Goldfeder, Residents: Repair Bulkhead, Save Our Homes
When it is high tide on the bay at Beach 69th Street, the water can rise four feet or higher. Residents are unable to use their yards and driveways. Calling it an issue of safety, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder called on Mayor Bloomberg to use whatever resources necessary – federal, state and city – to make repairs and restore a long-neglected wooden bulkhead at water’s edge.
“This is not complicated,” Goldfeder said as he stood with residents in front of the bulkhead. “You take a look behind us and you see not just a deteriorating bulkhead, you see a collapsed street. You see a street that when you drive by you have to be fearful that your car may end up in Jamaica Bay.”
Goldfeder added, “It should not take a disaster for the city to act.” He said deteriorating bulkheads are nothing new. He spoke of calling on the City in 2011 for the bulkhead at Beach 108th Street to be repaired only to be ignored. When Sandy hit, the area was severely impacted and sections collapsed into the bay.
The current crisis abuts the home of Marie Russell whose house is at the tip of Beach 69th Street next to the bulkhead.
“This bulkhead is an original bulkhead from the 1940s, maybe earlier, and it has never been refurbished,” Cliff Russell, son of Marie, said. “It was always deteriorating, but Sandy pushed it over the edge and now with every high tide it gets worse.” Russell added, “It’s a danger to the community. It’s a danger to the properties.”
Marie Russell showed The Wave a driveway entrance that is unsafe and unusable due to the ground underneath it being washed away.
Jonathan Gaska, District Manager for Community Board 14 said that, “DOT (Department of Transportation) has known about this for at least two decades…. Quite frankly this is about poor maintenance by an agency that has been notified about this dangerous situation and it has not been addressed.”
Tom Elge grew up in the neighborhood. He said, “Me and my neighbors are facing the same situation. That the bulkhead has got to be restored.”
He added, “This is city property and the city is doing nothing to mitigate this issue. It’s going to destroy private properties.”
Homeowner Jennifer Phanton said, “The bay is inside my backyard, eroding the foundation of my home. The entire backyard is collapsed. There are huge sinkholes. We haven’t been able to use the backyard in nine months…. My home is in danger of collapsing and I’m very afraid. I live in fear. It’s very scary and very frustrating.”