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Reel Point solution at least 10 years away

After years of persistence in trying to get an Army Corps of Engineers to address critical problem at Reel Point, it now appears that, if the project ever is undertaken, it’s likely not to happen for a decade.

The information was revealed to the Town Board by Councilman Jim Colligan following a recent closed subcommittee session last week. The subcommittee included Mr. Colligan and Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams with members of the Capital Projects/Grants Committee.

The spit of land that juts into Coecles Harbor has been in danger of being washed away, threatening businesses and residences around Coecles Harbor. Wave action that starts in Rhode Island builds as it crosses the ocean and ultimately hits Reel Point, eroding that narrow land mass that is the only protection against disaster for the residences and businesses.

For years efforts to shore up Reel Point have taken place, only to be eroded again, which requires hydraulic or mechanical dredging with the spoils used to shore up the center of the Point.

The cost for hydraulic dredging, which happens every few years, is approximately $775,000. A mechanical dredge used most years between the hydraulic dredges cost between $100,000 to $140,000, according to Councilman Jim Colligan.

What Mr. Colligan has been seeking is a more permanent solution developed by the Army Corps with an offshore structure to break up the force of the wave action before it can further erode Reel Point.

Years ago, Congress appropriated money for designing such a structure, and ever since, Mr. Colligan has been asking for the allocation and get the design work underway.

Now there’s a question of where that money is.

What Town Engineer Joe Finora has been able to find out is the Army Corps will make a determination on the project giving it a thumbs up or thumbs down based on a cost-benefit analysis. If the decision is positive, a feasibility design study could be done, the councilman said.

But the best estimate on timing even with a positive determination is a decade for the project to happen, Mr. Colligan said.

Meanwhile, Public Works Commissioner Brian Sherman and Town Attorney Stephen Kiely have said they have contacts with the Army Corps of Engineers and will be reaching out for a reading on what’s happening and whether anything can be done to expedite the process.