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Residents Worry Dune Climbers Increase Neighborhood's Risk of Storm Damage

By Nicholas Rizzi | June 9, 2014 7:22am
 Residents in New Dorp Beach said they worry the constant climbing of the dunes will weaken them.
New Dorp Beach Berms
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NEW DORP BEACH — Residents of New Dorp Beach worry that sand dunes, their last line of defense against future floods from the next Hurricane Sandy, are being weakened by people climbing on them.

The berms, rebuilt in an effort to stop water from flowing into the neighborhood if another big storm hits, are being eroded by passersby who scramble up them to enjoy views of the shore, locals said.

Bob Jakob, a retired EMT and member of the New Dorp Beach Civic Association, said in the past month he's seen several people climb the dunes to get vantage spots for photographs.

"It's disappointing," Jakob said. "We tried so hard to get the berm put back in place and now, if they don't leave it alone, it's going to wash away."

When the berms were rebuilt last year, the city added a bike path running beside them. That has increased the amount of people tempted to climb the dunes to take photographs of the beach, Jakob said.

"Before the city first took down the older berm in order to put the bike path in, nobody bothered with the berm because it was overgrown," he said.

"Now it's all brand new, it's a clear path and it's a nice view of the water."

The New Dorp Beach Civic Association asked the Parks Department for fences and signs warning people to stay off, but so far has had no luck.

A spokeswoman for the Parks Department said the berms on New Dorp Beach will not be damaged by foot traffic.

"The dunes at New Dorp Beach, South Beach and Midland Beach are not planted dunes and damage shouldn't occur to the berms when people walk on them," spokeswoman Tara Kiernan said.

The dunes at Crescent Beach and Conference House Park can be damaged by foot traffic because of the plantings, she said, and Parks installed fencing and signage there.

Despite the department's assurances, locals are still worried. Some even take to a neighborhood Facebook page to complain about the climbers.

Residents have posted pictures of people they catch on the dunes — and have created a homemade sign warning people to stay off. "Don't be a d--k," it reads.

"People are saying that's the last line of defense before we get flooded," Jakob said. "They're met with the response, 'So what?'"