2007-04-27 / Editorial/Opinion


The Dunes Did It, And Now They Should Cover The Beachfront

The old saying, "The proof is in the pudding," was never truer than what happened on Rockaway's beaches as a result of the Nor'easter that hit the peninsula on April 15. We have been writing for years that Rockaway needs dunes to protect the beach. That fact, and it is a fact, is accepted everywhere in the world except, apparently, in New York City in general and specifically in Rockaway. Go to any barrier beach in America - to Cape Cod, to the Outer Banks, to New Jersey, and federal and state laws protect the dunes. Set foot on a dune and you go directly to jail. In Rockaway, however, the Parks Department bulldozes them, flattens them in the name of "beach grooming." When a group of Belle Harbor residents who wanted dunes paid the city to build them, they were ridiculed by their neighbors and then vilified. The city was sued by a group of Belle Harbor residents for building the "official dunes," as opposed to the "unofficial dunes" built by Mother Nature. Are they blind to what dunes mean to a beach environment? Look at the photographs on page 74 of last week's Wave. Where there were no dunes, the raging storm tide eroded the beach almost to the boardwalk. Where there were dunes, however, official or not, those dunes protected the beach. The water and the erosion stopped there. Even the officials at the Parks Department should realize that dunes are necessary and that they should cover the beachfront, all the way from Beach 3 Street to Riis Park. Either the department can build dunes, as they did in Belle Harbor at the behest and financial largess of the residents, or it can leave the beach alone and let Mother Nature take its course. In either case, the city should get it done before the hurricane season hits this summer and we find that the dunes are sorely needed.

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