Parks Rep Put On Spot About Beach, Boardwalk
Members of the Rockaway community took their complaints about the condition of Rockaway’s beaches direct to the source this week. At a Community Board 14 Parks Committee meeting Jill Weber, the administrator for Rockaway’s Parks, was questioned on the speediness of repairs to area beaches.
“We have an emergency contract to repair the damage from Hurricane Irene,” said Weber. “Some of the sections of the boardwalk have already been repaired, and some are still under construction.”
Areas such as Beach 98 Street and 106 Street are still awaiting the arrival of wood from South America at the end of July. In the meantime asphalt, fence, removal of sand north of the boardwalk and fascia board (which will be installed deeper in the ground than before) repairs continue.
“We hoped it would be finished in time for the season,” said Weber. “But due to material delays, as well as permits, everything that they needed to put in place …we’re a little slower than we expected.”
Board member Al Moore was concerned with ramps at various areas of the boardwalk, including Beach 54 Street.
“We cannot do each and every street,” said Weber. “I’ll be happy to take a look at it with you and maybe we can come up with funding for a future contract to replace the ramp at that location.”
She also said that there is a contract due for the fall that should include an ADA compliant ramp at Beach 59 Street.
While Weber first answered questions from the committee, board member Vince Castellano pushed the need to hear from area residents.
“I’m here to hear from the community,” said Castellano.
John Cori, the president of the Friends of Rockaway Beach, said, “The boardwalk is going to be devastated if we don’t get sand real soon. …We need to repair our beach and boardwalk as soon as possible.”
He added, “We really need to have much more community input. … We need to have [these meetings] two or three times prior to the beach season.”
Another resident asked, “If we get hit with another hurricane who’s going to have the franchise to run that rowboat, because most of the neighborhood is going to be gone.”
He added that people are saying we don’t have, among other things, enough sand or jetties, but “nobody seems to have an answer. We got to do some action. Something has to be done on an emergency basis.”
“We’re waiting for the July 1 budget to come out and we’ll see if there is money in the budget,” said Weber, about such things as dredging sand from the Rockaway inlet to the beaches.
“We had a Memorial Day, the people had to come off of the beach because the water was under the boardwalk,” said one man, who lives four houses from the beach, as he talked about Beach 94 to 102 Streets.
“Three years from now we’re going to be right back chasing our tail,” he said. “We need the jetties. …Once we get the jetties then we can build [a new boardwalk].”
He commended Parks for the work they are doing, but said, “That’s not going to save $2 billion worth of infrastructure that’s going to get devastated. I can’t understand how all the community leaders and the politicians don’t see this. We’re going to get devastated. We don’t need a hurricane, we need a Nor’easter. There’s nothing stopping the water for one mile of beach.”
As to the jetties, Weber said the removal of wood groins “at least three rows, four if we can afford it” around Beach 88, 90 and 92 Streets should be completed by this time next year. The project is in design now and expected to begin in winter or spring 2013.
As a result of the many concerns, the committee voted to hold another meeting in 30 days exclusively to hear from the community on park and beach issues.
A rough idea for a park to be located at Beach 108 Street was also presented at the meeting. The conceptual design and budget was meant as a prelude to a presentation to the entire board in September.
At a total of approximately $3.5 million, the park would incorporate suggestions coming out of meetings with local residents. The conceptual plan includes such ideas as a playground, comfort station, kayak house and shade structure, flowering trees for shade, and areas for seating and play.
Charles McKinney, a principal urban design planner for the Parks Department, said, “We’re not talking about a real design [tonight]. Once you get the money [then you can decide].”
The Parks Department will present the plan to the full community board in September.