2004-04-30 / Community

Weiner Looks To Save Rockaway Beaches

Weiner Looks To Save Rockaway Beaches

The following is a statement by Congressman Anthony Weiner regarding beach renourishment in Rockaway and in other beach areas.

Every year, New Yorkers shiver through a long winter knowing that when summer finally returns they’ll be able to head back out to their favorite beaches. But what they may not know is that our beaches are under assault from beach erosion, meaning that tidal currents, wave impacts, hurricane and storm damage are literally washing them out to sea.

When the supply of sand on a beach cannot keep up with the amount that is being washed away, that’s beach erosion, and it’s happening up and down the City’s Atlantic and Long Island shorelines.

The good news is that we know how to fight beach erosion. Traditional means include conducting beach erosion studies, building groins and jetties to protect beaches from surf, storm surge and tidal currents, and renourishment efforts like pumping tons
of dredged sand back onto eroded beaches.

These can be long term, and very expensive projects. That’s why the federal government has historically picked up the majority of the cost.

But if President Bush gets his way, that will no longer be true. The new Bush budget slashes the federal commitment to beach protection efforts, putting some of New York’s signature beaches at risk.

First, the Bush budget includes a policy change permanently ending federal participation in long term renourishment programs. Renourishment, which is taking place on Rockaway, Coney Island and Fire Island to name a few, can take years, even decades to work, and can cost tens of millions of dollars. But if the Bush budget goes through, the fed will pay for nothing, putting these projects at grave risk. In total, New York will have to come up with $147,955,000 that was previously covered by the fed.

In addition, the Bush budget cuts national funding for shore protection projects and studies by almost 50%
in FY ‘05, reducing funds from $121,226,000 to $63,728,000. As a result, funding has been reduced for beach erosion studies and the construction of groins and jetties at nine New York beaches, and cut at two
others. Total cost to New York: $8,037,000.

Preserving our precious coastal resources has been a top priority for me in Congress. Since 1999, I’ve secured over $12 million to fight beach erosion in Rockaway. In 2001, I convened a Blue Ribbon Panel to study the disappearing salt marshes in Jamaica Bay, and then secured $598,000 to implement their recommendations. In 2002, I stopped the Army Corps of Engineers from despoiling Breezy Point beaches by storing huge piles of dredged sand there. Last year we went to work restoring the Big Egg Marsh, and wetlands along Gerritsen Creek. In total, I’ve secured more than $34 million for Gateway National Park. We’ve made some real progress, but with an environmentally hostile administration occupying the White House, there is much work yet to be done.

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