County dredge will start work at West Neck Harbor on Monday

The Suffolk County Department of Public Works will begin dredging the mouth of Shelter Island’s West Neck Harbor on Monday, October 1 and may also address shoaling problems at the mouth of Menantic Creek as well if time permits. Both are a concern for boaters as currents deposit sand and constrain the navigability of their channels.

Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty disclosed the surprise dredging plan Thursday after he was advised this week by Al Loreto, the Suffolk County Department of Public Works liaison to Suffolk’s town governments, that a planned dredging project in East Hampton had to be delayed because permits were not in place for it.

With one of the county’s dredges in the East End on a job in Riverhead, and a 10-year permit still in effect for the West Neck Harbor site, the county elected to move the dredge here so it won’t be idle during the brief fall and winter season during which dredging is allowed. Bird and shellfish nesting and breeding are among the reasons why dredging is not permitted by federal and state regulators in the spring and summer.

Constant shoaling off the end of Shell Beach at the mouth of West Neck Harbor requires dredging every few years.

To encourage the county to dredge at the entry to Menantic Creek, Councilman Peter Reich has recently collected soundings and referenced them by GPS as data that can be displayed on Google Earth. Mr. Loreto said in email to Mr. Dougherty that the soundings will be helpful for the county if it has time to address shoaling problems in that area.