2009-07-17 / Front Page

Bay Wall Restoration Could Start In 2010

By Nicholas Briano

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is planning to reconstruct a section of bay wall in Belle Harbor which could potentially bring a new outlet of waterfront access to the area.

New York City Economic Development Corporation has secured $8 million in funding to restore the bay wall extending from Beach 125 to Beach 130 Street along Beach Channel Drive. New York City Economic Development Corporation has secured $8 million in funding to restore the bay wall extending from Beach 125 to Beach 130 Street along Beach Channel Drive. The bay wall area neighbors the Belle Harbor Yacht Club and extends from Beach 125 to Beach 130 Street. The design process is anticipated to begin late this year, with a 2010 construction start up, and will be conducted in conjunction with Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA). MWA is a nonprofit group that aims to transform the waters of New York and New Jersey harbor into clean and accessible places to learn, work and play, with inviting parks, dependable jobs and reliable, eco-friendly trans- portation.

Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska says the plan is only in preliminary stages right now, but did confirm that $8 million in funding has been allocated for the project.

"There is no plan in place right now," Gaska said. "EDC and Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance have agreed to work with us and receive the community's input."

The Belle Harbor Yacht Club (BHYC) representatives, in a written letter to The Wave last week, were concerned about the impact new waterfront access could have on the community.

"There are some major concerns about how this project might affect our surrounding neighbors and the community as a whole. Quality of life concerns, property values and post project issues that might arise," BHYC Chairman John McCann said in the letter. "EDC is willing to design the bay front property at their cost that will have a direct positive effect to the property value of the BHYC and the surrounding property owners, if properly designed."

But even McCann admits it is too early to tell how beneficial or detrimental this project could be to both the yacht club and its surrounding neighbors.

"BHYC with water access in front of the property was debated several times and the concern was whether or not this change would decrease membership, increase membership, give more social options to the members or cause unwanted issues with our neighbors," he continued. "All are legitimate concerns but very hard to determine since the project has not yet started and the work of gathering community input has not officially begun."

MWA has designed similar projects near waterfront areas throughout the city and portions of New Jersey and it is expected, at the least, to beautify the portion of bay wall in addition to making it structurally sound.

McCann says he and other club representatives met with MWA and were happy to know that the group was willing to work closely with the community to restore the bay wall consistent with the neighborhood's desires. But they also highlighted environmental factors.

"The MWA also explained the eco-system impact to Jamaica Bay. Any eco-system friendly designs incorporated into this project could enhance the fish, oysters, clams and other various water life. The system could act like an artificial reef. Also, the landscaping of this area would greatly improve and again community input would be asked," he said.

Community meetings and chances for input will be scheduled once preliminary designs are presented and a timeline is reached.

"Having the use of a small dock or launch for sailing small "sunfish" sailing vessels, sailboats or kayaks might give the membership another enjoyment at the proverbial 'yacht-less club.' But what might work for the BHYC and the community might not be in the best interest of our neighbors. We will consider the impact this project will have on everyone as a whole and we will not undermine anyone in our neighborhood," McCann said.

"The BHYC Board of Directors, on behalf of its members, will keep an open mind to this potential opportunity and will wait for an official presentation from the Metropolitan Water Alliance before supporting or opposing any project plans. We look forward to working with our community, the EDC and the Metropolitan Water Alliance this fall."

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