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No Timetable for $200M Repairs to Rockaway Boardwalk, Parks Says

By Katie Honan | September 18, 2013 10:32am
 The new boardwalk plans may not include a protective seawall, angering residents.
Rockaway Beach Boardwalk Preliminary Plans Revealed
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ROCKAWAY BEACH — Newly released plans for the rebuilt Rockaway Beach boardwalk do not include a protective seawall and have no timetable for completion, angering residents of the Hurricane Sandy-damaged peninsula who say they're being left vulnerable to future storms.

The plans for the boardwalk reconstruction, which is slated to begin by the end of the year and estimated to cost $200 million, were discussed Tuesday night at a community board meeting in Rockaway Beach. It included a presentation from the designers of the new boardwalk, CH2M Hill.

Though the plans are still being finalized, a seawall wasn't included in the preliminary design, according to Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh.

At a community board meeting in April, a representative from FEMA told homeowners that building a seawall would lower the new, stringent home-elevation requirements — as well as lower the cost of flood insurance, which is expected to go up dramatically once new flood maps are put in place.

Integrating a seawall with the boardwalk would "slow the process" of replenishing eroded beaches, a project that the city is working on with the Army Corps of Engineers, he added.

The city has placed other protective measures along the beach, including baffle walls and TrapBags, which are large plastic bags filled with sand to create the base of a dune.

But in order to be considered a seawall, the barriers would have to meet a very "stringent" standard, according to the Army Corps.

"A seawall is a specific structure designed to take the full wave action and not degrade," Dan Falt, a spokesman for the Army Corps, said Tuesday.

Under the reconstruction, the boardwalk, a large swath of which was destroyed, will be elevated above its former height to comply with new FEMA flood standards, but it's not clear how high it will be built.

Currently there are "boardwalk islands," concrete sections of the boardwalk built around concession stands in three locations that are not at the new flood level, which will have to be included in the final plan.

Designers also plan to place rocks and fill under the boardwalk to protect against a storm surge as well as plant grasses and other vegetation that are meant to bolster the beach against future storms.

Lew Simon, a district leader and candidate for City Council, railed against the city's plans, saying the communities haven't been protected since last October's hurricane.

"I'm outraged, annoyed and disgusted," he said.

Another resident, Phil McManus, a retired cop, said the community can't trust the city agencies working on the project.

He and other residents cited the multimillion dollar lifeguard shacks and bathrooms that were initially billed as temporary and put in place without community input.

"We don't trust you," he yelled. "Why don't we trust you? Because you lied to us."