2013-09-13 / Editorial/Opinion

Army Corps Should Not Hide Behind A Wall

The Parks Department is supposed to provide an update on the new boardwalk at the Community Board committee meeting on Tuesday, September 17th. It so happens, there are strong whispers that the new structure will not include a seawall. It seems the Army Corps of Engineers has concerns that a seawall may somehow throw off their beach protection plans which are being formulated now.

With all due respect, the Army Corps should be questioned and not held up as any sort of sacred cow. If plans for a seawall are being scuttled, we need to know why. And we don’t need to hear it third hand – we need to hear directly from the Army Corps.

Parks should expect questions about a seawall suddenly off the planning board. They should not be expected to answer questions better left for the Army Corps.

From what we gather, the basic argument against a seawall is that it erodes beaches. Proponents of the noseawall plan, point to the bayside of the peninsula. There is essentially no beach on the bayside because it has a bulkhead or seawall. Yes, but there are no jetties on that side. What if there were?

And there are more questions. There are baffle walls from Beach 126th through Beach 149th Street – do baffle walls erode beaches? We’ve been told they are merely to keep the sand on the beach not offer protection from floods. If that’s the case, can those baffle walls be included in a boardwalk rebuild?

Why can’t we have both jetties and a seawall? Why can’t Rockaway have a seawall, a dune system, and jetties? Might the Army Corps come along and add a seawall in a few years’ time? We’d like some answers. At a meeting last spring, an Army Corps spokesman said a variety of alternatives would be considered in coastal protection, and such consideration would not be done “behind closed doors.” The community, he said, would be kept informed and allowed input. “This time it’s different,” we heard.

Really?

If that is so, the Parks Department shouldn’t be presenting alone. The Army Corps should make its case. We know Parks wanted a seawall. Parks officials said so repeatedly. We’ve been told Parks and Army Corps have been working very closely. So, what happened to the idea of a sea wall?

The community should get more from Parks than “the Army Corps wouldn’t let us.”

Let’s hear why! If the Army Corps is in position to convince Parks to forego a seawall we deserve to be convinced as well.

Quick research shows that the Army Corps has been blamed for mismanagement in Louisiana, Missouri, Florida, California, Michigan and South Dakota. We don’t want to join that list in a few years.

The Army Corps should make clear the reasons a seawall is a bad idea. Let them go on record.

If there won’t be a sea wall, the Army Corps of Engineers should explain to the community. Face to face.

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