By Mark Hallum
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said the delayed opening of a portion of the Rockaway Boardwalk will be a blow to the surrounding community after the city postponed the work because of the crane collapse in Manhattan.
The city pushed back the completion date from Memorial Day to July because of high winds disrupting work. Until then, business owners and beachgoers alike will have to deal with an incomplete section of walkable space between the 108th Street and 124th Street beaches, the residue of the devastating damage inflicted on the Rockaway peninsula by Hurricane Sandy.
“While I am frustrated and disappointed that the repairs will not be finished by then as originally promised, I intend to work closely with the Department of Parks and Recreation, appropriate city agencies and related companies to ensure that the remaining work to complete this and other sections of the inevitable boardwalk opening will be done in a timely, professional and careful manner,” Addabbo said.
The postponement comes following new safety procedures put in place after the crane collapse that took place in Lower Manhattan in February, killing one person. The regulations dictate that cranes must operate in a “safe mode” whenever winds reach a speed of 20 mph, in order to protect workers and pedestrians.
According to the city, 80 percent of the boardwalk will be open to the public by Memorial Day, and 100 percent will be open by July.
Other criticism for the delay comes from City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).
“Everyone knows the reconstruction of the boardwalk has been a boondoggle since day one… This administration has failed to deliver on its promise to help Hurricane Sandy victims time and time again,” Urlich said.
The boardwalk from Beach 86th Street to 107th Street was supposed to be finished ahead of schedule in February, and the economic effects from the delay for the businesses along the unfinished section will be sorely felt. According to the city Department of Parks and Recreation, 4.2 million people visited Rockaway beaches in 2014. The revenue to be generated from foot traffic on the Rockaway Boardwalk during Memorial Day weekend, which means that establishments without access to reconstructed portions of walkway could be missing out on profits.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall