2012-10-26 / Top Stories

Needed Sand Coming By‘Snail Mail’

Army Corps of Engineers pump sand from the East Rockaway inlet onto east end beaches. A controversy has started as to how to move that sand to other parts of the peninsula. Army Corps of Engineers pump sand from the East Rockaway inlet onto east end beaches. A controversy has started as to how to move that sand to other parts of the peninsula. Last beach season, with the introduction of new amenities on the boardwalk, more than 3 million visitors came to Rockaway to enjoy the beaches and the new restaurants on the boardwalk.

That was way up from 2 million the year before.

Ever since Hurricane Irene, more than a year ago, however, the shoreline has been much smaller and there has been an understanding that the beaches in the middle of the peninsula, from Beach 90 Street west, needed sand to replenish the shoreline.

They also understood that there was no money in the city’s budget to dredge the sand from the bottom of the ocean and put it on the beaches where it is needed.

With the Army Corps of Engineers dredging the East Rockaway Inlet at the eastern end of the peninsula, however, the needed sand became available to Rockaway.

The only question was how to get the sand from the inlet and the areas around Beach 25 Street where the sand is stacked, to the beaches that badly need the sand.

Local politicians Eric Ulrich and Phil Goldfeder recently provided $300,000 from the city budget to move the same.

In the past, the Army Corps of Engineers has used large pipes to move the sand westward. This year, however, reportedly to save money, the city plans to truck the sand from one part of the peninsula to another, and critics say that using trucks is like using “snail mail” to send a letter when you could send it much quicker by email.

“Parks plans to hire some low-bid contractor to move the sand by dump truck,” charges John Cori, the president of a local beach advocacy group, Friends of Rockaway Beach. “The parks low-bid contractor took three weeks to move 800 cubic yards of sand less than two miles. I hate to think of how long it would take to move 140,000 cubic yards of sand more than four miles. It boggles the mind.” Zach Feder, a Parks Department Spokesperson, told The Wave this week that the method of transporting the sand had not yet been decided.

“We are currently evaluating our options for moving the sand,” Feder said, adding that trucking the sand is only one of the agency’s options.

Goldfeder, in a letter to Parks officials, said, “In the past, the Army Corps of Engineers has signed cooperative agreements with the Parks Department to conduct the beach building in unison with the city, and it has worked with contractors with vast experience in dredging and building beaches. [This time] the responsibility will fall directly on the Parks Department to move the sand west and rebuild the beach.”

Goldfeder added, “As it has been explained to me, there are various complicated factors with the rebuilding of the beaches. For example, if the beach is constructed by an inexperienced contractor and the sand was not placed at the correct angles and slopes, beach erosion would only increase dramatically, and rip tides may worsen at this location, putting the lives of swimmers at risk.”

Goldfeder urged the city to “responsibly” rebuild the beach by using the Army Corps of Engineers and its experience contractors rather than a local contractor with little or no experience.

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