QUEENSBRIDGE — After stalling for nearly a decade, the city broke ground Friday on repairs to the crumbling seawall in Long Island City's Queensbridge Park, which had limited waterfront access for parkgoers.
The $6.65 million overhaul will include the reconstruction of the rock wall along the park's shoreline, as well as the creation of a new 6-foot-wide waterfront promenade and a small wharf at the park's north end, officials said.
The project is finally getting off the ground after nearly 10 years of delays, as officials and city agencies attempted to raise funds to make the repairs. The crumbling seawall has been fenced off for the last several years, cutting park-goers off from the nearby waterfront, which used to be one of the 20-acre park's main attractions.
"I'm simply overwhelmed by the fact that it's starting at last," said Elizabeth McQueen, Queensbridge Parks' steward and a lifelong resident of the nearby Queensbridge Houses.
"We've been talking to everybody about it, and it took some time, but it also cost a lot of money. Money had to be raised, and finally we have it now," she said. "It's very exciting."
The repairs are being managed by the city's Economic Development Corporation, and will be made using "rip-rap revetment" — large rocks placed along the waterfront to lessen erosion and deflect waves, which officials say is a crucial part of protecting the shoreline from storms like Hurricane Sandy.
“As Sandy showed us, sea walls, like the one we’re breaking ground to restore today, are an essential part of our city’s infrastructure,” City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said in a statement announcing the start of the project.
Quinn and local City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer secured $3.65 million in funding for the repairs. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall allocated $1 million towards the project, as did Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Construction is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2014.
"A year from now, when the project is complete, thousands of families and local residents will be able to celebrate its completion and enjoy sweeping views of the New York City skyline together right here in Queensbridge," Van Bramer said in a statement.