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Westhampton Beach is located between two stabilized inlets (Shinnecock and Moriches Inlets) on a barrier island on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Increasing beach erosion in the 1970s prompted a request for construction of a groin field to trap sand and restore the beach. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers developed a plan for the groin field, and their recommendation was to sequentially build the groins up drift (eastward toward Shinnecock Inlet) using standard project design. However, in the late 1970s, local community pressure forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, contrary to project design, to construct the groins down drift (westward) toward Moriches Inlet. The aim was to restore the eastern, more commercial, part of Westhampton Beach first. Financial limitations in 1972 suspended the project before its completion. Unfortunately, this set the stage for serious problems because the groin field was meant to operate as a completed project, and major problems developed soon after project termination. As a result, severe erosion and multiple washovers occurred west of the last groin. The major nor'easter of 1992 breached the island and destroyed many homes. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in an emergency operation, dredged offshore sand and filled the breaches before they widened too much for effective closure. The subsequent litigation among the homeowners, the county, and the state spread over a number of years. A final settlement was reached on 31 October 1994. However, in a time of sea-level rise on a developed barrier island between two stabilized inlets, more people and bigger structures have now been put in peril.

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