passion.


"Something that got me really excited when I first met the team there is that they were so forward thinking … a lot of people don’t jump to the nature-based solution," she said.


The property, listed as 159 feet by 85 feet, had been owned by a previous incarnation of the civic group that went inactive decades ago. Because of delinquent taxes, Suffolk County seized the property in 1990 and in 2000 gave it to the town, which in 2009 auctioned it off to a local resident, Norman Lagrandier, for $1,000.

Lagrandier has not abided by the covenants and restrictions the town set for the property, town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said, such as allowing community access and maintaining bulkheads. As a result the pilings deteriorated to the point where they became a hazard to boaters. The town last month had a company remove the remaining bulkheading, and civic members witnessed Lagrandier trying to stop the work.

After learning a survey the town commissioned for the property has not been completed, civic members expressed concern about the shoreline project moving forward.

"The last thing we heard was that it was good to go and the town was taking back the property," civic chairman John Vogt said.

Schaffer said the town is awaiting the survey results but plans to go after the property. He said he sees no reason why the Thriving Earth Exchange project, which is estimated to take six to 18 months, can’t go forward.

"I’m 100% confident that in a short period of time, we’re going to have that property back," Schaffer said, adding that the town will get scientists access to the property in the meantime.

Lagrandier in an interview declined to say whether he would relinquish the property, saying only that he is "in the middle of speaking to my attorneys about it."

According to the town, Lagrandier only filed his name on the deed within the past few years and now owes more than $15,000 in back taxes.

Assistance from Sea Grant 

New York Sea Grant's Kathleen Fallon, based at Stony Brook University, will use her background of coastal processes and hazards to help identify what Thriving Earth and the American Venice Civic Association could do for the mouth of the Grand Canal.

Fallon is also a marine coastal processes and hazards specialist for the New York Sea Grant, which is a federally and state-funded organization that works with stakeholders to support research efforts, provide educational resources, and the science-based, technical information that communities such as Lindenhurst are looking for.

NY Sea Grant is a non-advocacy organization, so it does not sway stakeholders into a solution, but rather provides the information they need in order to make a science-based decision.

About a year ago, Fallon hosted a resiliency forum at Babylon Town Hall in Lindenhurst, which members of the American Venice Civic attended.

Those at the meeting talked about the risks of living on the shoreline and provided information on how to decrease the risk.

The association asked Fallon to present this information to the organization, and she did so this past February.

A member of the organization reached out to Fallon last month to see if the professor would be interested in getting involved with the Grand Canal project.

“It was such a pleasure to work with them in the past, so I immediately said yes,” Fallon said. “It’s really what New York Sea Grant does — being able to work with a community that is trying to do some sort of restoration project or shoreline management.”

Fallon’s role in the project is to be determined, she said, but she will remain a resource for as long as the group needs her.

As of right now, she will help by providing them with information on how to conduct a shoreline restoration project, where to go for permitting, and so on.

“I’m happy to be involved as long as they need me,” Fallon said.

Fallon said she thinks the community’s investment in the project is exciting and a great educational opportunity.

“I see great benefits of having a whole community involved in a project, rather than one person piecing things together and it’s a great educational opportunity,” Fallon said. “I see that being one of the assets that NY Sea Grant can bring to this project, is being able to educate a large group of people about what’s happening in their community, why is there flooding, what is going to continue to happen, we are doing this in order to mitigate it and this is how it’s going to work.”


More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, University at Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog.

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