Protection At What Price?
It’s a given that after Sandy, our community will need to make some lifestyle sacrifices to improve protection against the next big storm. But after listening to a presentation about the dune forests that will be tested in Rockaway Beach, I am left wondering how much of our beach must we sacrifice to satisfy our concerns, the insurance companies and City Hall.
Maybe the dune forest will work great between Beach 87th and Beach 97th Streets. We should support our neighbors there and learn from their experiment. However, if the City drops two rows of dunes, a boardwalk and tree forest onto the sand between say Beach 139th Street and Beach 149th (at a cost of $12,000,000), there won’t be much beach left in Neponsit.
Do we need to take such draconian measures? Maybe. I hope not. But these decisions must be based on the needs of the community that knows the beach best, not the global warming agenda of City Hall. If you hung around until the end of Walter Meyer’s presentation, the last thing he said was “the Mayor is committed to a double dune system throughout Rockaway.”
For many of us, the beach defines life in Rockaway. If the ocean is inaccessible or the beach largely unusable, then we will be Rockaway Beach in name only. Certainly our top priority is to safeguard our families, homes and businesses but we also want to preserve our way of life as much as possible.
BHPOA President Hank Iori has set the bar high, calling on civic associations throughout the peninsula to strive towards a system of protection that can withstand a 500-year storm (a.k.a. a 19-foot storm surge). I applaud this initiative. And I like his “all of the above” approach. For each section of the peninsula, a different mix of dunes, walls, reefs, etc. may be necessary to protect our homes from the next Irene, Sandy, Gloria or Donna. We all need to do our homework so Rockaway can make informed choices that properly balance our need to protect life and property with our ability to use and enjoy our beaches.
If we leave it to City Hall, we may find there is very little beach left for us to use in parts of Rockaway. That is a very high price to pay for protection.