2007-01-05 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

This Is Not A Drudge Report, It Is A 'Dredge' Report Of Concern
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

From The Rockaway Museum
Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

When was the last time you saw an ocean dredge pipe spewing out badly-needed sand to fill in the beaches of the Rockaways? Some prefer to call the process "beach nourishment," and they are right to do so, simply because Mother Nature and King Neptune feast on the fill, and cravings for the meal grow and grow and grow!! This meal for the gods of the sea was last prepared in 1996, and prior feedings were in 1988, 1984, 1977, 1975, 1962, 1958, 1940, 1936, 1930, 1928, 1926 and 1912. Recently another grounding in East Rockaway Inlet of an oil tanker motorized barge could have spelled disaster for our now delicate beaches; to have contaminated sand removed- never to return! So, I guess the wheels of government are still turning as slow as ever, to try and figure our who will pay to dredge out East Rockaway Inlet once again, and put the material sucked up and out onto the Edgemere beach, as recently as 2004!

Can't you easily see the sea gods getting set for another banquet? So why dredge East Rockaway Inlet out again? Why don't the powers that be just plug it up with sand, and get it over with! The stone rock (hook) jetty installed in 1933 was to prevent the sanding up of the inlet, but made it worse, and acted as the last groin in the west, causing Edgemere and Arverne beaches to erode away faster than normal. The Stonehenge of Long Beach did stop most of the sand from passing to the west, making Long Beach Point grow to the south, but that is filled into the end, just like the stone hook jetty at Rockaway Point. The sand now passing Atlantic Beach joins with the sand scoured out of Reynolds Channel to form underwater shoals, thus lowering the depth. The closing or plugging of East Rockaway Inlet was recommended back in 1918 by Queensborough Chief Engineer Charles U. Powell in his logical report on beach erosion at Far Rockaway and Edgemere. The Kiss Principle was employed, stating that when nature plugged up the inlet, the beaches to the west gained hundreds of feet in width. When nature unplugged the inlet, serious erosion was the result to the same beaches. Powell stated that another inlet be opened through Long Beach Bar more to the east of the said inlet at Far Rockaway.

No one was willing to give up information as to why the report was put in the round file, so to speak, and two stone jetties installed, one at Rockaway Point, the other at Long Beach Bar Point.

The jetty at Rockaway Point was planned as the breakwater for the Jamaica Bar Harbor idea back in the early 1900s. There was also talk of an eastern exit from the bay, and I wonder if the hook at Long Beach was planned out long ago too! Now Robert Moses comes to mind, hmm!

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