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Schumer secures funds to dredge Jone Inlet

Senator urges Army Corps to move forward with the project

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Sen. Charles Schumer announced at a news conference Thursday that $19 million was allocated in President Joseph Biden’s proposed 2021-22 budget to complete a project to dredge the Jones Beach Inlet.

At the news conference at Point Lookout, Schumer, however, said the project could be pushed back until 2023 because of “red tape.” He urged the Army Corps of Engineers to “cut the red tape” adding that the project needs to be completed “asap” before the hurricane season. Local officials said the inlet hasn't been dredged since 2014, which has created dangerous conditions for boaters.

“This is an ASAP project that has an urgency for safety, climate and the economy,” Schumer said. “We depend here, on the south shore, on tourism and boating.”

He was joined by State Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, along with local boaters who frequent the inlet. In May 2020, Kaminsky penned a letter to Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite of the Army Corps of Engineers, stressing “the near impossibility to navigate the inlet under certain weather conditions.”

Kaminsky wrote shortly after John Costa was killed after his boat overturned in rough waters in Jones Beach Inlet, off Point Lookout. The body of Joseph Sparacio, another passenger on the water vessel, was later found in Breezy Point.

“This is an emergency,” Kaminsky said at the news conference. “This needs to happen right away and there’s one person that could make this happen for us and it’s Senator Schumer.”

John McMurray, who runs a charter boat business in Oceanside, said he tore almost every muscle in his arm in a boating accident on the Jones Inlet. He added that he was out of work for about three months. He stressed the urgency of the project for people who make a living off of those waterways.

“People need to be able to safely come in and out of that inlet without fear of losing their vessel and without fear of injury or losing their life,” McMurray said.