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Towns hit by Sandy wrestle with questions of eminent domain in beach protection projects

  • 54845df614138410VgnVCM100000d7c1a8c0____-Private Beaches-Public Access-1.jpg

    In this Aug. 26, 2014 photo, a sea wall separates Asharoken Village, N.Y. from Long Island Sound. The wall was washed over during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, causing erosion and and taking down power lines. Asharoken can accept federal aid to build a dune and create public access to its beach for the first time in nearly 90-year history. Or it can reject aid, retain its private beach and allow erosion and other issues to worsen. (AP Photo/Emily Dooley) (The Associated Press)

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    In this Aug. 26, 2014 photo, a sea wall separates Asharoken Village, N.Y. from Long Island Sound. The wall was washed over during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, causing erosion and and taking down power lines. Asharoken can accept federal aid to build a dune and create public access to its beach for the first time in nearly 90-year history. Or it can reject aid, retain its private beach and allow erosion and other issues to worsen. (AP Photo/Emily Dooley) (The Associated Press)

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    In this Aug. 26, 2014 photo, a private property sign village of Asharoken, N.Y., marks beachfront and stairs leading to the beach. Property owners without waterfront property in Asharoken can buy beach property for access to the water. Many owners have built boardwalks, walkways and other routes to the beach, which are often marked with private property signs. (AP Photo/Emily Dooley) (The Associated Press)

The Long Island village of Asharoken (ASH'-uh-roh-kehn) faces a dilemma as it seeks to protect itself from erosion and other problems in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

It can accept federal aid to build a dune and create public access to its beach for the first time in nearly 90-year history. Or it can reject aid, retain its private beach and allow erosion and other issues to worsen.

It's a quandary playing out along the East Coast, where the Army Corps of Engineers is spending $5.3 billion to build dunes, enlarge beaches and slow migration of sand. Property owners must sign easements in perpetuity.

Asharoken residents say allowing public access could create traffic problems and lead to trespassing and more garbage.

Officials say they must protect the coast for everyone.