A project slated for the dam at Sunken Meadow State Park may need to be pushed along a little faster due to some damage from Superstorm Sandy.
The man–made dam, located by field three of the park, was breached after Sandy pounced on Long Island in late October. Grant monies from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund were slated before the storm to restore tidal flow. The first step in the project was to remove the dam.
“What’s interesting about the whole situation, is the fact that we have an ongoing project with funding and we are developing a design of a project for removing the dam and having more of a natural flow of the stream,” said Deputy Director of Long Island State Parks, Brian Foley. “In essence, Mother Nature has progressed the project far faster than we were moving.”
The spot where the dam is located is a draw for nature lovers, bird watchers, photographers and trail walkers. A dirt road, which sat on top of the dam’s corrugated pipes, was washed away in the storm. Cross country runners and trail walkers who use that section of the park have been re-routed to a nearby footbridge.
“That's why the fence is up, for people who are walking from the bluff and trying to cross,” said Jeff Mason, manager for the park. “There are many ways to get into the park. We put up snow fencing on both sides to prevent from that from happening.”
Foley said the dam is destroyed, and for now, things need to be stabilized in that area.
“The riverbank still losing ground so the need for the stabilization of the immediate shoreline right there is all part of the mix that the engineering dept is taking on,” said Foley.
Mason said no time frame has been set for the work to be done on the now washed out dam.
“The Department of Environmental Conservation is coming to take pictures,” said Mason. “It has to be dealt with because the breech is getting wider. It started at 50 feet after the storm. Now it is about about 75- 100 feet.”
Mason said the breech poses no danger, but may cause tidal pools and ponds up stream to drain as the tide flows.
“Essentially it will smell like low tide in those areas when that happens,” he said.
Overall, the park was left mostly unscathed. Foley said there was some tree damage and damage to some trails. All golf courses at the park have been cleared and are ready for play. However,Foley said, the storm did cut into the bluffs west of the park.
"The storm did cut into the flow of the bluffs to the west and at some point there will be some sliding that will occur there," he said. "It cut into them in both height and width."
As for when work will begin on the dam, officials said it was unclear. Sandy has taken a much bigger toll on other regional state parks such as Robert Moses and Jones Beach, which suffered significant damage and may take priority over other projects for now.
“For the foreseeable future, what you see is what will remain until we can put something in place,” said Foley.
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