Rockaway Beach is coming back, potentially better than before.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the Army Corps of Engineers, city agency officials and various elected officials on Thursday, August 15 to detail the sand restoration plan for Rockaway Beach.
The plan’s first phase will replenish 600,000 cubic yards of sand, while the second phase restores 3.5 million cubic yards to the beach that Sandy washed away.
“Beaches are a crucial defense against flooding and coastal storms,” Bloomberg said. “Now we’re working hard to strengthen those defenses.”
The 600,000 cubic yards is being pumped from Beach 149th Street down to Beach 89th Street. Dredging material in the water, located at the Rockaway Inlet, will clear a navigation channel that “hasn’t been cleared in a long time” while also bringing in “good quality sand” for the beach, said Colonel Paul Owen of the Army Corps of Engineers.
The 3.5 million cubic yards will stretch down the peninsula to Beach 19th Street.
“There’s a lot to be done and there’s great work going on — and we have a lot more to do,” Owen said.
However, residents say the project is a long time coming. For years, groups such as the Friends of Rockaway Beach and various civic associations have advocated for beach protection.
“It’s unfortunate it took a natural disaster for so many people to wake up to the problems that we’ve been facing in Rockaway for so, so long,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.
When the project is complete, estimated to be by next Memorial Day, Owen said the total will be more sand than the Rockaways has seen since about 1970.
A series of protective walls will also be installed from Beach 126th Street to Beach 149th Street, Bloomberg said.
“Together, these measures will not only reverse damage to the beach done by Sandy, they will make the beach stronger than it was before the storm,” he said.
The roughly $300 million project is funded by federal Sandy relief funds.
Community plans are also helping to rebuild the damaged boardwalk.
The Parks Department has hosted several meetings in various parts of the peninsula to discuss what is needed going forward.
Boardwalk designs will be presented to the community in September, with construction starting potentially by the end of the year, said Parks Commissioner Veronica White.
“When we open the beach next year, Rockaway will be better than ever and that is a day that I am truly looking forward to,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich.