Mezynieski’s new Kobelco SK350 is being used to drive steel
sheeting along the south shore
of Long Island, recreating the bulkhead.
Nothing keeps a contractor busier than a natural disaster. For Southampton, N.Y.-based contractor Steven M. Mezynieski Inc. that disaster was 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.
A self-employed contractor for 26 years, Mezynieski founded Steven M. Mezynieski 20 years ago. In addition to providing dune restoration, the company also offers excavation services, site development, drainage, septic installations, golf course construction, large-scale snow removal, land clearing and road construction throughout the Hamptons and North Fork. It also accepts materials such as brush, stumps, concrete and asphalt from landscapers, contractors and homeowners, which it recycles in its own supply yard to make mulch and crushed concrete which it sells in bulk, along with sand, soils and gravel.
First Gloria, Now Sandy
Twenty years ago Hurricane Gloria did significant damage to eastern Long Island and created an opportunity for Mezynieski’s business to grow and to move into tackling larger projects. Today his company has 40 employees and has 50 pieces of heavy equipment. Their work is focused almost exclusively in the Hamptons.
When Hurricane Sandy bore down on Long Island Mezynieski made the decision to weather out the storm and the next day he and his crew immediately started cleanup. Initial work was clearing roads and getting Long Island’s infrastructure working again. But the area of work that has consumed most of his company’s time since Hurricane Sandy has been continual efforts to try to restore the dunes on the beaches of Long Island.
Sand dunes create the protection of flood damage from the ocean to the residents of Long Island, particularly those that are fortunate enough to have waterfront property. The forces of the hurricane virtually eliminated those protective sand dunes from most of the beaches of Long Island, leaving the homes that were not destroyed by the hurricane totally unprotected. To make matters worse, because of the erosion created by the hurricane, sea level along the beaches in many cases actually changed and rose higher. This change in sea level alone has created its own set of problems. Every time Long Island has seen a Nor’easter (a fairly common occurrence) much of the work that has been done to restore the dunes and the shoreline gets pulled back out to sea.
There are several different types of sand dunes on these shorelines. Some are natural. Nature decided to deposit large amounts of sand along the shoreline. In other areas over the years men have built structures along the shoreline, which help capture the sand and over time, create a sand dune. These structures have included materials like rock walls, wooden fences or driven steel piles.
Another aspect to restoring the sand dunes to the beaches of Long Island is that environmental concerns dictate that whatever system was used in that area previously is what must be used to restore the sand dune. Meaning, that if previously it was a natural sand dune area, all you can do is to push piles of sand to recreate the sand dunes. If the dunes were previously created by rocks, wood or steel sheeting, that is the method that must be used to restore the dune.
Since Hurricane Sandy, Mezynieski and his staff have moved more than 300,000 yds. (274.3 km) of sand, with much more work left to do. As far as who is funding this work, so far it is all being paid for by private landowners — the people who own these beachfront properties.
Many different types of equipment are being used on this project -– dozers, loaders, haul trucks and excavators, which have been purchased from a variety of different manufacturers. But, all of the excavators owned by Mezynieski are Kobelcos that have been purchased from All Island Equipment, the first of which is a model SK150 that was purchased 15 years ago. Since then Mezynieski has purchased a number of Kobelco excavators from All Island Equipment, including SK215, SK220, SK290, SK330, and SK350.
“I operate all of our equipment, but I take the input from our operators very seriously,” Mezynieski said. “My general manager, Scott Fordbar, raves about the Kobelco machines. We genuinely feel that the Kobelco excavators are the best made excavators on the market. A great excavator is only as good as the dealer who supports it and we have had tremendous support from All Island Equipment. Some of our excavators have as many as 10,000 hours on them and have operated without a major failure. When we do need support, All Island is there. I have a great personal relationship with the owner, Gary Wade, and Gary’s technicians really understand the Kobelco machines and their parts department generally has the parts that I need in stock.”