2013-10-18 / Columnists

Eye On Rockaway

Army Corps Study Should Be Fast-Track
By Miriam Rosenberg

After almost a full year of waiting to rebuild Rockaway’s boardwalk the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation has announced an ambitious schedule to get the job started. At a Community Board 14 meeting this month a timeline was announced for design, conceptual planning and putting the shovel in the ground; all by winter 2014.

One thing that meeting showed was that the people at Parks and their architects are listening to those who live here. Since Parks gave a preliminary proposal in September, there were several smaller community meetings to get the input of locals. The proposal put before Community Board 14 on October 8th added a baffle wall the length of Rockaway’s beach to protect residents, their homes and businesses from the effects of future storms.

But it was Parks’ representatives themselves who explained previously to residents that whatever they put in – such as baffle walls under the boardwalk – it will be secondary to what the Army Corps of Engineers does. But the Army Corps can’t do anything until its study is completed in 2015.

Parks says it can’t put in seawalls because it could affect the study by the Army Corps and what it decides we may need – such as jetties, dunes or seawalls.

Senator Charles Schumer and Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder have called for the Army Corps to fast track the completion of its study so that its recommendations can be coordinated with the Parks Department’s final plans for the new boardwalk.

Goldfeder also said, “It would be ideal if the Army Corps and the Parks Department would do their projects at the same time to eliminate confusion and provide a boardwalk and real permanent protection. If that means slowing down Parks’ plans, then so be it. I’d rather do it the right way, rather than quickly.”

Schumer said, “Now that New York City’s plans for the Rockaway boardwalk are underway, the Army Corps should fast-track their study so that New York City is aware of what protections will be put in place. We need a sea wall, jetties and dunes so that Rockaway is protected from future destruction.”

Schumer and Goldfeder sent a letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Jo-Ellen Darcy, at the end of September. In it they requested the Army Corps study be sped up. The letter read in part, “It is of paramount importance that the Army Corps expeditiously complete the Reformation Study so that the construction of long-term protective measure can be incorporated into the New York City Parks boardwalk plans.”

Schumer and Goldfeder are right. The Army Corps and the city should be working together. Speed up the Army Corps study. Slow down the city’s timeline, at least until a new administration comes in. And coordination should be the watch word in the project. Let’s get it done, but done right.

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