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Shoring up Reel Point: Slim sliver of land crucial to harbor protection

In what has become an annual event, Suffolk County is completing a two-week effort to move sand and small stones out of the channel at Reel Point at the mouth of Coecles Harbor, to replenish the entire length of the short peninsula. 

The importance of Reel Point is not just as a picturesque piece of sand and scrub, but as a protective barrier for Coecles Harbor from ocean waves and high seas, which have become more powerful and destructive in more frequent storms and nor’easters.

Coecles Harbor is ringed by many homes and businesses lining its shores, including Coecles Harbor Marina, Clark’s Marina, The Ram’s Head Inn and CH Marine Yacht Builders. Failure of the Point could destroy these businesses and many private properties on Ram Island and the Pandion luxury residential development on the former St. Gabriel’s site.

The cost in dollars, if Reel Point is lost, would be measured in the tens of millions of dollars. Former Town Engineer John Cronin and former Commissioner of Public Works Jay Card, Jr., sounded the alarm several years ago and persistently called for shoring up the Point. Their voices were heard by former Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who fought to bring federal dollars to the project.

“The Town is still awaiting word from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the funding for a ‘feasibility study,’” Councilman Jim Colligan said.

According to Mr. Colligan, the length of Reel Point has been shortened by about 50 to 75 feet. “Storms do move sand into the channel from north to south during regular storms, especially nor’easters,” he said. “Suffolk County has to conduct a hydraulic dredge about every five years to remove sand that is farther out from the mouth of Coecles Harbor.”