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Zeldin: Feds could move on Reel Point project: Bill passes House for East End

Federal funds might be on the way to help save Reel Point from washing away, which has been a possibility looming for years.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) on Friday announced passage by the House of Representatives of a wide-ranging bill for water- and flood-related projects around the country that includes a federal response to the situation at Reel Point.

Funds in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 are for feasibility studies by the Army Corps of Engineers for “navigation and shoreline stabilization” at Reel Point.

“We were hit really hard by Superstorm Sandy, and the widespread devastation emphasized the dire need to ensure our communities were better prepared for the future,” Mr. Zeldin said in a speech on the House floor. “Working hard with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Colonel Thomas Asbery of the Army Corps and their entire hard-working team, this bill prioritizes local projects that are vital to my Congressional District.”

Mr. Zeldin praised the bill as “jump starting movement on projects at Reel Point.”

Included in the bill would also be funds for dredging and shoreline projects at Fire Island and Montauk Point and Hashamomuck Cove in Southold.

The spit of land jutting from the southern tip of Big Ram Island is a natural barrier that once guarded Coecles Harbor and the homes and businesses that line its shore from high seas and destructive storms. The area continues to be threatened — as it has been in the past — by unimpeded waves moving westward from Point Judith, Rhode Island, gathering strength across 40 nautical miles before making a landfall on Shelter Island.

Businesses in the area that could be affected if Reel Point were to be totally eroded include Coecles Harbor Marina, Clark’s Marina, The Ram’s Head Inn and CH Marine Yacht Builders. Failure of the Point could also destroy private properties on Ram Island and the Pandion luxury residential development on the former St. Gabriel’s site.

In addition, the scallop industry in the area that provides a living for many area baymen is threatened. From an environmental perspective, the danger of losing Reel Point also threatens sea grasses on bay and harbor bottoms.

The cost in dollars, if Reel Point is lost, would be in the tens of millions of dollars.