Rockaway Beach business owners were horrified to learn just days ahead of the summer swim season last year that an 11-block stretch would be closed due to beach erosion that had created unsafe conditions for beachgoers.
Now Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Gregory Meeks and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz announced on March 4 a plan to replenish and restore the popular stretch from Beach 91st to Beach 102nd streets.
They have reached an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers to use the sand from the East Rockaway Dredging project and use it to replenish the beach and allow it to reopen this coming summer.
“Rockaway Beach defines summer in New York City,” de Blasio said. “Reopening this beach means a lot to this community and families all over the city. We’ve worked months with the Army Corps and our federal partners on a solution to get it done.”
The closure last summer hurt restaurants and bars in the neighborhood such as Connolly’s, Community House, Thai Rock, Uma’s and Bungalow Bar.
“Rockaway Beach is not only an iconic part of the city of New York where families can enjoy the beach weather, it is where many local businesses earn their entire year’s revenue throughout the summer months,” Meeks said. “The closure of this stretch of beach last year was economically damaging to the local community and I am determined to see the beach reopen in time for this season.”
Whether the beach opens up in time for the summer season depends on when the dredging work commences and the severity of spring storms along the coastline. Katz is hoping the beach will be ready for the summer swim season which traditionally begins on Memorial Day weekend.
“Rockaway Beach is a major attraction in the city of New York. It drives the economy of the peninsula and its resiliency is crucial to the residents, businesses and visitors,” Katz said. “It is important that it be fully restored in time for this summer.”
The announcement was made Monday after Schumer made a successful push for $7 million in federal funding for the dredging project. But the installation of jetties and other measures that would keep the sand in place was not included in this plan.
“While this is great news for the upcoming beach season, I will continue urging the Army Corps to hurry up with their broader erosion and storm protection measures like groins, jetties and dunes, which will protect beachgoers, businesses, schools and homeowners alike in Rockaway and Jamaica Bay for generations,” Schumer said.