By Naeisha Rose
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to expedite coastal resilience projects in the Rockaways a year earlier than the initial 2020 timeline after U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) secured $730 million in federal funds with the help of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The funds for the Sandy Supplemental Appropriation of 2013 will help to finish the long-delayed Rockaway Reformulation Study that dates back to 2003, which was research meant to come up with long-term erosion control ideas for the coastal protection projects along the Atlantic Shorefront consisting of the East Rockaway Inlet, the Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay, according to Schumer’s office.
The funds will also be put towards securing the shorelines of Staten Island, Long Island and Southern Brooklyn.
“The residents of the Rockaways and Southern Brooklyn need better protections ASAP, and they are justifiably scared and tired of waiting,” said Schumer. “In addition to the hundreds of millions we secured by reprogramming hundreds of millions in vital construction funds for this project, this agreement will mean that we can greatly accelerate the actual building of vital protections like a sea wall on the bay side, jetties and groins and more to protect every resident of the Rockaways from future storms and flooding.”
Initially after the Sandy relief bill was signed only 65 percent of the project was meant to be covered by the federal government, but after Schumer worked with the Army Corps and the Office of Management and Budget to re-categorize the initiative as an“ongoing construction” making it eligible for full federal funding.
To expedite the research and construction of the project Schumer and de Blasio met earlier this month and in January with Colonel Thomas Asbery, the head of the New York U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s commanding general, Todd Semonite.
After these personal meetings the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to the construction projects for the Atlantic Shorefront and Jamaica Bay for 2019, and they will be releasing a draft report in August for residents and business owners to review and provide public comment.
“New York City’s shoreline is our first line of defense against climate change,” said de Blasio. “By working with communities and local leaders, we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to build a more sustainable, more resilient, and more equitable city.”
After the Army Corps receives feedback from the affected communities, a final report should be released in November.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose