Aug. 15 (UPI) -- A New York City community is prepared to spend nearly $10 million to begin reinforcing eroding bluffs that are slowly increasing the risk to homes and business.
The Beacon Hill bluffs -- which sit above the Harbor Links Golf Course in North Hempstead, Long Island -- have been eroding for years, and officials said a recent engineering study said they are in need of stabilization. The land was once owned by the Colonial Sand and Stone Co. and decades of natural and man-made sandblasting has taken its toll on the crumbling bluffs.
The study found the bluffs contain medium to fine sand and upper soils are in a less dense condition.
"These soils are susceptible to erosion and near-surface slope failures are a result of their relatively loose condition and coarse grained nature," a report by North Hempstead said this month.
Officials say the danger has reached residential property lines.
"We want to make sure that the residents in the homes above the bluffs -- that their land is stable; that no one either on the golf course or in the beautiful new bike and hiking trails that we have would be in any danger," North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said.
The initial step was approved late Tuesday when North Hempstead officials awarded the contract and unanimously approved the first phase of the reinforcement, at the cost of roughly $6.1 million. Officials say the initial phase will stabilize 9 acres of the bluffs. The second phase is planned for next year. The entire project is projected to cost $9.5 million.
City officials say the plan will prevent future erosion by removing vegetation and earthen material along the slope face, and creating a "properly pitched and terraced" surface that controls water runoff. It will also repopulate the area with native grasses. Crews performed similar efforts 22 years ago to stabilize bluffs adjacent to an area golf course, officials said.
Town officials said the project must be done, even with the hefty price tag. Work for phase one is expected to take 5 months.
North Hempstead spokeswoman Carole Trottere said the work will begin immediately because significant weather changes that will affect the work are about five months away.
"It's a very important project for us," she added. "It's not the type of work you want to be doing during the winter. This will go to protect the people at the top of the bluff, as well as below it."
For almost a century, sand mining was one of Nassau County's largest industries. North Hempstead was given control of the bluffs in a 2007 land transfer from the county.
Residents of the Long Island town say although the bluffs provide a scenic atmosphere, the retrofitting work must be done.
"Obviously, we want to preserve the beauty, but also the safety of the neighborhood," resident Jennie Pisnoy said.