BROAD CHANNEL — A vital resiliency project is in danger of losing millions of dollars in federal grant money after the city's request for bids failed to bring in anything that would match their budget.
The Department of Interior awarded grants through the National Fish and Wildlife Federation to projects around the country in 2014, earmarking $4.8 million for a salt marsh restoration project at Sunset Cove in Broad Channel. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation pledged an additional $2.1 million for the project, at the base of the Joseph P. Addabbo bridge — for a total of $6.9 million.
But the lowest construction bids for the project — to restore up to five acres of marsh and seven acres of coastal upland, which will protect homes along Jamaica Bay in the event of another storm — came back at around $13 million, according to an official with the Parks Department, which is overseeing the project.
Now the city has asked the feds for an extension on the grant and also plan to meet with the lowest bidder on the project to find a way to cut the cost.
“The Sunset Cove Salt Marsh restoration is critical for the ecological health and resilience of Jamaica Bay,” Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said in an email. “We will explore every avenue to get the project back on track as quickly as possible.”
The city had touted its “green” infrastructure project with a visit to Sunset Cove Park by Sally Jewell, who was the secretary of the Department of Interior at the time.
"We are taking the lessons learned from this natural disaster to help local communities strengthen natural barriers between themselves and major storms such as Sandy that can cause major flooding and other damage,” Jewell said at the time.
A spokesman with the city’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency said the project is "important" and that city officials "are working closely with NYC Parks to move this project forward.”
An email to the press office of the Department of the Interior seeking comment was also not returned.
Broad Channel residents who live near the marsh — which was a dumping ground for years — were shocked to hear the sky-high costs for the project.
They also questioned how the city could boast about the project without having all the money for it.
“We criticized at the beginning because you took credit without a penny in your pocket, fine,” Dan Mundy, Jr., a founder of the Jamaica Bay EcoWatchers and neighborhood activist, said at last week’s Broad Channel Civic meeting.
“You took credit, step up to the plate.”