2002-03-23 / Front Page

Deadly Channel Dredging Eyed

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking at the possibility of performing "maintenance dredging" in the area where deadly tides dragged three young girls to their death in late July of last year.

"The purpose of the proposed work is to alleviate the affects of the shoaling and maintain the authorized projects, thereby assuring safe and economical use of the East Rockaway Inlet by commercial and recreational boating interests, while providing beneficial use of the dredged material," says a public notice put out by the corps of engineers.

The notice makes no mention of bather safety, but experts tell The Wave that dredging the channel once again would only exacerbate the problem of rip currents which accelerate in the channel and can actually pull people off their feet and out to sea.

"The channel and the rip currents that roar through it at certain times of the day are what caused the deadly accident in the first place," one environmental expert told The Wave. "Deepening the channel will only deepen the problem."

The dredged material will be deposited on the beachfront, from Beach 27 Street to Beach 40 Street, an area where the corps says, "the sand is badly needed."

The organization is giving Rockaway residents a chance to speak out about the dredging plan.

"We are seeking comment from all of the groups involved about the impact of the project," a spokesperson says. "All comments must be prepared in writing and sent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10278 prior to April 11.

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