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Government Shutdown, New Features Delay Rebuilding of Rockaway Boardwalk

By Katie Honan | October 9, 2013 11:46am
 The concrete base of the Rockaway Beach boardwalk two days after Hurricane Sandy.
The concrete base of the Rockaway Beach boardwalk two days after Hurricane Sandy.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ROCKAWAY BEACH — The new Rockaway Beach boardwalk will feature a protective wall demanded by residents who said they were left vulnerable to future storms.

But the government shutdown — as well as incorporating the design — will delay the start of the project by at least a month, the city announced at a meeting Tuesday night.

The new plans were revealed at a community board meeting that focused on the structural design of the boardwalk, which was partially destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.

Greg Clancy, an engineer with the city's Economic Development Corporation, presented the plans for a baffle wall — a protective structure made of concrete that will run underneath the boardwalk.

But the new feature will require additional approvals and a new environmental impact study, Clancy said.

The project will also need a thumbs-up from the National Environmental Policy unit, a federal agency that is currently closed due to the government shutdown.

Construction was originally supposed to begin by the end of the year. It's now estimated to start in 2014.

Once construction is approved, the Parks Department said it hopes to begin construction at Beach 88th Street and work west, but will be able to work on various different parts of the peninsula simultaneously.

The project, which will cost an estimated $200 million, does not have a timetable for completion.

In addition to the protective wall, the city will add an additional 2 feet to a protective sand dune, which will provide an extra defense against a possible storm surge.

The original plan called for 14 feet of sand, but it will now rise to 16 feet. The project will be paid for by the city, not through Sandy relief funds, a Parks spokesman said.

There wasn't an estimate on how much it will cost, he said.

The addition of baffle walls along the boardwalk, as well as the additional sand, will "all provide a very robust system of coastal protection," Clancy said.

One lifelong resident of the peninsula said she's "all for a concrete boardwalk," and said she'll feel more protected with this plan.

"I think it's more protection," said Maureen Walsh, 65, who works as a real estate agent on the peninsula.

Her husband Jerry, though, said he's more concerned with the timeline of the project.

"Other communities are getting their boardwalk build," he said. "We have to wait how long? The boardwalk isn't just a thing. It's the thread of the community."