2011-09-16 / Letters

Letter To Parks Commissioner Benepe

The following letter was sent to New York City Commissioner of Parks and Recreation Adrian Benepe.

Good Morning. I am a Rockaway Belle Harbor resident and I have witnessed first hand both Irene and the aftermath from Rockaway Park to Belle Harbor to Neponsit. Before I begin, I must tell you that Roy Tellason and his staff have been quick and responsive to aggressively clean up the mess created by Irene.

Mr. Tellason and his staff have always been kind to Rockaway and our people demonstrated by their services and hard work. On behalf of the Rockaways, I would like to thank you and your staff.

Further, it is no secret from small town Prattsville and Windham, NY to rivers overflowing in New Jersey to our multiple coastlines, Irene was quite a historic disaster. Many ideas on keeping the coastlines safe will exist forever, whether creating more jetties, constant dredging to avoid beach erosion or creating natural barrier reefs known as dunes. All of the above come with great expense and consequence as well.

Over 14 years ago, a few residents privately funded an “experimental dune project” between the blocks of Beach 138 Street and Beach 142 Street. With thousands of trees down and with an existing stormy economy, I do not expect you and your staff to make the dunes of Belle Harbor a priority, but for 1000s of residents and 1000s of beachgoers from all 5 boros, we are truly concerned with how you are influenced regarding the “state of these dunes and the future of these dunes.”

My family and I believe that we are truly fortunate to live in such a magnificant beach community and only want what is best for this same community at large. The results of the dunes and the protection of homes from Hurricane Irene were non-existent. The dunes we are referencing were never built to create a natural barrier, rather they were created to privatize the homeowners of these beachfront properties. Whether east of the dunes or west of the dunes, no block received any more significant damage than the others.

There is an existing beachfront homeowner leader of the dunes whose name is not worth mentioning at this time, but he was never looking out for the community at large but rather his own private needs. If a dune system was to be created successfully I am all for it, but we better be prepared for the following. Much like in the Hamptons or Atlantic City the dunes must be a straight run, protecting the entire coastline. With that said, each block will then command emergency access as well as handicap ramps to go to the beach. After getting a full grasp of the economic state and budget, I do not believe Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Bloomberg will be to quick to take on this multimulti million dollar endeavor throughout the 5 boro coastlines.

Now the results of the dunes and the hurricane that exist in Belle Harbor today. A real understanding and simple logic of the existing dune creation was not truly done to protect Rockaway, rather again to create privatization for a few homeowners. The dunes were scattered along the rear of the beachona4blockareawithouta straight run. Many of the dunes were dismantled which was to the happiness of 1000s because now access is obtainable with ease like the rest of the Rockaways, children safety is replenished and emergency ambulance and police protection is more quickly obtainable.

The dune project that exists is a complete failure. As originally thought would happen in a strong storm, the existing dunes were knocked down and all that sand wound up on the resident blocks. The dunes that were once on the beach and their formation, created a funnel effect where water went more quickly up those blocks than other blocks without dunes and we have video to prove it.

In addition, the larger dunes which have been cut in half but have grown in height from beach erosion are a true danger to our youth. With nearly 8 to 10 layers of fencing under the dunes throughout the 14 years of their existence, many children are jumping on the dunes and off the dunes and a major accident is inevitable as we have seen in the past with a young 13-yearold boy severed his foot with 70 stitches, infection, and a ruined track career. As for today, I personally witness children jumping on and off the dunes, so in this regard you are put on notice.

I would also request a call to the 100 Precinct and ask them how underage drinking is an everyday occurrence on the blocks where dunes exist in Belle Harbor. Have the dunes of Belle Harbor been a thorn in the side of NYC’s Parks Department as one serious injury has occurred already and next we will hear of a passed out or raped teen found behind these eyesore so called “dunes.“

It was made clear to me why the dunes only exist for 4 blocks. Factually, community of Neponsit know they serve no positive community purpose and the rest of Belle Harbor beachfront homeowners did not buy into what the leader of the dunes was selling. The entire dune creation is now proven to be 100% -A FAILED EXPERIMENT.

From what I see, the Army Corps of Engineers would vomit at the results of this so called “dune creation.”

Please consider the following 3 options,

1- After Labor Day and the summer is complete, knock down and bulldoze what is left to avoid future grief and potential disaster. By doing this you will restore the beach to its natural existence and safety and a plan can be created to protect the entire peninsula, rather than privatize the homes of a few with their self-funding.

2- Start a team of residents and educated beach erosion people to come up with a plan for the future that is economical and wise for all who live on the peninsula.

3- Like in the past and the start of this so called dune debacle experiment, please do not be influenced by self-funding and the minority group. This was a travesty how they were put up in the first place. By no means, please do not place any more dunes without the consent of the experts and community leaders. And if your decision is to keep what already is in place, then be prepared for the overall consequence. Potential despair, crisis and injury. One serious lawsuit is already pending from an injury against NYC Parks, isn’t that enough or maybe the self-funded dune homeowners will be willing to pay the next lawsuit.

Thank You again Mr. Benepe, Mrs. Jill Weber, and Mr. Roy Tellason for your loyalty to the Rockaway beaches. On behalf of the community at large and well-being, I would truly appreciate your feedback some time soon.

…Lastly, I would be happy to get you the video footage demonstrating the water rapids created from the lackluster cluster of “experimental dunes” which some are already gone. Please finish the job and remove what’s left of the “dunes.” Thanks again.

JAMES AGOGLIA

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