2012-08-10 / Top Stories

City Allocates Bulkhead Money

By Nicholas Briano

Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska raises his concerns at the bulkhead site with Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder last December. Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska raises his concerns at the bulkhead site with Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder last December. In a relatively unexpected move, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has agreed to supply $8 million to repair the deteriorated bulkhead at Beach 108 Street that would also allow National Grid to complete the MGP remediation project which includes land adjacent to the bulkhead, it was announced on Tuesday.

Prior to this agreement National Grid officials stated that the MGP site, located along Beach Channel Drive and Beach 108 Street cannot be considered complete until they also remediate a stretch of land across Beach Channel Drive that borders Jamaica Bay. National Grid has also stated however, that they will not begin remediation until the bulkhead is replaced. A full-scale remediation, which would require them to excavate eight feet of contaminated soil from the site, is not stable enough to handle that type of excavation activity without the potential for collapse.

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for the 1,065-foot bulkhead which starts near Wainwright Court (the Rockaway Freeway turn) and ends at approximately Beach 108 Street. Even though the MGP remediation plans have been focused on the primary site, the small and often forgotten portion of land is also included in the project and nothing can be developed on the primary site until the entire project is certified complete by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

National Grid officials said they look forward to completing the remediation project now that the city has dedicated money to fixing the bulkhead.

“National Grid is pleased about the resolution for the bulkhead repair. We will continue to work with the community, elected officials and the Community Board as we complete the remediation work [on the MGP site] when the bulkhead work is accomplished,” National Grid spokesperson Wendy Ladd said.

At the end of 2011, State Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder wrote a letter to Mayor Bloomberg requesting immediate attention to bulkhead. While the city admitted the bulkhead was in critical disrepair, it also admitted there was simply no money at the time to fix it. Aside from serving a critical role in the MGP remediation project, the bulkhead also serves as a crucial barrier between Beach Channel Drive and Jamaica Bay.

With negotiations between the city and Goldfeder at a standstill, the Assemblyman sought another revenue stream in June of this year when he reached out to Governor Andrew Cuomo, requesting the bulkhead be fixed with New York City Regional Economic Development Council funding, which would have also helped develop the area in addition to repairing the bulkhead. Goldfeder told The Wave this week that his office is still seeking that funding and admitted he was surprised to find out the news that the city decided to fund the bulkhead after all.

“I want to thank Jonathan Gaska and Community Board 14 for all their efforts over the years and Mayor Bloomberg for allocating the funding necessary to fix the bay wall,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “We cannot take chances on the safety and protection of Rockaway families, and I am glad the mayor heard our concerns.”

The bulkhead was replaced five years ago when the city invested millions of dollars to repair the identical section of bay wall, but it has become rusted and rotted due to what appears to be a faulty project design, although the city has contended in the past that the failure of the wall is beyond any explanation.

“Now that the bulkhead at Beach 108 Street has the funding necessary for much-needed repairs – we can turn our attention to the development of the MGP site to create jobs and spur real economic growth in the community,” Goldfeder continued. “National Grid has said that they will begin to consider options to redevelop and rejuvenate the site once the bulkhead is fixed and we are one large step closer.”

Councilmember Eric Ulrich was also pleased with the decision to dedicate muchneeded funds to the bulkhead’s repair.

“This money couldn’t have come at a better time. People in Rockaway were concerned about where the last piece of the puzzle would come from. The bulkhead project will finally be completed which will allow the community to start planning for the future development of the waterfront,” Ulrich said.“

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