2013-03-22 / Front Page

Toilet Plans Flushed

Parks Agrees To Move Loo After Outcry
Dan Guarino

In the ongoing debate and discussion regarding NYC Parks Department’s rebuilding of the boardwalk area, Rockaway residents’ voices have been heard.

The original comfort station bathrooms planned for Beach 73rd Street have been dropped from the proposed project.

Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Recreation Liam Kavanagh has confirmed the planned lifeguard station will remain, but now the proposed bathrooms are heading for Beach 66th Street.

He confirmed, “We did make revisions to the original plan. We did eliminate the comfort station at Beach 73rd Street.”

He noted that based on various factors including public comment, the decision was made.

“I can say our residents are very concerned about the building of these structures,” said Glenn DiResto, head of the Harbour Pointe at Arverne By The Sea Homeowners Association.

At the Community Board 14 meeting on March 12th, the Board also weighed in, voting to unanimously to oppose any permanent structures. DiResto, who attended the meeting, stated residents are demanding “a comprehensive plan from the Parks Department and input from the community.

“As homeowners and residents we consider ourselves the guardians of the beach,” he said, explaining the community’s intense interest in the ongoing project plans.

“Many residents who relocated to Arverne by the Sea moved here to the beach because we love nature and want to be as close to it (as possible),” said DiResto.

The decision by Parks to move the comfort station means there will be facilities at Beach 32nd, the Beach 59th Street playground, Beach 66th, and at the concessions at Beach 86th, Beach 97th, Beach 105th and at Beach 116th Streets.

Parks is doing more than comfort stations. Kavanagh stated that plans also include building boardwalk lifeguard stations, bathrooms, concessions and equipment storage areas. Beyond that, much of the infrastructure, including mechanical and electrical systems, water and sewer systems, steps, ramps, railings and drinking fountains were destroyed or simply ripped away by the storm.

“We’re hoping to have everything finished by Friday, May 24th, the day before Memorial Day weekend.

“We are rebuilding the key areas,” continued Kavanagh, indicating the concessions, major staff and lifeguard locations, and maintenance and lifeguard equipment storage. All the areas, he stated, “that support the entire beach, so we can have normal beach operations this summer.”

The new structures, with the exception of Beach 116th Street, will be placed between the boardwalk and the adjacent roadway at each location.

The Park’s previous structures at the beach ran parallel to the boardwalk, fully facing the ocean.

To reduce their exposure to wind and potential storm surges, the new buildings will be built perpendicular to the boardwalk.

Aside from placement at certain locations, such as at Beach 73rd Street, community opposition to these structures has centered around their height.

According to Commissioner Kavanagh, although the ground level may vary, the boardwalk height is constant across the peninsula.

He stated, “the bottom of the new structure (platforms) will be built 4 feet above the boardwalk level.

“The structures, which are consistent, are 12 feet tall. They’re about 50 feet long.”

Indicating that many decisions needed to be made in a short time, Kavanagh stated that “we’re trying to be as prudent as possible.

“This is a large investment on the part of local, federal and state government.

“We understand people’s concerns. We want to move quickly but in a way that is thoughtful and will last for a long time.”

He added, “We hope never to see a storm like Sandy again. But given climate change, global warming and that these structures will be directly facing the elements (we need to plan for that.)”

Besides Rockaway, NYC Parks is also working on projects in various parts sections of Staten Island and also Coney Island.

He noted that in April there will be meetings to solicit community input on rebuilding beaches and neighborhood parks affected by the hurricane as part of longer term planning.

Looking to the future regarding these issues, Kavanagh concluded,

“Rockaway is our one true ocean facing beach.

“This is the first step in a long term process to make a safer, more prosperous and resilient beach and boardwalk area in the face of future storms.”

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