Rockaway Beach sand restoration project complete in time for swimming season

Mayor Bill de Blasio visits Rockaway Beach to announce that it will reopen in time for the summer, on Tuesday, May 14.
Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography

Rockaway Beach is whole again.

Mayor Bill de Blasio joined elected officials at Beach 94th Street Tuesday to announce the sand restoration operation mounted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was successful.

Now, the popular stretch of the beach from Beach 92nd Street to Beach 103rd Street, which was closed all last season due to erosion that made the area unsafe for swimming, will be open in time for Memorial Day weekend.

“For New Yorkers, summer means Rockaway Beach. That’s why I could not be happier to announce we will have the entire beach open in time for the Memorial Day weekend,” de Blasio said. “I want to thank all the stakeholders who came together to make the hopes of so many New Yorkers a reality. We could not have done it without your partnership.”

The Corps dredged the East Rockaway Inlet and pumped the sand two and a half miles west where bulldozers restored the beach.

“Getting tons of sand onto Rockaway Beach in time for summer, and avoid a repeat disaster of prime time beach closures, required every level of government to dig in deep,” Senator Charles Schumer said. “And using the sand from the East Rockaway dredge was a win-win plan because it keeps open a vital channel and all of Rockaway Beach.”

The closure last summer hurt restaurants and bars in the neighborhood such as Connolly’s, Bungalow Bar, Community House, Thai Rock and Uma’s.

“This is great news, not only for the residents of the Rockaways, but also for the local business owners who suffered because of last year’s beach closure,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “I am looking forward to a wonderful beach season where people from all over the city can enjoy Rockaway’s beautiful beaches.”

In 2013, the Army Corps of Engineers placed 3.5 million cubic yards of sand on Rockaway Beach following Superstorm Sandy but infrastructure was never constructed to keep it in place. The New York District is awaiting final approvals from USACE headquarters for the Rockaway and Jamaica Bay Reevaluation Report, which will authorize construction of erosion control features such as jetties and new groins at federal expense.

“I applaud the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, my partners in government, and most importantly our community for a huge victory today,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “The replenishment will serve as temporary relief for the yearslong erosion plaguing our beaches. This is a positive first step and in order to fully protect our community we need permanent measures as soon as possible.”

A fully opened Rockaway Beach is vital to the peninsula’s economy.

“Rockaway Beach is the bedrock of the surrounding Queens communities and a lifeblood for the economy, and we must do everything we can to protect our coastal communities from extreme weather and erosion,” Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

The city’s public beaches will be open for swimming starting Saturday, May 25, and remain open through Sunday, Sept. 8.